Ukrainian journalist dies of head injuries sustained in attack

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is shocked to learn that Ukrainian journalist Vadym Komarov died today from the head injuries he sustained in a still unpunished attack on 4 May in the central city of Cherkasy. Combatting impunity for violence against journalists should be a matter of the utmost urgency for the Ukrainian authorities, RSF said.

Komarov was well known for his investigative reporting on corruption in Cherkasy and had been the target of several murder attempts in recent years. An investigation was opened into the brutal attack – now a murder – in the city centre on 4 May but it remains unpunished.

Komarov’s death comes less than two weeks after cameraman Vadym Makaryuk was attacked and badly beaten while filming a violent clash between traders, war veterans and far-right activists in a market in the northeastern city of Kharkov on 7 June, with the result that he was hospitalized in a critical condition with cerebral haemorrhaging. His life is no longer in danger but he has amnesia and his right hand is paralysed.

“Vadym Komarov’s murder highlights the alarming level of violence that journalists face in Ukraine and the urgent need to combat impunity for this violence,” said Johann Bihr, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk.

“It is time to get to grips with this problem in order to prevent a climate of intimidation from taking hold. We call on the authorities to do everything possible to ensure that this murder and the other attacks against journalists do not remain unpunished.”

After falling for several years, cases of violence against journalists in Ukraine began to rise again in 2018. According to the Institute of Mass Information (IMI), an RSF partner organization, at least six journalists were beaten or injured during the first five months of 2019, 12 were threatened and 48 were subjected to various forms of obstruction including assault, smashing of equipment and denial of access.

Most of these attacks went unpunished, as did well-known journalist Pavel Sheremet’s shocking murder in Kiev in 2016.

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

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Updated on 20.06.2019