Arson attack – latest escalation against Inter TV
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns an arson attack on the headquarters of Ukraine’s Inter TV channel in Kiev following a protest against its editorial policies, regarded by the demonstrators as “pro-Russian.”
As the protest ended on the afternoon of 4 September, around 20 individuals used blazing tyres to set fire to the Inter TV building, causing serious damage to the first and second floors. One journalist was injured as the building was being evacuated. Several others suffered smoke inhalation.
“It is unacceptable that criticism of a media outlet’s editorial policies should give rise to such violence,” said Johann Bihr, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk.
“There can be no justification for the use of such methods. As there had been previous signs of hostility towards the TV channel, it is regrettable that the authorities were unable to prevent this attack. They now have a duty to do everything possible to shed light on this incident and prevent any recurrence.”
Hostile demonstrations continued yesterday and today outside the Inter TV building, which is protected by a metal barrier. The protesters, who include many veterans of the fighting against separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, continue to accuse Inter TV of being pro-Russian.
The TV channel’s headquarters was already the target of three violent protests in 2016 before the 4 September attack.
President Petro Poroshenko has condemned the attack on Inter TV, which is one of Ukraine’s most popular TV channels, while the police have arrested six suspects. Ukraine is ranked 107th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index.