UNESCO chief calls for safety of media workers amid violent unrest in Ukraine

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova. UN Photo/Amanda Voisard

20 February 2014 – The head of the United Nations agency tasked with defending press freedom today denounced the killing of Ukrainian journalist Vyacheslav Veremyi and called for ensuring the safety of all media workers in the crisis-hit nation.

Journalists, police officers and protesters were among the dozens of people killed during violent clashes this week in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, which has been witnessing mass protests since late November.

Irina Bokova, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), strongly condemned the killing of Mr. Veremyi, who died in Kiev on 19 February, and voiced concern about the many journalists who have been injured in the clashes.

She urged respect for the right of media workers to report news, even in “situations of internal turbulence.”

“I call on all parties to recognize the specific status of reporters and let them carry out their work in safe conditions, and I appeal to the authorities to ensure that this case is investigated thoroughly and brought swiftly to justice,” Ms. Bokova stated in a news release.

On 18 February, unknown assailants dragged Mr. Veremyi, a correspondent for the Ukrainian newspaper Vesti, out of a taxi on his way home from Maidan Square and shot him. He died in the hospital the next day.

According to some sources, more than 30 journalists were injured in violent incidents in Ukraine on 18 February.

The escalating violence in Kiev has sparked concern among senior UN officials, with both Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay urging all sides to exercise restraint and find a peaceful solution to the ongoing crisis.


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