The International and the European Federation of Journalists (IFJ/EFJ) backed their affiliate - the National Union of Journalists in Ukraine (NUJU) - in calling for a full investigation into the case and for action to bring the attackers to justice.
Oleksandr Vlashchenko, who works for the web site Novosti N, was on his way home when an unknown assailant sprayed liquid in his eyes and then hit him several times in the face and on the head. He managed to reach his family who immediately called an ambulance and alerted the police. Vlashchenko told NUJU: “If it weren't for the first aid from my wife and the ambulance, I might have already died.”
Vlashchenko had to be hospitalized and was diagnosed with concussion and injuries to his lower lip.
He claimed the attack may have been motivated by his work: “I associate this attack with my professional activities because the attackers did not take away anything. Now we are covering some scandalous topics such as the possible resignation of the head of the Mykolaiv regional council, the accusation against the deputy prosecutor by the lawyers. Maybe someone doesn't like it,” he told NUJU.
“This attack is terrible, and obviously, unless the investigation establishes another one, it is worth talking about deliberate intimidation precisely through professional journalistic activity”, said the NUJU President Sergiy Tomilenko.
According to the editorial board of Novosti N, it is not the first time that Vlashchenkohad been targeted for his journalistic work. In 2014, a group of unknown people kidnapped him and threatened to kill him if he did not delete footage which he shot with his camera on the premises of the Mykolaiv Regional Council. Despite providing the police with detailed information about the attackers, including photographs,still no one has been found guilty.
Ukraine has been the focus of the IFJ campaign to end impunity for crimes against journalists. Since 1995, sixteen journalists have been killed in Ukraine, with only three cases solved.