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Man who hit "Kolo" journalist in the face fined UAH 850

14.09.2023, 11:57
Photo: Screenshot from a video by Svoboda Slova on YouTube
Photo: Screenshot from a video by Svoboda Slova on YouTube

The Oktyabrsky District Court of Poltava fined the man who hit the "Kolo" chief editor, Tetyana Tsirulnik, in the face UAH 850.

The ruling was issued on September 8. The court found the man guilty of committing a criminal misdemeanor as defined in Part 1 of Art. 125 of the Criminal Code (intended minor bodily injury), reports Tetyana Tsirulnik, the IMI representative in Poltava oblast.

"I am not satisfied with how the criminal offense was classified: I would have liked my attacker to be tried under Part 1 of Art. 345 of the Criminal Code, 'Threats or violence against a journalist,' but Vitaly Burmaka's actions were classified as Part 1 of Art. 125: 'Intended minor bodily injury.' It was very important for me and for the journalistic community to have him punished precisely for assaulting a journalist. Because I came to the Eternal Flame on May 9 not to have a walk, but to report, for which I was beaten," said Tetyana Tsirulnik.

At the same time, the journalist remarks that part of the situation was her own fault.

"Had I worn a cap with the Kolo.News logo, or a PRESS vest, or that damned journalist ID badge, I probably would have been hit anyway, but that would have given the police grounds to classify the case as an attack on a journalist! In fact, the law does not force journalists to wear a badge visibly, it can be carried in a bag and shown on demand. But the badge is not visible, it will be very difficult for you to prove in court that your attacker beat you because you were reporting, specifically. It will just be an attack based on sudden hostility (although sometimes you can get beaten just for having a badge – the Revolution of Dignity has a lot of such examples)," said the journalist.

In addition, Tetyana Tsirulnik said that the attacker tried to smear her in court.

"He claimed to have 'inquired with the camerapeople, who said that I was a provocateur.' He swore that I ran after him shouting 'f****t' and called him a person who 'doesn't love Ukraine, but loves a man.' Yes, I am quoting because I recorded the court session on an audio recorded, the law allows it. This is a lie: first of all, journalists realize that when they are at work and in a public place they are the face of their outlet, and behave accordingly. Secondly, I never use this type of insults. His remorse was more like whining: that a bad journalist filmed the assault on video, which was seen by my attacker's daughter who lives abroad, by his neighbors, friends and colleagues – and he was suspended from his job as a photographer in one of the respected institutions of Poltava. Lost his gig," Tsirulnik said.

According to the journalist, she has the right to file another civil lawsuit within three years after the court ruling. "I want my attacker to know that he can expect a lawsuit within three years," the journalist said, adding that she would sue if he tries to contact her.

Tetyana also noted that she fears for her safety: "I probably won't feel safe around my colleagues anymore. One journalist shot the video, but the other simply turned his back on me."

As IMI reported, on May 9, an unknown man shoved the "Kolo" journalist and editor-in-chief, Tetiana Tsirulnik, and slapped her in the face. The incident happened on May 9 during the flower laying ceremony at the Soldier's Glory Memorial. One of the participants of ceremony arrived with a portrait of his father. The journalist, who was present there, said that the action was endorsing the Russian narratives and compared it to the pro-Russian "Immortal Regiment". Another man reacted to the debate very aggressively, first using obscene language to suggest that the journalist "gets away from here". And after the journalist protested, saying that they were in a public place that was open for everyone, the man first forcibly shoved the journalist away from the space in front of the memorial, then punched her in the face.

The Poltava police opened a case under Part 2 of Article 345-1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine ("Threats or violence against a journalist"). Tetyana Tsirulnik received minor injuries in the attack.

Nadia Kucher, Kateryba Dyachuk

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