The Committee to Protect Journalists criticises Ukraine for use of force against the media

By Dan Alexe, New Europe,
March 6, 2018

The Committee to Protect
Journalists (CPJ) has called on Ukrainian authorities to investigate
claims that police attacked journalists covering a protest in Kiev, and to
ensure the safety of the press.

Policemen arrest an
activist as protestors clash with police during a rally in front of the
Parliament building in Kiev, Ukraine, 27 February 2018.
The New York-based media
watchdog said at least two journalists were injured in Kiev at the weekend
protest, when police dismantled a protest camp near the national parliament
More than 100 opposition
supporters were also detained amid clashes that left at least 20 people
“We call on all Ukrainian
police to respect the right of journalists to cover political events without
fearing for their safety,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina
Ognianova said in a statement.
“Ukrainian authorities
must investigate attacks on journalists and punish those responsible to send a
strong message that they support and protect a free press,” she added.
A police officer allegedly
used pepper spray in the face of Serhiy Nuzhnenko, who works for the Ukrainian
service of the U.S. Congress-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL),
the outlet reported. Nuzhnenko
was treated in a hospital for chemical
, according to reports. Bohdan Kutiepov, with the independent
television channel Hromadske, said a police officer kicked him and swore at him,
according to the local Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group. Both journalists
said they clearly identified themselves as press, according to reports.
The Kiev
Prosecutor’s Office said
 that it has opened a criminal investigation
into possible police obstruction of Nuzhnenko’s professional activities.
It is not the first time
that CPJ criticises the Kiev government. In September 2017, CPJ called on
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to reaffirm his commitment to ensuring journalists’
In three separate cases,
on August 14, 29, and 30, Ukraine’s state security service
(SBU) agents expelled international journalists, and barred them from the
country for three years. On August 14,
the SBU detained Tamara Nersesyan, a special correspondent for the Russian
state broadcaster VGTRK, in the street in Kiev, and brought her to the SBU
headquarters where she was questioned for three hours about her reporting in
eastern Ukraine. On August
, the SBU announced it had barred Spanish freelance journalists
Antonio Pampliega and Ángel Sastre over their reporting on the conflict in the
east, and for posting allegedly anti-Ukrainian messages on social media. On August
, unknown people grabbed Russian journalist Anna Kurbatova on the
street in the center of Kiev, and she was later deported.
CPJ also expressed its
disappointment over the lack of progress in the investigation into
journalist Pavel Sheremet’s death in