Journalist Oleksandr Vlashchenko was assaulted by unknown people in Mykolaiv, a city of 480,000 people located 460 kilometers south of Kyiv.
It is a yet another one of many physical attacks on journalists and activists that have been happening around Ukraine. Many of them take place in the southern and eastern regions.
The incident occurred on Nov. 30, at approximately 10:40 p.m. at Sadova Street, when Vlashchenko was walking home. He said the attackers used pepper spray and hit him several times on the head.
Vlashchenko had a photo camera and some cash with him, but the attackers did not take any of his belongings. He did not see the attackers.
After the attack, Vlashchenko managed to get to his apartment, where his wife called the ambulance and the police. He is now hospitalized with a brain concussion.
This is not the first attack on Vlashchenko.
Vlashchenko is a reporter for a local news site Novosti N in Mykolaiv. According to its chief editor Anton Onofriichuk, Vlashchenko covers a wide range of local news, including some soft issues like municipal problems and art exhibitions, and more problematic topics, like corruption in the Mykolaiv City Council.
In 2012, Vlashchenko was shot in the head from the air gun. The bullet never was removed. In 2014, Vlashchenko was kidnapped by unknown people. They put a bag on his head and took him in a car out of the city. They threatened to kill him but eventually let go, according to Onofriichuk.
None of the attackers have been identified or detained by the police.
Onofriichuk says that Vlashchenko’s wife might have been one of the reasons for this and previous attacks. She works at the Society of Russian Culture in Mykolaiv, a center that celebrates Russian culture and literature.
According to Onofriichuk, the attackers might have thought Vlashchenko was a “separatist” due to his wife’s occupation.
“But he definitely is not,” Onofriichuk told the Kyiv Post.
Another reason could be Vlashchenko’s professional activities, such as his stories on corruption in Mykolaiv City Council, according to Onofriichuk.
Following the attack, the police opened a criminal probe, categorizing the case as “deliberate light bodily injury.”