Members of the Central Electoral Commission of Ukraine sit near a screen displaying election results at the commission's headquarters in Kiev, on July 22. On July 30, a group of people disrupted a press conference in the city about alleged election fraud, and attacked staff of the state news agency Ukrinform. (Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko)

Assailants disrupt Ukrinform press conference, attack staff in Kiev

August 1, 2019 4:31 PM ET

On July 30, 2019, a group of men disrupted a press conference at the Kiev offices of Ukrinform, according to the state-run news agency and Ukrainskaya Pravda.

Approximately a dozen men, wearing shirts emblazoned with "Tradition and Order"--the name of a Ukrainian far-right nationalist group--forced their way into the press conference, injuring at least three Ukrinform staff and damaging equipment, according to Kyiv Post and a Facebook post by Sergiy Tomilenko, head of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine. The men broke the door to enter the room and hit members of staff who tried to block them, Ukrinform reported. The press conference was about allegations of electoral fraud in the July parliamentary elections.

The assailants threw water and eggs at one of the speakers, Andriy Aksionov, a candidate in the parliamentary election who had spoken out about electoral fraud. They shouted at Aksionov, calling him a Russian citizen and accusing him of being pro-Russia, according to the same reports.

The Ukrainian organization Tradition and Order has been accused of hate speech and attacks on the Roma, LGBTQI community, and minority groups, according to Human Rights Watch.

Tomilenko and the union condemned the attack on Facebook and called on the authorities to investigate.

Police apprehended two men at the scene and have opened a criminal investigation, according to media reports. The Kiev police did not immediately respond to CPJ's August 1 email requesting information.

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