Ukrainian TV station, criticized as pro-Russian, burned, picketed

KIEV, Ukraine, Sept. 6 (UPI) — The Kiev headquarters of Ukraine’s Inter TV channel was blockaded by protesters Tuesday, the day after arson struck the news department.

Activists say the television channel is serving pro-Russian interests and undermining Ukrainian independence. The actions come as Russia is accused of spreading propaganda in the media and arming separatists in the eastern part of Ukraine.

Several people at the station were treated for smoke inhalation, and one employee sustained a broken leg, in the fire Monday. The incident was condemned by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who said in a statement, “It is unacceptable that somebody breaks into the building and commits an arson attack. I am confident that this situation has nothing to do with patriots. Today, it is even more harmful for Ukraine than any contacts with provocateurs.”

The U.S. diplomatic mission in Ukraine also was critical of the attack.

By Tuesday, the building was blockaded by about 50 picketers who prevented Inter TV employees from entering. A metal fence, installed outside the building, featured painted slogans including “Burn, Inter, Burn” and “Russia is here!”

Ukraine’s Kanal 5 television channel interviewed an unidentified protester who said, “We’ve had enough of the dominance of the katsap [a derogatory term in Ukrainian for Russians] channels and Russian propaganda in Ukraine.”

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