IFJ Condemns Escalation of Violence against Journalists in Ukraine

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the

escalation of violence against media after a series of attacks against

journalists by protection officers of both Ukrainian President and Prime

Ministers in recent months. Other journalists have also bee victims of similar

assaults by lower ranking officials.

"We condemn this mindless violence against journalists who are only doing

their job," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "The authorities must

respect our colleagues' right to safety and ensure their security services stop

attacking journalists."


According

to the Kyev Independent Media Trade Union (KMTU), an IFJ affiliate, there

have been a number of incidents since September in which protections officers

of the President and Prime Minister assaulted journalists. Some have been beaten up,

had their equipment damaged and photographs taken at official events deleted

from their cameras.

The KMTU has recorded four violent incidents on media

since June 2010. They concern the attack on Sergei Andrushko of STB channel who

was knocked to the ground by President Yanukovych's protection officer on 15

June, followed by another incident also involving a presidential minder who

destroyed all photos from Gazeta reporter Tatiana Svetnytska's camera on 30

September and the latest attack by the Prime Minister Azarov's bodyguard on

Channel 5 TV crew in Kyiv on 29 November 2010, destroying their camera.

The authorities have taken no action over these

attacks and journalists fear low ranking officials are increasingly resorting

to violence against media, as a result. The KMTU cites the case of Mayor of

Free Choice journalist Dementiv Belyi who was beaten up by Mayor Volodymyr

Saldo of Kherson on 14 September 2010.

The IFJ supports the KMTU's call on Ukrainian

authorities to show zero tolerance towards violence against journalists,

especially in this year of the tenth anniversary of the murder of journalist Gyorgy

Gongadze.

"The culture of impunity for crime against media

perpetrators calls into question the claim to rule of law in Ukraine," added

White. " We hold the Government's highest authorities responsible for the

safety of our colleagues."

For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22

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The IFJ represents more than

600.000 members in 125 countries