Court finds assault on journalists obstruction of their professional activities


Ex-Head of the legal department of the municipal enterprise “Pharmacy” Vladislav Panfilov has been found guilty of obstructing the legitimate professional activities of journalists and deliberately causing light bodily injuries (Articles 177 § 1 and 125 § 1 of the Criminal Code) with regard to an assault on journalists from the programme “Closed zone”.

According to lawyer from the Media Law Institute, Ihor Rozkladai, this is only the second time to his knowledge that a court has applied Article 171, obstruction of journalists’ professional activities. He explains that offences are normally changed to other articles of the Criminal Code such as hooliganism or destruction of property.

The judge imposed a sentence of 2 years restriction of liberty, and also ordered Panfilov to publicly apologise to his victims. With regard to the civil suits lodged, the judge allowed in full the claim by Olena Bondarenko, and partially that brought by Serhiy Kolesnikov.

On 25 June during filming of a feature for the programme “Warning” near the premises of the municipal enterprise “Pharmacy”, Vladislav Panfilov attempted to obstruct the filming by “Closed zone” journalist Olena Bondarenko and sound operator Serhiy Kolesnikov. He first stood with his back against the camera to obstruct the filming, and then sprayed tear gas in the eyes of the sound operator. 

A criminal investigation against him was begun, and both victims of the attack lodged civil suits, Olena Bondarenko demanding compensation of 1 thousand UAH, and Serhiy Kolesnikov – 50 thousand UAH. In total the court awarded 10 thousand.

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