Speech in defense of Vasily Muravitsky
Speech by attorney Andrei Gozhy on August 28, 2017, in defense of Ukrainian journalist and political prisoner V.A. Muravitsky at a hearing of the Court of Appeal of the Zhytomyr region to decide on the measure of preventive restraint. The Court of Appeal upheld the lower court’s decision to keep Muravitsky in jail pending trial. As of December 5, he remains in custody.
In a democratic society, a court should not become a lever of political violence. It is important to move the decision-making center from Bankova Street, from the office of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and the prosecutor, to the advisory chamber of the Court of Appeal, where the judges, assessing the pros and cons, based on their internal conviction, which is expressed in the phrase “I make this decision because I am convinced of its correctness, because it is based on facts that correspond to reality, which I have investigated and verified”– will make not only a legitimate, but a fair decision.
|Vasily Muravitsky in court.|
In considering the question of selecting a preventive measure, the investigating judge approached the case in a purely formal and mathematical manner, without considering the nature of the alleged acts, the significance of the evidence and the adequacy of the preventive measure, the personality and prospects of the suspect, thereby violating the prescriptions of Ukrainian and European law (Arts. 178, part 1, and 183 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, decision by the European Court of Human Rights in Timoshenko vs. Ukraine, April 30, 2013). Indeed, the European Court of Justice clearly and unambiguously states that, in assessing the legality of any deprivation of liberty, the court does not confine itself to the proclaimed goals of the arrest and detention in question, but also considers the true intentions and purposes behind them. Moreover, to ensure that deprivation of liberty is not considered a “foregone conclusion” in the understanding of Article 5 § 1 of the Convention, the fact that this measure is applied in accordance with national law which meets the above standards is not yet sufficient – it must also be necessary under the given circumstances (paragraphs 263-265 of Timoshenko vs. Ukraine, Article 5 of the European Convention, 1950).
Therefore, it is a gross violation of human rights and freedoms to refer to unproven risks and to approach the subject of personal freedom only bureaucratically. In reality, the investigating judge simply copied the text of the prosecution’s request in his decision, which is evident even in the use of phrases, the affirmative statement of Muravitsky’s guilt, and, in a banal way, the use of punctuation marks, spaces and text structure.
Not only is the investigating judge not bound by the findings of the investigative and prosecutorial bodies, but it is the duty of the investigating judge to verify their correctness and validity and, especially, the acts of these bodies (investigation and supervision) which cannot be equated with acts of justice (Article 124 of the Constitution). But in the determination of the investigating judge, we see an example of the opposite, where the allegations of the Security Service and the prosecutor fell into the court’s decision as if from a conveyor belt.
Let me remind the parties to the process and the distinguished Court of Appeal that the norms of international law, as well as the European Convention on Human Rights, and the decisions (precedents) of the Strasbourg court, are not only binding, but also have priority over domestic legislation of Ukraine (art. 9 of the Constitution, art. 8 part 2 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, art. 3 part 1 of the Criminal Code, art. 19 part 2 of the Law on International Treaties of Ukraine, art. 17 of the Law on Implementation of Decisions and Practices of the European Court of Human Rights).
Under the Association Agreement with the EU (to be fully in force on September 1, 2017), Ukraine has undertaken a number of obligations to implement the principles of the rule of law, fair trials, European standards of freedom of expression and justice (Article 1, Part 1, “e”, 4 p. 2 “e”, 6, 14, 24 of the Association Agreement with the EU).
Whether Ukraine will pass the exam for “Europeanism” depends on your decision today.
Absurdity of the charges
Vasily Muravitsky is accused of grave and serious acts under the Criminal Code of Ukraine: art. 110 part 2 (separatism), art. 111 part 1 (high treason), art. 161 part 2 (inciting ethnic hatred), Art. 158-3 part 1 (working for a terrorist organization). The prosecution uses the following concepts: “subversive activities,” “assistance to the information organization MIA ‘Russia Today,’” “psychological manipulation of consciousness,” “manipulating consciousness through dissemination of unreliable information,” “assisted the activities of terrorist organizations of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic,” and so on.
And the phrase “to expose the activities of the authorities and military formations of Ukraine” is likely to be included in the record of the proceedings.
All the above concepts are not legal, either in form or in content. The investigators, the prosecutor and the court cannot reason with media and television catchphrases. We understand that there is a state information policy, which finds itself in a difficult situation, and there is a love of security officials for cheap sensation and bold reports on social media. But there is also the law! And when the fate of a person, a citizen of Ukraine and a journalist, is decided, it is necessary to follow the strict letter of the law, based on the facts and following the evidence.
Apart from subjectivity and value of opinions, especially the veracity and incompleteness of the information described by Muravitsky in his allegedly criminal publications, the main thing that my client is charged with is working for a legitimate and official news agency located on the territory of the Russian Federation, of writing articles and contributing editorial content aimed at criticizing the current regime.
