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Bodyguard service says has nothing to do with anti-protest action during Yanukovych speech

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Sept. 3, 2012, 8:01 p.m. | Ukraine — by Interfax-Ukraine

Ukraine's service that provides bodyguards for the president and other top officials, has denied having anything to do with those who tried to stop anti-censorship protests during a speech by President Viktor Yanukovych to the current World Newspaper Congress and World Editors Forum in Kyiv.
© Photo from facebook of Mustafa Nayyem

Ukraine's service that provides bodyguards for the president and other top officials, has denied having anything to do with those who tried to stop anti-censorship protests during a speech by President Viktor Yanukovych to the current World Newspaper Congress and World Editors Forum in Kyiv.

"The Ukrainian State Guard Department has verified information in some mass media about its personnel preventing a peaceful protest at the opening ceremony of the 64th World Newspaper Congress and the 19th World Editors Forum. It has been discovered via the official investigation that the persons who are named in the media are not members of the personnel of the Ukrainian State Protection Department or the security service of the president of Ukraine," the State Guard Department said in a statement on Monday.

"The Ukrainian State Protection Department is always open to constructive cooperation with journalists and gives them maximum assistance during mass events."

Ukrainian online newspaper Ukrayinska Pravda said earlier that presidential bodyguards had stopped the paper's editor, Olena Prytula, and the deputy editor of Ukrainian English-language newspaper Kyiv Post, Kateryna Horchynska, from protesting during Yanukovych's opening speech at the Newspaper Congress and Editors Forum on Monday.

A video posted on Ukrayinska Pravda's Web site shows a man trying to wrench a poster saying "Stop censorship" from Horchynska, who has tried to raise it above her head during the presidential address. However, Horchynska hands the poster over to Prytula, from whom it is eventually torn by force.

During Yanukovych's speech about 10 people stood up in the audience holding posters in English and Ukrainian claiming that critics of the government risk arrest on defamation charges, that authorities bug journalists' phones, that voters are barred from listening to criticisms of the government, and that "media oligarchs" are in the service of those in authority.

The protesters were time and again crying out "Stop censorship," words that were written on T-shirts some of them were wearing.

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