Monday, 31 July 2006

Russian police arrest journalist

Thankfully, Makcym Butkevych (or Maxim or Maksym Butkevych) has been freed after his arrest, conviction and three-day sentence in a Russian jail: when he documented the abuses of power of the Russian police, he was found guilty of "resisting arrest".

The police themselves had stated that their orders were "to detain any journalist covering unsanctioned rallies" (obviously, that implies that they did so regardless of whether they had done anything wrong). After the "rough" arrest, during his detention Makcym Butkevych was (and presumably the others taken with him were) denied access to lawyers.

During the anti-G8 rally, 37 demonstrators and journalists, including Amnesty International members and Associated Press staff, were detained. The Committee to Protect Journalists' Executive Director, Joel Simon, described it as, "part of a pattern of abuse".

The reports are below.

On the 17th of July 2006, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported on, "RUSSIA: Ukrainian TV reporter jailed covering anti-G8 rally":
The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by the jailing of a Ukrainian television reporter who attempted to cover a demonstration against the Group of Eight (G8) meeting of industrialized nations in St. Petersburg.

Maksym Butkevych of the Kyiv-based television channel 1+1, was arrested yesterday while filming police breaking up a rally by about 50 protesters, the Ukrainian news agency Glavred reported. A St. Petersburg court sentenced him today to three days in prison for "resisting police," a charge Butkevych denies.

The Associated Press reported that 37 demonstrators and journalists were detained at the demonstration. It quoted police Sgt. Dmitry Barkov as saying police were ordered to detain any journalist covering unsanctioned rallies.

"This arrest seems to be part of a pattern of abuse," CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. "We call on Russian authorities to release Maksym Butkevych immediately."

Russian authorities cracked down on independent media in the run-up to the G8. For more information, read the news alerts of July 13 and July 14.
The Kharkiv Group for Human Rights Protection's Yevhen Zakharov alerted people to the fact that "Television Journalist from '1+1', Maxim Butkevych detained in St. Petersburg".

Zakharov detailed that:
The circumstances of the Ukrainian journalist's detention were as follows. According to the "Network against the G8" (NAG8), on 16 July at 8.30 in the morning, around 50 activists of NAG8 blocked the entrance to the Radisson Hotel on Nevsky Prospekt where the Summit leaders are staying.

They were carrying banners, leaflets against the policies of the G8 and chanted slogans in both Russian and English: "Down with the G8", "It's the end of G8 as we know it".

This was an international protest action with anarchists and anti-capitalists from various cities of Europe - Moscow, St. Petersburg, Minsk, Kyiv, Cardiff, Warsaw, Kishinev and Berlin.

Approximately 40 participants of the protest action were instantly detained. All those around holding video recorders were also arrested, in fairly rough fashion, including journalists from Associated Press.

Maxim Butkevych, a journalist from the Ukrainian television channel "1+1" and member of the Ukrainian Section of Amnesty International was not participating in the protest action, but was seized by police officers while filming the rough tactics of the OMON (riot unit).

Maxim.... demanded to speak to a lawyer and civic defence advisers but was told that he was only entitled to have a lawyer in court. He replied that he knew his rights and repeated his demand. The only answer was threats that he would be the last one to get, that he would get the worst cell, etc.

Civic defence advisers from Legal Team and a lawyer have not yet been allowed to see him, and they have not been given any reason. The entrance to the police station is guarded by OMON officers, including Sergei Ivanovich Bolotov. The legal advisers have not even been allowed to speak to the duty officer....

Defend Maxim Butkevych! Telephone the police and the Ukrainian Consul, or your own embassies and register protest at such treatment of journalists carrying out their professional duties!

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