Black PR against candidates, lack of members of election commissions, criminal cases against journalists

Black PR against candidates, lack of members of election commissions, criminal cases against journalists. April 8-14, 2019

2019 ELECTION. THE RIGHT TO ELECT AND BE ELECTED

A repeat vote in the presidential election of Ukraine will be held on April 21st 2019. According to the data of sociological surveys, published on April 11th, among those who are going to take part in the election on April 21st, 61% of Ukrainians are ready to vote for the candidate Vladimir Zelensky in the second round of the election, and 24% are ready to vote for the current head of state, Petro Poroshenko.

Management of the electoral process

On the deadline prescribed by law (April 10th, 2019), the Central electoral Commission formed the composition of 199 of the district election commissions (DECS) for the organization and holding of the election. The candidate Petro Poroshenko submitted the maximum possible number of candidates (7 per commission, 1,393 people in total) to all 199 DECs. The candidate Vladimir Zelensky also almost completely used his quota, delegating 1,379 candidates to 197 DECs.

At the same time, in the process of forming precinct election commissions (PECs) in all regions, DEC members faced the problem of a shortage of members. The situation arose due to the fact that representatives of the presidential candidate Petro Poroshenko offered 2 people for the PEC instead of 6-8 (depending on the size of the stations). As a result, DECs are forced to independently search for people to form commissions. In a number of electoral districts, the shortage of commission members reached 1,000.

According to the observers of “Uspishna Varta”, as of Saturday, April 13th, in Zaporozhye in DEC No. 74, 314 PEC members were missing, in DEC No. 76 457 people were missing, and in DEC No. 77 344 people were missing. At DEC No. 62 in Zhytomyr the shortage of PEC members was 400 people. The situation with the shortage of PEC members was reported by observers in Lutsk and Lvov. A similar situation was noted in other regions of Ukraine.

According to the interlocutors of “Uspishna Varta”, the members of the PEC submitted by Poroshenko were not massively paid for their work in the first round. This concerns the so-called “unofficial” payments that were promised by the headquarters and are common practice for the Ukrainian elections. According to the data received from a source in the headquarters of Petro Poroshenko, in the second round the candidate is planning to pay 3000 hryvnia to the PEC heads, 2000 hryvnia to the secretary, and ordinary members of the commission are not supposed to receive payments. Accordingly, people do not have the motivation to work in commissions. More details about the situation can be read here.

Voter Registration

According to the State Voter Register, as of April 14th 252,814 voters used the opportunity to temporarily change their place of voting during the second vote. Unlike the first round, before the second vote, the time period for changing the place of voting is significantly limited (from April 8th to April 15th). In the departments of the State Register there are massive queues of people who want to change their place of voting. In some districts of Kiev the queues consist of 500 people, people spend up to 9 hours waiting in them.

According to the assessment of the human rights activists of “Uspishna Varta”, to ensure the constitutional right of citizens to elect and be elected, the procedure for changing the place of voting should be significantly simplified, including by giving the possibility of submitting the necessary documents online. In addition, it is advisable to provide for the possibility of changing the place of voting for both rounds of Ukrainian presidential elections at the same time.

Conditions for the implementation of electoral campaigning

Before the second vote on April 21st, presidential candidates do not carry out campaign trips to regions, limiting themselves to television broadcasts and correspondence discussions through video clips on social networks. A key topic for discussion was the debate between candidates, which, however, differ on the date that they were held.

The observers of “Uspishna Varta” recorded the distribution of propaganda products in all regions of Ukraine that discredit the presidential candidate Vladimir Zelensky. Such products were also distributed during the campaign of the candidate Petro Poroshenko at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev on April 14th. In addition, on the weekend of April 13th-14th in several cities of Ukraine (Kiev, Kharkov, Cherkassy) posters appeared with the inscription "End", made in the style of the billboards of Petro Poroshenko with the slogan "Think". The source information was not specified on the billboards.

