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Journalist suffers savage beating in Donetsk

(IMI/IFEX) - On 21 September 2010, the press reported that Artem Furmanyuk, a journalist in Donetsk, was severely beaten outside his home. The incident took place on the night of 17 September after a dispute with a group of strangers. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported that, according to Furmanyuk, who runs a news website devoted to exposing crime and corruption in the Donetsk region, police arrived at the scene after one of the strangers telephoned friends working in the police force. He said the police immediately handcuffed him, his brother Anton Furmanyuk, and their two friends, Yevhen Demchenko and Roman Samoylov. "They came up and immediately began handcuffing us, they said they were going to take us to the Kalininskyy district police station," Furmanyuk said.

Furmanyuk added that the officers pinned him to the ground before kicking him and beating him with truncheons. "I was beaten by three men," he said, "I saw only two of them, but my brother says there were three. In the end I was screaming in agony, I could no longer bear it."

The journalist claims he was severely beaten a second time inside the police station. He suffered broken ribs, a severe eye injury, cuts and numerous bruises. His friend Samoylov says police sprayed tear gas into his eyes. "It all happened very quickly, without any warning. They didn't introduce themselves and didn't show any documents," Samoylov said. "They immediately put handcuffs on Anton, and Artem and I protested. I was immediately sprayed with tear gas. After that I could only hear shouting and swearing, then they started beating us."

Samoylov claimed the officers also ripped a gold chain off his neck and stole the contents of his wallet. Furmanyuk and his friends were released without charge. The journalist told the Deutsche Welle (DW) broadcast service that he did not discount the possibility that the assault was designed as an act of provocation linked to his professional activities as a journalist, according to DW's Ukrainian service.

This is the second incident in Donetsk in less than a week where journalists have suffered police abuse, according to information from DW. On 12 September, the head of the local Union of Professional Journalists, Hennady Berezovskyy, was assaulted. Berezovskyy appealed to the head of state asking for guarantees of protection for him and his family against the police's arbitrary actions.

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