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New York Times, AFP photographers among at least 40 journalists injured in attacks by police (UPDATE)

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Dec. 2, 2013, 1:33 a.m. | Ukraine — by Olga Rudenko

Oleksandr Perevoznik, photographer of Liga Business Inform, was one of 40 journalists injured during clashes with police on Dec. 1 in Kyiv.
© news.liga.net

When baton-wielding riot police outside the presidential offices began to charge, Denys Danko held up the only shield he knows -- his journalist's identification card.

"I'm a reporter," said the award-winning journalist from 1+1 channel.

“I don’t give a [expletive],” was the last thing he heard before he fell down.

A column of riot police charged around 5 p.m. on Dec. 1 at a crowd of protestors, some of whom had been attacked with rocks and a shovel.

As the police charged, they beat everything and everyone in their path. Danko was among several dozen people who hid in the courtyard of the Writers’ Union building on Bankova Street.

“Every officer running by me hit me with a club. I was hit 30 times all together. They kicked me in the head, chest, hands,” said Danko, who now has seven stitches on his head.

Telekrytyka media watchdog compiled a list of 40  injured journalists and photographers.

New York Times photographer Joseph Sywenkyj was injured when a piece of a flash grenade struck him in the face, his colleagues reported. Mustafa Nayem, a reporter with Ukrainska Pravda website and Hromadske TV who called people to start the protest that later turned into the Euromaidan rally on Nov. 21, was hit by a rock thrown by one of the protesters and suffered the effects of tear gas.

While some journalists suffered from flying rocks, tear gas and noise grenades when being in the middle of the clash, many report said they were deliberately beaten by the riot police while displaying their journalist IDs,which didn’t help.

Agence France-Presse photographer Serhiy Supinskiy was attacked by a riot police officer on Bankova Street, he said. The officer deliberately hit his photography equipment, and destroyed his flash and lens, Supinsky said.

Dmytro Volkov, a 1+1 reported, also said police were aiming at journalists’ equipment. He was recording the beginning of a major clash on his cellphone, but the video was destroyed after one of the policemen smashed his club on Volkov’s phone as the journalist was leaving. His journalist ID was hanging around his neck.

“I shouted, 'What are you doing?' and he kicked me on the collarbone,” Volkov wrote on his Facebook page.

When the police attack started at Bankova Street, Maksym Kudymets, a photographer from The Insider website stood with his hands raised to show he meant no harm, but the police officer still kicked him in the kidney area, he said.

“He shouted 'On the ground, bitch! Down, I’m telling you, scum!' I fell down and he beat me in the kidneys. Then he moved to (beat) a cameraman next to me, and I escaped,” Kudymets said on his page on Facebook.

One of the badly injured journalists was Euronews cameraman Roman Kupriyanov. His camera was still working when the police officer kicked him on the ground, and his moans of pain are heard on the video the channel put online.

The violence of Dec. 1 came two days after Dmytro Gnap, an investigative journalist and reporter for Hromadske TV, was attacked while trying to film young men who gathered in Kyiv’s Mariinsky Park who were allegedly hired thugs ready to be used against Euromaidan protesters. Gnap was beaten in the face, his phone was taken and the cameraman with him lost his camera.

Police made no comments on the violence against journalists Dec. 1.

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