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On April 9th the observers of “Uspishna Varta” submitted a request to the CEC to check the compliance of the electoral campaign of the presidential candidate Petro Poroshenko featuring the depiction of President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin with the requirements of the Law of Ukraine “On the Ukrainian Presidential Election”. In particular, in accordance with paragraph 1, part 1 of article 64 of the Law - participation in electoral campaigning is prohibited to persons who are not citizens of Ukraine. Also, lawyers say that according to Part 1 of Article 8 of the Law of Ukraine "On Advertising", it is prohibited to place an image of an individual in advertising or use their name without their written consent.

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"Uspishna Varta" also appealed to the State Bureau of Investigation with a statement about the commission of a criminal offense under Article 161 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (“inciting ethnic hatred”) by the people's deputy Nina Yuzhanina in preliminary agreement with Oksana Zabuzhko, Ivan Malkovich, and other unidentified persons from the headquarters of the candidate for the post of President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko. We are talking about the distribution of campaign material in the form of the newspaper "April 21 VOTE", which was made at the order of the candidate Petro Poroshenko. According to the lawyers of “Uspishna Varta”, the newspaper contains statements that violate the principle of equality of man and citizen enshrined in the Constitution of Ukraine and, conversely, create a public danger, which intensifies the escalation of the conflict between various members of society.

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The police initiated a criminal case because of a video published on the Internet showing a truck knocking down the candidate for the presidency of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky. Criminal proceedings were opened under Part 1 of Article 346 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine ("Threat to, or actual use of, violence against a state or public figure"). The headquarters of the candidate Poroshenko denied any involvement in the creation of this video. At the same time, the journalists found out that the distribution of this video was started from Internet resources controlled by Poroshenko’s headquarters.

The “web” and voter bribery

According to the results of the opinion poll conducted by the “Rating” group, it turned out that 17% of voters or their acquaintances faced bribery attempts in the first round of the Ukrainian presidential election. 8% faced bribery personally, and 9% heard about it from their relatives. Almost 40% of those surveyed by sociologists of the “Rating” group are expecting large-scale fraud in the second round of the presidential election.

On the eve of the second vote on April 21st there are numerous reports about planned voter bribery within the framework of the so-called "web" of the headquarters of Petro Poroshenko.

  • As was reported by local media, in Dnepr residents started to receive calls from campaigners who suggest to vote for the current president and candidate for the presidency of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko in exchange for a material reward of 2,000 hryvnia.
  • In Chernigov voter bribery took place in the reception office of a people's deputy (presumably the deputy head of the “Bloc of Petro Poroshenko” faction Sergey Berezenko). After receiving information aboutpossible voter bribery, the police squad came to the scene. It was previously established that senior citizens were given 1,000 hryvnia in exchange for a vote in support of the current president. Earlier, on March 13th, Sergey Berezenko was called in for questioning as a witness in criminal proceedings under Part 2 of Article 160 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (“Bribing a voter or referendum participant”). On March 18th he did not appear for questioning by the National Police concerning this case. The Interior Ministry reported that they will summon the people's deputy for questioning again.
  • In the village of Olyka, in Volyn, the police seized 720,000 hryvnia destined for “activists” from the “web” of the candidate for the post of president of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko. According to journalists, the representative of the current president distributed the money to the campaigners directly in the building of the village council. Local journalists also filmed the participants of the “web” in the village of Lipno, in the Volyn region. It turned out that the director of the local cultural center is responsible for the functioning of the “web” in the village. “Web” functionaries were also found in the village of Znamirovka in the Volyn region. In the Kamen-Kashirsky district of the Volyn region, officials and educators are involved in the functioning of the “web” in the interests of Petro Poroshenko.

Falsification in the first round of the election (March 31)

“Uspishna Varna” analysed the electoral constituencies where during the first round of the presidential election on March 31st there was an anomalous turnout and support for the current president P. Poroshenko (well above the regional average). It is precisely at such polling stations that the alleged fraud was carried out in order to ensure that the current president progresses to the second round of the election. We publish this information for all interested persons in district 46 and district 60 in the Donetsk region in order to prevent similar falsifications in the second round of the elections on April 21.

