MOSCOW, April 8 (RIA Novosti) – An official for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe expressed concerns Tuesday about reported violence against journalists in eastern Ukraine.
“Once again journalists have become one of the primary targets of violence in Ukraine,” OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic said in a statement.
“I call on the authorities to take determined and vigorous steps to stop threats to the media community,” she added.
The statement, circulated in OSCE headquarters, cited an incident in which a group of masked men stormed the office of the pro-Russian ATN channel in the eastern city of Kharkiv, seizing broadcasting equipment and attacking journalists.
Similar reports about violence directed at journalists poured in from Ukraine’s many Russian-dominated regions in the east and southeast.
Unidentified assailants attempted to break into the building of a state-run TV channel in Donetsk, laid siege to the regional broadcasting center in Kharkiv and tried to storm the office of the IRTA media company in Luhansk, the media freedom defender said in her statement.
“Attempts to silence members of the media cannot be tolerated, there must be no impunity for the perpetrators,” Mijatovic stressed. “Law-enforcement agencies should do their utmost to ensure the safe working conditions for journalists and prevent acts of violence toward editorial offices.”
Police are reportedly probing the recent attacks on journalists in order to establish the identity of those responsible for these heinous crimes against the freedom of the press. If caught, the perpetrators may face up to seven years behind bars.
The eastern regions of Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv have been fighting off waves of attacks by the regime in Kiev, as it tries to gain a foothold in the pro-Russian heartland of Ukraine. On Monday, activists in Donetsk seized the regional administration building and announced a plan to hold an independence referendum by mid-May.