Kyiv, 5 December, 2013
We draw your attention to recent worrying developments in Ukraine. Two trends deserve special attention:
a) journalists have been attacked by the police;
b) some protesters are facing judicial persecutions for infringements they did not commit.
Since peaceful pro-EU protests started in Ukraine on 21 November, police applied brutal force at least twice to the protesters: on November 30th, to disperse peaceful student protests on Maydan Nezalezhnosti, and on December 1st, during the provoked confrontations near the presidential administration on Bankova Street.
Journalists, both Ukrainian and international, were among victims of these attacks: at least 40 reporters were injured, including photographer from Reuters, journalist from France Presse, journalist from the New York Times, cameramen from Euronews, journalist from Associated Press, journalists of Hromadske.tv (a Ukrainian civic independent online television), journalists from some EU member states, journalists from leading Ukrainian media Ukrainska pravda, Liga, Ukrainskyi tyzhden, Komentari, Ukrainski novyny, UNIAN and others. Some of them suffered from confrontations or explosions, but others were intentionally beaten by the police. A number of reporters were attacked by the police even after they showed their journalist ID or even because they showed their journalist ID; cameramen and photographers were beaten precisely because they were filming acts of violence (see more detailed information here: http://mediafreedomwatch.org)
Another outrageous trend is that the authorities are persecuting activists involved into the protests. 9 people were arrested after confrontations on Bankova street. Witnesses say that instigators of violence escaped the police; instead, law enforcement services arrested people not engaged into provoking the confrontations. These people can be innocent. Some of them are taken from the hospitals and brought into the detention centres. A lawyer of one of the detained, a Dnipropetrovsk journalist, said he was tortured by the police after arrest. The arrested can be facing serious accusations, leading to up to 8 years in prison.
We call on OSCE to follow the situation very closely. We also appeal to OSCE to urge Ukrainian authorities to:
- stop using brutal force against protesters;
- stop persecutions of the activists;
- free the arrested;
- provide deep legal investigations of the recent cases of violence in close cooperation with international human rights experts.
The voice of the international community is extremely important to halt further violence and to prevent Ukraine’s backsliding into authoritarianism and international isolation.
Internews Ukraine is one of the leading media NGOs, working in Ukrainian media and communication market since 1996. Mission of organization is the promotion of European values in Ukraine through development of successful media. The organization empowers independent and pluralistic media in Ukraine; improves journalism standards and local media legislation; assists the development of full-fledged democracy and civil society in the country; journalism networking and communication support; new media and social journalism. Website: http://internews.ua/, Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/internewsukraine