Far Right Politicians Storm Ukraine TV Company and Force Chief to Resign

Far Right Politicians Storm Ukraine TV Company and Force Chief to Resign

The head of a TV station in Kiev was assaulted and forced to write a letter of resignation after far-right politicians stormed his office.

Oleksandr Panteleymonov was forced to write the letter by members of the Svoboda party, including an MP, who filmed the incident and posted it online:

Video streaming by Ustream

The members of the hard line nationalist party accused Mr Panteleymonv of broadcasting Russian propaganda , calling him “Moscow trash”. They can be heard yelling at him: “Sit down. Write your resignation quickly now, you animal.”

One of those present was Svoboda MP Igor Miroshnichenko, who sits on the Ukrainian parliament’s free speech committee. He said Panteleymonov had “served Putin and Russian propaganda… at a time when Ukrainians were dying on the streets.”

Mr Panteleymonov is head of the Ukrainian state television company that runs the First Channel. It was the channel’s decision to screen a ceremony where Russian President Putin signed a bill making Crimea part of the Russian Federation that infuriated the ultra-nationalists.

It had previously been accused of censorship and screening propaganda under ousted Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovich.

The Guardian quotes Heather McGill, Ukraine researcher for Amnesty International as saying: “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

“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.”

Russia annexed the Crimea peninsula this week after the province’s population voted overwhelmingly to return to Russian rule after six decades as part of Ukraine.

The move has not been recognised by Ukraine, but the interim government in Kiev has been powerless to stop it.