Pavel Volkov

Pavel Volkov is a journalist and blogger who was born in 1984 in Zaporozhye. His last place of work before his detention was as a columnist of the business newspaper“Vzglyad”. Before 2014 he took part in the social movement “Ukrainian Choice”, participated in round tables, and made publications on the website and in the paper version of the “Ukrainian Choice” newspaper.

He was arrested on September 27th, 2017, and at the same time searches were carried out at the apartments of his mother and wife (illegally, without the presence of a lawyer and with a false witnesses). Since then he has been in uncontested custody in a pre-trial detention center, and the judges prolong Pavel’s detention every two months, referring only to the lack of an alternative measure of restraint for those articles that he is accused under.

Pavel Volkov is accused under two heavy articles of the Criminal Code of Ukraine for his journalistic activity:

  • Part 2 of Article 110 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine – infringement on the territorial integrity of Ukraine (by a group of persons);
  • Article 258-3 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine – rendering other assistance to terrorists.

Thus both articles incriminate him for the same actions (publications on the Internet and an allegedly discovered badge of an observer of the referendum in Donetsk; except for the badge, there is no evidence of participation in a referendum, and the badge can’t be considered as an official document). Both articles are universal for the persecution of dissidents in Ukraine. Article 110 refers to the Constitution (“in violation of the order established by the Constitution”), but this order isn’t established by the Constitution. The group of persons (part 2 of Article 110) that appear in the charges are “unspecified”, which makes it possible to unsubstantially use a heavier article in the charges. According to Article 258-3 he is charged with giving certain information assistance to terrorists, although such a form of assistance isn’t stipulated by either Ukrainian nor international laws, and the so-called “DPR” and “LPR” are not recognised as terrorist organisations by anybody.

Court sessions take place in the Shevchenkovsky district court of Zaporozhye. He is in pre-trial detention center No. 10 in the city of Zaporozhye.

At the beginning of July, 2018 Pavel Volkov had been kept in a pre-trial detention center for the 10th month, and the court refuses to change the measure of restraint to house arrest, despite his worsening state of health (Pavel has chronic asthma, an allergy, and cholecystitis). The judges ignore the fact that a considerable part of the evidence of the charges have been recognised as inadmissible and the carried-out linguistic examination confirm his innocence.

On July 5, 2018 the Shevchenkovsky court of Zaporozhye prolonged the journalist Pavel Volkov’s measure of restraint — up to September 2nd. The next court session was appointed for August 27th. Volkov’s defence sent a request to the European Parliament to pay attention to the arrested journalist.

On August 27 the Shevchenkovsky court of the city of Zaporozhye prolonged Pavel Volkov’s measure of restraint for another 2 months – up to October 25th, despite the arguments given by the defence concerning the deterioration of the defendant’s state of health.

During the trial, the prosecutor did not attach new evidence to the case. And the prosecutor also rejected the motion for a repeated examination of the equipment confiscated during a search due to procedural violations.

On September 11th, during a hearing on the case of Pavel Volkov, the prosecutor, once again abusing procedural laws and violating the European principle of “reasonable parity”, tried to repeatedly present unreasonable motions for the purpose of dragging the process on, since a part of the evidence had been lost. But the court refused to satisfy the prosecutor.

In addition, the court left without consideration the defence’s motion for recognising the evidence as inadmissible, having declared that an assessment would be given in the consultation room upon sentencing. Then a break in the case until September 13th was declared.

On September 13th, 2018 the Shevchenkovsky court satisfied the motion of the lawyer Svetlana Novitskaya in the case of the journalist Pavel Volkov for the recognition of two volumes of evidence as inadmissible. The subsequent court sessions were appointed for September 25th and 26th.

On September 25, 2018, it became known before the hearing that one of the judges had broken a leg. Because of this Volkov’s trial was suspended for an indefinite period of time. Meanwhile, the term of the journalist’s detention expires on October 25th, and if the judge doesn’t leave from the sick-list by this time, then there is a risk that the hearing of the case will start from the beginning with a new judiciary panel.

As a reminder, during her speech at the “Human Dimension Implementation Meeting 2018”conference in Warsaw, the head of board of the human rights platform “Uspishna Varta”Natalya Natalina informed the OSCE about the case of the journalist Pavel Volkov, who has been in jail in Zaporozhye for over a year for his publications, and who is accused of assisting terrorists, the maximum prison term for which is 15 years. The case of the journalist Pavel Volkov is being continuously monitored by the human rights activists of“Uspishna Varta”.

