25 cases of physical aggression against the Ukrainian journalists took place during three months of autumn in 2020. During the last four years, it is the largest number of incidents that occurred in autumn; the lowest number was observed in 2019 (16 cases), in 2017 – 21 incidents, in 2018 – 23 incidents. The main reason for the growth of aggression is the tense campaigning during local elections and the uncooperative behavior of the violators due to the quarantine restrictions introduced by the government as the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU) reported.
12 incidents tied with physical aggression and gross interference in the professional activity were registered by NUJU in October, six in November and seven incidents were reported in September. Totally, since the beginning of 2020, 74 incidents were registered according to the Index of physical safety of the journalists of Ukraine held by the NUJU and partner non-governmental organizations.
Quite frequent during the past two months were attacks on journalists held by security personnel of different facilities and active reluctance to allow the mass media employees to hold shooting or collection of information.
Thus, on October 6, in Hatne village, Kyiv region, during the meeting of the election commission, the attack took place on journalist and director of documentary Taisiya Kutuzova. People in police uniform attacked her, started to twist her hands and take away the camera. The microphone of the journalist was broken as a result of the incident.
In Dnipropetrovsk region, on local elections day, on October 25, current MP of Ternovsky city council expressed physical aggression at the polling station against editor of city newspaper News of Ternivka Alyona Poddueva. The journalist appealed to the local police unit due to the interference of journalist activity and informed the NUJU.
“He grabbed my hand and pushed me and tried to knock from hands my telephone with which I was filming,” Poddueva stated.
Editor of People’s Power about everyone and everything from Donetsk region Volodymyr Hrabovenko was hospitalized. Unknown beat him with bats near his own house. The incident took place on October 30. The man was hospitalized to Volnovakha central district hospital.
“I hear the sound of the gate and went outside; I saw a half of brick near my yard and ran to lane. I saw a car with some people. I was beaten with bat. I rose, hid behind my hands and then I got punches in hand, leg and then they went to the car and went away,” Hrabovenko said.
As a result of the beating, the man got broken bones of right tibia, forearm and compound wound of head.
Volodymyr Hrabovenko is a former lawmaker of Volnovakha city council and founded the newspaper about a year ago. He was holding the anti-corruption activity.
The criminal case is opened due to hooliganism. However, the lawyer of the attacked man strives to re-qualify it to the attempted murder and violence toward the journalist.
The journalists of two media suffered during the shooting at Havana restaurant in Kyiv. On November 14, the film crew of StopKor together with activists held a raid at Kyiv restaurants and checked whether or not they work during the weekend quarantine.
During this raid, they entered Havana restaurant, take a table and make the order.
The journalist started to spot the work of the facility; however, the administrator went off on him.
The law enforcers who came after the call of the journalists were forced to storm the facility to help media workers and stop the violation.
The attack on journalist of Strana.ua Vladyslav Bovtruk occurred at the same place. A police officer came to him and took away the telephone. Later, the telephone was returned and police unit compiled a protocol due to the illegal actions of their colleagues.
The NUJU noted that despite the fact that the growth of aggression caused by local elections and quarantine – the attack on media workers became reality not the exclusion. The profession of the journalist is dangerous and attackers do not face real resistance.
“Severe beatings, burned cars and editorial offices, broken equipment, hustle – Ukrainian journalists risk health and life trying to fulfill their professional duties,” NUJU Head Serhiy Tomilenko noted.
“Despite the fact that the investigations were started due to the incidents, the profession will become safer only when the attackers will get the convictions. Any justification for physical aggression against media workers is possible no matter how inconvenient they are!”.
Earlier, an unknown person attacked a NewsOne journalist on air at a ceremony of commemoration of the victims of Holodomors, which took place in Kyiv on Saturday, November 28. The correspondent was telling Ukrainians what events are held on the Day of Remembrance of Holodomor Victims. At 16:03 a masked man approached her, knocked the microphone and a candle out of her hands, and also started to push the young woman. At the same time, he shouted something emotionally and walked away.