Political and civil rights in Ukraine. June 10 - 23, 2019

Journalists continue to die in Ukraine. Political and civil rights in Ukraine. June 10 - 23, 2019

THE RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND OPINION

On June 20th the Cherkassy journalist Vadim Komarov passed away after an attack left him comatose. On May 4th, after a brutal beating, he fell into a coma, which lasted a month and a half. After the brutal beating in May, Vadim Komarov underwent several operations. The colleagues of the beaten journalist stated that the attack was related to his professional activities. Komarov repeatedly wrote about corruption, embezzlement of budget funds, and illegal constructions. One of his most high-profile recent publications concerns the circumstances of a drunken rebellion in Cherkassy colony No. 62. Earlier, in 2016, an attempt was made to shoot the journalist, but it was to no avail. The police are investigating and published a sketch of the attacker.

Earlier in Ukraine the journalists Oles Buzina and Pavel Sheremet were killed. The perpetrators of their deaths are not held accountable. Thus, on June 11th, a hearing was held in the Shevchenkovsky Court of Kiev concerning the case of the murder of the journalist and publicist Oles Buzina. The court was not able to read out the withdrawals of some judges. The lawyers of Andrey Medvedko and Denis Polishchuk, accused of murdering Oles Buzina, insisted on a decision to postpone the hearing. The next court hearing is scheduled for July 11th. More details about the case of the murder of the well-known Ukrainian journalist Oles Buzina can be read here.

Impunity for attacking journalists gives rise to new cases of physical aggression. Thus, on June 13th in Priluky in the Chernigov region, during a meeting between a parliamentary election candidate and the public, the film crew of the organisation “Stop Corruption”, which documents the bribing of voters, was attacked.

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In Ukraine the harassment of social network users due to their published posts also continues. In particular, in Zaporozhye, Odessa, and Kiev law enforcement officers launched legal proceedings against citizens for expressing their own opinions on their social network pages. Criminal proceedings against suspects are conducted under Article 110 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.

THE RIGHT TO PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY

On June 23rd the annual “Kiev Pride” march of the LGBT community took place in Kiev. According to the organizers, 8,000 people took part. As per tradition, opponents of the event carried out a number of attempts to thwart it. In particular, this year radicals distinguished themselves by shouting threats towards the marchers, launching firecrackers, and holding banners bearing offensive inscriptions. Also, the capital’s police said that on the night of June 23rd they conducted a special operation and managed to prevent a large-scale provocation of the radicals. After the march was over, the head of the National Police, Sergey Knyazev, said that not a single person had been detained during the march, and there were no injuries either. As a result, in total 8 people were detained beforehand for preparing a provocation.

Earlier, on June 19th, unidentified people in balaclavas attacked those who visited the cinema as a part of the Kiev-Pride LGBT community event. According to one of the victims, during the attack several athletically built guys kicked and gassed the participants of the film screening. It is reported that among the victims there are minors.

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On June 18th in Kharkov, in the park on Petr Grigorenko Avenue, where Marshal Zhukov’s bust had previously been installed, several dozen Kharkov citizens came to lay flowers on a pedestal on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of the hero’s death. Aggressive opponents, who introduced themselves as participants of the ATO, met them there. There was a slight scuffle and crush, which included, among others, the elderly. Thanks to the police, a fight was avoided, although all the prerequisites were there. Details can be found in this video.

RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF RELIGION

Proponents of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), together with right-wing radicals, continue to carry out attacks on temples and UOC church houses. Storms take place with increasing cruelty and violence. In particular, recently temples and church houses in the Rovno, Ivano-Frankovsk, Kiev, Ternopol regions, as well as in Volyn, were subjected to raider attacks.

"Activists" of the OCU attack a church house of the UOC, June 20th, in the village of Postoichnoye, Rovno region

  • On June 13th activists of the OCU made an unsuccessful attempt to capture the Svyato-Uspensky temple of the UOC in the village of Dorotishche in the Volyn region. With the participation of people in camouflage, they tried to breach the church door with a grinder and hammer. According to the Vladimir-Volyn diocese, about 50 villagers gathered to defend their church against the attacks of the OCU. Law enforcement officers watched on from the side.
  • On June 20th, in the village of Postoichnoye in the Kostopolsky district of the Rovno region, there was a fight in the courtyard of the church house, where activists of the OCU had arrived in a drunken state and demanded to immediately vacate the house and drive out the “Moscow priest” from the village. Three women were hospitalised, and the others recovered after the experience. The fight involved drunken rural men and law enforcement. The carnage at the church house ended after another brigade of police arrived in the village. Supporters OCU put a lock on the building, as if it was their property.
  • On June 22nd 2019, in the village of Podgaitsy in the Shumsky district of the Ternopol region, drunken activists of the OCU came to the church house, where the prior of the captured Nikolaevsky temple currently lives with his family and two children, and threatened to evict him. According to the parishioners, supporters of the OCU are systematically putting pressure on the priest of the UOC and are demanding to vacate the premises, since they already have “their own” priest.
  • On June 23rd, before the beginning of the Sunday service, “activists” of the OCU in the village of Kozak in the Koretsky district of Rovno brought 40 young athletically built people to the village and prevented UOC believers from accessing the church. The church raiders blocked the doors of the temple with a metal bar. Supporters of the UOC called the police, after which the "activists" of the OCU left the territory of the church. After this, UOC believers cut the metal bar blocking the door and asked the priests from the neighbouring villages to come to support the service.

