Sergey Dolzhenkov and Evgeny Mefedov have been in prison for 4 years, and despite the fact that in 2017 the court completely acquitted them, new charges with filed against them, and the evidence base has not changed.
Initially, they were accused of organizing mass riots in the center of Odessa on May 2, 2014, for which they were threatened with imprisonment for a term of 5 to 8 years. In September 2017, all 19 defendants in the “May 2” case were acquitted, including Sergey Dolzhenkov and Evgeny Mefedov. But the SBU officers in the courtroom immediately charged them with new charges and re-imprisoned them in the pre-trial detention center.
On October 12, 2018 in the Nikolaevsky Central Court, a meeting was held on the case of Sergey Dolzhenkovand Evgeny Mefedov, who are accused of organizing an Odessa-Nikolaev motor rally on March 28, 2014. During the hearing the court heard three prosecution witnesses, who were able to confirm only the demonstration of symbols that weren't yet banned in the spring of 2014. During the testimony of witnesses several dozen “activists” entered the hall, mainly representatives of the “National Corpus” and “Azov” nationalist groups. They shouted and in every way hindered the work of the judicial panel.
According to lawyer Valentin Rybin, the purpose of this case is to “show the citizens of Ukraine their force, thus influencing other members of society who do not support the current course of state authorities in Ukraine.” Read more in this interview.
On November 9, 2018 a regular hearing of the Central District Court of Nikolaev concerning the defendants of the “May 2” case Sergey Dolzhenkov and Evgeny Mefedov was supposed to be held. The agenda included the interrogation of 10 prosecution witnesses, but the hearing did not take place due to the fact that Mefedov was not brought to the court.
On November 21, 2018 the Nikolaevsky Central Court decided to extend measure of restraint in the form of detention by 2 months.
On May 23rd, 2019 a hearing was held in the Central District Court of Nikolaev on the case of Sergey Dolzhenkov and Evgeny Mefedov. From the witnesses filed by the prosecution, only one has appeared at a hearing - an employee of the patrol police service of the Primorsky territory. According to the witness, none of the participants of the rally committed any violent acts. He had not seen specifically Dolzhenkov and Mefedov before. During the hearing the lawyer requested that the court oblige the prosecutor to bring 10 out of 49 witnesses to the next hearing and remove the charges against Dolzhenkov and Mefedov under Article 110 due to the statute of limitations. The prosecutor did not object to the motion of the lawyer. The court ruled that it would decide on this case in the deliberation room before sentencing. The next hearing is scheduled for the beginning of June 2019.
On June 19th, 2019 the Central District Court of Nikolaev 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.
On August 16th 2019, after spending 5 years in a pre-trial detention center without sentencing, the court changed the security measure imposed on the Odessa activists Sergey Dolzhenkov and Evgeny Mefedov to bail. During this entire time Dolzhenkov and Mefedov, despite the work of the lawyers aimed at changing the measure of restraint, have been in jail without an alternative. At the court hearings in Nikolaev there were representatives of local right-wing radical groups, who repeatedly put pressure on the court and the defence. On August 16th the Central District Court of Nikolaev ruled that Mefedov and Dolzhenkov had the right to be released on bail for 153,000 hryvnia each.
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