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Ukraine4 March 2005

New government says it has identified those who set fire to newspaper last August

It was policemen who "set fire" to the independent daily Postoup on 19 August, Ukrainian interior minister Hennady Moskal said yesterday in Lviv. He said the police officers responsible have been identified and he has urged them to "confess everything. The fire caused a great deal of damage, destroying seven years of photo archives. The opposition of that time - then led by Viktor Yushchenko, now president - had described the fire as an attempt to intimidate an opposition newspaper.

20 August 2004 Newspaper office burned and journalist attacked

Reporters Without Borders called today on Ukrainian interior minister Mykola Bilokon to investigate "thoroughly and openly" a fire that destroyed part of the offices of the independent daily Postoup in the western town of Lviv on 19 August. It noted that the fire, which the authorities said was deliberately set, came two months before national presidential elections.

It also called for a speedy enquiry into whether a 17 August attack on Dmytro Shkuropat, of the daily paper Iskra, in Zaporizhya (570 km south of Kiev), was related to his journalistic work.

The early-morning fire at Postoup caused extensive damage, especially to the paper’s library. Managing director Andriy Bilous told Reporters Without Borders that a smaller fire had broken out at the paper’s offices a week earlier. He said the attacks were probably due to recently-published articles exposing abuses of power by regional officials.

Journalist Shkuropat was attacked and knocked out in the street. His attacker made off with tapes of interviews containing criticism of corrupt local and regional authorities. Isrka’s director Vikto Ilichyov said the paper’s journalists had been threatened about two weeks earlier.

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