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Ukraine3 June 2004

Editor of weekly paper beaten up

Reporters Without Borders today urged Ukrainian interior minister Mykola Bilokon to make a "thorough and open investigation" into an attack by three unknown men on Petro Kobevko, editor of the weekly Chas, in the western town of Chernivtsi. It called the 28 May attack "very alarming" in view of the presidential election due this autumn.

Kobevko, who is still in hospital, was badly bruised on the head and face after a man came to his office, said he had compromising information about a member of parliament and asked him to follow him. As Kobevko left the office, the man hit him and two other men were waiting outside.

The editor said the attack was not linked to any particular article but to the paper’s general position. Since it was founded, it has been prosecuted 48 times for articles it has published.

The press freedom situation in Ukraine has been very worrying since the beginning of the year, with two online journalists jailed in the space of two weeks. Reporters Without Borders said in its 2004 annual report that physical attacks on journalists increased further last year and that investigations into the murder of several of them were getting nowhere.

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