For example, in territorial constituency No. 46 in the Donetsk region (the center is the city of Bakhmut), at 78 out of 163 polling stations (47%) the turnout exceeded the average for the region. At 20% of districts (33 districts), the support for President Poroshenko exceeded the average for the region. At those stations where the turnout ranges from 35-59% (average for the region and below), the support for the president (except for a few stations) is also in the range of 2-6%. Thus, a number of front-line villages (Verkhnekamenskoye, Zaitsevo, Zvanovka, Kalinovka, Vozrozhdenie, Yagodnoye, Zelenopole, Pokrovskoye) stand out against the others since both their turnout and level of support for the current president are much higher than the average for the region. , in the villages of Vozrozhdenie and Mednaya Ruda (station 140063), turnout reached 86%, and the support for the current president — 32.8%. At the same time, in the town of Seversk located in the same district, the turnout figures correspond to the average for the region (46-55%), while support for Petro Poroshenko fluctuates at a level of 2-4.5%. Of the 37 sites located in the largest city of the district - Bakhmut (formerly Artemovsk), at 13 stations the support for the current president exceeds the average for the region (the so-called "anomalous stations").

As the human rights activists of “Uspishna Varta” found out, Petro Poroshenko’s “web” on the territory of district No. 46 and directly in the city of Bakhmut involved municipal and public organizations that are supervised by local authorities and the mayor Aleksey Reva (who has occupied this position for 25 years) - from city council officials to school principals, heads of housing offices, and community leaders of selected urban areas. More about the situation in District 46 can be read here.

According to the results of the statistical analysis carried out by the experts of “Uspishna Varta”, at constituency No. 60 (center - Volnovakha) it was found that at least 30 stations out of 131 were “anomalous” - the support for the current president exceeded the regional average (12.64%) and reached 55%. At the same time, voter turnout in such polling stations was almost 85%. At the disposal of the "Uspishna Varta" human rights platform there is data with the forenames and surnames of people in Donbass who illegally helped the president progress to the second round of the presidential election. More details can be read here.

FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND OPINION

On the eve of the second vote on April 21st the SBU continues its practice of detaining users of social networks and persecuting opposition journalists.

Thus, on April 9th it became known that the Security Service of Ukraine announced the presence of the journalist Vladimir Skachko on the wanted list on suspicion of Part 2 of Article 110 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine ("Infringing on the territorial integrity and inviolability of Ukraine"). The court has given its permission to detain the journalist. Recall that on March 5th in Kiev SBU officers spent more than 14.5 hours searching the apartment of the journalist, who is known for his opposition and critical remarks in relation to the current government. The case against Skachko is connected to the case of the journalist Kirill Vyshinsky, who was detained in May 2018 on suspicion of state treason and is in a detention center.

In addition, last week the SBU detained at least 3 users of social networks. Criminal proceedings were initiated against them on suspicion of encroaching on the territorial integrity of Ukraine (part 1 of article 110 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine). The SBU did not disclose the names of the detainees. Such detentions were recorded by human rights activists in Odessa and Zaporozhye, as well as in the Donetsk region. Thus, on April 12th in Mariupol, SBU officers said that they had exposed a woman who allegedly was involved in discrediting the electoral process in Ukraine on the Internet. As “Uspishna Varta” previously reported, the majority of detainees agree to reach a deal with the investigation and admit their guilt in exchange for a suspended sentence.

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Meanwhile, the Shevchenkovsky District Court of Zaporozhye officially published the acquittal of the case against the journalist Pavel Volkov, who spent more than a year in a pre-trial detention center on charges of infringing on the territorial integrity of Ukraine. The court found that the prosecution had failed to prove the person's guilt by appropriate, admissible, and sufficient evidence, as is required by law.

In Zhytomyr, the similar case against the journalist Vasily Muravitsky, who spent 11 months in a pre-trial detention center and is under house arrest, continues to be heard. On April 12th the Korolevsky Court of Zhytomyr heard the written evidence provided by the prosecutor - the personal correspondence of the journalist. The lawyer of the accused motioned for the inadmissibility of the heard evidence, since it was obtained in violation of theregulations of the Criminal Procedure Code, as well as for changing the conditions of house arrest from 24-hour to night. The court did not satisfy both motions. More about the case of Muravitsky can be read here.

