News / Europe

Attack on Reporter Restores Passion to Ukraine Demonstrations

A protester holds pictures of journalist Tetyana Chornovil, who was beaten after publishing an article on the assets of top government officials Dec. 26 2013 (Reuters)
A protester holds pictures of journalist Tetyana Chornovil, who was beaten after publishing an article on the assets of top government officials Dec. 26 2013 (Reuters)
Reuters
Protesters demanded Ukraine's interior minister resign on Thursday after an opposition journalist known for documenting the extravagance of the country's political elite was chased down in her car and savagely beaten in a midnight attack.
 
Clutching pictures of Tetyana Chornovil's badly bruised face, hundreds marched on the Interior Ministry in the capital, Kyiv.
 
The attack on the 34-year-old restored passion to protests that have been losing steam more than a month after the government spurned a pact on closer ties with the European Union, turning instead to former Soviet master Moscow.
 
Pro-EU demonstrators have been occupying central Kyiv,m but their numbers have been falling since Russia offered Ukraine a $15 billion bailout this month.
 
The United States said the journalist's beating was “particularly disturbing” and that Washington was concerned and watching the situation.
 
“The United States expresses its grave concern over an emerging pattern of targeted violence and intimidation towards activists and journalists” who participated in or reported on the protests, said a statement issued by State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki on Thursday evening.
 
Psaki called on Ukraine's government to ensure respect for human rights and to send an “unequivocal message” that violence against government critics “will not be tolerated.”
 
“The United States, in concert with our European partners, will continue to closely watch the disposition of this and other cases,” she said in the statement.
 
Ukraine's interior minister, Vitaly Zakharchenko, had already become a target of opposition anger following a violent crackdown on protesters by police late last month that helped swell the demonstrations.
 
The attack on Chornovil, shortly after midnight on Wednesday, came hours after she posted pictures online of what she said was Zakharchenko's home, part of a campaign to expose the opulence of the political elite under President Viktor Yanukovich.
 
“Our police no longer protect their people, but fight them instead, hurt and oppress them,” said protester Valentina Gorilova, a 47-year-old housewife.
 
Some protesters, their hands chained, kneeled before a row of police in mock supplication.
 
With Ukraine winding down for the Orthodox Christian holiday season, the opposition movement has shown signs of waning. A hard core of hundreds continue to camp out around braziers on Kyiv's Independence Square, swelled by weekly mass rallies of around 100,000 or more.
 
Billions in Russian aid
 
Chornovil, who has played an active role in the protests, shot to prominence last year when she infiltrated the grounds of Yanukovich's opulent residence in a park near the Dnieper River.
 
She has since posted photographs online of the homes of other senior officials. Zakharchenko was her target on Tuesday. “Here lives the executioner,” the journalist wrote in her blog, above pictures of a handsome country property.
 
Hours later, Chornovil was chased on a road outside the capital, a dashboard camera capturing how a black Porsche Cayenne veered and rammed into her car before at least two men jumped out.
 
“When a very, very posh car is ramming you first on the side, then from behind, then from the front you understand that they've been paid already for your life,” a beaten and bloodied Chornovil told local television station Channel 5, laying on a hospital bed.
 
Her lips were swollen and split, one eye blackened and closed by bruising.
 
“I am a Revolution activist ... and I am very well known as a journalist, I've made a number of journalistic investigations which ... are irritating them [government officials],” she said.
 
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the United States embassy in Kyiv condemned the attack.
 
The embassy noted “a strikingly similar series of events over the last few weeks, targeting individuals, property, and political activity, apparently aimed at intimidating or punishing those linked to the ... protests.”
 
“We condemn the attack and call for an immediate investigation, which unlike previous such incidents must result in those responsible being held fully accountable under the law,” it said in a statement.
 
Media reports said another opposition activist was stabbed in the eastern city of Kharkiv on Tuesday.
 
Yanukovich on Wednesday called on police to find those responsible for the attack on Chornovil. Two men were detained later on the same day and police said they had detained a third suspect on Thursday.
 
The president's pivot away from Europe last month has thrown the country of 46 million people into turmoil, exposing a deep rift among Ukrainians over whether their future lies with the EU or Russia.
 
Rejecting the EU trade deal, Yanukovich turned instead to Russia for an aid package worth $15 billion to help ease a worsening financial crisis. It received a first $3 billion tranche this week.
 
On Thursday, ratings agency Standard and Poor's revised the outlook on Ukraine's long-term sovereign 'B-' rating to stable from negative, saying the bailout would cover the country's financing needs over the next year.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs