review of rights violations by Uspishna varta

The death of the activist Gandzyuk, the extension of Vyshinsky's arrest, and the Parliament prepares new laws against the media. October 29-November 4

The "Uspishna Varta" human rights platform continues to report about violations of civil and political rights and freedoms in Ukraine. In Kiev, public hearings were held concerning the physical safety of journalists, the arrest of the journalist Kirill Vyshinsky was extended until December 28, and the public activist Ekaterina Gandzyuk died. The review for October 29-November 4, 2018 covers these and other events in detail.

ATTACKS ON PUBLIC "ACTIVISTS"

On 4 November the activist Ekaterina Gandzyuk died in hospital. On July 31 she was doused with sulphuric acid in Kherson. The investigation suspects former participants of the ATO and members of the “Ukrainian Voluntary Army” of committing the attack. Back then the specified volunteers received state awards from the President Petro Poroshenko. The police reported that four of the five suspects in the attack on Gandzyuk confessed to the crime.On November 4, a large-scale rally in memory of Ekaterina Gandzyuk was held outside the building of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Kiev. Similar protests were also held in several cities of Ukraine.

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As a reminder, recently attacks on public activists and representatives of right-wing radical groups have become frequent. The police usually react promptly concerning such cases. Thus, on November 1 the police detained three men who are suspected of attempting to murder the "activist" of the right-wing radical group “C14” Sergey Mazur. Recall that on October 10 a grenade was thrown into his apartment in Boryspil (Kiev region). Mazur himself is a defendant in the case of the destruction of a Romani camp on April 21 in Kiev.

The police in Pavlograd (Dnepropetrovsk region) is investigating an attack on an "activist" from the right-wing "National Druzhina" group Yury Malimonova. According to the representative of the National Police, the unknown person attacked the "activist" from behind, used tear gas, and struck several blows to his head. Malimonova was hospitalised in a serious condition in the intensive care unit of a Pavlograd hospital. "National Druzhina" consider that the attack on the "activist" is connected to his public work, in particular, his active role in fighting against the advertising of drugs in Pavlograd. Criminal proceedings were initiated under part 1 of article 121 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (intentional grievous bodily harm).

On October 29 in Kiev two unknown persons attacked the Deputy of the City Council from the right-wing radical party "Svoboda" Vladimir Nazarenko. As was reported by the press-service of the political party, two unknown persons caught up with the “Svoboda” member and hit him with bludgeons. Doctors diagnosed soft tissue injuries of the head, back, and neck. "Svoboda" connected the attack on Nazarenko to his political activity as a Deputy. Recently the wounded 27-year-old Deputy was accused of attacking the Russian Embassy. Vladimir Nazarenko also supported the actions of nationalists when they blocked in a woman's car with her disabled child inside at a petrol station.

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In contrast to these cases, the attack on the head of the "Russian cultural center of the Volyn region" public organisation Olga Sagan is not being investigated. According to the victim, the incident occurred on October 29 in Lutsk. Among the participants of the attack there was the commander of the "West-Volyn" battalion Andrey Fafley (a notorious "activist" and participant of a number of provocative actions carried out by nationalists). The attack on the woman is connected to the widespread information about her allegedly planning to take part in an event in Moscow.This is not the first instance of Olga Sagan being put under pressure because of her public position. Earlier the SBU began an investigation against Olga Sagan on suspicion of cooperating with the special services of the Russian Federation.

FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND OPINION

The situation concerning the physical safety of journalists in Ukraine remains an emergency. Despite the frequent cases of attacks, the inaction of the Prosecutor General's office and law enforcement bodies and the ignorance of even the most resonant crimes against journalists has led to the fact that in recent months only 8% ofcases went to trial. This was stated by the participants of the public hearing regarding the physical safety of journalists in Ukraine and impunity for crimes against the media, which took place on November 1 at the initiative of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU). The event was attended by representatives of Freedom House, the United Nations Monitoring Mission on Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, people's deputies, and journalists. Among the participants there was also a representative of the "Uspishna Varta" human rights platform. Within the framework of the public hearing the resolution “Punish the abusers of journalists” was adopted, in which the heads of law enforcement bodies are required to provide a public regular report on how they use their mandate to protect journalists. In addition, the head of the NUJU Sergey Tomilenko urged the candidates for the post of the President of Ukraine to publicly accept voluntary commitments to respect freedom of speech in the country.