Now we must determine and find “the enemy” Muravitsky worked for. Can the prosecution name at least one binding legal act according to which we are at war with the Russian Federation, or even some special negative situation? The reference by the prosecutor and the court to the presidential decree on national security strategy (from 26.05.2015 № 287/2015), in which the “aggressive actions of Russia” are listed, is not correct from the legal point of view, since this is just a declarative plan, which cannot incur criminal responsibility for my client. There have been several resolutions of the Supreme Council, etc., but they did not go further than recommendations or political statements.
Let’s explain to the prosecution the following: it turns out that the legal basis of Ukrainian-Russian relations today consists of 358 international documents regulating a wide range of issues of bilateral cooperation among states, including trade and economic, scientific and technical, humanitarian, law enforcement and other areas. The most important international legal act is the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between the Russian Federation and Ukraine (1997). According to this document, the Russian Federation and Ukraine are strategic partners and cannot use each other’s territory to the detriment of the security of either side. The Treaty of Friendship with Russia has not been renounced by the State of Ukraine. To this day, de jure (Article 9 of the Constitution), it is recognized that Russia is not just a friendly state and a strategic partner of Ukraine, but that our countries jointly pursue a policy of security and peace, refrain from encroachments on sovereignty and territorial integrity, do not conduct so-called “subversive activities” against each other (Articles 4-6 of the Treaty). Moreover, the parties develop relations in the military sphere (Article 8), by the way, which is evident from the ongoing trade relations with Russia, including in the field of armaments! The defense does not intend to quote this treaty in its entirety, but this bilateral act, each of its articles, refutes the whole shell which forms the basis of the accusations brought against Muravitsky.
So do we have war or peace with Russia? Is the prosecution prepared to answer the question about the level and status of diplomatic relations between the Russian Federation and Ukraine? In the documents of the investigation, supervision and trial, there is not a word about this. It is unnecessary, because Ukraine and Russia have established the highest possible degree of diplomatic relations at the level of extraordinary and plenipotentiary ambassadors. At present, the Russian Federation has an embassy in Kiev and general consulates in Kharkov, Odessa and Lviv. Ukraine has an embassy in Moscow and general consulates in St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg and Rostov-on-Don. Let’s just say it’s a very strong relationship.
We can cite whole volumes of various conventions, declarations, and documents on mutual legal assistance between the two countries. The main thing to understand is that “temniki” [“themes of the week,” secret instructional memoranda from the Kiev government to the media], broadcast with the help of the Ministry of Information Policy and a number of mass media, is not the rule of law!
And Russia’s role in the conflict in eastern Ukraine? We continue to speak the language of the law and we turn to the Minsk agreements. So, this document was signed in February 2015 by a contact group consisting of representatives of Ukraine, Russia, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the unrecognized Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. Then it was approved by a joint declaration of the President of the Russian Federation, President of Ukraine, President of the French Republic and Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany in support of the “Set of Measures to Implement the Minsk Agreements.” And the apogee of the Minsk process was the international legalization of these documents by the United Nations Security Council Resolution of February 17, 2015.
Prosecutors, will you please show in these documents at least one mention of war with Russia, aggression and terrorism! Moreover, Russia, on the international stage, and with the approval of Ukraine in general and President Poroshenko in particular, is characterized as a mediator and guarantor of the settlement of the conflict in the east of our country. A rhetorical question: why haven’t all these “manipulators of public consciousness” been arrested, who tell the people of Ukraine one thing, and sign their names to quite another?
International law does not operate with the notions of “terrorism” and “war” against Ukraine, but so-called “Russian mercenaries” in p. 2 of the Minsk agreements were called “armed formations of certain regions of Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine.” Not a word about illegality, illegitimacy, banditry and terrorism! Interestingly, the prosecutor does not want to interrogate Kuchma, Poroshenko, or the representative of Ukraine at the UN, who put their signatures on this document? Does the SBU have no suspicions of their “high treason”? Or, since the beginning of criminal proceedings against Muravitsky, has the political structure changed, and the heavy and bureaucratic machine of the investigators-prosecutors does not know how to slow down in time?
We’ve sorted things out with Russia! Let’s pass to the prosecution’s phrase, simply copied into the court’s decision: “…criminal intentions of operating in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions held by the terrorist organizations ‘DPR’ and ‘LPR.’” What a fine passage. The investigators and the court’s determinations should be based on the law, not on phrases from TV. Is the state prosecution ready to invoke at least one legally binding act of Ukraine, a foreign state and/or the international community in which the LPR-DPR is recognized as a terrorist organization?
