Kirill Vyshinsky, editor-in-chief of RIA Novosti Ukraine, was detained by the SBU on May 15, 2018 on suspicion of treason (Part 1, Article 111 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine). On the same day, the SBU conducted searches at the editorial office and in the homes of some of the employees of RIA Novosti Ukraine. According to the SBU, the reason to suspect Vyshinsky of high treason is that as early as 2014 the journalist allegedly justified the annexation of Crimea, and allegedly supported the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk "People's Republics". Proof of his "subversive activities" in Crimea allegedly is the state award of the Russian Federation. On May 17, 2018 the Kherson City Court took the decision to arrest Vyshinsky for 60 days without bail.
From the moment of detention to the present day no alternative to detention has been provided.
Vyshinsky's lawyer told “Uspishna Varta” that the searches had been carried out with violations, and the pieces of evidence that had been attached by the prosecution were inadmissible. Concern about the detention of Vyshinsky and the consequences that it can lead to in terms of the freedom of the country’s media was expressed by the organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the Council of Europe, and the UN Office for Human Rights. The OSCE Representative on freedom of the media Harlem Desir called on the government to refrain from imposing restrictions on the work of journalists.
On July 11, the Kherson City Court once again sastisfied the Prosecutor's Office's request to extend the term ofthe editor-in-chief of RIA Novosti Ukraine Kirill Vyshinsky's detention for another 60 days. The lawyer Andrey Domansky petitioned the court to take his client out on bail, arguing that he has many years of experience in human rights and social activities.
After reviewing the response of the government of Ukraine that was addressed to the European Federation of Journalists, the human rights platform “Uspishna Varta” stated that the government's position in the case of Kirill Vyshinsky is contrary to international law and the legislation of Ukraine. Based on the government's response, RIA “Novosti Ukraine” is not recognized by the authors of the document as a media agency or office of any of the Russian state news agencies registered in Ukraine. In their accusations against Vyshinsky, law enforcement bodies refer not to the results of the official examination of the content of the site, but to the information of the non-governmental organization with an controversial reputation “StopFake”
On September 25, the Security Service announced the completion of the investigation of criminal proceedings, and that the materials are being prepared for transfer to the court.
On 26 September 2018, the journalist was not brought to a court for a hearing of his appeal. The hearing was rescheduled for 2 October. The journalist's lawyer stated that the conditions of custody of Kirill Vyshinsky in Kherson jail would amount to torture in civilized nations; there are no window glasses in cells and interrogation rooms. In view of falling temperatures and worsening weather, the chances of becoming sick become much higher.
His lawyer said that the next hearing of the Court of Appeal, scheduled for October 2, was cancelled in connection with the liquidation of the court.
On October 10, the Prosecutor's office said that the investigation into the case of Vyshinsky hadn't been completed, and the examination continues. At the same time, the Prosecutor refuted the information of the SBU from September 25 about the completion of the investigation into the case of the journalist. Vyshinsky's defence will insist on an independent medical examination of the journalist. During his stay in jail his illness has worsened.
On October 23, the Kherson court of appeal dismissed the appeal of the defense of the editor-in-chief of “RIA Novosti-Ukraine” Kirill Vyshinsky concerning his detention being prolonged up to November 4. The Prosecutor's office stated that it expects to send the indictment concerning Vyshinsky to court in a month.
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.
On December 11th in Kherson, the court rejected the appeal of the defence in the case of Vyshinsky, leaving him in custody until December 28.
Human rights defenders from "Uspishna Varta" were able to communicate with Vyshinsky concerning his health, the conditions in the detention center, prosecution, and the available options for reaching a deal. In addition to the materials in the “Opinions” section of 2014 on the RIA Novosti Ukraine website, he is also charged with treason charges for an article dated May 15, 2018 (the day of his arrest) with the headline “The attack on the UOC led to the refusal of autocephaly”. The article presents an expert opinion expressing skepticism about the prospects for obtaining autocephaly. In this material, the expert's opinion is set out on 11 lines, and the position of the UOC-KP - on 17. Blame Vyshinsky, we recall, under Article 111 of the State Treasurer, from 12 to 15 years. The full version of Kirill Vyshinsky's interview in text version and in video.
On December 27th the Kherson city court extended the arrest of the editor-in-chief of RIA "Novosti Ukraine" Kirill Vyshinsky for one month. The journalist remains in custody until 27th January 2019.
On January 14th the prosecutor's office announced the completion of the pre-trial investigation against Kirill Vyshinsky. The Vyshinsky case will be transferred for consideration in essence to one of the district courts of Kiev.
