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Journalist and Civic Activist Dementiy Bily badly beaten up by Kherson Mayor’s guards


Journalist, head of the Kherson Regional Branch of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine and human rights defender, Dementiy Bily, was yesterday beaten up by the security guards of Kherson’s Mayor, Volodymyr Saldo, who is standing for re-election as candidate from the Party of the Regions in October.

The event on Tuesday in the Kherson Theatre, where Saldo was to report on his work, was not advertised either in the media or on the City Council’s official website. There were rumours that invitations were being issued to those specially chosen, and leaders of civic organizations were not among them.

Dementiy Bily first endeavoured to enter simply as a citizen and voter, then as journalist from the publication “Politichna Khersonshchyna” [about events etc in the Kherson region], for which he had the relevant journalist ID.  Neither he nor other civic leaders were allowed in, with Saldo’s Deputy overseeing this process. It was only when the Deputy Head of the Regional Administration intervened that they were able to enter.

After Saldo had begun his address, it became clear that the guards were not admitting two members of the City Council in opposition to Saldo. Dementiy Bily first tried without success to convince Saldo’s deputy that this was illegal, then walked to the middle of the theatre, took a microphone and demanded that Saldo stopped and issued an instruction for all those to be admitted who wished to hear his report.

He repeated this several times until Saldo stopped, however the moderator immediately turned to this largely selected audience saying “Let’s support our mayor”. Most began clapping.

Dementiy was pushed out of the hall by the Deputy and four burly men who proceeded to beat him up.

“I was just stunned that in a theatre in broad daylight they beat somebody up, with the police walking around to boot … Those unidentified men, I don’t even know who they were, not police, some kind of private guards”, Dementiy Bily told “Telekritika”.

Dementiy was taken away by ambulance with dizziness and hypertensive crisis, and is at present in a district hospital where the doctors are checking whether he has concussion.

From information received from Dementiy’s colleagues and a report here:

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