The defense tried to find such a document, but it didn’t work out. Is it possible that the team of prosecutors, investigators and operatives who have been investigating this resonant case for two years, as well as the investigating judge, have found it? In the documents submitted to the Court of Appeal (notification of suspicion, application for remand in custody, court ruling), we don’t see it! The documents of the UN, the Council of Europe, the European Union and Western countries speak only of the condemnation and partial illegitimacy of referenda in the DPR-LPR. Ukrainian law does not call the LPR and DPR terrorists (we are not talking about declarative documents), but, moreover, conducts trade with these organizations, negotiations and talks about “armed formations” (p. 2 of Minsk agreements). By signing documents with the unrecognized DPR and LPR (contact group), Ukraine simply does not characterize these organizations as terrorists, but, from the above, recognizes their legal personality, their opportunity to participate in negotiations and agreements (Article 2, Part 1, “a”, “g” “, Articles 6, 7, 11 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, 1969). And yes, the same Convention clearly states that a participant cannot refer to the provisions of its internal law as an excuse for its failure to carry out a treaty. The State has no right to invoke the fact that its consent to be bound by the treaty was expressed in violation of a provision of its domestic law, unless that violation was clear and concerns norms of its internal law of especially important value (articles 27, 46). Thus, taking into account the priority of international law, the Minsk agreements and the Treaty of Friendship with Russia over a series of populist and declarative statements by Ukrainian politicians, it is impossible to speak in legal terms of the terrorism of the LPR and DPR, as well as Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine.
Moreover, even the Supreme Court of Ukraine, in its letter of October 25, 2016, № 5-227сі16, recognized that the LPR and DPR were not terrorist organizations. The question is clear!
Indeed, the legal basis for the prosecution’s case has big problems. Look at the question of incitement of ethnic hatred between Tatars and Ukrainians, which, it seems, is established by the investigation, or at least, so it is cynically declared. And do these gentlemen know about the existence of, for example, the resolution of the Supreme Council of Crimea of October 8, 1992, No. 167-1, in paragraph 1 of which the activity of the Majlis of the Crimean Tatar people, its structures in the field and the Organization of the Crimean Tatar National Movement (OKND), was found to be unconstitutional (Yarmolenko M. І., National minorities of southern Ukraine in ethnopolitical processes of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Scientific Bulletin of the Izmail State Humanitarian University. Series “Historical Sciences”, issue no. 34, pp. 161-162)? Have you studied the question? You want to imprison a person for 15 years, but you cannot answer whether this ruling has been revoked or is still in force to this day? After all, Crimea is Ukraine!
Defense attorneys Andrei Gozhy and Andrei Domansky.
What about the actions the prosecution wants to present as the perfect crime — manipulation of information, criticism of the current government, journalistic work for a Russian news agency, appeals and fund-raising for the so-called “Donbass militia”?
Is it forbidden for a Ukrainian to work in Russia or for a business entity registered in the territory of the Russian Federation? No, it is not forbidden; moreover, it is even acceptable. Everyone has this right to work (art. 43 part 1 of the Constitution, art. 10 of the Treaty of Friendship between Ukraine and the Russian Federation). Is it forbidden for Muravitsky to be a freelance journalist and earn a living in Russia? No, and what’s more, it’s acceptable. Everyone has the right to engage in entrepreneurial activities that are not prohibited by law (articles 42 part 1, 48 of the Constitution). Muravitsky received money for this work in his bank account! Legally! The bank has a license, it operates legally! Is the bank a deep conspiracy of a “foreign agent”? Nothing is said, probably because to open such a spy operation would take a colossal effort!
Now, what about manipulation of information and consciousness? What kind of category is this and where is it even an infraction of the law? Crime is a concrete act! Where are the specifics in this empty and pompous phrase? Let’s take a dictionary and clarify for ourselves: manipulation is a complex action, or fraud (according to Ozhegov’s Explanatory Dictionary). So, is it forbidden to manipulate information in Ukraine? No, it’s allowed! Everyone has the right to freely collect, preserve, use and disseminate information verbally, in writing or in other ways at his own discretion (Article 34 part 2 of the Constitution). Even if a person frankly lies, is criminal responsibility established by this? No. Does the SBU manipulate information by disseminating pre-trial investigation data in the media and social networks? Does the President manipulate information, speaking of Russian aggression and terrorists and signing documents that say the complete opposite? Wives manipulate their husbands and children their parents, advertising companies manipulate buyers, but putting them in prison, to put it mildly, is not a good idea, which only comes to the minds of SBU agents and prosecutors. And the investigating judge followed them as if on a leash.