On January 17th the Kherson City Court satisfied the motion of the prosecutor and extended Vyshinsky's term of detention to February 16th.
On January 17th the staff of the Prosecutor General's office of Ukraine carried out searches at the house and office of the lawyer Andrey Domansky, who represents the interests of Kirill Vyshinsky. Domansky also represented the interests of the journalist Vasily Muravitsky, the deported journalist Pavel Karnazytsky, and others persecuted for political reasons. According to the lawyer, the basis for the searches is a mere formality.Domansky links these investigative actions primarily with his public speeches at international venues where he has repeatedly stated that pressure is being put on freedom of speech in Ukraine.
On the 23rd and 25th of January consideration of the complaint of the journalist Kirill Vyshinsky concerning the illegality of his detention in May 2018 took place in the criminal cassation court (Supreme Court). Only at the second hearing did law enforcement bodies give Kirill Vyshinsky the chance to participate in the process via video communication from the pre-trial detention center in Kherson. The court granted the request of the defense and ordered to ensure the physical presence of the journalist at the hearing on March 20th.
On February 1st the Kherson Court of Appeal refused to satisfy the complaint of the Vyshinsky’s defense of, about the extension of his detention until February 16th. This decision was made at a meeting on January 31st. And on February 8th the Kherson City Court granted the motion of the prosecutor and extended Vyshinsky's measure of restraint in the form of detention until April 8th.
On March 5th, 2019 Kirill Vyshinskywas handed an indictment and a register of pre-trial investigation materials. The case will be considered by one of the district courts of Kiev for further consideration. On March 6th the Kherson Court of Appeal once again rejected the complaint of the journalist’s defenders concerning the extension of the term of his detention.
On March 20th, 2019 in Kiev a hearing took place in the Criminal Cassation Court concerning the complaint about the unlawfulness of the detention of Kirill Vyshinsky. The court partially granted the request of the journalist’s lawyers, referring the case to the Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court. Vyshinsky remains in custody in Kiev, where he was transferred from Kherson on March 19th. Kirill Vyshinsky stated, in an interview with the Coordinator of “Uspishna Varta” during his trial, that he does not intend to opt for an exchange and wants to obtain justice in his case in Ukraine. The interview with Vyshinsky is available here.
On April 4th in the Podolsky district court of Kiev consideration of the case began. The prosecutor read 18 pages of the indictment. In total, the charges in the case of Vyshinsky take up 80 pages.
On April 5th the Prosecutor-General's Office stated that Vyshinsky’s lawyer, Andrey Domansky, is suspected of illegally privatizing a building in the historical center of Kiev. According to representatives of the lawyer community, “reporting suspicion to a lawyer in order to substantiate the prosecution does not stand up to any criticism”. Earlier, on January 17th, the house of Domansky’s lawyer was searched. The lawyer linked the investigative actions with his professional activities and regarded the incident as an attempt to exert pressure on him for taking part in the trials of the journalists Pavel Karnazytsky and Kirill Vyshinsky.
On April 15th and 25th hearings connected to the case of Vyshinsky were held in the Podolsky district court of Kiev. In court 56 of the 79 pages of the indictment were read. Proceeding from the proclaimed charges, state treason for publishing 72 articles on the website of “RIA Novosti Ukraine”, which allegedly had an “anti-Ukrainian orientation”, is imputed to Vyshinsky. “I have such an impression that the investigation established two facts. The first - that my name is Kirill Vyshinsky, and the second – I have emails. All the rest is not established,” said Kirill Vyshinsky, commenting on the indictment. The court session appointed for May 2nd did not take place. The charges will continue to be read out on May 7th.
On May 7th, 2019 the Podolsky court of Kiev extended the arrest of Vyshinsky until July 22nd.
May 15th, 2019 marked exactly one year since Kirill Vyshinsky was detained. The journalist gave the human rights activists of "Uspishna Varta" a letter in which he calls the charges brought against him by the Prosecutor's Office and the SBU absurd and expresses his position on the case. The full text of Kirill Vyshinsky's letter can be read here.
On May 27th, the Supreme Court did not satisfy the appeal of Vyshinsky about the illegality of his detention. The full text of the decision has to be published by the court on June 3rd, but in the meantime the motivation of the judges remains unknown. The comment of the lawyer of Vyshinsky can be read here.
On May 30th during a hearing on the case of Vyshinsky the collegium of the Podolsky court of Kiev continued to hear the indictment of the prosecutor's office. At the moment 74 pages have been read. The next hearings on Vyshinsky’s case are scheduled for June 10th, June 18th, and July 3rd.
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