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At the same time, after a significant international response, the Security Service of Ukraine abolished the ban on entry to Ukraine imposed on the journalist of the Austrian television channel ORF, Christian Wehrschütz. The journalist published a letter to the Security Service of Ukraine in which it was stated that the entry ban was lifted “due to the receipt of information about the termination of the existence of circumstances on the basis of which the person was denied entry”. The Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl welcomed the abolition of the entry ban imposed on the journalist.

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On April 4th the National Council, based on the results of a previous contest, gave LLC “CH K” (“Radio JAZZ”) the FM frequency of 104.6 MHz in Kiev, which is the subject of litigation and was previously used by “Vesti. Radio”. Recall that in 2017 “Vesti. Radio”, part of the “Vesti Ukraine” media holding company, was illegally refused a renewal of its license. The media holding company considers that such a decision is politically motivated and that the transferral of its frequencies is illegal.

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The prosecutor's office in Kiev announced a significant acceleration of the trial over the murder of the journalist and publicist Oles Buzina. On April 8th the prosecutor started to read the indictment. Hearings will be held almost every week until July. The court agreed with the position of the prosecutor's office, regarding the groundless motion of the defence to challenge the entire jury to be an abuse of the law and an attempt to delay the trial, which has been going on for the second year already. Recall that the journalist and publicist Oles Buzina was shot in the courtyard of his house on April 16th 2015. Those accused of murder are linked with the right-wing group “C14”.

FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE AND RELIGION

During April 8th-14th, representatives of district administrations, with the support of right-wing groups and"activists" of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), continue to capture the temples of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Such captures are accompanied by acts of aggression and violence against believers and clergymen. Believers of the UOC in a number of villages in the Rovno, Lvov, and Khmelnitsky regions are being put under serious pressure. The believers whose temples were captured defend their rights in court.

A long conflict is taking place over the temple in the village of Kopytov in the Rovno region. On April 13th the temple was captured by "activists" of the OCU. During the capture, the "activists" used physical force against the believers of the temple and mocked the priest. After clashes, the priest needed medical assistance - he had to call an ambulance. According to eyewitnesses, the capture took place with the participation and support of representatives of law enforcement and the Security Service of Ukraine, the process was led by regional officials. Despite the parties’ agreement to wait for the court’s decision, supporters of the OCU cut off the locks and captured the temple.

Earlier, on April 10th, church raiders attacked the temple in Kopytov. It was initiated by the police chief of the Koretsky district department. During the attack one of the activists of the OCU started to threaten to cut the face of abbot of the temple. On that day, the believers did not allow the locks to be cut off at their church, and after 6 hours of confrontation, the parties agreed to seal it off while the issue was being resolved in the legal field. On April 12th the believers of the village of Kopytov and the clergymen of the Koretsky deanery turned to the police and the Koretsky District Administration to protect the parishioners and the senior priest from the aggression of activists of the OCU. The officials promised to take all the necessary measures to prevent the intensification of the conflict in the village.

Captures of temples also happened in the village of Postoynoye in the Kostopolsky district (April 3rd), the village of Ptichye in the Dubensky district (April 4th), the village of Rozvazh in the Ostrogsky district (April 14th) in the Rovno region, and the village of Banya Lisovitskaya in the Lvov region (April 7th). Conflicts over a temple continue in the village of Sutkovtsy in the Khmelnitsky region.

Supporters of the OCU also complained about the church in the village of Pyatigory in the Zdolbunovsky district of the Rovno region. The conflict continues in the village of Kurozvany in the Goshchansky district of the Rovno region, where on April 12th supporters of the OCU forced open the doors of the church house, which has been serving as a chapel for the parishioners of the captured church for more than a month, and brought property belonging to the UOC religious community into the street.

In a number of villages the local authorities take a neutral position in church conflicts. Thus, on April 13th, after the long interfaith conflict over the Svyato-Troitsky church, the head of the village of Povcha in the Dubensky district of the Rovno region sealed off the church and swore on the Evangel that he would not give away the keys to any of the denominations until the dispute over the ownership of the church was resolved in court.