State Treason (art. 111 part 1 of the Criminal Code) is an act deliberately committed by a citizen of Ukraine to the detriment of sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability, defense, state, economic or information security: transfer to the enemy in a state of emergency or war, during a military conflict, espionage, providing assistance to a foreign state in subversive activities against Ukraine. Exactly what “state-treasonous” acts did Muravitsky commit – he wrote articles to order for his official employer? Are you serious? Where is the subversive activity? Where are the weapons, ammunition, psychotropic and poisonous substances, assistance to intelligence agents, contacts, appearances, passwords? Where is the collection of military, state secrets, recruitment, surveillance, concealment and assistance to saboteurs? Where is the illegal, namely, informationally illegal, activity? Transfer of classified information, device caches, server hacking, creating viruses, etc.? This is what court practice calls subversive activities! What kind of language is this: “He disseminated incomplete and unreliable information …”, “he criticized the authorities …”, “he psychologically manipulated consciousness”? “He helped the Russian media in writing articles …”
The Constitution, dear prosecutors! There is no one right opinion in the country, no ideology can be recognized by the state as compulsory! Censorship is prohibited! (Article 15 of the Constitution). Or maybe we are already prohibited from criticizing the authorities? The defense did not hear about the repeal of the provision of Article 34 part 1 of the Constitution, where it states in black and white that everyone is guaranteed the right to freedom of thought and speech, freedom of expression and opinion! You see, beliefs and views, even if someone does not like them, cannot be the grounds for criminal responsibility. Propaganda of ideas and agitation is not prohibited in Ukraine, but on the contrary, freedom of literary creativity is guaranteed (Article 54 of the Constitution)!
The generally recognized norms of international law also apply to the rules of criminal law and criminal procedure (art. 3, part 1 of the UC, art. 8, part 1 of the Code of Criminal Procedure). For democratic societies, the USA is considered a kind of beacon and compass of freedom of speech. I believe that the prosecution will not deny this generally recognized fact. And here are the positions of the U.S. Supreme Court regarding freedom of speech (quotes: Anne F. Ginger, Supreme Court and Human Rights in the USA, Moscow: Juridical Literature, 1981, 392 pp.). “The peaceful expression of unpopular views cannot be considered a crime. The function of freedom of speech … is to invite discussion. Indeed, freedom of speech can best serve its high purpose when it causes anxiety, creates dissatisfaction with existing conditions, or even arouses anger” (case of Terminello v. Chicago). The opportunity for free political discussion should be preserved, and “the law that allows punishment for the conscientious use of this opportunity contradicts the guarantee of freedom …” (Stromberg v. California). And, “… the discussion of public issues should be unrestricted, healthy and broad. It does not exclude the possibility of hot, sarcastic, and sometimes unpleasantly harsh criticism of the government and officials…” “The unconditional right to freely speak about public affairs … this is the minimum guarantee…” (New York Times Company v. Sullivan).
From universally accepted standards, we pass to the standard practice of law, mandatory for the Ukrainian investigators and the courts. Let’s bypass the UN, EU and Council of Europe acts on freedom of speech and guarantees of this freedom, lingering for a moment on the document that serves as a litmus test on the place of the state in the family of civilized nations. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966, says that everyone has the right to hold opinions and convictions unhindered. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression; this right includes the freedom to seek, receive and impart all kinds of information and ideas, regardless of state borders, orally, in writing or through the press, or through artistic forms of expression, or by other means of one’s choice (art. 19 part 1, 2).
And now, the prosecution has ignored and forgotten the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted in Rome in 1950, and the practice of the Strasbourg court.
Articles 9, 10 and 14 of the Convention guarantee the right to freedom of thought and expression, and prohibit discrimination on political grounds. Any intervention by the state to compel a person to have certain views or other beliefs would directly contradict Article 9 of the Convention. Freedom of expression of one’s thoughts is the foundation of a free society and consists of three forms: freedom to hold opinions; freedom to receive information and ideas; freedom to disseminate information and ideas. One cannot attribute a certain opinion to a person (for example, on the basis of his publications), and then bring him to justice on this basis, because pressure to compel a person to change his opinion contradicts Article 10 of the Convention (Vogt v. FRG, 1995).
It is the duty of journalists to disseminate information on all matters of public interest, and the public has the right to receive such information (De Haes and Gijsels v. Belgium, 1997; Thor Thorgersson v. Iceland, 1992).
We would like to bring to the attention of the prosecution and Court of Appeal the position of the Strasbourg court regarding so-called “incomplete, twisted and manipulative information.” The obiter dictum judgment in Thor Thorgersson v. Iceland, 1992, states that the press has a duty to disseminate information and ideas of public importance. Punishment for the dissemination of such information may hinder free debate on issues of public interest. If it were otherwise, the press could not fulfill its role as a “watchdog of democracy.” And most importantly, what the European Court of Justice drew attention to, and what the investigators, the prosecutor and the investigating judge do not acknowledge, is that proof of the truth in such cases might simply be impossible. If only verified facts were allowed to be published, the media could not publish anything at all!
Freedom to receive information includes the right to collect it from any legal sources (Autronic v. Switzerland, 1990). Muravitsky worked only with open-source information, and only for the performance of his journalistic duty. Legitimate work, discussion with the editor and colleagues in drafting editorial matters — do you consider this a betrayal of the state?
The prosecution’s position on negative views about the authorities and the armed forces does not stand up to criticism, either from the point of view of law or from the point of view of life in a modern state. But we will add more! In the case of the Ukrainian Press Group v. Ukraine, 2005, the court pointed out that the boundaries of acceptable criticism of politicians are wider than for private individuals. The politician is consciously open to a meticulous analysis of every word and deed on the part of journalists! If the current political regime wants to remain on “handshake” terms with the society of civilized countries, then European requirements must be strictly observed.
