The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed harsh criticism after revealing that journalist Mykhailo Tkach (Михайло Ткач) and camera operator Boris Trotsenko (Борис Троценко) were attacked by employees of the State Guard Department of Ukraine (DSGU).
Tkach and Trotsenko, who work within the RFE/RL’s crew for the investigative program Schemes, were setting up equipment near a restaurant complex in the village of Kozyn, where allegedly the son of the Attorney General Alexander Lutsenko was celebrating his wedding.
The DSGU forces were guarding the event, and journalists say they even saw snipers at the scene. In order to film the entrance, the media workers were repeatedly asked to show their IDs. Once they were getting ready to film Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, they were stopped by physical force. As a result of the assault, cameraman Trotsenko was diagnosed with injuries on his hands and a possible concussion. According to Tkach, DSGU members repeatedly attacked the cameraman while he was calling the police.
After an official investigation was initiated by DSGU, the head of the institution, Valeriy Geletey, personally apologized for the assault committed by his subordinates.
While SEEMO supports the fast reaction and ensuing apology, it also reminds authorities in Ukraine that this type of unsolicited violent behavior towards media workers is unacceptable and asks for actual penalties against those involved in the assault. State institutions in the country must show their determination to provide safety and protection for journalists.
SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe.