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Svoboda
Svoboda
Nina Sokolova

KIEV — In a widely viewed video, the head of Ukraine’s National Television channel can be seen being beaten by right-wing members of the Ukrainian Parliament for allowing the ceremony celebrating Crimea’s entrance into the Russian Federation to be broadcast live on television.

Television executive Aleksander Panteleimonov was grabbed by his necktie, strangled, hit on the head, shoved into a car and apparently only released when he signed a “voluntary” resignation announcement. After discovering what had happened to Panteleimonov, journalists demonstrated outside of the prosecutor’s office in Kiev and outside of the far-right Svoboda (“Freedom”) party offices. The two parliament members seen on the video roughing up Panteleimonov are both representatives of the party.

“There’s a feeling that Svoboda is intentionally helping the enemies of the Ukrainain government,” says television journalist Darka Olifer.

Earlier she documented the protests in Maidan Square, and now she is joining journalists protesting against radicals. “Igor Miroshnichenko, the deputy who beat up my colleague, used to work as a journalist. Bogdan Benyuk, the other member of parliament who appears on the video, is a well-known actor,” Olifer says. “When Benyuk strangles Panteleimonov in the video, you almost think they’re filming a movie, and you wait to hear ‘cut.’ ”

From the video (see below), it seems that the freedom party members behind the attacks on Panteleimonov filmed themselves, taking pride in their actions. When they entered the national television company’s building — as a “parliamentary delegation” — they began by condemning famous Ukrainian television star Olga Sumskaya because her daughter is planning to get Russian citizenship. They expressed their disapproval of a Sumskaya portrait hanging in the television company’s corridor.

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Ideas

The Russian Art Of Protesting Through Silence

English Professor Jacob Edmond takes a look at the creative ways that Russian journalists, writers and artists are turning forced silence into powerful statements.

A woman protests against Russian rapes in Ukraine with her silent taped mouth during a flashmob in New York.

Jacob Edmond

-Analysis-

“It is impossible to stop a speeding train by throwing oneself onto the tracks,” wrote Russian poet Dmitry Kuzmin back in March. He was commenting on Olga Gordienko, a young teacher who, before she was arrested, stood for several minutes on a Moscow street with a sign that read:

At least don’t lie to yourself. War is death. Enough of this bloody fight for peace!

While acknowledging the teacher’s bravery, Kuzmin warned protestors to take care. Change would not come through such isolated acts, however admirable.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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What would you do if your country launched a war of aggression, causing tens of thousands of deaths and displacing millions? What if the price of protest or even posting objections on social media was arrest and imprisonment?

What if you knew that over the past decades many of your country’s most outspoken journalists had been killed for refusing to the toe the government line? What if even mentioning the word “war” online, in print, or on the street was illegal?

Would you speak out, or keep quiet and bide your time?

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