Ukrainian journalist Volodymyr Sedov assaulted after investigating crime

Ukrainian authorities should swiftly investigate the latest attack on anti-corruption journalist Volodymyr Sedov and hold the perpetrators to account, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Friday.

CPJ (04.08.2023) – Sedov, editor-in-chief of the newspaper Visti Ananivshchyna, told CPJ that unidentified people attacked him from behind in a park near his home in the southern city of Ananiv on July 12, knocked him unconscious and trampled on his right hand, breaking two of his fingers.

“CPJ condemns the attack on veteran journalist Volodymyr Sedov and calls on Ukrainian authorities to ensure timely investigations. No journalist should be subjected to such brutal violence for investigative reporting in the public interest,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator. “Ukrainian authorities must hold the alleged assailants to account and ensure that Sedov can work safely.”

Sedov, 68, posted a video and photographs on Facebook showing his bruised face and bloodied fingers shortly after the attack, which was also covered by local media, Ukrainian press freedom group Institute of Mass Information, and the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine.

Sedov told CPJ that an unknown number of attackers hit him on the head, knocking him out for a few seconds. When he regained consciousness, Sedov said he saw a local gangster—who Sedov has published articles about in Visti Ananivshchyna and on social media—running away.

“I woke up with pain in my fingers,” said Sedov, who was diagnosed with a concussion, adding that he believed his assailants stepped on his fingers to stop him writing.

Sedov told CPJ that he believed the attack was related to his journalism as he has reported “many times” on allegations of corruption involving his alleged assailant and local authorities, and posts regularly about crime and graft on Facebook.

The police headquarters for Odesa Region, where Ananiv is located, did not respond to CPJ’s emailed request for comment. In an email to CPJ after publication, Ananiv city council said “in no way are we aware of criminal groups that operate in the territory of the Anani municipality.”

The police said in a statement on July 12 that they were investigating the assault and had opened a criminal case for “violence against a journalist in connection with … their lawful professional activity.”

Sedov told CPJ that he was “convinced that nothing will happen” as crimes committed by the gang usually went unpunished.

Sedov said that armed men in military fatigues burst into his wife’s office about a year ago and “began to insult her and threaten that if I write anything against the authorities, they will kill her, me and the whole family.” The journalist said explosive packages were also detonated on the site of his wife’s office and car tires were slashed, and he reported all of the incidents to the police but no one was arrested.

“I do not rely on the police and the law,” he told CPJ. “I think that my persecution as a journalist will continue more severely, and I may have to leave Ukraine in order not to put my family at risk. I am 68 years old now. I have children, grandchildren, and I do not see any way out of this lawlessness and corruption.”

Sedov told CPJ that he returned to work on August 4.

Separately, on June 15, the car of journalist Vlad Isaev was set on fire by unidentified people in Ukraine’s northern region of Rivne. On the night of June 15, in Rivne, unknown people also attempted to burn down the house of former journalist Oleksandr Namozov. CPJ is investigating both incidents to determine whether they were linked to the reporters’ journalistic activities.

[Editor’s note: This alert has been updated with a response from the Ananiv city council in the eighth paragraph. ]

Photo credits: Volodymyr Sedov