Europe

Ukrainians besiege 'pro-Russian' Inter TV building

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Media captionVideo footage shows four men being wrestled to the ground and arrested by police in Sunday's unrest

Protesters in Ukraine are blockading the studios of Inter TV, a news channel already attacked by arsonists for being allegedly pro-Russian.

Inter TV says some of its staff needed hospital treatment for smoke inhalation and one suffered a broken leg after fleeing the fire in Kiev on Sunday.

A metal fence now stands outside the TV offices, daubed with the slogans "Burn, Inter, burn!" and "Russia is here!"

Protesters have also piled tyres at the fence, as police stand there watching.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Some protesters are now camping in the street outside Inter TV
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The entrance to Inter TV is blocked by the fence and police - the slogan "Burn Inter!" is there too
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Activists say Inter TV is serving Russian interests and undermining Ukrainian independence

Ukrainian officials accuse Russia of arming pro-Russian separatists who control a swathe of eastern Ukraine, and of spreading propaganda in the media.

The arson attack on Inter TV was condemned by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the International and European Federation of Journalists (IFJ/EFJ).

TV news channel 112 Ukrayina said some 50 protesters were picketing Inter TV on Tuesday.

"Inter's employees tried to enter the building, but were obstructed by the participants in the blockade," it said.

The protesters plan to continue the blockade until the channel stops broadcasting.

An activist quoted by Ukraine's 5 Kanal TV channel said "we've had enough of the dominance of the katsap [a derogatory term for Russians] channels and Russian propaganda in Ukraine".

On 31 August Ukraine's Interior Minister Arsen Avakov urged the SBU state security service to deport one of Inter TV's senior editors, Igor Shuvalov, a Russian citizen.

Mr Avakov accused Inter TV of an "anti-Ukrainian, anti-state position", in a Facebook post (in Russian).

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Inter TV's Russian connections - by Vitaliy Shevchenko, BBC Monitoring:

Despite Inter's firmly pro-Ukrainian tone in covering the hostilities in the east, the channel has long faced accusations of pursuing a pro-Russian agenda.

It is one of Ukraine's most popular TV channels, co-owned by fugitive tycoon Dmytro Firtash and two former officials linked to ousted President Viktor Yanukovych. They are: Serhiy Lyovochkin (formerly Mr Yanukovych's chief of staff, now an Opposition Bloc MP) and Valeriy Khoroshkovsky (security chief under Mr Yanukovych).

Mr Firtash is reported to have close links with Russia through his gas firms, and is wanted by the FBI, on suspicion of bribing officials in India in order to get titanium mining permits.

He was briefly arrested in Austria in March 2014, but the US attempt to have him extradited failed. Mr Firtash denies the charges as politically motivated.

In February 2016, protests erupted after one of Inter's senior producers - Mariya Stolyarova, a Russian citizen - was caught swearing on air during a report about the deaths of anti-Yanukovych protesters in 2014.

Controversy flared up again in August, after an apparent email leak suggested that Inter's editors co-ordinated news coverage with separatists in eastern Ukraine. Later that month, Inter's Ukrainian Independence Day concert provoked outrage by featuring Russian artists who openly backed the Kremlin's policy towards Ukraine.

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.