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Ukraine19 November 2004

Journalist brutally beaten in Kirovograd

Reporters Without Borders condemned a brutal attack on Alexander Danutsa, head of news and presenter on TV-Stymul in Kirovograd, central Ukraine in ongoing systematic harassment of independent media ahead of presidential elections on 21 November.

The worldwide press freedom organisation warned the interior minister Mykola Bilokon in a letter "what might happen next to Alexander Danutsa" and urged him "to do everything possible to protect the journalist".

Danutsa was attacked in the early evening of 18 November as he got into the lift at the Turist Hotel that houses his TV studios. Two blackclad men followed him in and seized his camera and videotape and then brutally beat him.

The tape contained evidence linking local authorities to fraudulent activities in advance of polling.

His assailants told him that it was his last warning and that he should stop reporting on the election campaign. He was taken to hospital with concussion and bruising.

Danutsa said he had been receiving constant threats in connection with his reporting. A few days earlier an anonymous caller told him, "there’s a plot reserved for you at the cemetery" and on another occasion, "they are waiting for you at the hospital".

The channel itself has also received numerous threats since it began broadcasting the news programme headed by Danutsa. TV-Stymul also relays opposition television Kanal 5 in the Kirovograd region.




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