UOC parishioners continue to assert their rights in court. Thus, on June 14th, the Zbarazh district court granted a complaint made by members of the religious community of the Svyato-Pokrovsky temple in the village of Musorovtsy in the Ternopol region and ordered law enforcement officers to enter into the Unified Register of Pre-trial Investigations information concerning the illegal change of the church’s locks on the church door. The incident occurred on June 8th, the police refused to respond.

After the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate (UOC-KP) Filaret spoke out against Tomos and actually went into schism from the OCU, the “activists” of the new church, created under the patronage of the former President Petro Poroshenko, also started to capture the temples of the UOC-KP. Such a case with the participation of the "Right Sector" organisation was recorded in Rovno on June 21st.

ELECTIONS 2019. THE RIGHT TO ELECT AND BE ELECTED

On July 21st 2019 an early parliamentary election will take place in Ukraine. On June 20th the Constitutional Court recognised as legitimate the decision of the new President Vladimir Zelensky to dissolve the parliament. As of June 22nd, the CEC has already registered 1318 candidates in single-mandate electoral districts and 1313 candidates on party lists.

A number of candidates in majority districts, without waiting for official registration, began an active electoral campaign and indirect voter bribery through gifts and holding various “charity” events. Thus, in Kramatorsk, Petro Poroshenko’s former associate and parliamentary election candidate Maksim Efimov distributed free beer during a meeting with voters. In the Vinnytsia region a case of voter bribery with chicken legs was also recorded. And those involved in the corruption scandal associated with the affairs of the amber mafia - the deputies from “People’s Front” and the “Bloc of Petro Poroshenko” Maksim Polyakov and Borislav Rosenblat, who put themselves forward for the early parliamentary election as self-nominated candidates - conduct indirect voter bribery in their constituencies. More details can be found in the material of “Uspishna Varta”.

The campaign has already documented cases of physical aggression against opposition political forces. Thus, in Krivoy Rog unknown persons attacked the headquarters of the “Opposition Platform - For Life” party. It is reported that about 20 people in masks and T-shirts wearing the logo of the group “National Corpus” broke into the office of the political force and started to smash up the furniture, tear down symbolism, shout obscene language, and paint everything over. The office employees who suffered bruises and abrasions were taken to the hospital; one of them had a suspected broken arm. All office equipment in the reception was broken.

MONITORING HUMAN RIGHTS CASES

In Ukraine the trials of journalists and public figures accused of committing state treason and other violating national security articles in connection with their views and opinions continue.

On June 10th, during a hearing in the Podolsky court of Kiev, the prosecutors ended the announcement of the indictment in the case of Kirill Vyshinsky, who is the editor-in-chief of RIA “Novosti Ukraine” and is accused of committing state treason (Part 1 of Article 111 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine). Thus, the court heard all 79 pages of the document. On June 18th, during a regular hearing, the court was not able to explain the information contained in the indictment handed down to the journalist. The accused asked for an explanation of the document and stated that he did not admit any guilt. The next court hearing was scheduled for July 3rd. Recall that the editor-in-chief of RIA “Novosti Ukraine” Kirill Vyshinsky was detained on May 15th by the SBU during a search in his apartment. He has been kept in a pre-trial detention center for more than a year, without an alternative. More about the case of Kirill Vyshinsky can be found here.

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On June 18th, in the Solomensky Court of the city of Kiev, a hearing took place concerning the case of the director and cameraman Oleg Sagan, who has been in prison for more than half a year. Recall that the director is accused of encroaching on the territorial integrity of Ukraine through the creation of videos. During the hearing it turned out that the prosecution was represented by a new composition of prosecutors who had not previously been involved in the Sagan case’s trial. The lawyer of the accused filed a motion concerning the non-compliance of the indictment with the requirements of the legislation, but the court did not satisfy it. The next hearing is scheduled for July 4th. Details of the case of Oleg Sagan can be read here.

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On June 18th the court refused to change the measure of restraint imposed on the journalist Vasily Muravitsky, who is accused of committing state treason, and thus extended around-the-clock house arrest for another 60 days - until August 14th. In particular, the court did not take into account the labour contract submitted by the journalist and rejected the request to give him the opportunity to go to work. The next court hearings are scheduled for August 14th and 30th. The journalist spent 11 months in a pre-trial detention center and has been under around-the-clock house arrest for almost a year. The details of his case can be read here.

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On June 19th the court did not allow deputies to post bail for the politician Aleksandr Efremov, who is accused of committing state treason. His arrest was extended to August 17th inclusive. The court argued its position and decision by stating that under the articles of the Criminal Code that Aleksandr Efremov is accused under, the only possible measure of restraint is “detention”. Earlier, on June 18th, the Central Election Commission refused to register Aleksandr Efremov as a candidate for the parliamentary election.

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On June 19th the Central District Court of Nikolaev held a regular hearing on the case of Sergey Dolzhenkov and Evgeny Mefedov, who are accused of committing actions aimed at seizing and changing the territorial integrity of Ukraine because they organised the Odessa-Nikolaev motor rally in March 2014. The court decided to satisfy the motion of the prosecutor and extend the measure of restraint in the form of detention for another 2 months. More details can be found in the report of the journalist Pavel Volkov, made from the court building for the “Uspishna Varta” human rights platform. The accused have been in jail for more than 5 years. The case of Dolzhenkov-Mefedov is being constantly monitored by “Uspishna Varta”.

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The executive director of the Ukrainian department of the International Society for Human Rights (IHR) Anton Alekseev spoke, in an interview with the “Uspishna Varta” human rights platform, about the two waves of political persecution in Ukraine, the emergence of new trends in judicial practice, Moldova’s experience for Ukraine, the situation around the arrest of the “Medusa” journalist Ivan Golunov, and how ordinary people struggle for their rights.

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