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On November 7 the Freedom of Speech and Information Policy parliamentary Committee will consider scandalous draft law No. 8494, which obliges the media to publish their financial statements. This document was registered inParliament on June 18, 2016 by the Deputy Nikolay Knyazhitsky (the "People's Front" faction). If the draft law is adopted, radio and TV companies will be obliged to publish data about their income and expenses, and loans, and the author of the draft law proposes to give the National Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting other powers to monitor the correctness and completeness of the published data and "apply appropriate response measures". According to the human rights activists of "Uspishna Varta", the adoption of this draft law on the eve of the presidential and parliamentary elections can become an essential way for the National Council controlled by President Poroshenko to put pressure on independent media.

In the past independent media outlets have repeatedly stated that the National Council is a method of pressuring and censoring them via fines and inspections, as well as the deprivation of licenses. For example, on November 1 the National Council decided to fine Radio "Vesti" 22,800 hryvnia for violating the norms of broadcasting in the Ukrainian language. As a reminder, on March 3, 2017, in gross violation of the Constitution and laws of Ukraine, the National Council refused to renew the broadcasting license of Radio "Vesti". The National Council also announced a warning to the "ZIK" and "Gromadske" TV channels. The reasons for such sanctions are usually formal. Thus, "Gromadske" received a warning because on the day of memory (September 5, 100 years since the beginning of "red terror"), information about the day of memory was absent on the air of the broadcaster until 07.07, although it is supposed be disseminated at least once for every two hours of air time.

In addition, at the November 7 meeting of the Committee it is planned to consider draft laws No. 9200 and No. 9139, which propose to amend the Law of Ukraine "on the condemnation of the Communist and national socialist (Nazi) totalitarian regimes in Ukraine and the prohibition of the propaganda of their symbols" and ban in Ukraine the propaganda of the "Russian world" and the "Imperial ideology of the aggressor state" respectively. As was previously noted by “Uspishna Varta” human rights activists, the proposed changes contain contradictions with the norms of national and international law.

On November 1 the Kherson city court extended the term of detention of the editor-in-chief of RIA "Novosti Ukraine" Kirill Vyshinsky until December 28. Earlier, the defense announced the disqualification of the investigating judge, citing bias against the accused.

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Desir expressed serious concern about the lengthy pre-trial detention of Vyshinsky. “I urge the Ukrainian authorities to speed up the investigation into the serious allegations against Kirill Vyshinsky and to conduct such an investigation in full compliance with the principles of the rule of law, necessity, and proportionality. Journalists have the right to freely express their opinions, including by reporting problems that may be considered controversial, sensitive or offensive. Under no circumstances should they be subjected to repression for their journalistic activities,” said Harlem Desir. Later, the OSCE representative expressed disappointment with the court's decision, which for the third time extended Vyshinsky's arrest.

On November 2 at the Embassy of Ukraine in Moscow a rally of solidarity with Kirill Vyshinsky took place. The event was attended by dozens of journalists, who called for the immediate release of their colleague. You can read more about the case of Kirill Vyshinsky here.

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The persecution of users of social networks due to the posts they publish continues. On October 31 a 57-year-old resident of Aleksandria (Kirovograd region) was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison for making calls through the "VKontakte" social network to forcefully replace the country's government. The accused had previously been prosecuted for a similar "crime" and was given a suspended sentence. As we wrote earlier, most of the detainees agree to reach a deal with the investigation and plead guilty in exchange for a suspended sentence. During July-September such cases were recorded in Lutsk, Mariupol, and Melitopol.

MONITORING OF HUMAN RIGHTS CASES

On October 29, the Goloseevsky court of Kiev extended the term of detention of "Groisman's translator" Stanislav Ezhov until December 27. The next hearing is scheduled for November 26. As a reminder, Stanislav Ezhov, who was the translator of the Prime Minister Vladimir Groisman, was detained on December 20, 2017 by the SBU at his workplace. He is accused of committing state treason (part 1 of article 111 of the Criminal Code). During the hearing, Stanislav Ezhov said that all the information that exists in the case did not contain the "classified" stamp and in no way hidden. Ezhov has spent more than 10 months without an alternative in custody in the Lukyanovka pre-trial detention center in the city of Kiev. More about Ezhov's case can be read here.

The Babushkinsky District Court of Kamenskoye made the decision to extend for 30 days the measure of restraint in the form of detention imposed on the athlete Dariya Mastikasheva, who is accused of state treason. The defense suggests that the hearing will start again in February 2019.


Remember that you can contact the human rights defenders of “Uspishna Varta”:

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