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Ukraine21 March 2005

Provincial TV journalist threatened over municipal development scandal

Reporters Without Borders today urged the Ukrainian authorities to investigate a death threat against local TV journalist Angelika Nesterchuk in the city of Jitomir (130 km west of Kiev) in connection with her investigation into a corruption scandal allegedly involving the mayor and a construction company.

Nesterchuk, who presents the programme "Jitomir News" for the regional state-owned TV broadcaster Gosudarstvennoe Radio I Televidenie, was threatened by a person waiting in the stairwell of her apartment building on 16 March.

In a letter to interior minister Yuri Lutsenko, Reporters Without Borders said it expected "a transparent and thorough" investigation into the threat. "It is alarming that local people are using such gangster-like methods to try to intimidate a journalist, who urgently needs protection," the organization added.

Referring to plans to build a huge shopping centre in Jitomir called "Merkuri," the person waiting in Nesterchuk’s apartment building told her: "Don’t talk about Merkuri or you will be buried in its foundations." Nesterchuk was preparing four reports about illegal building permits granted by major Georgy Buravkov and she intended to accuse a construction company of paying bribes to be able to build the centre.

"Since this threat, I have preferred not to name the building company," Nesterchuk told Reporters Without Borders. "I hope the mayor will take measures for my protection during the protest we are organizing," she added, referring to a demonstration due to take place tomorrow outside the city hall to protest against the mayor’s alleged corruption.




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