A Polish journalist was punched in the face on Russian television this week, after telling a debate panel, “Ukrainians want to live like normal people, not in shit, like you [in Russia].”
Polish journalist Tomasz Maciejczuk’s run-in with another man’s fist came during an appearance on the Russian TV show “Voting Right.” The episode never aired, but the TVTs station published the video on YouTube on Nov. 22.
The man who hit Maciejczuk was Ihor Markov, a former Ukrainian lawmaker who served briefly in Ukraine’s parliament before the Maidan Revolution. Today, Markov is wanted by police in Ukraine in connection with riots that took place in Odessa in September 2007.
This week’s fight on Russian television broke out when the debate turned to average salaries in Russia. Maciejczuk took the opportunity to point out that the Russian economy lags significantly in this area, saying heatedly, “When we talk about money, I want to congratulate Romania on its victory. And do you know why? Because today the average salary in Romania is higher than it is in Russia. And it’s higher in Latvia, too.”
When pressed to talk about Ukrainians, Maciejczuk let loose his quip about “living in shit.” In response, the show’s host, Roman Babayan, threw a piece of paper in his face, and fired back, “You’re the ones who live in shit!”
It was chaos after this, with Babayan, Markov, and others charging Maciejczuk and demanding, over and over, that he leave the television studio. When Maciejczuk refused to go, arguing that his remarks were no more offensive than comments Russians often make about Poles, Lithuanians, Latvians, and Estonians, Markov leaned in and punched in him the forehead. The footage published on YouTube abruptly ends there.
Maciejczuk seems to be okay. On Vkontakte, he remained defiant, mocking political analyst Sergei Mikheev, who also appeared on the show, for his apparent ignorance about average salaries in Russia.
Russia’s state-news media, meanwhile, has described the incident as yet another Russophobic outburst by a foreign journalist. Sputnik’s Russian-language Armenia division, for instance, spoke to Mikheev and historian Armen Gasparyan, who accused Maciejczuk of intentionally staging a scandal. Gasparyan told Sputnik that Maciejczuk even confessed to him in the past that he “knows better” than what he says on the air.
Watch the whole episode of “Voting Right” below: