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May 7, 2019 - Updated on May 9, 2019

Ukrainian reporter fights for his life after violent attack

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is appalled by last weekend’s brutal attack on Ukrainian citizen-journalist Vadym Komarov in broad daylight in the centre of Cherkasy, a city 190 km southeast of Kyiv, and calls on the authorities to do their utmost to ensure that this murder attempt does not go unpunished.

Komarov was hospitalized in a critical condition after the 4 May attack, in which he received several blows to the head. He was still in a coma yesterday and doctors were refusing to make any prognosis. The police, who say that his money and mobile phone were not taken during the attack, are treating it as a murder attempt.

“We note that the authorities lost no time in launching an investigation and we urge them to do everything possible to ensure that this horrific attack does not go unpunished,” said Johann Bihr, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk. “Quickly identifying its perpetrator and any instigators is the only way to dispel this murder attempt’s chilling effect.”

Although his reporting is mainly posted on Facebook, Komarov is well known in Cherkasy for his coverage of local corruption, real estate issues and administrative incompetence. His posts are often picked up by local news websites, for whom he sometimes works. Shots were fired at him in September 2016 and he was beaten while participating in a protest in 2017 against a company that executes public works contracts.

After falling for several years, cases of violence against journalists in Ukraine rose again in 2018. According to the Institute of Mass Information (IMI), an RSF partner organization, there were 31 cases of journalists being beaten or injured in 2018, 33 cases of threats and 96 cases of obstruction of varying degrees of violence (including denial of access, theft of material and assault). Most of these attacks went unpunished.

Ukraine is ranked 102nd out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.