New York, July 29, 2013--Federal authorities in Ukraine should take over the investigation into today's brutal attack on a TV journalist who had regularly reported on allegations of corruption in the regional police force, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Sergei Ostapenko, a reporter for Irta, suffered a broken jaw and other injuries in the attack outside his apartment building in Lugansk, eastern Ukraine, according to news reports.
"When a reporter who exposed alleged wrongdoing in the regional police is attacked, federal authorities have an obligation to step in and ensure the integrity of the investigation," CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. "We hold authorities responsible for Sergei Ostapenko's well-being and the apprehension of those responsible for the attack."
Ostapenko is co-host of the Irta program "Dosit Movchati" (Enough Being Silent), which has reported critically about regional traffic police. The show's reports have alleged widespread corruption, including bribery, within the regional police department. In June, the Lugansk regional police directorate filed a defamation lawsuit against Ostapenko and Irta in connection with a broadcast of "Dosit Movchati," which alleged traffic police were involved in a corruption scandal. The lawsuit is currently pending, news reports said.
Ostapenko told Irta-Fax, a news website affiliated with his employer, that the two assailants did not take his wallet or mobile phone. Regional police have opened a preliminary investigation into the attack, according to news reports.
Today's attack against Ostapenko is the second brutal assault in a week against a journalist reporting critically on traffic police in eastern Ukraine, CPJ research shows. Oleg Bogdanov, a journalist with the Web-based news portal Dorozhny Kontrol, was also hospitalized with a broken nose and jaw after two unidentified men assaulted him near his home in the eastern city of Donetsk on July 21. Bogdanov said that he believed the attack was related to his reporting, but did not specify any particular articles that might have provoked the episode. Dorozhny Kontrol reports on abuses committed by Ukrainian traffic police and other local law enforcement and security agencies.
- For more data and analysis, visit CPJ's Ukraine page.