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Ukraine - RWB supports independent probe into brutal attack on reporter

Source: Reporters Without Borders - Fri, 27 Dec 2013 03:50 AM
Author: Reporters Without Borders
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Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Reporters Without Borders condemns the brutal attack on Tetyana Chornovil, an outspoken journalist with the Ukrainskaya Pravda daily newspaper, who was dragged from her car and badly beaten in Kiev on the night of 24 December.

"We support the decision by the Institute for Mass Information, a Reporters Without Borders partner, to conduct an independent investigation to ensure that those responsible for this act of barbarity are brought to justice," Reporters Without Borders said.

"We are appalled by this violent attack, the gravest of all the many abuses against journalists in Ukraine in recent months. Such violations of the Ukrainian media's safety and freedom of expression are intolerable."

Reporters Without Borders added: "Journalists must be able to work freely. We urge the Ukrainian authorities to guarantee respect for justice, freedom of information and fundamental rights."

A journalist who has become well known for her investigative reporting about senior government officials and politicians, Chornovil is also a leading activist in the "Euromaidan" protests in Kiev's Independence Square against President Viktor Yanukovych's decision to back out of a partnership agreement with the European Union.

She was driving in her car in a Kiev suburb on the night of 24 December when three unidentified men in an SUV forced her to stop, gave her a severe beating and left her at the side of road. Rushed to hospital with concussion and multiple facial fractures, she has undergone several operations and is still in intensive care.

Chornovil attributes the attack to her latest article, posted on her blog on 24 December, in she wrote about a luxury villa owned by interior minister Vitaliy Zakharchenko.

The attack has triggered a wave of outrage in Ukrainian civil society. Several demonstrations have been held supporting Chornovil and calling for the interior minister's resignation, and many opposition leaders, including Yulia Tymoshenko, have condemned the attack.

The police say they are investigating it as a case of "hooliganism" under article 296-2 of the Criminal Code and have arrested three suspects.

There has been a sharp increase in violations of freedom of information since the start of the Euromaidan movement. At least 50 journalists have been physically attacked during demonstrations since the start of December and three opposition media were stormed on 9 December.

According to the Institute for Mass Information, journalists have been the victims of a total of 101 physical attacks in 2013.

Ukraine is ranked 126th out of 179 countries in the 2013 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

(Photo : Institute for Mass Information) (Slideshow: ABC)

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