New York, October 7, 2005 — The Committee to Protect Journalists today condemned an attack on a Ukrainian television reporter by an unidentified assailant who warned her to stop investigating the political party headed by former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko. Reporter Natalya Vlasova of 34 Kanal, a television station in the eastern industrial city of Dnepropetrovsk, was attacked on Tuesday in a downtown street, and repeatedly hit in the head and chest, her editor Ruslan Uralov told CPJ. She is in hospital with concussion and bruising.
The attacker did not rob Vlasova but warned her to stop “poking her nose” into the affairs of the Batkivshchina (Fatherland) Party, Uralov said.
The local press reported that Vlasova had received anonymous threatening telephone phone calls for 10 days before the attack. She reported the threats to the police the day before she was beaten. The caller threatened to harm Vlasova, her parents, and six-year-old daughter if she did not stop looking into the business dealings of Batkivshchina, the media said. Vlasova was investigating the local Dnepropetrovsk branch of the party, they said.
Uralov, who is editor-in-chief of 34 Kanal’s news department, said the station had not assigned Vlasova to such an investigation but she may have been carrying it out on her own initiative. The Dnepropetrovsk police opened a criminal case into the attack on Wednesday. CPJ is monitoring the investigation.
President Viktor Yushchenko, who was swept to power after the so-called Orange Revolution last year, dismissed Timoshenko and other ministers in September after months of power struggles and allegations of corruption inside his government.