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Lviv oblast deputies attack a blogger during a livestream. Police opens a case

23.08.2022, 17:35
Photo: screenshot from Volodymyr Yavdyk's video
Photo: screenshot from Volodymyr Yavdyk's video

Video blogger from Lviv oblast Volodymyr Yavdyk reported that deputies of the Skole territorial community attacked him, stole his phone, and the community head forbade him to film. The City Council denies Yavdyk's accusations. In the meantime, the police has opened a criminal investigation into the attack on Yavdyk.

As Volodymyr Yavdyk told IMI, on August 18, he attended a session of the city's territorial community, which he had been assigned to cover by media outlet "Bahnet Natsii." At 11 o'clock, he started the livestream in front of the City Council building and started walking into the hall where the session was to take place. According to the blogger, local deputy Vasyl Kylyniv pushed him in the passageway and a verbal quarrel occurred between them. Then the video blogger went into the session hall, but the community head Mykola Romanyshyn forbade him to film.

"I show the deputies, I stand there in the corner so as not to disturb anyone, they play the national anthem, the chairman sees me. The session begins and the chairman says, 'Operator, turn off the camera.' Why should I turn it off? At that moment, we somewhat raised our voices. I admit that I was wrong, I overreacted. I asked which law says I have to turn off the camera, and he said it was martial law. I say, show me the document, your session is open, why should I not film it. He stops the session, says, call the police. I walk up close to him, the other deputies walk up behind me, he distracts me, tries to take away my phone, which I'm using to stream. Fails to pry the phone out of my hands, I step back, and they immediately attack me," the video blogger said.

According to Volodymyr Yavdyk, deputy Vasyl Kylyniv grabbed him by the neck and put him down onto the ground. "At the moment when he threw me down, the phone falls from the selfie stick and lands between the seats. He's holding me and beating me, while the other deputies run around looking for the phone. You can hear him hitting me on the phone, many people got into the frame. Then they take the phone in their hands, he sees that the phone has been found, starts beating me even more. And you can hear all this live. They could not turn off the phone. When he (Kylyniv – Ed.) saw that I didn't have the phone, he let me go," Yavdyk added.

In a comment to IMI, the head of the Skole city territorial community Mykola Romanyshin noted that he did not ban the video blogger from attending the meeting, but recommended not to hold a livestream and instead to post a recording.

"At the very beginning, he filmed himself, showing, 'I am going to a session, there may be provocations.' That means he deliberately decided to create such provocations. Starting by filming the City Council's administrative building, bothering the elderly, the deputies. We are operating under martial law, there are several dozen people there so as not to expose anyone to danger. But he started interrupting, 'Who are you, why are you telling me nonsense.' The dispute got to the point where I interrupted the session and the police were called, because he was interfering with our work. He then started shouting, yelling, approached me, snagged our deputy, tore his shirt, lost his phone, I don't know how. He lay down on the floor, started screaming, 'Don't hit me,' started shouting, 'Call the police,' because he'd lost his phone. He ripped the panel coverings off the central heating radiator as if someone was hiding somewhere there, thus damaging the City Council's property, in fact. This has all been recorded," said Romanyshyn.

Later, the police and the investigative task force arrived at the scene. Yavdyk filed a statement for obstruction of filming. After the incident, the authorities opened a case under Part 2 of Article 345-1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (deliberately inflicting beatings, light or moderate physical injuries on a journalist, his close relatives or family members, due to their legal professional activities).

Also on this day, the blogger and the paramedics went to a local hospital, where, according to him, the doctors refused to give him an appointment. Yavdyk suggests that the reason is that two heads of healthcare facilities are local council deputies.

"I felt ill. They did not want to see me, I called the police, they sent me to Lviv. There, the doctor took an X-ray and sent me back to Skole. I refused to see me again, I called the police again. Then the doctor told me to do an MRI. Did it in Drohobych. Passed the forensic examination. Two hernias, osteochondrosis, I can't turn my neck around, bruises, strangulation," the blogger said.

Yavdyk connects the attack on himself with his hobby, blogging, since he is an electrician by profession. "I work with various media, they give me certificates, editorial assignments. After work, I cover illegal deforestation, theft, corruption. In 2021, I opened cases against the chairman and deputies who were giving land away into the wrong hands. They are all mad at me," the video blogger said.

Instead, the head of the community, Mykola Romanyshin, noted: "He claims he is a journalist from Bahnet Natsii. This media outlet was registered in Donetsk, then re-registered in Dnipro. He was given an ID to walk around, to shout something. His friends are the antivaxxer Stakhiv, the collaborator Stremousov, who is currently in the Kherson occupation administration. He is only PR-ing himself in order to become someone."

According to Romanyshyn, he and Yavdyk are currently in the middle of court proceedings which involve the examination of facts that have been confirmed by linguistic expertise, that suggest that in his videos, the blogger does not assume certain facts about Mykola Romanyshyn, but presents them as statements.

IMI lawyer Roman Holovenko notes that there are currently no restrictions on filming or livestreaming local council meetings.

"Currently, there are no restrictions on filming or livestreaming local council meetings (and in general, restrictions on the collection and distribution of information during martial law are clearly insufficiently developed by the lawmakers). This applies not only to the work of journalists, but to any citizen (the scope of their rights is not very different, in fact). Some of Volodymyr Yavdyk's videos can indeed be viewed as antivaxx agenda, but if it is a livestream or just a video recording of a session, there are no grounds to oppose the filming itself, nor any grounds to take away gadgets or prevent the filming in any other way, because in the case the person's journalist status is confirmed, the offender may face criminal responsibility," Roman Holovenko said.

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