Members of parliament with the nationalist Svoboda Party assault the CEO of state-owend First National TV channel in his office on March 18. Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk condemned the attack.

In the video, which was first published by Svoboda spokesman Oleksandr Aronets and republished by Ukrainska Pravda after Aronets removed it, the members of parliament are seen questioning Panteleymonov in his office about Pershiy broadcasting Russian President’s Vladimir Putin’s speech about Crimea separation that took place in Moscow on March 18.

“Our viewers have the right to know…” Panteleymonov starts mumbling explanations, but gets interrupted by the lawmakers shouting “Know what? Know what?”

In the video, Panteleymonov is seen trying to explain himself and speaking politely, while the lawmakers surround him and shout rudely.


Miroshnichenko, the leading voice of the group, proceeded to accuse Panteleymonov of directing an editorial policy aimed at discrediting the EuroMaidan Revolution at the behest of the former state authorities and demanded that Panteleymonov leave his post immediately.

Panteleymonov refused to do so and mentioned that it was the Cabinet of Ministers that controlled the TV station.

“Cabinet of Ministers is over. I’m telling you – write the paper,” Miroshnichenko shouted in the manager’s face as he grabbed him and pulled him through the room to his desk.

Miroshnichenko then pushed Panteleymonov into his chair, Beniuk held him by the neck and Illienko passed him some paper. As Panteleymonov refused, Miroshnichenko and Beniuk beat him and slapped his face.

Even though the video doesn’t show it, the lawmakers did force the manager to quit.

As soon as the video was posted on the evening of March 18, it went viral and the actions of the lawmakers were widely condemned. Many were concerned that such actions coming from one of the parties that were brought to power after the EuroMaidan Revolution would fuel Russian propaganda that has focused on violence and nationalism in Ukraine.


“These are not our methods. The actions of these lawmakers are unacceptable,” was the reaction of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk, Svoboda’s political ally.

The assault was also condemned by Ukraine’s Independent Media Union.

Even Svoboda party head and Miroshnichenko’s friend Oleh Tyahnybok condemned the attack. “Such actions were fine yesterday (during the protests), but now they are inappropriate,” Tyahnybok said in official statement.

After the scandal erupted, Svoboda’s Aronets deleted the video and all the eyes turned to the prosecutor general Oleh Maknitskiy. Also a Svoboda party member, Maknitskiy is now expected to impartially investigate the assault.

On the morning of March 19, Makhnitskiy’s office released a statement promising to justly deal with the case. Interior Minister Arsen Avakov also condemned the assault and said he was ready to have police help the prosecutor general’s office in investigating the case.

Hromadske TV editor Andriy Saychuk assumed that the program that spurred the reaction of Svoboda was actually aired by Hromadske TV, which broadcasts through First National TV for several hours every day.


Speaking to the press in parliament on March 19, Miroshnichenko said that he and his colleagues did what they did “to stop the crime in any possible method.” The crime, he explained, was broadcasting separatism-related events through the state-owned station that lives off the taxpayers’ money.

“We want lustration, and in the time of war it must be prosecuted fast,” Miroshnichenko said.

Some support the actions of Miroshnichenko and his fellows from Svoboda party.

“Ihor, respect and support to you. Go on the same way. Enough whining about lustration while doing nothing,” Oleksandr Plokhotniuk wrote on Miroshnichenko’s Facebook page.

“Miroshnichenko and Aronets, are you mad? It’s a shame I have you among my (Facebook) friends. And I’m so sorry that I voted for Svoboda,” Anna Zagrebelna posted to Mitoshnichenko’s page.

Journalist Mustafa Nayem called people to protest near the Prosecutor General’s Office to demand punishment for the lawmakers.

Kyiv Post editor Olga Rudenko can be reached at [email protected].

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