The SBU, the prosecutor, and after them, like a carbon copy, the investigating judge, speak of national information security. The task of law enforcement and counterintelligence is to ensure this security, neutralize enemy scouts, stop the leakage of sensitive and confidential data — not to arrange a witch hunt.
I advise that, in the interest of not stepping on an old rake, the aforementioned bodies should pay attention to the ECHR decision in Observer and Guardian v. UK, 1991, referred to as the “spy catcher case”: the state cannot prohibit the publication of harsh materials only by referring to “national security issues.” Such restrictions can be imposed on classified information, and the duty of non-disclosure shall be restricted to employees. If a person legally received any information, then the state may impose restrictions before it is published, but not after. What can we now say in the context of the Muravitsky case? What kind of criminal punishment can we talk about in regard to “prejudiced and incomplete information”? Such wording not only contradicts European law, but common sense. The Strasbourg court stated unequivocally that the government should exercise restraint when the issue of criminal prosecution arises, especially when there are other means of responding to even unjustified attacks and criticism from its opponents in the media (Castels v. Spain, 1992). What an excellent demonstration of restraint by the regime, which wants Muravitsky to be imprisoned for 15 years, while having a whole Ministry of Information Policy and spending billions on propaganda!
The ECHR does not tire of repeating that in a democratic society, the actions or inactions of the government should be the subject of close scrutiny not only by the legislative and judicial authorities, but also by the press and public opinion (Castels v. Spain, 1992).
The second set of charges, made as a result of Vasily Muravitsky’s journalistic and blogging activities, are public appeals for the purpose of changing the borders of Ukraine, combined with inciting ethnic and religious strife (Article 110 part 2 of the Criminal Code) and, in the opinion of the investigators and the prosecutor, requires even further qualification under art. 161, part 2, namely inciting national hatred and humiliation of dignity, committed with the use of violence, deception and threats. No less! Having qualified for art. 110 part 2 of the Criminal Code, let’s throw another at him, art. 161, part 2? The more articles, the more terrible the accusation — a common practice for punitive bodies, but not for Europe.
The investigators and prosecutors left the main blow to this suspicion rather than a basis in evidence, and the investigating judge copied this pseudo-established evidence into his determination, allowing a petitio principia [a fallacy in which a conclusion is taken for granted in the premise], an unpardonable mistake from the point of view of formal logic and law. Anticipation of the conclusion: a logical error, consisting in concealing an unproven assumption for evidence. The investigating judge, I repeat, simply copied the charges into his decision and did not make even a superficial investigation, or even review the evidence provided. All decisions are based on a continuous, unlawful error. Considering the requirements of Article 178 part 1 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and the practice of the ECHR, it is necessary to dwell on a brief analysis of these, as it were, proofs.
Article 110 of the Criminal Code is an example of a dead article that cannot be applied in principle. Thus, the infringement of the territorial integrity of Ukraine, which, in the opinion of the investigation, was expressed in deliberate actions to change the borders of the territory or state border of Ukraine in violation of the procedure established by the Constitution of Ukraine, as well as public appeals and dissemination of materials with calls to commit such actions (art. 110). Plus part two: committed with the incitement of ethnic hatred.
Any crime is a wrongful act. Article 110 specifies that an infringement on the procedure established by the Constitution of Ukraine will be unlawful. Thus, the subject of legal protection is this very order. Hence, you can change the boundaries of Ukraine in the manner prescribed by the Basic Law! And it is also possible to call for such changes (in the manner provided by the Constitution). So we come to the question, whether such a procedure is foreseen and provided for by the Constitution of Ukraine? Can the investigators or the prosecutor open and quote it?
Either the defense read the Constitution inattentively or there is no such procedure at all! And the object of a crime is what a person committing a criminal act encroaches upon and what harm is caused or can be caused as a result of that crime.
And if that procedure does not exist, if there is no lawful way to change the border, there can be no unlawful act. In the face of this legislative gap, it is not necessary to speak in truisms: where there is no law — there is no crime. You cannot prosecute by analogy; there is no criminal liability without a clear indication in the law (articles 2, 11 of the Criminal Code). Crime is always an unjustified act, that is, something that goes against the requirements of the law. And if the law does not exist, a call to change it cannot be considered a violation.
In violation of the law, the investigating judge copied into his decision the subjective charges of the prosecution: concerning intent, guilt and motives. Again, petitio principii. How can the court speak of direct intent, guilt and selfish motives, if, first of all, the objective side of the crime (the object of protection and the form of infringement) is established first and only on the basis of the subjective side of the prosecution and a conclusion drawn about the intentions, motives and goals of the person?
