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Ukrainian MP Igor Miroshnichenko Attacks Head Of Kiev TV Station For Broadcasting Putin Speech

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A nationalist Ukrianian MP was one of five men who brutally assaulted the head of a television station in Kiev, forcing him to write a letter of resignation on camera, and posting the video online.

Oleksandr Panteleymonov, head of the First National TV Channel, was dubbed "pro-Russia" by the gang of five, led by Igor Miroshnichenko.

Pony-tailed Miroshnichenko is a member of the highly controversial, far-right Svoboda party, and, somewhat ironically, a member of the parliamentary committee on freedom of speech.

He famously labelled the actress Mila Kunis, whose family are Ukrainian Jews, a "zhydovka in 2012, saying that as a "Jewess" she was not a true Ukrainian, causing outcry amongst community leaders.

Miroshnichenko and his fellow attackers reportedly beat Panteleymonov and accused him of working for the Russian authorities, ostensibly because the TV station broadcast live the signing of the agreement between President Vladimir Putin, and the de-facto Crimean authorities, annexing the peninsula to Russia.

Using racist slurs against Panteleymonov, and calling him "Moscow trash", the gang abducted the TV chief and held him for several hours, before releasing him.

Heather McGill, Amnesty International’s Ukraine researcher, said:“It is astonishing that a member of the parliamentary committee on freedom of speech was involved in this attack. The acting authorities must send a signal that this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated in Ukraine.

“This assault on freedom of expression must be immediately investigated and those responsible must be prosecuted. Anything less will only open the door to further attacks against media professionals and activists.

"The acting Ukrainian authorities must waste no time in demonstrating that basic human rights are protected in Ukraine and that nobody will face discrimination because of their political views or ethnic origin.”

Miroshnichenko has since defended his attack, saying Panteleymonov had "served Putin and Russian propaganda".

The attack will play into the hands of Russia, which has repeatedly insisted the new Ukrainian government is illegitimate and made up of thugs and neo-Nazis.

Former heavyweight boxer, and Ukrainian presidential candidate called the attack "savage" and said the MP must be punished. "All Svoboda MPs who resorted to force should vacate their seats," he said. "Ukraine does not need political looters."

The prosecutor general has been asked to investigate, though Oleh Makhnitsky is also a member of Svoboda. He has pledged to make "an objective assessment, without political overtones".

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