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Ukraine: Brutal attack by MP on TV boss accused of being 'pro-Russia' must be investigated

A violent attack yesterday by a nationalist member of parliament against the director of one of Ukraine’s leading TV channels must be urgently investigated, and those responsible brought to justice, Amnesty International said today.

Oleksandr Panteleymonov, head of the First National TV Channel, was visited in his offices by Igor Miroshnichenko from the Svoboda (Freedom) Party, who is also a member of the parliamentary committee on freedom of speech. Miroshnichenko was joined by at least five thugs who beat Panteleymonov and forced him to write a resignation letter.

The attackers accused Panteleymonov of working for the Russian authorities after a live broadcast of the signing of the agreement between President Putin, and the de-facto Crimean authorities.

They used racist language and demanded that Panteleymonov apologise. They filmed the whole attack and posted it on the internet. The attackers then abducted Panteleymonov telling him that he would be forced to apologise to protesters still camping out on Independence Square. He was released a few hours after the attack became public.

Heather McGill, Amnesty’s Ukraine researcher, said:

“It is astonishing that a member of the parliamentary committee on freedom of speech was involved in this attack. The acting authorities must send a signal that this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated in Ukraine.

“This assault on freedom of expression must be immediately investigated and those responsible must be prosecuted. Anything less will only open the door to further attacks against media professionals and activists.

“The acting Ukrainian authorities must waste no time in demonstrating that basic human rights are protected in Ukraine and that nobody will face discrimination because of their political views or ethnic origin.”

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