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August 29, 2007

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07KYIV2165 2007-08-29 11:57 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

DE RUEHKV #2165/01 2411157
P 291157Z AUG 07

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KYIV 002165 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/24/2016 
Classified By: Political Counselor Kent Logsdon for reasons 1.4 (b) and 
1.  (C)  Summary and Comment:  Journalist Artem 
Skoropadiskiy, who claimed that an August 13 assault on him 
by two assailants was because of a critical story he wrote on 
Kyiv Mayor Leonid Chernovetskiy, told PolOff on August 21 
that there had been no progress in the police investigation. 
 Although he admitted there was no proof linking the attack 
with Chernovetskiy, he maintained that city hall's angry 
reaction to the story implicated the mayor, or someone close 
to him.  He was grateful for the support he received from 
NGOs, the Kyiv journalist's trade union, and from 
Chernovetskiy's opponents in the Kyiv City Council, but 
doubted that the case would be solved.  He was not concerned 
about further attacks or more pressure to retract his story 
and was undecided if he would pursue a legal fight to push 
the investigation forward since he will soon return to his 
native Russia - a return he planned before the assault.  He 
noted that despite this incident, he felt the status of media 
freedom in Ukraine was significantly better than in Russia. 
2.  (C)  Comment:  The timing of the assault and the city 
administration's clear displeasure with Skoropadiskiy's 
article give some credence to claims that he was targeted for 
his reporting.  We have not seen any evidence to link 
Chernovetskiy with the attack, but he was accused of using 
rough tactics in December 2006 when a group of toughs, 
supposedly hired by Chernovetskiy, beat up BYuT members at a 
televised Kyiv City Council meeting.  Skoropadiskiy did not 
seem intimidated by the assault and was encouraged - even a 
bit surprised - by the outpouring of interest and support in 
his case.  We are following up with the Kyiv City Police to 
inquire on the status of the investigation.  End Summary and 
3.  (U) On the evening of August 13, Artem Skoropadiskiy, a 
journalist for Kommersant-Ukraina, was attacked by two 
unidentified assailants at the entry way to his home. 
Skoropadiskiy, a Russian citizen who has been living in Kyiv 
since 2005, tried to fight off the attackers.  He believes 
that his attackers were disoriented in the dark hallway and 
therefore, were only able to land a few punches to his face 
before running off.  Skoropadiskiy reported that the 
attackers did not try to rob him and that they did not utter 
a word.  By the time he met with PolOff, a week after the 
attack, the bruises on his face from the attack had nearly 
faded away. 
4.  (U) The assault took place the same evening that 
representatives from the mayor's office reportedly threatened 
the newspaper with libel charges and demanded that it retract 
Skoropadiskiy's article.  The article in question had 
described a meeting between Chernovetskiy and a group of 
souvenir vendors; Chernovetskiy's administration had been 
seeking to close down the vendor's stalls at Kyiv's central 
Independence Square.   Skoropadiskiy, who sat in on the 
closed-door session, reported that Chernovetskiy made several 
rude comments.  Following release of the article, 
Kommersant-Ukraina reported that city hall told its editor 
that the report distorted what Chernovetskiy said during the 
5.  (C) Skoropadiskiy told PolOff that local police arrived 
twenty minutes after he reported the assault.  He submitted a 
written complaint to the police that evening and was 
contacted by a police investigator three days later but had 
heard nothing since.   Skoropadiskiy complained that the 
investigation had stalled and he doubted that the case would 
be resolved. 
6.  (C) Skoropadiskiy seemed pleased with the support he 
received after the attacks.  The Kyiv Independent Media Trade 
Union, in a written statement, demanded that the beating be 
thoroughly investigated, and agreed that the pressure exerted 
by the city administration regarding his article gave grounds 
to link the assault with Skoropadiskiy's article.  He was 
contacted by a local NGO that offered to publicize his case 
as a human rights violation, and Paris-based Reporters 
Without Borders promised to write a letter of inquiry to 
Ukraine's Prosecutor General's Office.  He received an offer 
of legal support from the Vitaly Klitschko faction on the 
Kyiv City Council but he was undecided if he would take them 
up on it since it would require returning to Ukraine from 
Russia to attend hearings.   He said that he did not feel 
threatened with further violence and noted that the 
environment for media in Ukraine was freer than in Russia - 
especially since the Orange Revolution.  He wryly added that 
in Ukraine, he was beaten up for offending the mayor, but in 
Russia his article would never have been published at all. 
KYIV 00002165  002 OF 002 
7. (U) Visit Embassy Kyiv's classified website: 




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