Ukrainian demonstrators detained, journalists beaten at protest against police brutality
[On the evening of 18 July 2013], Dmitro Demishev and Andrei Kovalev from Channel 5 were beaten and approximately 10 demonstrators were detained as the special police battalion, Berkut, was clearing out Maidan Nezalezhnosti, a square in the center of Kyiv. Violence against journalists appears on the rise in Ukraine as cases of attacks against journalist covering public demonstrations appear to be increasing, raising concerns about a deteriorating climate for the freedom of expression. In May 2013, two journalists were attacked by unknown persons as the police stood by. The authorities investigated the case only after the media and public protested their inaction.
Public distrust of the police in Ukraine has been inflamed in recent weeks by several cases of violent attacks by police officers, most notably the alleged cover-up of a violent gang-rape of a woman by police in Vradiyivka. Demonstrators in Kyiv and elsewhere in Ukraine are demanding the reform of the police force and the resignation of the Minister of Internal Affairs, Vitaly Zakharchenko. A recent poll suggested that less than 25% of the population trust the police. As Ukraine heads the OSCE this year and is seeking closer relations with the EU and U.S., its record on protecting journalists and ensuring fundamental rights should rightly be under a microscope.