On Tuesday, the American government-controlled Ukrainian-language service published a video of the dramatic encounter with employees of Ukreximbank, which is wholly owned by the country’s government and acts as Kiev’s financial agent in securing loans from the West.
“The editorial board appealed to technical specialists who were able to recover the video deleted by Ukreximbank staff during the attack on the film crew filming a program featuring the head of the state bank, Yevgeny Metzger,” RFERL said in a statement. “The video was recovered on both cards from both cameras to which the interview was recorded.”
According to the outlet, the top banker took umbrage at the direction of the conversation. “Metzger’s instructions were recorded, asking for the journalists’ equipment to be confiscated, saying ‘take away the cassettes’ and ‘clean all this sh*t.’”
“It is also clear from the video that the journalists were locked inside and not allowed to leave. The moment of the attack is also recorded when a bank employee twisted and overpowered [RFERL reporter] Alexander Mazur and forcibly snatched a card in his hand from a second camera.”
The footage of the confrontation has since sparked outrage online. Christopher Miller, who formerly worked in Kiev for the American state-run outlet, wrote on Twitter that “at one point here, a security guard for a Ukrainian state bank chief throws an RFERL journalist over a chair, pins him down and goes through his stuff. You can hear the journalist moan in pain.”
Since then, a group of media workers has reportedly attended a protest outside Ukreximbank’s headquarters in Kiev, holding signs calling for Metzger’s resignation.
In another dramatic twist, footage from the scene shows a broken pot plant that purportedly ‘fell’ from the building and narrowly missed the group of people below.
According to the Ukrainskaya Pravda newspaper, Metzger has now handed in his resignation, despite a statement from the bank accusing RFERL’s reporters of trying to steal confidential information. However, a press conference set to be held to announce the decision and apologize for the incident has since been postponed.
RFERL is registered as a ‘foreign agent’ by Russia’s Ministry of Justice over links to foreign funding.
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