On Sunday, an attempt was made to burn down the apartment of openDemocracy author Aleksey Matsuka in Donetsk, East Ukraine. Thankfully, Aleksey was not at home at the time, though the "present" of a wreath with a farewell message and the fact that heavy sacks had been wedged against his door leave little doubt the intention was the basest possible. It is widely assumed that the attack was ordered by elements working within the local political and business elite, who have served as the focus for much of Aleksey's investigative work.
Aleksey has turned to the local police for protection, but their response has been less than satisfactory. "A division is supposed to be outside protecting me, but they are only there during the hours of daylight, which is when, of course, I'm rarely home. At night, they're gone", Aleksey wrote in an email to us.
Ukraine is in the process of a worrying democratic retreat, with the ruling Party of Regions looking to establish firmer control, even as their popularity falls. Nowhere are these negative tendencies clearer than in the mineral-rich East of the country, where local politicians brazenly mix politics with business, abuse the democratic process and openly intimidate all those who stand in their way. That Aleksey Matsuka and his colleagues at Novosti Donbassa have been able to forge a fearlessly independent voice in amongst this morass speaks volumes about their courage and dedication.
openDemocracy calls upon the international community, Ukrainian government, regional authorities and other official bodies to ensure the protection of brave journalists like Aleksey, who dedicate their lives to the vocation of truth and progress. Investigating authorities must meanwhile live up to the job that they have been entrusted to do — that is to find and prosecute those who ordered and carried out this appalling act.
- editors, oD Russia
Rosemary Bechler - editor, openDemocracy
Tony Curzon-Price - editor-in-chief, openDemocracy