Protests Continue in Kyiv, RFE/RL Crew Arrested

Jessica Golloher

Voice of America

January 20, 2014

MOSCOW, RUSSIA — An RFE/RL reporting crew has been arrested in Kyiv as the protests in the Ukrainian capital have escalated into street battles with riot police.

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RFE/RL Rreports

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RFE/RL correspondents Dmytro Barkar and Ihor Iskhakov were also detained on January 20 while they were providing live video coverage of the clashes.

Both journalists were released hours later and said they had been beaten by police. Their faces showed bruises and scratches. Iskhakov said his nose may have been broken and he also might have a concussion.

The journalists said the videocamera they were using is missing.

Police spokeswoman Inna Hamaliy told RFE/RL that Iskhakov and Barkar were detained as “witnesses.”

Earlier on January 19, tens of thousands of people rallied on Kyiv’s Independence Square against tough new antiprotest legislation.

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A Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty crew was arrested in the capital of Ukraine on Monday, this after demonstrations continued overnight in the capital of Kiev.

Ukrainians are protesting new legislation that introduces criminal and legislative penalties on public demonstrations and more restrictions on the Internet and mass media. It also requires some independent groups to register as foreign agents if they receive funding from foreign sources while participating in political activities.

Demonstrators are also protesting how quickly the draft law was introduced by the ruling Party of Regions on January 14, the first parliament was in session after a holiday recess. It was passed two days later. The New York-based group Human Rights Watch is insisting that the law be repealed.

RFE/RL reported that a Radio Liberty news team went to cover the demonstrations on Hrushevsky Street in Kyiv around 8:00 a.m., local time. The media outlet said members of the team came into contact with law enforcement personnel and that their broadcast was interrupted.

Radio Liberty said one of its employees received numerous contusions and abrasions, allegedly at the hands of police, just for doing his job. Officials with the news outlet said they were trying to find out why its team was detained.

Meanwhile, one of the demonstrators in Kyiv, retired colonel Yury Boyarski, said he wanted police and officials to know that the legislation was wrong and that police should serve the people.

He said that he attended the demonstrations because riot police gave an oath to serve the Ukrainian people. He said that the authorities came and went, but the people stayed and the people always won. He said that he’s come to remind the authorities that the people wanted a peaceful Ukraine.

Dozens of people have been injured in the latest demonstrations in Ukraine. Late last year, hundreds of thousands gathered across the country to protest President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to reject a free trade agreement with the European Union and seek closer ties to Moscow.

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