Interior Minister To Face Parliament Grilling

KIEV, Ukraine -- Interior Minister Vitaliy Zakharchenko will be grilled in Parliament on Tuesday amid the growing furor over a violent attack on reporters by a mob that may be linked to the ruling Regions Party.

Vitaliy Zakharchenko

Regions Party officials denied the link, but journalists uncovered footage showing many of the attackers first attending a rally sponsored by the party before unleashing their attack on reporters.

Zakharchenko will be questioned by lawmakers on why police refused to intervene and protect the reporters when the mob was approaching and threatening them.

The attack on Olha Snitsarchuk, a reporter with Channel 5 television, and Vlad Sodel, a photographer with Kommersant newspaper, took place just outside Kiev police headquarters.

The reporters were thrown to the ground and kicked by the mob, many of whom were later identified as martial arts fighters from Bila Tserkva in Kiev region.

“I was slightly shocked” to see that police officers refused to intervene, Snitsarchuk said.

Arseniy Yatseniuk, the leader of the opposition Batkivshchyna party, said the entire provocation was carried out under support and supervision from law enforcement agencies.

Yatseniuk, citing unidentified police sources, accused Andriy Kliuyev, the secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, of secretly directing the operation that was supposed to include a clash with opposition protesters.

“This special operation on beating up the reporters and the people was directed personally by Kliuyev,” Yatseniuk said.

“This person was appointed directly by President Viktor Yanukovych.” Yatseniuk said a team of top law enforcement officials was set up at the interior ministry to monitor the operation and make it more difficult for opposition groups to hold their protest march.

“That’s why we demand that tomorrow not only the Interior Minister comes with his report, but also that Yanukovych dismisses the entire line of officials responsible,” Yatseniuk said.

Olena Bondarenko, a member of the Regions Party, said her party will support creation of a commission that will investigate the attack.

She said also said police has detained and questioned a person who had been earlier identified as an attacker on the reporters, but refused to provide more details.

“I have the latest information that the person who attacked the reporters has been detained and questioned,” Bondarenko said in an interview with ICTV.

Source: Ukrainian Journal