So, the evidence provided by the investigators to decide the question of choosing a measure of restraint, indicating, in their opinion, the committed crime, can be grouped as follows: an agreement with a news agency and related materials (editorial correspondence, plans, discussions); forensics (psychological, linguistic); protocols of secret investigative measures (mainly the examination of pages on the Internet); and the testimony of witness Nazarye Tomchuk. With regard to the evaluation of the evidence, we recall that prosecution cannot be based on assumptions, and all doubts are interpreted in favor of the suspect and accused person (Article 42, part 2 of the Constitution).
– The contract, correspondence and plans do not prove anything at all. Moreover, they justify my client. Is it a crime to go to work at a legitimate information institution that has offices all over the world, including the EU and the U.S.? Is it a crime to conclude an official contract “in black and white” and open a bank account? To declare your income and pay taxes to the budget of Ukraine? The SBU would have done better to deal with businessmen who pay taxes to the budget of the Russian Federation, if they are so concerned about this. But, alas, I did not find this very “contract” that the Security Service showed on Facebook and on television, I did not find it in the materials. Maybe due to inattention the investigators forgot to include it there? I believe the contract, correspondence with editors (not with the GRU, not with the FSB, etc., but, I emphasize, with the editors), and the legal transfer of remuneration, is evidence that the investigators and the prosecution are required to bring to trial and provide to the defense. The prosecution cannot conceal or refuse to provide the accused with materials at its disposal that can help the accused to be released from liability (Art. 91 part 1, pp. 5-6 of the CCP, decided by the ECHR, Jaspers v. Belgium, 1981). In the United States, this principle is called the “Brady Rule,” and it states that the prosecutor is obliged to provide the defense with all the extenuating materials (decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, Brady v. Maryland, 1963). Thus, we demand that a cooperation agreement between Vasily Muravitsky and MIA “Russia Today” be made available to the court, if not previously provided.
– Investigations in this very political case were conducted by units of the Security Service, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the Ministry of Justice. The evidence is clearly biased and political, highly problematic and projected. The experts are trying to decipher what Muravitsky meant. Textology [text linguistics] is the science of the structure of texts, semantics the meaning of symbols, and psychology in general is a set of different theories and interpretations about the inner world of man, and these theories are so different and contradictory that they refute each other (Freud’s psychoanalysis, Hume’s behaviorism, associative psychology, sensualism etc.). These are shaky grounds for investigation, especially since the materials for examination were selectively chosen by the investigators. Removed from context, the experts reinforced their own comments and conclusions, moving into the field of law and legal assessment. The law prohibits an expert examination to clarify the issues of law (art. 240 part 1 of the Code of Criminal Procedure). But the main thing about forensics is methodology. Esteemed Court, 95% of the methodical basis, by which experts searched for ethnic discord and separatism, are Soviet and Russian sources, and in psychological expertise, one of the methodological sources is from the 1920s. Are these standards used by experts? The USSR and Russia, simply in the vanguard of freedom of speech! It’s good that the instructions to the Revolutionary Tribunal were not found there. Textology, linguistics, and even more so, psychology — these sciences are not exact. Each phrase of the expert in these documents is controversial, of an estimated and probabilistic nature. Thus, it is not permissible, appropriate and adequate evidence (articles 81, 87 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, Decision of the ECHR of 31.07.2012, p. 58).
– Survey of Web pages. The servers on which the sites are hosted are located in Great Britain, Germany and Russia. All sites are located on the territory of friendly countries. Inspection is neither a direct nor an indirect proof of the compilation of content by Muravitsky. The Internet allows you to copy, change, add data and place material anywhere without the author’s knowledge. Two years were spent in the collection of screenshots criticizing the authorities. A colossal but meaningless work, for the connections are not protected — Muravitsky did not sign the material with a digital signature, and he is not responsible for its further placement and use! It’s impossible to prove anything by inspecting Internet documents! And if you rely only on the titles of articles on the Internet, as the investigating judge did, then you can only reach a legal dead end! Administration of a site is also not proof, and all the more so since the LPR-DPR and, especially, all the residents of the temporarily uncontrolled territories are not recognized as terrorists, as discussed above.
