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Brutal attack on reporter restores Ukraine protest passion

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-12-26

Protesters demanded Ukraine’s interior minister resign on Thursday after an opposition journalist known for documenting the extravagance of the country’s political elite was chased down in her car and savagely beaten in a midnight attack.

On Thursday, hundreds of demonstrators clutching pictures of Tetyana Chornovil’s badly bruised face marched on the Interior Ministry in the capital, Kiev.

Tetyana Chornovil, who writes for the Ukrainska Pravda opposition website, was attacked overnight Tuesday outside the capital.

The attack came hours after she posted pictures online of what she said was Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko’s home, part of a campaign to expose the opulence of the political elite under President Viktor Yanukovich.

“Here lives the executioner,” the journalist wrote in her blog, above pictures of a handsome country property.

Hours later, Chornovil was chased on a road outside the capital, a dashboard camera capturing how a black Porsche Cayenne veered and rammed into her car before at least two men jumped out.

Photographs and video released later showed a beaten and bloodied Chornovil on a hospital bed. Her lips were swollen and split, one eye blackened and closed by bruising.

Condemnation for the attack

The attack on the 34-year-old restored passion to protests which have been losing steam more than a month after the government spurned a pact on closer ties with the European Union, turning instead to former Soviet master Moscow.

Pro-EU demonstrators have been occupying central Kiev but their numbers have been falling since Russia offered Ukraine a $15 billion bailout this month.

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the United States embassy in Kiev condemned the attack.

The embassy noted “a strikingly similar series of events over the last few weeks, targeting individuals, property, and political activity, apparently aimed at intimidating or punishing those linked to the ... protests.”

“We condemn the attack and call for an immediate investigation, which unlike previous such incidents must result in those responsible being held fully accountable under the law,” it said in a statement.

Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovich on Wednesday called on police to find those responsible for the attack. Two men were later detained and police said they had identified a third.

Ukraine looks east

The president’s pivot away from Europe last month has thrown the country of 46 million people into turmoil, exposing a deep rift among Ukrainians over whether their future lies with the EU or Russia.

Rejecting the EU trade deal, Yanukovich turned instead to Russia for an aid package worth $15 billion to help ease a worsening financial crisis. It received a first $3 billion tranche this week.

On Thursday, ratings agency Standard and Poor’s revised the outlook on Ukraine’s long-term sovereign ‘B-‘ rating to stable from negative, saying the bailout would cover the country’s financing needs over the next year.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

Date created : 2013-12-26

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