The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) back their Ukrainian affiliates the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU) and the Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine (IMTUU) in deploring the injury of five journalists following riots in front of the Parliament in Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, on August 31.
Violent clashes took place in front of the Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, as deputies approved in first reading a bill amending the Ukrainian Constitution to grant greater autonomy to Russian-backed separatists in Eastern Ukraine.
Fighting erupted between activists led by the populist Radical Party and the far-right Svoboda (Freedom) party protesting Ukraine’s decentralisation plans, the police and national guards.
Several grenades and tear gas were thrown as well as an explosive device. Media report that 100 persons, including protesters, police and national guards were injured and that two guards were killed.
Five journalists covering the clashes were injured. Ukrainian journalist Roman Malko received shrapnel wounds in both legs, journalists from Channel 5 Maxym Voloboey and Mykola Lebediev were wounded in the leg. Operator of news program TSN from TV Channel “1+1” Dmytro Boshakov was hit by shrapnel in the leg. French freelancer photojournalist Antoine Delaunay was injured by a stone in the face.
“We deplore these casualties and encourage media on the ground to take all the necessary precautions to ensure our colleagues can carry out their duties in the safest environment”, said IFJ President Jim Boumelha.
Mogens Blicher Bjerregård, the EFJ President said, “We are extremely concerned about the safety of journalists. The authorities must ensure the safety of journalists covering the clashes and allow them inform the public.”
The Ukrainian union IMTUU condemned the violence adding that “despite the large number of injured journalists in recent years, most Ukraine media workers do not follow safety rules and work without proper protective equipment.” “Editors should not send journalists to assignments in dangerous places without proper equipment and training and freelance journalist should also care seriously about their own safety.”
The IFJ / EFJ are engaged in an extensive programme of safety training for journalists in Ukraine conducted by IMTUU and NUJU. In the past 15 months over 300 journalists have been trained on how to manage the risks and dangers of reporting from riots, violent demonstrations or the military conflict. Additional trainings are scheduled between September and October this year.
Photo : Smoke rises near the parliament building in Kiev as activists of radical Ukrainian parties, including the Ukrainian nationalist party Svoboda (Freedom), clash with police officers on August 31, 2015. Credit: Genya Savilov, AFP