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Odesa "Municipal Watch" members who beat journalists with batons get suspended sentences

05.06.2023, 17:08

The Primorsky District Court of Odesa found several "Municipal Watch" members guilty of obstructing the professional work of journalists. The court passed such a decision on June 1, reports "Sudovy Reporter".

We remind you that on July 13, 2018, a fight between members of the communal entity "Municipal Watch" and journalists broke out in a parking lot on Nekrasov Street in downtown Odesa. The "Nerozkryti Zlochyny" editor-in-chief Kostyantyn Slobodyaniuk and two reporters from the newspaper "Suspilny Prybiy", Myroslav Bekchiv and Vitaly Tkachenko, were injured in the attack.

According to the investigation, two members of the "Municipal Watch" beat the "Suspilny Prybiy" correspondent and the "Nerozkryti Zlochyny" editor with rubber batons while they were conducting a journalistic investigation. 

The police opened a case under three articles of the Criminal Code: Part 2 of Art. 296 ("Hooliganism"), Art. 171 ("Obstruction to the legal professional work of journalists") and Art. 345-1 ("Threats or violence against a journalist"). In October of the same year, the Odesa Prosecutor's Office No. 3 submitted indictments against two "Municipal Watch" members to the court.

The journalists came to 1 Nekrasov Street to interview representatives of the law firm "Redut" regarding a conflict in the parking lot. During the interview, three cars with the inscription "Municipal Watch" drove up to the place. Strangers in uniform got out of the car and started disassembling the fences around the traffic stops.

The journalist started filming the guards' actions; the men shouted obscene curses at him and hit him in the face, threatening to break his camera. In the video, one can hear the remark: "What, you're immortal or something?.. Who do you think you are, filming me like that? Keep filming. 'Cause I'll break your camera and I'll break your face, too, you."

One of the bodyguards punched the journalist's face and then his video camera, after which his companion also punched the journalist in the face.

According to the court, only one of the journalists having a reporter's ID card (badge) on the lanyard around his neck is sufficient confirmation that the people around knew that the man was a journalist.

The court came to an unequivocal conclusion that the victim had no intention of filming the accused and the latter's rights have not been violated.

The CE "Municipal Watch" members never pleaded guilty and showed disrespect towards the injured journalist during the trial. One of them said that he had pushed the journalist because the latter had been chasing him and filming, which he had disliked because he was not a public figure.

They were found guilty of obstructing the legal professional work of journalists and of threatening and attacking a journalist (Part 3 of Article 171, Part 1, 2 of Article 345-1 of the Criminal Code).

According to Article 171 of the Criminal Code, the term of liability is three years and has already expired.

Therefore, the men were only arrested for threats and violence against a journalist. They were sentenced to two and three years of imprisonment, released from serving the sentence with a probationary period of one and a half and two years respectively.

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