Ukraine – In Intimidating Move, Police Question Two Journalists, Search Homes, Seize Files

KIEV, Ukraine -- Reporters Without Borders condemns the conduct of the Kiev police in interrogating online journalist and blogger Olena Bilozerska and press photographer Olexiy Furman of the Photolenta agency and searching their homes in the past few days in a bid to obtain information about participants in protests.

Bilozerska and Furman were summoned to a police station, respectively on 30 March and in early March. They were questioned about certain demonstrations by opposition activists that they covered in February. Their interrogation came three days after police armed with search warrants searched their apartments and examined the contents of their computers.

Two DVDs with photographs were taken from Bilozerska's apartment. Two computers system blocks, four cameras (with no film inside) and about 50 DVDs were removed from Furman's. All of Furman's material was later returned to him.

“We deplore the way these two journalists have been treated as suspects, not as witnesses, although they just did their job by covering a news event. The confiscation of journalists' files is a violation of Ukrainian law. We urge the police to respect the law and to put a stop to practices of this kind, which endanger media freedom.”

The press freedom organisation added: “We demand the immediate return of Bilozerska's DVD-ROMs. We also note that the methods employed by the police seem to have been designed in part to encourage journalists to censor themselves.”

Bilozerska and Furman said the police were above all looking for photos, video footage and print materials of members of the radical opposition movement “Autonomous Resistance”.

They removed photos of demonstrators who threw eggs with paint in them and smoke grenades in a Kiev shop that sells furs on 18 February in a protest against the killing of animals. One of the protestors was arrested at the time.

Furman was himself detained for three hours on the day of the protest, along with the protestor, and his photos were examined by the police. At the same time, he was prevented from seeing his lawyer, who was waiting in the street outside.

Bilozerska's lawyer, Sydir Kyzin, who went to her home during the 27 March search, said the confiscation of journalistic material violated article 17 of Ukraine's media law, which says: “Journalists may not be arrested or detained because of their professional activity, nor may their material be confiscated.”

During Bilozerska's interrogation on 30 March, the police promised to return her DVDs in the next few days. Furman's material was all returned to him the same day after the police had copied his photos.

Bilozerska told Reporters Without Borders she took great care when covering this kind of demonstration not to photograph the faces of the participants so that no one would be compromised by the photos. Furman said he did the same. Bilozerska and Furman said they were grateful for the support she has been getting from her fellow journalists.

Source: Reporters Sans Frontières


wesley rodgers said…


The story printed here for face value is all I have to make judgement on.

But,in recent years especially since the 911 attack and increased security worldwide,there is continued pressure on very dedicated,hard working reporters and journalists
to keep them from getting the facts out to the PEOPLE OF THE WORLD.!!

...Most reporters do not make a lot of money and are dedicated to the cause and the work being interesting and very responsible for societies and mankind.

I am referring to responsible journalism ofcourse as there is some bad journalism and some
not responsible.

Even here in the United States reporters--radio-tv-print and internet are being hassled more than ever but on stories where there is no great security breach let alone a story about animals and a demonstration.

Also there was New York Times reporter Judy Miller who was locked up in prison for 86 days for not revealing her source on a
story which she NEVER even wrote or reported because she felt it was best to let it rest.

UKRAINE has gained a great reputation with its enterprising reporting since the brakaway from the Soviet Union and it has become one of its benchmarks.

I have had the pleasure of establishing a relationship with Andriy Tsapliyenko of INTER TV news, who is one of the very best investigative reporters in the world and a national treasure for Ukraine.
Also have developed relationships with reporters at KYIV POST, all very good and respectable reporters.

However,many have still not forgotten the murder of internet
reporter Gondaze and here in the U.S. an independent reporter Ross Wolf, was arrsted and locked up for covering an anti G 8 Summit
in San Francisco for almost a year and a half..

END RESULT--Reporters will just become more vigilant,determined and
seek more information than ever.

It is a right and possibly a priviledge which comes with civilized democracies.

There is bad journalism but there is an increasing amount of
INTIMIDATION on reporters which will not stop them but just make them more vigilant.

..In the end,this incident was BAD pr for KYIV and Ukraine as other incidents around the world...

Many governments must get it correct..THERE WILL BE FREEDOM OF THE MEDIA and with the advent of the internet I submit that more governments run a straight ship
and respect reporters responsible

Ukraine and KYIV has shown tremendous progress in freedom of the media and it is in the best national interests of Ukraine and other countries to keep it that way
and set a good example.

I will close by saying there could be more to this incident and could say more about other incidents
worldwide which have happened to respectable and honorable reporters and journalists.
BUT, enough said for now except to say all reporters MUST UNITE and keep the JOURNALISTIC BROTHERHOOD ALIVE because a society without freedom of media is a society without freedom of life.
Wes Rodgers