The courts are starting to release political prisoners. Vyshinsky remains in prison. 1-7 July 2019

The courts are starting to release political prisoners. Vyshinsky remains in prison. Political and civil rights in Ukraine. 1-7 July 2019

“Uspishna Varta” welcomes the process of releasing political prisoners from custody that has started in Ukraine. Recall that it started after the decision made by the Constitutional Court on June 25th that declared part 5 of article 176 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine to be unconstitutional. This provision stipulated that in respect of persons suspected under terrorism articles, crimes against the foundations of the national security of Ukraine, or obstructing the activities of the Armed Forces, a milder measure of restraint cannot be applied except for detention. Recall that over the past 5 years human rights activists have documented over 500 cases where people have been held in custody on charges of state treason, attempts to overthrow the constitutional system, espionage, and other articles for long periods without the existence of an alternative.

Thus, on June 26th General Aleksandr Shchegolev, who spent more than 4 years in a pre-trial detention center without sentencing (see review from June 24-30, 2019), was released under house arrest.

On July 3rd the Goloseevsky District Court of the City of Kiev released Stanislav Ezhov, the “interpreter of Groisman”, from custody and placed him under house arrest. From the moment of his detention, Ezhov, without the existence of any alternative, spent a year and a half in a pre-trial detention center on charges of state treason. Assuming that the motion can be satisfied, during the next hearing the prosecutor asked the court to set bail at 10 million hryvnia. But upon returning from the deliberation room, the court decided to release Stanislav Ezhov from custody and to change the measure of restraint to around-the-clock house arrest with the wearing of an electronic bracelet. The details of the case can be found here.

In addition, on July 5th the court released the director Oleg Sagan on bail. On July 4th the court appointed an alternative measure of restraint in the form of the possibility of posting bail in the amount of 80,000 hryvnia, and on July 5th the director left the pre-trial detention center. Recall that the 63-year-old director and cameraman Oleg Sagan was detained in November 2018. He is accused of encroaching on the territorial integrity of Ukraine under Part 2 of Article 110 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine for making video clips for YouTube. The details of the case of Oleg Sagan can be found here.

At the same time, many political prisoners remain under arrest, including the journalist Kirill Vyshinsky, who has been in jail for more than a year. On July 3rd a hearing took place in the Podolsky district court of Kiev. Representatives of the right-wing group “C14”, who put pressure on the judges in both this and other political processes, attended the session. The lawyers intended to file a request to change the measure of restraint, but the prosecutors filed a motion to postpone the hearing. The court satisfied the motion and postponed the hearing to July 15th.

THE RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND OPINION

In connection with the electoral campaign in Ukraine, the cases of physical attacks on journalists became more frequent. Thus, on July 1st in the city of Zolotonosha, Cherkassy region (district No. 197), during the filming of a campaign video for the candidate Lyudmila Rusalina, an unidentified man attacked the journalists Irina Lyutikov and Artur Zhurbenko. The attack happened at a time when journalists were recording on camera the fact of voter bribery carried out by representatives of the team of Rusalina. After the offense happened, the journalists filed a statement with the police concerning an offense under Article 171 of the Criminal Code (obstruction of journalistic activities) and Article 160 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (bribing voters). The details of what happened can be found in this video.

On July 2nd the journalist of the Internet newspaper “Strana.ua” Vladislav Bovtruk was beaten up on Independence Square in Kiev, during a rally organized by Petro Poroshenko’s supporters against the registration by the Central Election Commission of the candidates Anatoly Shariy and Andrey Klyuev. The journalist tried to photograph the conflict that arose during the event. At this moment he was hit in the face and fell to the ground.

According to the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine, in June there were 6 attacks on journalists. Two of the attacks on journalists happened in Kharkov and Odessa. In addition, force was used against media workers in the Rovno and Chernigov region.

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The practice of blocking Russian sites that have been included in the “black list” of the Security Service of Ukraine continues. Thus, on July 4th in Ukraine access was denied to another major Russian media agency, the “TASS” news agency. Operators refer to the decision of the National Security Council on March 19th, which introduces additional sanctions against individuals and legal entities of the Russian Federation

RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF RELIGION

The electoral campaign in Ukraine also led to an increased amount of pressure being put on the religious communities of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church by representatives of the newly established church structure of the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU), which is subordinate to the Constantinople Patriarchate and was created under the auspices of former President Petro Poroshenko as a part of his electoral campaign.

