Ukrainian journalists attacked in event in Kiev

Ukrainian nationalist activists disrupted a book presentation in Kiev on March 14, 2013, and attacked journalists and other individuals present, according to news reports.

Members of Ukraine’s Svoboda (Freedom) party started chanting anti-Stalin slogans as author Nikolai Starikov presented the Ukrainian version of his controversial book, Stalin. Let’s Remember Together, news reports said. Svoboda is a radical Ukrainian nationalist right-wing political party, which captured 10 percent of the vote in the country’s October 2012 parliamentary elections. The book presentation was scheduled in time for the 60th anniversary of Stalin’s death this year, the reports said.

The party members began to attack the audience members, including journalists, one of whom later documented the attack on her Facebook page. Oksana Shkoda, chief editor for Obyektivnaya Gazeta, a local opposition and independent newspaper, said that she was physically attacked and witnessed several of her colleagues being attacked by party members. She also said that guards at the event did not help them. News reports did not offer further details on the attack.

Police arrived on the scene after the crowd had dispersed, according to news reports. Officers conducted several interviews and filed a report on “hooliganism,” the reports said.

CPJ’s calls and messages to representatives of the Svoboda party were not returned.