– Testimony of witness Nazarye Tomchuk. I do not want to touch on the moral side of the issue, but legitimate legal doubts have arisen. Tomchuk and Muravitsky filmed video blogs together, but one is the suspect and the other the witness. Pay attention, dear court, to the testimony of Tomchuk. It represents the “boiling of an indignant mind” that Muravitsky does not like the Revolution of Dignity [Maidan] … He does not have to! In the testimony of the witness, there are neither facts, nor data, but only emotions that went beyond the pre-trial investigation. Tomchuk “turned up” as an angry accuser on a number of local and national television channels, in the media and social networks. Such an engaged witness is not only a witness, but a voluntary assistant to the special services. Well, it’s what you have to do to avoid being in Muravitsky’s place. And about the witness who wrote the statement to the Prosecutor General that he was being forced to testify against Muravitsky, the prosecutors are silent! It seems they are embarrassed…
Journalistic activities and inciting of ethnic hatred, humiliation of national dignity – this is a difficult subject, but in some cases necessary for the recovery of society from racial and national strife. The ECHR in 1994 examined the case of Jersild v. Denmark. The case involved a journalist who allowed racist statements on a program in order to demonstrate the severity of the problem, its openness, and to invite the public to discuss it. The journalist in Denmark was found guilty of complicity in dissemination and incitement of racist statements. Frankly speaking, Jersild was not imprisoned for 15 years, but sentenced to a fine. Strasbourg also recognized the conviction of the journalist as a violation of Article 10 of the Convention (freedom of expression) and pointed out that “methods of objective and balanced reporting can vary significantly depending on the characteristics of the media. …it is not appropriate for national courts to substitute their own views in this matter for the judgment of the press as to which reportage technique should be used by journalists.” Don’t problems of national conflict exist in Ukraine? Should we silence it by following the practice of the DPRK and Iran? We have not signed an Association Agreement with Kim Jong-Un, unless it is known to the prosecution. And to suspect and draw conclusions, referring only to the titles of articles, is simply absurd. But this absurdity is at the basis of the court’s decision to select the measure of restraint on Vasily Muravitsky.
Terrorism: Article 258-3 of the Criminal Code, the creation of a terrorist group or terrorist organization, the management of or participation in such a group or organization, as well as organizational or other assistance in the establishment or operation of a terrorist group or organization. So which groups did Muravitsky create, participate in and help?
The investigators and the investigating judge thoughtlessly attributed the term terrorist organization to the DPR and LPR, which is not in accord with the agreements signed by Poroshenko and the Minsk agreements approved by the UN, as discussed earlier. Moreover, the law establishes the individualization of criminal punishment (Article 18 part 1 of the Criminal Code). It is not legal to declare all who live and work in the territory of self-proclaimed DPR and LPR as criminals, to put it mildly.
Muravitsky is accused of publishing “The war against Donbass and humanitarian aid to the region” under his name. And this article was posted by a website located in Russia. However, the Russian Federation is a mediator in the settlement of the conflict in Ukraine, the DPR and LPR are not recognized as terrorist organizations. Moreover, their legal nature has been legitimized. Ukraine is in the process of negotiating, among other things, the granting of special status to the Donbass and full, unconditional amnesty. In the publication (it is not proven that Muravitsky wrote it or that it was not altered), there is a call for humanitarian assistance, which is also provided by the Red Cross and [Ukrainian oligarch] Rinat Akhmetov’s headquarters! The Russian Federation sends humanitarian convoys to the uncontrolled territories, but Ukraine does not consider this a violation of sovereignty for which it would be possible to break off diplomatic relations, void the Treaty of Friendship, declare war or stage an armed interdiction of these convoys. True, it doesn’t take a lot of courage to fight with a single journalist. Unlike the Russian army!
In what and how did Muravitsky help terrorists? What group did he create and participate in as an individual journalist? A group is a stable formation of two or more persons united for the commission of one or more crimes. Terrorist activity is characterized by direct anti-governmental intent. When it is committed, a person always pursues a special goal — to undermine or weaken the legitimate authority. Terrorism has political, coercive goals and is always expressed in the form of violence. A terrorist is a person who takes a direct part in terrorist activities (art. 1 part 1 of the Law on Combating Terrorism)!
In criminal proceedings, full disclosure of a crime means establishing all the circumstances involved: an event (place, time, method), guilt (purpose, motives, fault), the type and amount of damage, circumstances affecting the degree, etc. (art. 91 part 1 of the Code of Criminal Procedure).
So what is Muravitsky’s terrorism? Where is the organization, victims, preparation of terrorist acts, structure, weapons, plans, financing, control of funds? What money was collected, by whom, what was purchased, how much was used, where was it spent? You want to accuse Muravitsky of terrorism for one article signed under his name, calling for humanitarian aid, and reprinted on several websites? It goes beyond the most basic principles of criminal law! A version is a version. It has not been verified in detail during the two-year pre-trial investigation. It can either be admitted or excluded, but in no case should it be included in suspicion, and even more so in the decision of the court as a proven fact.
The prosecution spent two years spending budget money to conduct an investigation, and the elementary questions are not answered! Why were the suspicions put forward against Muravitsky supplemented with art. 258-3 of the Criminal Code? “Add to the pile to have more?”
In Soviet times, there was such a technique — to classify a crime with a “margin of severity.” Evidently, this flawed practice has been preserved in our reformed and European security service and prosecutor’s office.