27 September will mark one year since journalist Pavel Volkov was placed in Ukrainian jail. In an interview with the “Uspishna Varta” human rights platform Volkov spoke about the conditions of detention and why the case against him is connected exclusively to political motives.

On October 25, the court refused to satisfy the motion of the prosecutor to extend the preventive measure imposed on the journalist Pavel Volkov in the form of detention, without electing an alternative one. After spending more than a year in a prison in Zaporozhye the journalist was finally released. In connection with the replacement of the judge, the prosecutor filed a motion to examine the indictment from the beginning. Thus, all the evidence previously appealed by Volkov’s lawyers will now be reviewed by the court again. Hearings on his case will resume from November 21. The whole team of the “Uspishna Varta” human rights platform rejoices with Pavel and his family. Pavel’s first moments, emotions, and comments after being released are in this video.

On November 21 daily hearings began on the case of the journalist Pavel Volkov. All the proof that was previously collected by the SBU and appealed by the lawyers of the journalist will be considered over the period of two weeks by the judicial collegium, because, in connection with the replacement of the judge, the prosecutor filed a motion to consider the indictment from the beginning.

During the hearings the hearings on November 26-27, 2018, the videos presented by the prosecutor's office that allegedly prove the guilt of the journalist were seen. In particular, a fragment of a rally in Zaporozhye in 2013, and also an interview with Pavel Volkov filmed at the office of the "Ukrainian Choice" social movement in 2012, in which historical and cultural and philosophical questions were discussed, were shown. The defence noted that the case file contains evidence that is not relevant to the prosecution.

On January 9th, 2019 court hearings resumed in the Shevchenkovsky court of Zaporozhye concerning the case of the journalist Pavel Volkov. The trial collegium partially granted the defense’s motion to declare 7 of the 9 declared protocols as inadmissible evidence. According to the lawyer, this court decision contradicts the decision of the previous collegium, which recognized all 9 protocols as inadmissible evidence. The next hearing is scheduled for January 21st 2019.

On January 21st held a court hearing concerning the case of Volkov. The hearing was held in the presence of people in camouflage, who at first totalled 5 persons. They introduced themselves as servicemen of the ATO, and one of them said that they were the deputy head of the organization "C14". Those who came to the hearing behaved aggressively and called all those who were present, including lawyers, "separs", "vata", " kolorads”, and "traitors". At the end of the hearing the "activists" left the courthouse and waited at the entrance for the accused, his relatives, and lawyers. But the police prevented the provocation and ensured the safety of the participants in the process. All hearings previously scheduled for January and February were cancelled. The next hearing will be held on February 26th 2019.

On February 26th and 27th the Shevchenkovsky Court of Zaporozhye held two hearings on the case of the journalist Pavel Volkov. The collegium of judges examined the material evidence provided by the prosecutor that was confiscated from the accused during a search. "Activists" of the "C14" and "National Druzhina" groups attended the hearings. They exerted psychological pressure on the court, lawyers, and the family of the accused.

On March 6, 2019 the final hearing concerning the case of the journalist Pavel Volkov took place in the Shevchenkovsky court of the city of Zaporozhye. During the hearing, the court continued to investigate the evidence of the prosecutor's office, in particular the telephone and notebook of the journalist. During the debates, the prosecutor demanded for the journalist 15 years of imprisonment without confiscation and with the recovery of the cost of numerous examinations in the amount of more than 38,000 hryvnia. The lawyers asked for the acquittal of all charges.

On March 27th, 2019 the Shevchenkovsky Court of Zaporozhye acquitted the journalist Pavel Volkov, who spent more than a year in a pre-trial detention center on charges of infringing on the territorial integrity of Ukraine. After a lengthy discussion, the panel of judges issued a final verdict in the case of Pavel Volkov. The judges decided to fully acquit the journalist, thereby removing the charges against him under Part 2 of Article 110 - encroachment on the territorial integrity of Ukraine (by a group of persons) - and Article 258-3 – rendering other assistance to terrorists - of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.

In April the Shevchenkovsky District Court of Zaporozhye officially published the acquittal of the case against the journalist Pavel Volkov. The court found that the prosecution had failed to prove the person's guilt by appropriate, admissible, and sufficient evidence, as is required by law.

On April 25th the prosecutor's office said that it intends to appeal against the not guilty verdict handed down by the Shevchenkovsky district court of Zaporozhye to the journalist Pavel Volkov.

On June 27th, 2019 the Appellate Court of Zaporozhye upheld the acquittal of the journalist Pavel Volkov. “We can't judicially punish someone because of a lack of patriotism,” reported the judge.