11:20 19.10.2009

Two employees of Kyiv Zoo say they were attacked

Serhiy Hryhoryev, the head of the education department of Kyiv Zoo and member of the Union of Ukrainian Journalists, and Ihor Mariychuk, the assistant manager of the zoo's ungulates department, have said that employees from the zoo's legal department attacked them during the celebration of the zoo's centenary on Saturday, October 17.

They told this to Interfax-Ukraine on Sunday.

Hryhoryev and Mariychuk said that they had been attacked by Serhiy Sofiyevsky and Vitaliy Tyschenko, the employees of the zoo's legal department, along with Dmytro Bohdan, the common law husband of the zoo's director, Svitlana Berzina, who works in the zoo as the director's adviser.

They said that in the presence of many visitors to the winter pavilion for giraffes, Tyschenko, Sofiyevsky and Bohdan had tried to force them into their back room, knocking them down and hitting them in their heads and kidneys.

Hryhoryev and Mariychuk managed to escape from the attackers, who, according to the witnesses, ordered unknown individuals dressed in camouflage to chase them.

Hryhoryev then stopped a police patrol car, which brought him to the Shevchenkivsky district department of Kyiv police where he submitted a statement on the incident.

Mariychuk and the witnesses also submitted similar statements. Then, both of them were sent to hospital with suspected concussion.

Hryhoryev said that the reason for the attack was the position adopted by a number of zoo employees with respect to Berzina who "has been destroying one of the oldest zoos in Ukraine for the second consecutive year."

He said that as a result of Berzina's activity last year, 57 leading zoo experts, including a zoologist, had been obliged to resign, scientific work had been completely stopped, and the safety of the zoo animals was under threat.

Hryhoryev said that Berzina's actions had damaged Ukraine's international prestige, as the zoo had been expelled from the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) due to the poor keeping of its animals.

Hryhoryev and Mariychuk said that the zoo employees who had not agreed with the director's policy were planning to mount a protest during the zoo's 100th anniversary in order to attract the attention of Kyiv residents, guests, and government officials to the situation with the zoo.

As reported, on October 15, the Interfax-Ukraine news agency hosted a press conference involving representatives of Austrian and British animal welfare organizations Christian Janatsch and John Ruane, who slammed the activity of the current management of Kyiv Zoo. They said that membership of the EAZA would not be returned to Kyiv Zoo ahead of schedule, although the zoo's press service reported that the inspections conducted by the EAZA on August 4-11, 2009 showed positive changes in the zoo's activity. They said that these reports were untrue.

In particular, Ruane said that he had received a letter from the EAZA saying that the "Kyiv Zoo does not meet European animal care standards and was not even recognized as a candidate for returning to the EAZA."

" Kyiv Zoo won't be able to submit its candidacy for consideration until 2012," he said.

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