Joint Statement by Media Representatives to Protect Anti-Corruption Action Center Leader
January 20 – Detector Media and the Institute for Mass Information initiated a statement to protect Vitaliy Shabunin, leader of the non-governmental organization Anti-Corruption Action Centre (ACAC), from accusations that he attacked a journalist.
“The prosecutor changed the article of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (CCU) that was the basis for a notice of suspicion to Vitaliy Shabunin. Now, instead of part 2 of article 122 of the CCU (intentional moderate bodily harm to another person), Shabunin is incriminated under part 2 of article 345-1 of the CCU (threat or violence against a journalist), which carries a more severe punishment — imprisonment for up to five years,” DM and IMI stated.
“However, in the video, where it was documented that Vitaliy Shabunin punched Vsevolod Filimonenko, who introduced himself as a journalist, we can clearly hear the conflict occurred due to personal reasons. Though aggressive, Shabunin protected the honor and dignity of a woman, an employee of the ACAC, who had been abused by Filimonenko earlier. This explicitly indicates a personal reason not related to Vsevolod Filimonenko’s professional activities. That is why we consider the prosecutor’s decision groundless in changing the CCU’s article according to which a notice of suspicion was provided to Vitaliy Shabunin,” the statement reads.
“At the same time, we ask for an immediate investigation into all attacks on colleagues and journalists related to their professional activities. We would like to draw public attention to the fact that a lot of attacks on journalists by law enforcement representatives in 2017 have not yet been properly investigated and considered by courts. None of the attackers have received punishment. For example, Yuriy Krysin, who was involved in the murder of journalist Viacheslav Veremiy in 2014, was sentenced under the article ‘Hooliganism.’”
“We consider that such facts demonstrate unwillingness on behalf of the authorities to investigate cases related to preventing journalists from professional activities,” IMI and Detector Media wrote.
The statement is open for signing. Those willing to sign should send their names to firstname.lastname@example.org.
More the Institute for Mass Information’s website in Ukrainian.