Moldova: Police block Petrenko Group supporters from Appeals Court

Supporters of the political prisoners who came to the Appeals Court in Chisinau on Tuesday, November 3, to demand “freedom for the Petrenko Group,” were blocked from the courthouse by a police cordon.

Police cordon outside Chisinau Court of Appeals, Nov. 3.
Photos: Alexandr Gutovski
“We came to demand freedom for the Petrenko Group. The police did not allow access to the hearing, which was announced as a public one. This is unprecedented. A public hearing involves giving any citizen access to the meeting. We regret that the police discriminate against citizens who are supposed to be equal before the law,” said one of the protesters in support of the political prisoners.

People chanted: “We demand an independent judiciary! Freedom for the Petrenko Group! Down with the oligarchs! We demand justice! Stop the chaos! No to political repression!”

The hearing in the Chisinau Court of Appeals, announced for Tuesday, November 3, to consider the lawyers’ request for release of the political prisoners, was then postponed. The date and time of the next hearing has yet to be announced.

Supporters of the political prisoners rally outside the court.
Lawyers filed a petition with the Chisinau Court of Appeals to overturn the decision of the Riscani sector court on October 28, under which the arrest of the Petrenko Group political prisoners was extended by 45 and 30 days, respectively.

Recall that on October 28, in defiance of the demand by Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) deputies for the immediate release from detention of all political prisoners, led by former deputy Grigory Petrenko, the Riscani court decided to extend their arrest.

Judge Denis Bebeleu granted the request of prosecutor Nick Shendri to extend the preventive arrest of another 45 days in respect to political prisoners Grigory Petrenko, Mikhail Amerberg and Pavel Grigorchuk. The period starts on November 5, and thus the members of the opposition party Red Bloc will remain in custody until December 20.

At the same time, the judge decided to extend the arrest of the other four political prisoners for 30 days: Alexander Roshko, Oleg Buzni, Andrey Druz and Vladimir Zhurat.

‘Freedom for the Petrenko Group! Down with the oligarchs!’
Several members and activists of the opposition party Red Bloc, headed by former deputy and honorary member of PACE Grigory Petrenko, have been jailed since September 6, following a peaceful protest against the ruling oligarchic regime. The arrest and detention of the protesters sparked criticism from international organizations, European institutions and politicians in several countries, who demanded their immediate release from custody.

Moreover, in the framework of the PACE autumn session, 32 deputies from all factions, representing 20 countries, signed a written declaration on the “Petrenko case,” in which they “clearly demand from Moldova the immediate release of all political prisoners.” Thus, according to lawyers, PACE recognized Grigory Petrenko and his colleagues as “political prisoners” and oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc as a “threat to democracy.”


Translated by Greg Butterfield

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