The culmination of Ukraine's opposition protest under the banner of "Arise, Ukraine" ended on Saturday in fights between "Svoboda" activists and "anti-fascist" youth. A "5 Kanal" (Channel 5) journalist together with a photographer from Kommersant newspaper were violently attacked as they tried to record events.  

Two large gatherings took place simultaneoulsy- the "Arise, Ukraine" protest which set off from the "Maidan" Independence Square to hold its meeting on Mykhailivska Ploshcha (Micheal's Square) whilst the Party of the Regions organised an "anti-fascist" rally nearby on Yevropeyska Ploshcha ("European Square").

Estimates as to the number of people attending the rallies vary but opposition leaders have accused the authorities of stirring up provocations.

Freedom House has expressed alarm about by the violent attack on the journalists and has called on the authorities to conduct a full investigation and bring the attackers to justice.

In its statement Freedom House continues: "Any further delay in investigating the attackers, at least some of whom are apparently known to the authorities, is an abandonment of the authorities’ responsibility to ensure the safe and unhindered work of journalists and contributes to impunity of those who attack them. Olga Snytsarchuk from the TV station 5 Canal and Vlad Sodel... were beaten while filming a demonstration by activists from the opposition party Svoboda. The demonstration was attacked by unknown men in track suits wielding bottles and teargas...  Reports indicate that the numerous police officers in the area stood by as the journalists were attacked and pleading for assistance, allowing the attackers to flee and intervening only after the journalists had been seriously injured."

Freedom House’s Freedom of the Press 2013 report noted “an escalation in threats and attacks on journalists” in the run-up to the October 2012 Rada elections. Prosecutors and police have regularly failed to take action against suspects identified in past attacks, leading to a culture of impunity.

Ukrayinska Dumka


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