At least 35 reporters wounded in Ukraine, beatings alleged

At least 35 reporters have been wounded in the clashes between security forces and protesters in Kiev over the last days, a Ukrainian media rights group said Tuesday, Jan 21, 2014, with two journalists who were detained saying they were beaten by pol
At least 35 reporters have been wounded in the clashes between security forces and protesters in Kiev over the last days, a Ukrainian media rights group said Tuesday, Jan 21, 2014, with two journalists who were detained saying they were beaten by police. Protesters reinforce their barricade in Kiev on Tuesday during clashing break of the opposition and the police. -- PHOTO: AFP

KIEV (AFP) - At least 35 reporters have been wounded in the clashes between security forces and protesters in Kiev over the last days, a Ukrainian media rights group said Tuesday, with two journalists who were detained saying they were beaten by police.

Ukrainian press freedom group the Institute of Mass Information listed the names of 35 reporters hurt since the clashes broke out on Sunday.

Those injured are mainly Ukrainian journalists although the group said a correspondent for Russian TV channel REN TV was hurt by a stun grenade and is in hospital with a suspected broken leg.

A particular fear for the journalists covering the events have been rubber bullets fired by the police during the worst phases of the clashes, which have caused several cases of eye injuries.

Police arrested two correspondents from the Ukrainian operation of US-funded Radio Free Europe, Radio Svoboda, when the clashes broke out on Sunday and only released them after several hours in detention.

The journalists, correspondent Dmytro Barkar and cameraman Igor Iskhanov, both said that they had been beaten by the police forces when they were arrested.

"They brutally knocked me down and ripped off my helmet. They hit me in the head several times with their batons. They twisted my arms and dragged me to the police van," Mr Barkar said in a video posted on the radio station's website.

"I said many times I was not fighting and I was not a participant," he said in the video, which showed one of his eyes badly swollen.

Cameraman Iskhanov said the police shouted at him to put his face down on the ground and "then they picked me up and as they carried me through the crowd they hit me with whatever they had."

Ukraine's press freedom was long seen as one of the main gains of the 2004 Orange Revolution popular uprising that forced the annulment of rigged elections.

However under the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych from 2010 Ukraine has slid down global press freedom rankings and journalists repeatedly complain of harassment from the authorities.

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