Thus, on July 6th, in the city of Kruty in the Chernigov region, the active phase of preparation for the capture of the local Syvato-Mikhailovsky temple of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church started. With the support of the local parliamentary election candidate from the right-wing “Svoboda” Vladimir Bryukhovetsky, territorial community meetings were held, during which it was decided that the Kruty temple should be transferred to the subordination of the “OCU”. Bryukhovetsky called on everyone to take part in a provocation and to “liquidate another Moscow checkpoint” in Kruty. In this case, the so-called "transition of the parish" happened with a clear violation of the law, since according to the law such a transition can happen only via the decision of the local religious community, and not the local territorial community. This is not the first time a politician has attempted to transfer this temple to another denomination against the wishes of the local religious community. The details of the incident can be found in this video.

ELECTIONS 2019. THE RIGHT TO ELECT AND BE ELECTED

Preparations for the election continue in Ukraine. By July 3rd district commissions were supposed to form precinct commissions (PECs) and to determine their leadership by drawing names.

Like during the presidential election, the main problem in the formation of commissions is the large number of “twins” among candidates for PEC members submitted by parties and parliamentary election candidates. There are also cases when future PEC members are simply not aware that their documents were submitted to the commission.

There are also cases when District Election Commissions (DECs) disproportionately distribute management positions in PECs. For example, in district No. 51 (Donetsk region - Zaitsevo and Mayorsk), where there are only 2 polling stations and about 2,000 voters, at a meeting on July 5th the leadership positions in both commissions were distributed between representatives of 3 candidates, which grossly violates the principle of proportionality and warrants the dissolution of the commission. More details about the situation can be read here. Earlier, the parliamentary election candidate for this district Nadezhda Savchenko reported about attempts to falsify and sabotage the electoral process in district No. 51.

During the campaign in other districts, numerous instances of indirect voter bribery and black technologies were also recorded. In addition, conflicts arose in a number of regions during campaign events that were attended by representatives of other political forces. The conflicts were mainly recorded during the events held by the party of the former President Petro Poroshenko “European Solidarity” that were attended by representatives of the party of Shariy, the YouTube blogger and consistent critic of Poroshenko’s policies.

Last week, representatives of the CEC and participants of the electoral process announced a possible disruption of the election due to a court decision that obliges the commission to re-draw the priority list of parties in the ballot. The lawsuit was filed by one of the political parties. The CEC said that as of July 5th, more than 5 million ballots had already been printed. And there may not be enough time and money in the budget to print new ballots. The Supreme Court, by its decision, abolished the need to re-draw.

MONITORING HUMAN RIGHTS CASES

On July 5th, in the Krasnogvardeysky court of Dnepr, the measure of restraint in the form of being held in custody in a pre-trial detention center imposed on the sportswoman Darya Mastikasheva - who is accused of committing state treason - was extended for another 60 days. The motion filed by lawyers to change the sanction was rejected. Lawyers intend to file a complaint against the decision in the Court of Appeal in the hope of changing the measure of restraint imposed on Darya Mastikasheva. The next hearing will be held on August 30th. More information about the case can be found on the website of “Uspishna Varta.”

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On July 2nd the Frunzensky District Court of Kharkov held a preparatory hearing of the court concerning the case of the journalist and political scientist Dmitry Gubin, who is accused of illegally acquiring and storing explosives in the form of 700 grams of plastic explosives and 5 fuses (Part 1 of Article 263 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine). During the hearing the journalist once again categorically rejected the suspicion of possessing explosives. The next hearing is scheduled for July 10th 2019. Recall that on March 12th 2018, via the order of the Goloseevsky court, Dmitry Gubin, like a number of other journalists and bloggers across the country, was searched. According to the journalist, during the search plastic explosive with fuses, textbooks on military topography, and large-scale maps of areas of the Kharkov region adjacent to the ATO area were planted.

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