A violent attack by a nationalist member of parliament against the head of one of Ukraine’s leading TV channels yesterday must be urgently investigated, and those responsible brought to justice, said Amnesty International.
Oleksandr Panteleymonov, head of the First National TV Channel, was visited in his offices by Igor Miroshnichenko from the Svoboda (Freedom) Party and at least five thugs who beat him and forced him to write a resignation letter.
Igor Miroshnichenko is a member of the parliamentary Committee on freedom of speech.
“It is astonishing that a member of the parliamentary committee on freedom of speech was involved in this attack. The acting authorities must send a signal that this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated in Ukraine,” said Heather McGill, Ukraine researcher at Amnesty International.
The attackers accused Panteleymonov of working for the Russian authorities after a live broadcast of the signing of the agreement between President Putin, and the de facto Crimean authorities.
They used racist language, and demanded that Oleksandr Panteleymonov apologise. They filmed the whole attack and posted it on the internet. The attackers then abducted Panteleymonov telling him that he would be forced to apologise to protesters still camping out on Independent Square. He was released a few hours after the attack became public.
“This assault on freedom of expression must be immediately investigated and those responsible must be prosecuted. Anything less will only open the door to further attacks against media professionals and activists,” said Heather McGill.
“The acting Ukrainian authorities must waste no time in demonstrating that basic human rights are protected in Ukraine and that nobody will face discrimination because of their political views or ethnic origin.”