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Ukraine12 October 2005

Journalist escapes a murder attempt

Reporters Without Borders called on Interior Minister Yuri Lutsenko to do everything possible to punish the perpetrators after journalist Natalia Vlassova, of Kanal 34 television, was brutally beaten on 4 October 2005, in Dnipropetrovsk in the east of the country.

“It is appalling that a journalist should end up in a hospital bed just because she was doing her job and carried out an investigation into the dubious practices on the part of a political party. This assault was intended to shut her up for good and death threats against her continue,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

The journalist was approached on 4 October by a person she did not know who called her by name. When she confirmed her identity, he began to viciously beat her.

Vlassova was investigating cases of corruption within the regional branch of the Batkivschina Party, headed by Gennadi Gliadchichin. Some local officials in the party had accused the leaders of the regional branch of giving out key posts in regional and municipal councils in exchange for sums of money ranging from 50 - 200,000 dollars.

Vlassova was taken to the city’s Number 16 hospital and will have to spend one month under observation. She is suffering from concussion and has numerous contusions to the head, face and upper body.

A few days before the attack, the journalist received telephone threats from someone she did not know, who told her “to stop meddling in the affairs of the Batkivschina party” - of former prime minister, Yulia Timochenko.

Vlassova continues to receive death threats on her hospital bed. “On 9 October, someone phoned me to say, ‘I swear I will bury you’. I decided to go on with my investigation and I’m looking for a Ukrainian or foreign media that is prepared to take the risk of publishing my reports. Because I have discovered that the same practices that I exposed in the Dnipropetrovsk region are going on in other regions of Ukraine”, she told Reporters Without Borders.

Police have opened a criminal investigation and Vlassova has been assigned bodyguards to protect her.

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