Internews condemns recent attacks directed at journalists attempting to report on recent conflicts during the Euromaidan protest movement in Kyiv, Ukraine. On February 18 and 19, according to the media monitoring group Telekritika, 36 journalists were injured and one journalist was killed while covering renewed fighting between Euromaidan protesters and a combined force of riot police and hired gunmen known as titushkas.
Vyacheslav Veremyi, a 33-year-old correspondent for Vesti newspaper, was attacked by unidentified assailants on 18 February as he was leaving Independence Square, the center of the conflict. Veremyi and his colleague, Aleksei Lymarenko, were dragged out of a taxi by masked men and violently beaten, before Veremyi was shot in the chest. He died on the morning of February 19.
Other attacks against journalists since February 18, as documented by Telekritika, include:
- Maxym Trebukhov, a photo correspondent with Forum.ua, was beaten by six attackers; his nose was broken and his camera was smashed. Trebukhov says he was attacked by the guards of the offices of President Viktor Yanukovych’s political party, the Party of Regions.
- A Channel 5 TV crew (journalist Yevhenia Tahanovych and operator Leonid Kovalenko) were attacked by titushkas. Another Channel 5 TV crew (journalist Azad Safarov and operator Serhiy Klymenko) were attacked by Berkut (riot police). The journalists were beaten and their camera was broken.
- Yevhen Kotenko, a photo correspondent for the radio and internet media “Capital’s Voice” was attacked by police. Kotenko was taking photos of the police, who then attacked him, twisted his armed behind his back, took his camera and press card, and threatened that they would kill him.
- Hlib Haranich, a correspondent with Reuters, was injured by a grenade. While he was filming, a flash grenade fell on his chest and exploded. Fortunately, Haranich wore a steel vest which saved his life.
- Hromadske.tv journalist Anatoliy Morozov was attacked by Berkut near the Officers’ House on Hrushevsky St. Even though he was wearing a “Press” vest, the journalist was beaten and his jaw was broken.
- Olexandr Kozachenko, a photographer with news agency “Ukrainian National News,” was beaten by unknown persons near the governmental quarter and his camera was broken.
- A “1+1” TV crew (correspondent Alla Khotsianivska and operator Artem Bagrov) were attacked by titushkas near Mariinsky Park. The operator was badly beaten. The camera was destroyed. Policemen were nearby but did not intervene. Eventually, one policeman told the titushkas that “There is no need to beat the press,” and the titushkas stopped.
- Andriy Gudzenko, a photo correspondent with the PHL news agency, was attacked by the guards of the Party of Regions offices. His leg and arm were injured and his camera and zoom lens were broken.
- Olexiy Chernyshov, a freelance journalist and photographer for Censor.net, was beaten by Berkut. According to his colleague Maxym Trebukhov, “A press card and vest did not help.” Berkut withdrew a flash drive with photos and a filter from his protection mask.
- Olexiy Byk, a photo correspondent for “Glavcom,” was shot in the head by a rubber bullet. In addition, he was injured by grenade fragments on Shovkovychna St.
- Olena Maxymenko, also of “Glavcom,” was injured by grenade fragments.
- Volodymyr Borodin, a photo correspondent with “Vesti,” was attacked by Berkut on Instytutska St. The journalist wore a helmut with the “Press” markings, a “Press” badge and he displayed his press card. A Berkut soldier ordered him to give up his camera. After the journalist tried to give just his memory card, the soldier started beating the journalist on his arms and legs. In addition to taking the camera, the riot policeman stole personal belongings from the journalist – documents, a smart phone and a photo bag.
- Olexiy Kondakov, a journalist with the “Business” TV channel, was injured during the fighting near Parliament. His leg was injured by a grenade explosion. He had surgery soon after.
- Ihor Lypynsky, an operator with the program “Events” on “Ukraina” TV channel, was injured by a rubber bullet in his leg on Hrushevsky St. He received medical assistance on the street and continued to report from the scene.
- Maxym Kudymets, a photo correspondent for “Insider” internet outlet, was attacked during the fighting on Instytutska St. while he was filming how police were acquiring military bullets. A man dressed in civilian dress forced Kudymets to delete the pictures.
- A journalist with “Chernihiv-info” Marianna Khardi, and a journalist with the Nizhyn newspaper “County’s News,” Ihor Volosyankin, were beaten during a Berkut attack on Instytutska St. According to the journalists, they filmed the fighting on Shovkovycnha St., and spoke with people including Berkut soldiers, but when the attack started they were chased and beaten by the Berkut.
- Ihor Krymov, a journalist with “Ukraina” TV channel, had his legs injured by a grenade in Maidan Nezalezhnosti.
- Yefrem Lukatsky, a photo correspondent of Associated Press, was injured by grenade fragments at the corner of Shovkovychna and Instytutska St. during the fighting.
- Yuriy Uvarov, an operator of Associated Press, was hit in the eye by a rubber bullet during the fighting on February 18.
Internews condemns the brutal killing of Vyacheslav Veremyi, and calls for an immediate, independent investigation to bring those responsible to justice. Failure to prosecute these cases will encourage more violence against journalists conducted with a sense of impunity.
Internews has operated in Ukraine since 1992, and currently manages the Ukraine Media Project, a 5-year USAID-funded project that supports and develops the Ukrainian media sector.