New York, June 30, 2014–The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the killing Sunday in the Donetsk region of Anatoly Klyan, a cameraman with the Russian state-owned broadcaster Pervy Kanal (Channel One). Klyan, 68, died at a local hospital where he was treated for a gun wound to his abdomen, local and international press reported.
Klyan, a Russian citizen, is the sixth journalist or media worker killed in Ukraine since violence erupted with the February ousting of former President Viktor Yanukovych, CPJ research shows.
“The killing of Anatoly Klyan underscores that eastern Ukraine remains extremely dangerous for journalists despite reports of dialogue between Ukrainian and Russian leaders,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “We urge Ukrainian authorities to carry out a swift and transparent investigation into Klyan’s death, and call on the pro-Russian separatists to ensure that they do not put journalists in unnecessarily dangerous situations.”
Channel One said Klyan was wounded when the bus in which he was traveling to a besieged military base outside Donetsk came under fire. In a video published by the pro-Kremlin broadcaster Life News, Klyan is seen saying that he was wounded and could not hold his camera any more, and then passing out on the floor of the bus. He was not wearing any protective gear, such as a helmet or flak jacket.
Ukrainian regional prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into the incident, the independent news website Ukrainska Pravda reported.
According to Forbes-Russia and the popular Moscow-based broadcaster Ekho Moskvy, the bus trip of journalists and civilians was organized by pro-Russia separatists with the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic. Both news outlets said that late on Sunday, separatists called journalists in the area to tell them that they had negotiated the surrender of a Ukrainian army unit and invited the journalists to film soldiers being greeted by their mothers.
The bus, driven by a man in a camouflage uniform with separatists’ insignia, came under fire when it approached the base, and swiftly retreated, according to the video and news reports. Photos of the bus, published by Russian media and foreign journalists on Twitter, showed no “press” signs on the bus’s exterior but some hand-written posters in the windows calling on to soldiers to stop fighting and come home.
Russian journalist Orkhan Dzhemal, who reached the base by taxi before the bus arrived, told independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta that he spoke to the women on the bus after the attack and found they were pro-Russia activists, not soldiers’ mothers.
Press freedom conditions in Ukraine, especially in the volatile southeastern regions, have steadily deteriorated in recent months, CPJ research shows. Journalists and news outlets continue to be targeted by all sides of the conflict.