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EU urges full probe into attack on Ukraine TV

September 6, 2016

The EU on Tuesday urged Ukraine to conduct a full independent investigation into an attack on a TV station which was set ablaze in Kiev over allegations that it is pro-Russian.

Washington earlier condemned as “unacceptable” Sunday’s attack on Inter TV by about 20 Ukraine nationalists wielding petrol bombs and dressed in camouflage fatigues, while President Petro Poroshenko ordered a probe.

European Commission spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said a free media was essential in any democracy and that Brussels “plays close attention to all incidents of violence against journalists and media outlets.”

“We call for a full, independent inquiry into such incidents, with obviously no impunity for those who are responsible,” Kocijancic told reporters.

“The statement by President Poroshenko calling on the prosecutor to launch an investigation … is a due step in this regard,” she added.

The EU firmly supports Poroshenko who sees Ukraine’s future with the West, not with its Soviet-era master in Moscow which annexed Crimea in 2014 and backs pro-Russian rebels in the east.

In return however, the EU expects him to adopt the reforms necessary to bring Ukraine up to Western norms on democracy and human rights.

When ordering the inquiry Monday, Poroshenko nevertheless accused the Kremlin of financing “some media … in order to destabilise the political situation in Ukraine.”

“But we should respond to this in a completely legal manner,” he added.

Inter TV, which claims to have Ukraine’s largest audience, has frequently been in trouble with the authorities who nearly took away its licence in 2015 for airing a live New Year’s Eve celebration from Moscow.

Sunday’s attack saw part of the main studio briefly go up in flames and the channel was forced to broadcast from the street while the flames were put out.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.