The damaged building of Ukrainian broadcaster 112 Ukraine is seen in Kiev on July 13, 2019. The broadcaster, along with NewsOne, have faced threats and attacks in the run-up to Ukraine's parliamentary elections. (AP/Evgeniy Maloletka)

Pro-Russia broadcasters attacked, threatened with violence in Ukraine

July 16, 2019 2:20 PM ET

On July 13, 2019, at approximately 3:40 a.m., an unknown attacker fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the Kiev office of TV news broadcaster 112 Ukraine, damaging the building but causing no injuries, according to media reports.

According to a statement by the Kiev police, authorities are considering the attack to be an "act of terrorism."

In the run-up to Ukraine's parliamentary elections on July 21, 112 Ukraine, a broadcaster owned by opposition parliamentary candidate Taras Kozak that often produces pro-Russia content, has also experienced a distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS) on its website in an effort to knock it offline, and its journalists have received threats, according to reports by the broadcaster and by Reuters.

In a statement on its website, 112 Ukraine director Yehor Benkendorf called on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who has not issued any public statements regarding the attacks on the broadcaster, to condemn the grenade attack.

On July 8, Ukrainian TV channel NewsOne, which is also owned by an opposition parliamentary candidate, Viktor Medvedchuk, and which also produces pro-Russia content, announced that it would drop a proposed joint teleconference with Russia's state-owned Russia-1 TV channel after facing threats of violence and legal action, according to independent newspaper Kyiv Post.

Since announcing the teleconference, which was originally scheduled for July 12, the station faced protests at its office and threats of physical attacks on social media, according to a NewsOne statement, and was threatened with criminal charges in a Facebook post by Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yury Lutsenko.

On July 15, the Security Service of Ukraine subpoenaed NewsOne's chief producer, Vasyl Holovanov, for questioning regarding the teleconference as part of a criminal investigation opened by the prosecutor general's office, the Kyiv Post reported.

CPJ emailed the Ukrainian prosecutor general's office and the Kiev police for comment but did not receive a response.

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