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Beaten Ukrainian journalist says she was targeted

By Zarifmo Aslamshoyeva and Steve Almasy, CNN
updated 8:06 PM EST, Thu December 26, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Activist and freelance journalist tells Ukranian TV she thought she would die
  • Washington calls on Ukraine to send message violence won't be tolerated
  • Protesters rally outside the Interior Ministry in Kiev
  • Two suspects are under arrest, authorities say

(CNN) -- Tetiana Chornovol, a prominent Ukrainian civic activist and journalist beaten on Christmas, said she has a long list of enemies, and that she was sure she would die during the attack.

She spoke from a hospital bed Thursday, one day after a group of men dragged her from her car outside of Kiev in the latest attack on government opponents.

"Many people are trying to get me. It was not a provocation against somebody else, I am sure about it," Chornovol told Ukraine's Channel 5. "I mean, I am a revolution activist, a very active one, and I am very well known as a journalist. I've undertaken many journalistic investigations, which are still irritating all of them."

She thinks her attackers were paid to kill her.

Ukrainian journalist beaten

"And I was very scared when they were beating me; I thought they were going to kill me," she said.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department said Washington is watching the case closely.

"We call on the government of Ukraine to uphold its (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) commitments and ensure respect for human rights, including fundamental freedoms of expression ... ," Jen Psaki said. "We urge the government of Ukraine to send an unequivocal message that violence against critics of the government and those who are working towards a modern, democratic, and prosperous Ukraine will not be tolerated."

In Kiev, protesters rallied outside the Interior Ministry. Some held up pictures of Chornovol, while others had photos of Ukrainian Interior Minister Vitaliy Zakharchenko with words "Down with the bloody minister."

Two of three suspects arrested

The Interior Ministry said it had identified three suspects in the beating. The ministry said it had arrested two of the suspects.

A dashboard camera in Chornovol's car captured part of the attack on the 34-year-old journalist known for her muckraking investigations into corruption among senior state officials, according to the opposition Batkivshchyna party website.

A still image from the dashboard camera footage showed the black SUV that struck Chornovol's car moments before the assault.

The freelance journalist suffered a broken nose, concussion and numerous bruises, the online newspaper Ukrainska Pravda reported.

Face battered

Pictures and a video of the journalist posted online showed Chornovol with the right side of her face and her lips swollen and bloody, according to Russian state-run RIA Novosti news agency. Sources on various social media pages said she was hospitalized with a concussion.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych urged police Wednesday to investigate the attack as quickly as possible, the news agency reported.

The attack was the second on a Ukrainian opposition activist in as many days, according to RIA Novosti. Dmitry Pilipets, a civic activist and organizer of protests in the eastern city of Kharkiv, was stabbed four times on the street by two unknown male attackers late Tuesday night. He was hospitalized Wednesday in stable condition, according to the news agency.

The latest assault could increase tensions between the state and demonstrators who have braved sub-zero temperatures and set up tents and barricades in the city center to voice their opposition to closer ties with Russia.

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