On the basis of the Parliament Subcommittee of Human Rights, the case of Ivano-Frankivsk journalist and blogger Ruslan Kotsaba has been discussed. He has been unjustly imprisoned for 10 months already for proving controversial, painful for some people citizenship, which a free man in a free country has every right to have. Pavlo Viknyanskyy expressed republican’s concern about this shameful situation and encouraged the governmental forces and publicity to intervene.
The case of the journalist Kotsaba is becoming more popular around the world, although in Ukraine it is not mentioned very often. Perhaps, military moods have their effect, but the violations of human rights do continue, the person continues sitting behind the bars and his family lives without any means of subsistence. What civil society representatives, including Republican’s leader Pavlo Viknyanskyy, various politicians, the ombudsman, and a journalist’s lawyer think about this has become known from the event, that was held on 24 December 2015 in Kyiv.
People who have taken part in the discussion were the MP of Ukraine, the Chairman of the Subcommittee of Human Rights, National Minorities and International Relations Committee Vadym Rabinovych and his colleagues Yevheniy Murayev and Mykola Skoryk, the Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights Valeriya Lutkovska, the leader of Studrespublika Pavlo Viknyanskyy and the lawyer of Kotsaba Tetiana Montian, who was taking part by telephone.
It’s been almost a year since the case of Ruslan Kotsaba has been opened. The journalist Ruslan Kotsaba uploaded a video on YouTube in which he encouraged people not to go to the ATO on the demand of forced, to his opinion, mobilization. As long as there has been no proclamation of martial law in Ukraine, to his point of view, the conflict in the Eastern Ukraine has been a fratricidal civil war, and the representatives of government power have been taking the advantage from it for their own profit. The investigation qualifies this as a treason and an obstruction of the Armed Forces. Each of these crimes can lead to 15 years in prison. After that, Kotsaba’s retention in prison has been prolonged on the basis of the CCP (Code of Criminal Procedure) articles that contradict with international obligations of Ukraine and the European Convention of Human Rights.
The following facts testify about the barbaric nature of the case. In order to delay the investigation, 58 witnesses were announced, 41 of them have been already questioned during 10 months period. The court proceedings were held once a month and during the meetings 2-3 witnesses were listened to for 30 min each. All these witnesses emotionally said almost the same things about how they and their friends or acquaintances adversely had been affected by Kotsaba’s video. In addition the family of the accused (wife and two daughters) was left without any means of subsistence, imposing an arrest of all family preservations, calling all the savings an evidence.
Ukraine’s government must be ashamed, because Kotsaba is considered the first in 5 years “prisoner of conscience” in Europe according to respectful international organization called Amnesty International. The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović has expressed her concern as well as some human rights activists. The Ukrainian government and, unfortunately, the publicity with the journalistic society are silent and do not take into account the fact that the pressure on the freedom of speech does affect the future of political prisoner.
Moreover, defending freedom of speech can also be put under pressure with the hate-rhetoric and other actions.
Republicans have been supporting the peaceful settlement of the armed conflict in Ukraine, which brazenly incites and strongly supports the imperialist Putin’s Russia. The strength of the Ukrainian people is hidden in those features and characteristics of the sociopolitical structure, which are long gone in Russia, such as openness and pluralism. Because of this we do not have to show the repressive type of behavior similar to the current Russian order. Ukraine is a free land, our creed is freedom of thought and speech and a deep respect to them.
During the meeting of the Parliamentary Subcommittee of Human Rights, where the absurd situation, in which the journalist Kotsaba had found himself, was discussed. All the attention has been focused on the possible ways of speeding up the proceedings and to ensure fair justice.
Pavlo Viknyanskyy said that we, Studrespublika, are the one of those few who are trying to give this case the publicity, despite the threat of various repressive measures, not even on the part of government, but on the part of people who do not like the position of Kotsaba.
«For us it does not matter the journalist Leshchenko or the journalist Kotsaba are imprisoned. Everybody should be free, having the right to speak up. This is the spirit of Europe!», – stressed the Republican leader.
«We communicate a lot, especially with European journalists. They are wondering why there is no solidarity, no powerful appeal of Ukrainian journalists concerning the case. Do they depend on oligarchs that much, are the journalistic solidarity and standards not the first ideals and priorities that before some wishes, understanding or love? Let the common sense prevail. I would ask everybody for solidarity… Enough being afraid!» – concluded Viknyanskyy.
On the same day Kotsaba continued detention in custody until 22 February 2016… And the following hearing is scheduled for 22 January. We will continue monitoring the investigation of this critical situation closely and informing you of the progress, trying to help to solve the issue.