Local news website in Ukraine torched, server attacked

New York, February 23, 2018–The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned last night’s arson attack on the independent, investigative news website Chetverta Vlada (Fourth Power) in Ukraine’s western city of Rivne.

According to a report from the Rivne police, an unknown assailant entered the building housing the website’s offices and used two gasoline-filled bottles to start the fire, destroying the first-floor offices. The assailant fled the scene, the Kiev-based media freedom advocacy group Institute for Mass Information (IMI) reported.

“We call on Ukrainian authorities to apprehend the persons responsible for the arson attack on Chetverta Vlada, as well as those responsible for an earlier attack on the website’s server, without delay, and to ensure that they are prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “Chetverta Vlada is known for its reporting on local corruption, so journalism must be considered the motive for these crimes.”

The outlet’s deputy chief editor, Antonina Torbich, told IMI that four people, including her minor son, were in the office at the time of the attack, and no one was injured.

Rivne police said on their website that they have opened an investigation into the attack.

The arson attack on Chetverta Vlada, which is known for its investigations into local corruption, took place after unknown persons on February 17 robbed the offices hosting the website’s server, incapacitating the outlet, according to IMI. The website was still inaccessible today at the time of publication.