On July 5th, a mob of dozens of masked thugs attacked the offices of Kiev’s Russian language newspaper “Vesti” using guns, rocks and incendiary flares. The newspaper’s security guard was beaten and left with a broken jaw and tear gas was thrown into the building through the broken windows.
The paper’s night shift editor described the attack thus: “At first I heard several shots, most probably from an automatic weapon. Then stones and Molotov cocktails flew into the windows on the ground and first floors. After that tear gas was blown into the building, which very quickly filled the whole office – it’s still difficult to breathe there. One of the security guards, who tried to oppose the bandits, was beaten,” Grigory Grin wrote.
Vesti has been subject to a constant campaign of harassment. Two weeks prior to the attack a group of people led by Kiev city council deputy and Euromaidan leader Igor Lutsenko picketed the newspaper. At that time, according to Vesti, Lutsenko warned said that the “action will be peaceful for the first and last time, and threatened mayhem.”
A threatening sign was posted to the newspaper offices on June 27 with the inscription “the newspaper should support the authorities” (according to a report in Vesti).
Vesti journalists have written a letter to Ukraine’s president, prime minister and the speaker of the Rada in which they say that this is not just an attack on Vesti but against freedom of the media in general:
“It’s not just about the Vesti. Those who have set themselves the goal of destroying us will do the same to any TV channel they will deem as ‘wrong’ and will have no moral scruples about it. Any media outlet covering events in a way that doesn’t please the behind-the-curtain clients may be deemed as ‘wrong’. As a result, we will find ourselves in a country governed by dictatorship, rather than democracy.”
SARU is offering a prize to any readers who can point out a single reference to this attack in the Western media.