Sunday, December 29, 2013

Assault on Female Journalist: A Blow to the Press Freedom in Ukraine

By Dr Rabin Man Shakya

Ukraine was in the international headlines last week for the massive and widespread protests against president Victor Yanukovich for scrapping a deal with EU.

Looking back nostalgically to my student life in the former Soviet Union,  I fondly remember  my six months of stay in Ukrainian cities of Odessa and Donetsk respectively during my preparatory faculty for learning Russian. Besides Odessa and Donetsk, I had the opportunity to visit some other Ukrainian cities: Kiev, Voroshilovgrad, Vinnitsa and Zhdanov etc.

Many former Soviet republics including Russia, Ukraine, Belorussia, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan etc have been vulnerable to abuse of journalists. A number of journalists have been murdered ruthlessly in Russia and fatal assaults on journalists still continue in Russia, Ukraine, Belorussia, Uzbekistan and so on.

After the downfall of the Soviet Union, Ukraine has seen a lot of vicissitudes in political, socio-economic and journalistic sectors.

But I was particularly concerned by the news stories about a Ukrainian female journalist who was savagely beaten recently in suburb Kiev.

Tatyana Chornovol suffered attacks because of what she wrote. The intention of the perpetrators is palpable: Do not write anything against the government and its corrupt ministers or else there will be consequences.

The perpetrators wrongly think that through terror and intimidation, they will silence the journalists. Unfortunately, this has not happened so far. Many journalists have even sacrificed their lives for the cause of truth, for dignity of journalism.

According to the New York Times (Dec 26, 2013), "just hours before she was ambushed, Ms Chornovol published a blog post about a 'country manor' being constructed for Ukraine's embattled Interior Minister, Vitaly Zakharenko, in the village of Pidhirtsi."

There is no doubt that the brutal assault on a Ukrainian female journalist is a cruel blow to the press freedom in Ukraine. Stern action against the perpetrators will provide some solace or justice to Tatyana.

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