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More Assaults On Journalists Alleged In Ukraine

Ukraine -- Journalists tussle with police in Kyiv on May 18, 2013. At least five journalists in Ukraine have said that they were beaten in connection with their work over a two week period. Photo by by Dmitry Lipavsky ©
The Committee to Protect Journalists has called on Ukrainian federal authorities to take over the investigation into the July 29 attack on TV journalist Sergei Ostapenko, which reportedly took place outside of his apartment building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk and left him with a broken jaw, among other injuries. Ostapenko said there were two attackers, and that they did not steal his wallet or mobile phone.

Regional police have reportedly opened a preliminary investigation into the attack.

Ostapenko works for Ukrainian television network Irta, co-hosting the program "Dosit Movchati" (Enough Being Silent). The program has routinely criticized the regional traffic police, alleging widespread corruption and bribery.

The Lugansk regional police directorate responded to allegations of corruption leveled on one Dosit Movchati broadcast with a defamation lawsuit against both Ostapenko and Irta. The lawsuit is currently pending, according to news reports.

"When a reporter who exposed alleged wrongdoing in the regional police is attacked, federal authorities have an obligation to step in and ensure the integrity of the investigation," CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. "We hold authorities responsible for Sergei Ostapenko's well-being and the apprehension of those responsible for the attack."

Ukraine -- Journalist Oleg Bogdanov, July 22, 2013.
Ukraine -- Journalist Oleg Bogdanov, July 22, 2013.
Ostapenko is not the first journalist to be savagely attacked after criticizing the traffic police in eastern Ukraine. On July 21, Dorozhny Kontrol journalist Oleg Bogdanov was similarly attacked by two unknown men near his home in Donetsk. Dorozhny Kontrol reports on allegations of misconduct by several law enforcement and security agencies, including traffic police; Bogdanov has stated he believes the attack was related to his work as a journalist.

On July 18, Freedom House reported on allegations that police beat Dmitro Demishev and Andrei Kovalev, journalists at theChannel 5 television station, while they were covering a demonstration against police brutality in Kyiv.

The New York Times reported that photojournalist Dmitry Kostyukov says he was beaten by a group of men in plain clothes before being arrested while covering a protest by the Ukrainian feminist group Femen on July 27.

--Arash Shinwary