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IFJ/EFJ Back Campaign for Investigation into Ukrainian Journalist Attacks

23 May 2013

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its European group, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), have backed a campaign calling for the Ukrainian government to investigate an attack against two journalists in Kiev.

The campaign, developed by the Independent Trade Union of Ukraine (IMTUU) and the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU), is demanding that the Ukrainian Minister of Internal Affairs, Vitaliy Zakharchenko, investigates the case and ensures police perform their duties, or else resigns from his position.

According to the unions, the campaign has been developed following the violent beating on Saturday 18 May, of Olga Snitsarchuk, from channel 5, and Vladyslav Sodel, from newspaper "Commersant", by a group of sports supporters in the centre of Kiev. The unions say that Ukrainian police just watched the attack and did not try to protect the journalists. On Monday, May 20 more than 150 journalists took part in a protest outside the Ministry of Internal Affairs and demanded a meeting with Minister Zakharchenko.

"We fully support the actions of the IMPUU and NUJU and we call on the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs to carry out a comprehensive investigation of the attack on May 18 and ensure that those who carried out the attack, and the police who did nothing to prevent it are brought to justice and pay for their crimes," said IFJ President Jim Boumelha."It is the duty of the police and the government in any democratic state not to be observers, but practically protect the freedom and rights of journalists."

According to the IMPUU and NUJU the police at first refused to register the criminal offence as an obstruction against journalist professional activities and only changed their decision following pressure from the journalist community.

"It is absolutely imperative for the police in the Ukraine to ensure they monitor and register attacks against journalists correctly and ensure that their freedoms and rights are protected, said EFJ President Mogens Blicher Bjerregård. "Such blatant disregard for the rights of journalists in Ukraine cannot be accepted in a county that declares its commitment to democratic values"."The EFJ and the IFJ also call on Ukrainian journalists to join IMTUU and NUJU so they can increase their professional solidarity, protect their rights and ensure they have strong, independent institutions.

For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 17

The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 134 countries