In Kiev Riots, Journalists Targeted

Dmytro Gnap, an investigative journalist and reporter for Ukraine's Hromadske TV, was among the first people targeted by Kiev police last week as the mass protests there were just beginning. Gnap was filming a group of young men who had gathered in a city center park. He had been tipped that they were thugs, hired by government loyalists to help put back protesters against President Viktor Yanukovych and his decision to vote against an EU agreement to bring his country closer to Europe, and thus further from Moscow.

Gnap was beaten in the face. His phone was taken, and his cameraman was stripped of his camera. He has been one of perhaps dozens of reporters injured trying to cover the dramatic events that have brought Ukraine to a standstill. Over the weekend despite a government imposed a ban on protest rallies, anywhere from 100,000 to 350,000 people gathered in Independence Square, demanding Yanukovych’s resignation. The future of the country's leaders remains uncertain.

According to the Guardian, the European Commission president called the agreement that Yanukovych refused to sign the "most ambitious" agreement ever offered to a non-member state. It would have meant that Moscow could not be handed a veto over sovereign Ukraine's relations with Europe. "The Ukrainian people should be disappointed," said President Dalia Grybauskaite of Lithuania, where a summit was hosted and the agreement put forth. "Today's Ukrainian leadership has chosen a way which is going nowhere."

President Yanukovych admitted that pressure from Russia was behind his decision not to sign the agreement.

Kiev police have acted with apparent determination to stop journalists from covering the unfolding events, even violently. The Telekrytyka media watchdog cited 40 injured journalists and photographers, including New York Times photographer Joseph Sywenkyj, reportedly injured when shrapnel from a sound grenade hit him in the face. Agence France-Presse photographer Serhiy Supinskiy was attacked by a riot police officer on Bankova Street, he said. The officer deliberately hit his photography equipment, and destroyed his flash and lens, Supinsky said.

The Dart Center has resources for journalists covering riots here.

Other resources for journalists include this tip sheet on covering civil disorder from INSI, the International News Safety Institute.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, CPJ, offers this resource on covering riots.