SBU searched the apartment of human rights activist Yelena Berezhnaya

Human rights activist Yelena Berezhnaya was hospitalized following SBU search; she is accused of treason

On 6 November 2018, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) searched the apartment of human rights activist Yelena Berezhnaya and the office of ex-deputy head of Kiev City State Administration Irena Kilchitskaya. SBU suspects Ms. Berezhnaya, who today planned to organize a rally dedicated to the 75th anniversary of liberation of Kiev from German Nazi occupation, of treason.

On 6 November 2018, SBU operatives searched the Kiev apartment of Ms. Yelena Berezhnaya, the director of Irina Berezhnaya Institute of Legal Policy and Social Care. Following her refusal to let them in, motivated by the absence of her lawyer, the operatives cut through the door. Emergency workers were summoned to the scene; they used special equipment to take down the apartment door. Following that, the operatives began the search in the presence of witnesses, but Ms. Berezhnaya felt unwell and was taken to a hospital by medics present at the scene.

According to the human rights activist, she was hit in the head and fell to the floor as the door was broke open. She added that the operatives seized a letter from Irina Berezhnaya Institute of Legal Policy and Social Care, headed by Yelena Berezhnaya, a camcorder and mobile phones, and recorded bank card numbers.

In addition, the office of lawyer Irena Kilchitskaya, ex-deputy head of Kiev City State Administration, was also searched; the office was used earlier by Yelena Berezhnaya. Ms. Kilchitskaya told the press after the search that SBU was looking for documents related to the work of the human rights activist in her premises.

Ms. Berezhnaya connects the searches with the rally near General Vatutin Monument, scheduled for today and dedicated to the 75th anniversary of liberation of Kiev from German Nazi occupation. She made that comment on her Facebook page.

SBU Press Secretary Yelena Gitlyanskaya officially stated that SBU operatives had conducted a series of searches of "members of pro-Russian civic organization in the framework of a criminal investigation under paragraph 1 of Article 109 (Actions Aimed at Violent Change or Overthrow of the Constitutional Order or Seizure of the State Power) and paragraph 1 of Article 111 (Treason) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine".

«In the course of pre-trial investigation, SBU operatives established that one of the suspects visits the Russian Federation regularly and meets there with former Ukrainian officials and representatives of government of the aggressor state. SBU operatives have documented that, under guidance and funding from the curators, the "civic activist" systematically organizes and conducts in Kiev and oblast centers of Ukraine protest actions aimed at destabilizing the social and political situation in the country", the official statement at SBU website reads.

According to the court order of Pechersk court dated 9 October 2018 that sanctioned the search of Yelena Berezhnaya's apartment, published by her lawyer, the search was conducted in the framework of SBU investigation of activity of ex-Prime Minister of Ukraine Nikolai Azarov and ex-deputy Vladimir Oleynik. According to the investigators, Yelena Berezhnaya met those politicians in Moscow, and cooperated with head of the Russian Center of Culture and Science in Kiev Constantine Vorobiev. SBU claims that rallies and events organized by Ms. Berezhnaya in Kiev and Ukraine's regions are aimed at "destabilizing the social and political situation in Ukraine".

On 9 May 2018, Yelena Berezhnaya was arrested by police officers using brute force on suspicion of wearing the St.George's ribbon, prohibited in Ukraine, and delivered to Pechersk rayon police precinct. Following that, she was hospitalized.

Earlier, Uspishna Varta human rights platform coordinator together with famous Ukrainian lawyer Andrey Domansky gave their recommendations on proper behavior and actions in case of search of your premises.

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