The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) have strongly condemned the brutal attacks by Ukrainian security forces against journalists covering the mass protests in Kiev.
According to media reports, over 50 journalists were injured in the clashes between police and protesters engaged in running street battles in Kiev and other cities over the weekend. The incidents occurred as thousands of Ukrainian citizens took to the streets to call for the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych and his party's government. The protests began because the President refused to sign a deal for closer relations with the EU.
It is believed that many of the journalists were injured on Sunday, December 1, when the demonstrations peaked and protestors broke into Kiev's mayoral office and barricaded themselves in, while another group attempted to storm the president's office.
"It is utterly appalling to see such widespread violence against journalists in the Ukraine and blatant disregard for their lives and freedoms," said IFJ President Jim Boumelha.
"We send a message of support to our Ukrainian affiliates, the Independent Media Trade-Union of Ukraine (IMTUU) and the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU), and we offer our solidarity to all media workers in Ukraine during this traumatic period.
"We call on the country's government to control the actions of its police and ensure that these brutal attacks are properly investigated and the perpetrators face the full weight of justice."
According to media reports, dozens of local and international journalists were attacked and had their equipment damaged while covering the protests. Several reporters are said to have suffered injuries including broken bones and head wounds, as a result of being hit by rocks, flash grenades and gas pellets. There have also been reports that police have beaten journalists even though they had valid press cards and identified themselves as reporters.
Among those journalists injured were Alexandre Perevoznik, a photographer for LigaBusinessInform who was beaten by police despite showing his press cad, Roman Kupriyanov, a cameraman for Euronews who was beaten when he tried to take a photo of an injured man lying on the ground, Serhiy Chuzavkov, a journalist from Associated Press who received a head injury, and Dmytro Larin, a journalist for ‘Ukrainska Pravda,' who was attacked by police while filming despite the fact he was wearing an orange press vest.
Read a list of many of the injured journalists (in Ukrainian) here
"We are deeply angry at the level of extreme violence against journalists covering events in the Ukraine," said EFJ President Mogens Blicher Bjerregård. "It is clear that these were attempts to use fear, intimidation and violence to intimidate the media in the Ukraine and silence freedom of expression. This cannot be tolerated and we demand that the safety and freedom of the country's media is protected."
For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 17
The IFJ represents more than 600 000 journalists in 134 countries