The SBU summons employees of the presidential candidate Yuliya Tymoshenko’s HQ for interrogation en masse

The SBU summons employees of the presidential candidate Yuliya Tymoshenko’s HQ for interrogation en masse

73 leaders of the primary party organizations of the political force of the presidential candidate Yuliya Tymoshenko in Zaporozhye received summons for interrogation in the Security Service of Ukraine. The party reported that 270 representatives of the candidate’s headquarters were summoned for interrogation in the Vinnytsia region. Tymoshenko’s party claims that such actions committed by the Security Service are aimed at intimidating the staff of their headquarters and demoralizing members of district commissions and observers participating in the campaign of the candidate Yuliya Tymoshenko.

On March 15th Valery Evdokimova, an observer of “Uspishna Varta”, attended the press conference of the “Batkivshchyna” party on the topic “Summons for questioning in the SBU for members of the Batkivshchyna party in Zaporozhye. Political repression or the fight against election irregularities?”

The confidant of the candidate Yuliya Tymoshenko in the 75th constituency, Vitaly Ryabtsev, said that 73 leaders of the primary party organizations of “Batkivshchyna” - the political force of the candidate Yuliya Tymoshenko - received summons for interrogation by the SBU. According to him, the summons came on the basis of a criminal case concerning alleged voter bribery.

According to the confidant of the candidate, the heads of the party organizations performing at these elections the duties of members of election committees, and also observers from the candidate Yuliya Tymoshenko, were already interrogated. They, among other things, were asked questions about the internal activities of the party during the electoral campaign.

Concerning the suspicion of creating “webs”, Ryabtsev explained that out of the 2,000 members of the party in Zaporozhye, 1,600 people participate in the electoral campaign as members of election commissions, observers at polling stations, promoters in tents, etc. According to him, they all completed applications for their involvement in campaigning on volunteer grounds.

“There is no web, there is a party structure. They want to demoralize it as much as possible. There are summons and intimidation by the staff of the SBU. There is one goal - so that we can not go out on election day, so that our observers can not go to the polls,” said Ryabtsev.

According to the lawyers of “Batkivshchyna”, the summons for interrogation handed to their representatives was done so in violation of the law. The lawyer also drew attention to the fact that the criminal case was opened on February 11th, 2019 and Facebook has already posted the decisions of the Kiev Pechersky Court concerning searches in twenty regions of Ukraine: Zaporozhye, Lvov, and others.

The party links the interrogations primarily with the exertion of psychological pressure on people who, during their work in polling stations, will have to think not about the electoral process, but about summonses and interrogations.

In addition, “Batkivshchyna” stated that the SBU officers came to their employees in the evening and tried to interview them at home, without the presence of a lawyer and without introducing themselves or showing documents. Attempts to question them by phone were also documented. According to the speakers, a sociologist who collaborated with the party was searched; all their computer equipment was confiscated, as well as mobile phones, including those of his wife and young child. After that, for obvious reasons, the sociologist refused to participate in the electoral campaign.

"Batkivshchyna" claims that this electoral campaign has become unprecedented in terms of the amount being exerted by the authorities against oppositional media, journalists, bloggers, and public figures.

As was noted by human rights activists in the 2019 interim report on election observation, there is a trend where a part of law enforcement bodies (the Security Service of Ukraine and the Prosecutor General of Ukraine) carry out actions and statements in the interests of the current president, Petro Poroshenko, as a part of the electoral campaign.

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