The Bukv journalist was attacked while covering the court hearing on case of Belarus activist Oleksii Bolenkov who is facing deportation back to his home country he fled after crackdown by the regime of Alexander Lukashenko.
Right-wing radicals rallied outside the court demanding Bolenkov’s deportation. The police were on site but failed to intervene when provocations and attacks on the reporter started.
The extremists acted aggressively towards Bukvy’s reporter soon after he arrived on the scene to cover the event.
Kuzhelnyi describes this as follows:
‘I came to the Sixth Administrative Court of Appeal, where the case of Oleksii Bolenkov was to be heard. Nationalists of various organizations were near the building. I wanted to take some pictures. Almost immediately, there was a negative reaction and shouts, ‘Don’t let him shoot’. Oleksii Svynarenko ran up and started interfering with my work, aggressively urging others to do the same. With insults and threats, one of the Nazis spat in my face. They started to push me. The police finally reacted and helped to get out of the environment of young men. Then one of the Nazis hit me in the face. As it turned out, it was Russian neo-Nazi Mykhailo Shalankevych. The police did not react.’
In a comment to the ZMINA Human Rights Center on the same day, Kuzhelny said:
‘Unfortunately, this is not the first time I have been in such an unpleasant situation.
The last one was also during the hearing of Bolenkov’s case. This time the attackers knew exactly who I was, the aggression was directed at me personally, although I was only performing my professional duties.’
Who were the attackers?
Describing the incident, Kuzhelnyi singled out two people.
These are the head of the right-wing radical organization ‘National Resistance’ Oleksii Svynarenko (known Stalker) and Mykhailo Shalankevych (known as Gans).
Oleksii Stalker, photo from Facebook
Svynarenko publicly denied involvement in the attack and threatened with a lawsuit.
‘It is a lie and we are preparing a defamation suit. I did not attack, but rather told not to touch this person. I think there is a video of this.’
However, the video from the scene and the words of witnesses show that Svynarenko’s statements about his non-involvement in the attack are untrue.
The video posted on July 23 caught the moment Svynarenko came at Kuzhelnyi, swearing and behaving aggressively.
With the crowd jeering, some protesters are seen confronting and pushing the the journalist while Svynarenko stepped aside (the first 10 seconds):
Other journalists provide their account of the accident:
Yaroslava Zhukovska, Hromadske radio, ‘I was there from the very beginning of the conflict. I was with Sasha when he took out the phone and started filming people in masks. Stalker immediately came and began shouting quite aggressively. There were young men standing nearby, who were listening to all this and also shouting at the journalist to go away. He (Svynarenko) really did not physically attack, but behaved aggressively, stood very close to Sasha and shouted loudly, insulted. He did not say anything to the young men. He did not incite to beat Sasha, but did not ask not to touch him either, as he writes.’
Hermann Krieger, Watchers.Media, ‘I can’t say exactly what he (Svynarenko) shouted, but he was definitely one of the most active and stood close to Kuzhelnyi’.
Oleksii Arunian, Graty, ‘Before the court trial, I was standing at the entrance. At that time, there were about 40 right-wing radicals and many police members. At one point, someone from the far-right shouted something like, ‘This is not a journalist, this is a leftist, he came to support Bolenkov’. After that, a crowd immediately surrounded Oleksandr, they insulted and pushed him. I did not know Oleksii Svynarenko, as well as other participants of the incident, so I cannot say whether they took part in the attack and what they did.’
The slogan shouted by the extremists is widespread in Russia.
Svynarenko’s organization is subject to hooliganism criminal case. In March 2021, they attacked the participants of the March for Women’s Rights.
Now, Svynarenko is campaigning on social media against Bolenkov and organizing counter-rallies and provocations near the court.
Mykhailo Shalankevych, photo from personal page VKontakte (as Mikhail Mishganov)
Shalankevych is known as Gans and is a Russian citizen. In 2018, Shalankevych was sentenced to 6 years in prison for robbery and hooliganism. He was in the gang of the late Russian neo-Nazi Maxim Martsinkevich. However, Shalankevych was released and moved to Kyiv two years ago.
Earlier, we published a video showing how, after dialogue police officers took Kuzhelnyi away a few meters from the crowd, Shalankevych ran up and hit the journalist.The police did not react.
A new video also shows Shalankevych taking off his mask in the presence of a dialogue police representative, approaching Kuzhelnyi and spitting in his face (9th second):
Shalankevych, unlike Svynarenko, does not comment on the attack publicly and deleted accounts on social networks. In particular, after the publication of a link to his Instagram (instagram.com/ganssss88), the profile was renamed and deleted.
On July 21, Bukvy’s reporter filed a report on the criminal offense on the grounds of:
- Part 1 of Article 125 of the Criminal Code (intentional minor bodily injury);
- Part 3 of Article 171 of the Criminal Code (obstruction of the legitimate professional activity of a journalist, committed by a group of persons with prior conspiracy);
- Part 4 of Article 345-1 of the Criminal Code (intentional infliction of minor bodily injuries to a journalist by an organized group).
The most severe of the articles carries imprisonment for a term of 7 to 14 years.
The Pechersk Police Department, in violation of Article 214 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, did not provide an extract from the Unified Register of Pre-trial Investigations on the opening of a criminal proceeding within the period established by law.
On Friday, July 23, a police representative contacted the journalist, but in the conversation he did not confirm the fact of opening a criminal proceeding, did not inform about the possibility to obtain an extract from the Unified Register and grant the status of a victim.
Therefore, a statement is being prepared to the Pechersk court to appeal the inaction of the pre-trial investigation bodies. The investigating judge will have to order the police to open a criminal proceeding and provide an extract from the Register within 72 hours.
At the journalist’s request, he will pass a forensic examination. On July 22, injuries received by a journalist were recorded at the Kyiv City Clinical Bureau of Forensic Medicine.