Free Speech Official Beats Up Television Executive For What He Broadcast

Several members of the Ukrainian Parliament broke into the office of the CEO of Ukraine’s National TV Company (which, sadly, sounds like a state monopoly).

From Euronews:

The head of Ukraine’s state TV company has been attacked by at least three MPs from the far-right Svoboda party and forced to resign.

Members of Svoboda barged their way into the offices of Aleksandr Panteleymonov, the acting president of the National Television Company of Ukraine on Tuesday night.

They were angry that public broadcaster, First National Channel, had broadcast the Russian Parliament signing a treaty with Crimea on Tuesday.

Yelling and beating Panteleymonov around the head, the men accused him of serving Putin, while there were Ukrainians “dying at the hands of Russian occupiers” and called him “Moscow trash.”

They then forced him to sign a letter of resignation.

Ironically, one of the men involved in the assault was the deputy head of Ukraine’s committee on freedom of speech.

Members of the Svoboda party filmed the attack and then posted it online.

The Prime Minister condemned the events recorded in the video saying it is “unacceptable for a democratic society.”

No word on anyone getting prosecuted or punished for assault yet.

The Svoboda party is interesting. Euronews says it has about forty members in the Ukrainian Parliament. John McCain met with their leader, Oleh Tyahnybok. According to Business Insider:

Nowadays Svoboda (which means freedom in Ukrainian) is one of those reconstructed modern European far right parties — it is aligned with the British National Party and the French National Front, for example — and it has gained some kind of electoral legitimacy, winning 10 percent of the seats in Ukraine’s parliament in 2010.

However, the party’s past is seriously murky. When it was founded in 1995, the party called itself the Social-National Party of Ukraine (SNPU), and it had a swastika-like logo. While it eventually split from its more right wing members, the party remained focused on celebrating Ukrainian ethnic identity in opposition to Russia and Communism.

Tyahnybok himself was expelled from the Our Ukraine parliamentary faction in 2004 after giving a speech demanding that Ukrainians fight against a “Muscovite-Jewish mafia” (he later clarified this by saying that he actually had Jewish friends and was only against to “a group of Jewish oligarchs who control Ukraine and against Jewish-Bolsheviks [in the past]”). In 2005 he wrote open letters demanding Ukraine do more to halt “criminal activities” of “organized Jewry,” and, even now, Svoboda openly calls for Ukrainian citizens to have their ethnicity printed onto their passports.

According to International Business Times,

Britain’s Channel 4 News reported that Svoboda has assumed a “leading role” in the street protests in Kiev, with affiliated paramilitary groups prominently involved in the disturbances. Svoboda flags and banners have been featured in the demonstrations at Kiev’s Independence Square.

[…]

Another top Svoboda member, Yuriy Mykhalchyshyn, a deputy in parliament, often quotes Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, as well as other Third Reich luminaries like Ernst Rohm and Gregor Strasser.

None of this justifies Russia’s behavior, but it might explain why so many in Crimea voted in favor of being independent of the Kiev government.