Ukraine: EFJ-IFJ condemn arson attack on TV station

A group of activists block the entrance of the main office of the Ukrainian TV Channel "Inter" in Kiev on February 25, 2016. 
Activists, mostly members of "Azov" civilian corps, demand to stop broadcasting of "Inter" and accuse the channel of being under the "Kremlin censorship" and distributing pro-Russian propaganda, which misrepresents the events in Ukraine.  / AFP PHOTO / GENYA SAVILOV

The European and International Federations of Journalists (EFJ-IFJ) joined on 5 September their Ukrainian affiliates in condemning an arson attack that set ablaze the headquarters of private broadcaster Inter TV private broadcaster headquarters in Kiev, Ukraine.

Reports said that a group of around 20 activists staged a rally yesterday in front of Inter TV’s building, set tyres on fire and threw a smoke bomb into the premises, causing a fire which damaged the first and second floor.

The Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine (IMTUU), an EFJ/IFJ affiliate, reported that one of its members, Inter TV journalist Olena Zorina, seriously injured her backbone while escaping from the fire. Others suffered from smoke inhalation and at least 30 people were evacuated. The station continued broadcasting from mobile facilities outside the building. Six people have been arrested.

The TV channel is regarded by many Ukrainians as having Russian links and supporting Kremlin policy in Ukraine. Since the beginning of 2016 it has been attacked four times, media added.

IMTUU Executive Secretary, Oksana Vynnychuk, said, “We are outraged by the violent methods used to show disagreement with the editorial policy of Inter TV channel. We call on the National Police to organize a proper investigation of the case and to find those responsible for the attack, and encourage the General Prosecutor to ensure proper procedural supervision of the investigation”.

Sergiy Tomilenko, head of the IFJ/EFJ affiliate, the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU), said, “Whilst Inter TV channel’s editorial policy caused debates in our society and the question of external influence on the information policy has become actual recently there is a regulator in the country, the National Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting and there are law-enforcement services who have to respond efficiently to breaches of the law by the TV channel, if any. What is vital is that the security agencies must protect the media from such provocations”.

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović also opposed the use of violence to show disagreement with the editorial line and encouraged the authorities to launch an investigation into this case.

Credit photo: AFP/ Savilov

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