MONITORING HUMAN RIGHTS CASES

“Uspishna Varta”, through the court, ordered the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) to investigate the crime committed by the “Mirotvorets” website in collusion with law enforcement bodies when it published the personal data of the “Klymenko Time” YouTube channel journalist Maksim Osovsky on its website. This happened after a journalist filmed a report about the picketing of the Presidential Administration by “activists” of the “National Corpus” group on March 9th. On April 12th the Shevchenkovsky District Court decided to oblige the authorized persons of the SBI to enter information about the crime into the Unified Register of Pre-trial Investigations and start a pre-trial investigation.

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On April 8th, a hearing on the case of the lawyer Andrey Domansky, who represents the interests of the editor-in-chief of “RIA Novosti Ukraine” Kirill Vyshinsky, was held at the Pechersky court of Kiev. On January 17th he was searched and suspected of illegally privatising a building. Due to the lack of a number of documents, the court postponed to April 22nd the hearing during which a measure of restraint is supposed to be imposed on the lawyer. Domansky links these investigative actions with his professional activities and regards them as an attempt to exert pressure on him because of his participation in the trials of the journalists Pavel Karnazitsky, Kirill Vyshinsky, and others.

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On April 8th and 11th the Kiev Appeal Court considered the jurisdiction of the case of the former People's Deputy Nadezhda Savchenko and the former head of the Prisoners' Liberation Center "Officers' Corps" Vladimir Ruban. Proceedings were supposed to be considered in Slavyansk, but later the consideration was transferred to the Chernigov District Court of the Chernigov Region, and then to the Solomensky District Court and the Darnytsky District Court of Kiev. In all courts, the collegium of judges withdrew themselves at the request of the lawyers. On April 12th the case was referred to the Brovarsky District Court (Kiev region).

The Brovarsky court convened to consider the case on Saturday, April 13th. As Nadezhda Savchenko herself said during the trial, this was possible since the leadership of the court retroactively (from April 8th 2019) approved the transfer of the working day from December 31st 2018 to April 13th. Following the hearing, the presiding judge decided to adjourn the hearing until April 15th to give the current lawyers time to arrive at the hearing under the agreement with Vladimir Ruban (one lawyer) and Nadezhda Savchenko (8 lawyers). On April 15th the hearing of the Brovarsky court continued.

Earlier it was reported that Nadezhda Savchenko and Vladimir Ruban could be released at 24:00 on April 15th, since the motion for the extension of their arrest was neither presented to the accused nor to the lawyers. Since March 2018 Savchenko and Ruban have been in a detention center. More details about the case can be read here.

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On April 11th the Kharkov Court of Appeal was supposed to consider the case of the 84-year-old Kharkov citizen Mekhti Logunov, who is accused of state treason and who has been in prison for almost 2 years. But the hearing did not take place, since the court premises were not prepared. It was decided to postpone the hearing to September 2019. The defence of Mekhti Logunov faced a similar situation on December 18th 2018, when the same formal reasons did not allow the Kharkov Court of Appeal to consider the case of the Kharkov citizen, who was sentenced to 12 years in prison. The defence has repeatedly stated that the Logunov case is being deliberately dragged out. More about the case of Mekhti Logunov can be read here.

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Two drivers from Makeevka (Separate districts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions), as well as three employees of the Zaporozhye social security administration, were accused of financing terrorism. The drivers were accused for taking retirees to Zaporozhye to get their legal pension, and employees of the social service were accused for issuing this pension. On April 10th 2019 a regular hearing was held in the Kommunarsky court of Zaporozhye. The people are charged with a number of offences, including financing terrorism, which collectively imply up to 15 years in prison. In the case consisting of 16 volumes, the prosecutor read the 190-page indictment in the courtroom during six months. The men have been in a pre-trial detention center without a sentence for already 2.5 years. The essence of the case is that after the beginning of the conflict in the East of Ukraine the citizens of Ukraine of retirement age living on non-controlled territory, by the decision of the Ukrainian government, have the only opportunity to receive social benefits - to cross the contact line. Due to their old age, it is almost impossible for people to endure long queues at roadblocks, almost every day there are reports in the media about old people dying at the contact line. Therefore, the pensioners of Donbass have been using the services of minibus drivers for several years to get to the same Zaporozhye where they can receive pensions. This obliged scheme has never been a secret to anyone. More details about the case of the driver can be read here.

Download Political and civil rights in Ukraine. 8 - 14 April 2019


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