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Ukraine: State Leaders Should Address Pattern of Impunity for Violence against Journalists
In response to the death on June 20 of Ukrainian journalist Vadym Komarov, who succumbed to injuries he suffered during a brutal assault on May 4 in Cherkasy, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“This tragic incident sends the chilling message that journalists may be targeted for their work with few or no consequences,” said Marc Behrendt, director for Europe and Eurasia at Freedom House. “This attack is one in a series of violent incidents in which journalists have been targeted, and law enforcement failed to adequately investigate or hold perpetrators accountable. This cycle of impunity must not continue. President Zelenskyy’s spokesperson has promised a constructive national dialogue on protecting press freedom in Ukraine; if combined with real measures to provide security to journalists, this would demonstrate the commitment of Ukraine’s new leadership to protecting freedom of expression.”
On May 4, Vadym Komarov, a journalist in the city of Cherkasy, was attacked with a hammer in broad daylight in the center of the city. Komarov fell into a coma, dying 40 days later without regaining consciousness. The case was classified by authorities as an attempted murder in connection with his journalistic work; the police have yet to publicly name any suspects. The attack on Komarov is one of several recent incidents in which a journalist was attacked and perpetrators have not been held accountable.
Since the beginning of 2019, the Institute of Mass Information, a local media watchdog, has documented 99 violations of journalists’ rights in Ukraine, 72 of which were classified as “physical aggression.” In a recent survey of journalists by the human rights center ZMINA, 41 percent of respondents said physical threats posed one of the largest dangers to journalism and freedom of expression in Ukraine.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.