The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) have called on authorities in Ukraine to carry out an immediate and thorough investigation into the raids yesterday, Monday 9 December, on three Kiev-based opposition news agencies by unidentified armed individuals reportedly dressed like members of Ukraine's Special Forces.
According to media reports, raids took place at 6pm on the offices of the newspaper Vechirni Visti, the online TV station INTV and the news website Cenzor.net, at the same time that riot police started to disperse those people involved in anti-government demonstrations. Reports say that the men who carried out the raids wore helmets and uniforms similar to those used by the ‘Berkut' Special Forces. Some also wore masks and scarves to cover their faces.
The IFJ/EFJ cannot verify this link, however you can view a Youtube video that is believed to show one of the raids, titled ‘Raid at the office of Homeland (surveillance cameras)', posted by Dmitriy Chigrin.
Employees at the news agencies reported that the attackers removed documents, computer equipment and servers. The three agencies targeted, which support the opposition Fatherland party, are said to have received record numbers of viewers during the course of the protests. The websites of a number of leading new media, including the English language daily Kyiv Post, were apparently inaccessible during the operations.
"Following the latest raids on media agencies in Kiev, it is clear that the disregard for the basic rights and freedoms of journalists in the country is continuing," said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. "We call for an immediate and thorough investigation into all of these cases and demand an end to impunity for violence against media workers in Ukraine."
The IFJ/EFJ's Ukrainian affiliates, the Independent Media Trade-Union of Ukraine (IMTUU) and the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU), have reported that nearly half of the 50+ journalists who were attacked whilst covering the demonstrations from 29 November - 1 December have filed reports with police.
The IFJ/EFJ have welcomed the courage of the journalists and commended the support and guidance its Ukrainian affiliates have given to media workers in recent weeks.
"We fully support those journalists who have shown the courage and conviction to file formal complaints following the brutal attacks they were subjected during the protests and we join our Ukrainian affiliates to call for the journalist community in Ukraine to stand in solidarity during this traumatic period," said EFJ President Mogens Blicher Bjerregård.
For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 17
The IFJ represents more than 600 000 journalists in 134 countries