Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Journalist Bloodied In Donetsk Incident

KIEV, Ukraine -- A journalist who has exposed traffic police brutality and corruption was attacked and severely beaten by two unknown assailants near his home in Donetsk on Sunday.


Interior Affairs Minister Vitaliy Zakharchenko

Oleh Bohdanov, a member of Dorozhniy Kontrol, or Traffic Control, a publication that exposes police by filming officers interacting with drivers, was taken to hospital in a serious condition.

“My head hurts, my back hurts, they have probably badly hurt my kidneys,” Bohdanov, who was found covered in blood near his home, said in a video released on YouTube by his colleagues.

Bohdanov’s car was burned down seven months ago in a case that had never been solved.

The latest attack comes as protests against police brutality have been gaining momentum in Ukraine culminating with a rally in Kiev on Thursday.

The rally, however, was dispersed by riot police at midnight during which a crew of Channel 5, a news television station, was also beaten up.

About 150 protesters, many of whom marched from different Ukrainian regions to the rally in Kiev, demanded resignation of Interior Affairs Minister Vitaliy Zakharchenko, a close ally of President Viktor Yanukovych.

The protest began as a spontaneous reaction to the case in Vradiyivka, Mykolayv region, where two police officers had apparently raped and tried to kill a young woman, sparking a storm of local police station by angry villagers.

Many Ukrainians become increasingly fed up with police brutality and impunity of local officials that galvanize popular protests.

The developments work against Yanukovych, who is expected to seek re-election in March 2015.

The quick dispersal of the rally in Kiev underscores fears within the government that the protests may spin out of control and pose real threat to the government.

Valeriy Koriak, the head of the Kiev police, defended the actions of the police during the dispersal of the rally and said the protests have been used by opposition in order to put the blame on the ruling party.

“Politicians are skillfully speculating on this,” Koriak said in an interview with Interfax-Ukraine.

“The opposition is using the events in Vradiyivka in order to discredit the current authorities in the eyes of the people.”

“We ourselves condemn what happened and understand that this is unacceptable. But as long police exists, bad things periodically happen. May be not like this, but something like this. It is impossible to make police officers like tin soldiers.”

“The police are not the enemy, the police are helpers, albeit with the deficiencies. We are working to try to maintain a constructive relationship with the population,” Koriak said.

Asked about the television crew that has been beaten up by police during the dispersal on Thursday, Koriak said that journalists should simply stay away from the scene.

“Do not abuse the patience police,” Koriak said.

“The only request – do not come too close, do not meddle in the epicenter."

Source: Ukrainian Journal

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