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Journalist critical of mayor badly beaten; photographer assaulted by manager of sports stadium

(IMI/IFEX) - In two separate recent incidents, journalists were badly injured in assaults related to their work.

In the first incident, Serhiy Tsyhypa, head of the Kakhovskiy Platzdarm press agency, was severely beaten on 16 March 2008 at around 8:00 a.m (local time). An unidentified person assaulted him as he stepped onto the porch at his home.

"I was walking my dog and if it weren't for my dog, I don't know whether I would still be alive. The doctors gave me eight stitches. My nose is broken; I got a concussion of the brain; I lost two teeth and it seems two of my ribs are broken, too", Tsyhypa explained.

The journalist is convinced this attack is related to his professional activity, since he published several critical articles about the mayor of Nova Kakhovka, Volodymyr Kovalenko. The journalist believes the story which provoked the incident is one that was published in the 12 March 2008 edition of the "Delovie Novosti" newspaper.

"After this publication came out, they warned me I would have serious problems soon, due to my effrontery. Also, they called to threaten me and my wife several times".

The police have initiated criminal proceedings on an article of law pertaining to "hooliganism".

"I am least interested in knowing who exactly beat me, and it would be hard to find the person. But those who ordered the attack - finding them would be much easier. I have crossed the line with a rather 'untouchable' mayor, Volodymyr Kovalenko, and his deputies. There are three people with prior criminal convictions among them! I am surprised as to why they have not instituted criminal proceedings under Article 171 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine relating to 'obstructing the practice of journalism'. If I do not receive a reply, I will see Minister of Internal Affairs Lutsenko personally. I don't need postmortem laurels like murdered journalist Gongadze received. I have my wife, children and little grandson".

In a second incident, the director of the Olimpiyskiy sports stadium assaulted photographer Ihor Tkachenko, as the latter was taking pictures of oligarch Rhinat Akhmetov after a soccer match on 17 March 2008.

In an interview with the "Hazeta po-Ukrainsky" newspaper, Tkachenko said the stadium director, Hennadiy Kalyshchuk, rushed towards him, threatening and insulting him, as he took photographs. Kalyshchuk shouted that it was prohibited to photograph the VIP box. In the box were the president of a soccer club, Rhinat Akhmetov, his colleague MP Boris Kolesnikov, and the governor of Donetsk region, Volodymyr Lohvinenko.

As the journalist asked why it was prohibited to take pictures of the VIP box, Kalyshchuk hit his camera and then punched the journalist in his face. Kalyshchuk then told the journalist that his security guys would beat him further, outside the stadium.

The journalist suffered a concussion and some injuries to the face. He has been admitted to a neurosurgery clinic.

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