Attacks on the Press
Despite its status as the 2013 chairman of the human rights and security agency the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Ukraine did little to promote press freedom in the region. Local reporters expressed doubt about the editorial independence of news outlets, as the owners of a critical broadcaster and a large media holding were replaced amid controversy. Several journalists also reported being threatened or harassed in connection with their coverage. At least 101 journalists were assaulted during the year, with police accused of participating in several of the attacks, local press freedom groups reported. In May, two journalists were attacked in front of police officers who failed to intervene. The official inaction spurred local demonstrations and an international outcry, leading to the assailants being given suspended prison terms four months later. While the conviction and life term handed in January to the killer of online journalist Georgy Gongadze in 2000 was hailed as a milestone on the road to justice, CPJ and others continued to push for the mastermind to be brought to justice. At year's end, as the nation plunged into a weeks-long political crisis over the government's failure to sign an association agreement with the European Union, two other brutal assaults against the press triggered nationwide protests and an international outcry: On December 1, riot police brutally attacked and beat at least 51 local and international journalists while dispersing protests in the capital. Later that month, investigative reporter Tetyana Chornovol was hospitalized and diagnosed with a concussion and multiple head injuries after being violently assaulted by at least three men.