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Journalist harassed by police officer and court security guard

(IMI/IFEX) - Officials at the Kyiv-Svyatoshin district court have responded to a complaint filed at the office of Ukraine's prosecutor general by freelance journalist and lawyer Valentyna Prybylska regarding a 5 May 2009 incident in which Prybylska was harassed by a police officer and a court security guard for taking a picture of a sign posted on a courtroom door.

The president of the court, Volodymyr Lysenko, said her claim was upheld and that the signs, which were posted on all courtroom doors and read "No admittance. Authorised persons only", had been removed.

"A hearing run by judge Dmytro Usatov had been delayed and when I went upstairs, I could see every courtroom door had the sign 'No admittance. Authorised persons only', which was contrary to article 6 of the Civil Procedure Code of Ukraine and article 129 of the Constitution of Ukraine. I took a picture with my portable camera. Suddenly, a person in civilian clothes came out the office of the deputy president of the court, Mr Kotsyurba, and told me I would have a lot of problems. I asked him to name himself and I presented my identity card. He ignored it, but said he was a police officer", reported Prybylska to the Institute of Mass Information (IMI).

When Prybylska came downstairs, the police officer and a security guard assaulted her. She said they tried to seize her camera, twisted her arms and hit her legs. They also prevented her from entering judge Usatov's office.

Prybylska told IMI that she was prevented from carrying out her duties as both a journalist and a lawyer. She explained that the matter has been brought to the attention of the office of the public prosecutor for Svyatoshin district in Kyiv, adding that "my boss Yuriy Lukanov (head of the Kyiv independent media trade union) appealed to the GPO and the ministry of internal affairs, demanding all necessarily measures be taken according to the law."

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