International law completely refutes the charges brought against Vasily Muravitsky under Article 258-3 of the Criminal Code — organizational or any other assistance to the creation or activities of a terrorist group or organization. It is clear that the actions attributed to Muravitsky (the writing of an article) do not fall within any of the definitions of terrorist activity established by international law, namely the 1963 Convention on crimes and certain other acts committed on board aircraft; the Convention of 1970 on combating illegal seizure of aircraft; the Convention of 1971 on combating unlawful acts against the safety of civil aviation; the Convention of 1988 on combating unlawful acts aimed against the safety of maritime navigation; the Convention of 1979 on the fight against hostage-taking; the Convention of 1980 on the physical protection of nuclear material; the Convention of 1973 on the prevention and punishment of crimes against persons enjoying international protection, incl. diplomatic agents; the Washington Convention of February 2, 1971, on the prevention and punishment of acts of terrorism, taking the form of internationally significant crimes against the individual and related extortion; the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism, 1976; the 1979 Dublin Accord on the application of the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism.
Terrorism in any form is a complex, structured, and financed crime characterized by calculated and direct intent. Where is this in the actions attributed to Muravitsky? Do not forget the warning of Ukrainian law of an act which cannot be considered a crime (Article 11, part 2 of the Criminal Code, the definition of the MAT of 19.12.2002).
Yet there is one article of criminal law that could be applied to Vasily Muravitsky. Article 62 of the Criminal Code of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda, which is concerned with the dissemination of slanderous fabrications defaming the Soviet state and social system! This article is trying to reanimate the accused party! How its disposition recalls the essence of the alleged suspicions! The rule on anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda was abolished even in distant perestroika times, and for this crime they gave 1 to 7 years of imprisonment, not 15, as the investigators and the prosecutor want in an independent, European Ukraine, with a Constitution and the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights!
|Vasily Muravitsky held in glass cage in courtroom.|
On August 2, 2017, the investigating judge of the Korolyovsky district court, at the request of the prosecution (UAS in Zhytomyr region, Zhytomyr oblast prosecutor’s office), imposed on Vasily Alexandrovich Muravitsky a preventive measure in the form of detention without possibility of bail.
The court, in a few minutes, wrote its decision based on the prosecution’s motion, deciding the fate of a person, hiding him behind bars.
What facts and evidence, brought by the prosecution, investigated by the court, what risks were unequivocally established, so that Judge Galasyuk jailed a person for 60 days? None!
The court did not even bother to justify its decision. I quote the motivation in part:
“… in order to decide on the application of a preventive measure in accordance with the requirements of international and national legislation, due consideration must be given to the nature of the case, the severity of the alleged criminal offense, and the consequences of the commission of unlawful acts.
“Proceeding from the aforementioned evidence in the course of consideration of the application, the investigating judge, on the basis of the materials provided by the criminal proceedings, is convinced that a milder preventive measure regarding Muravitsky V.O. will not be sufficient to prevent the risks warned of by the investigator and the prosecutor.
“Therefore, in addition to the above, taking into account the nature and severity of the crimes committed by Murovitsky V.O., the investigating judge concludes that there are grounds for applying the preventive measure on the suspect in the form of detention. The arguments of the defense counsel and the suspect about the possibility of electing a milder preventive measure are not supported by evidence.”
And this is a court decision in the 21st century, in Europe, and in a state with a Constitution! I don’t know exactly from which side to take up this example of legal nihilism and absurdity! Had the judge heard of the presumption of innocence and the burden of proof, had he heard of the principle of the legality and validity of judicial decisions, had he ever seen the Constitution of Ukraine, let alone the European Convention on Human Rights?
As to whether the judge assessed all the circumstances and the nature of the case, we demonstrated earlier. A copied notice of suspicion plus the three paragraphs read by me — that’s the whole judgment!
A fair trial plays an exceptional role in a democratic society (De Cubber v. Belgium, A 86 §30, 1984), the right to justice must be real and effective (Airey v. Ireland, A 32, 1979).
If a particular issue of the trial has a role in the outcome of the case, the court must reflect it in making its decision; in case of non-compliance with this requirement, the European Court of Human Rights recognizes a violation of Article 6 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (Ruiz Torija v. Spain, A 303-A §30, 1994).
The defense will prove and show that Ukrainian and international law was violated during the arrest, selection of the preventive measure, and conduct of the initial investigative actions.
Vasily Muravitsky was detained in the maternity hospital, after his wife’s 16-hour delivery, in front of relatives and staff, and only had a glimpse of his newborn son. After his arrest, he was examined at the TMO Hospital No.1, where he was diagnosed with bronchitis. But no treatment was provided!
They interrogated Muravitsky when he had a fever and the disease was in full swing, and in fact the interrogation is the most important stage that influences the entire future trial. And if you do not defend your rights at this stage, you can lose them forever (Decision of U.S. Supreme Court in Escobedo v. Illinois, 1964).
What was the SBU’s calculation? A state of shock, a desire to see his wife and child as soon as possible, weakened by illness? They began to conduct investigative actions with Muravitsky: interrogation, search and seizure. They offered to write a statement and apply for exchange [of prisoners with the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics], in order to break the man, forcing him to mimic a spontaneous confession. Because, apparently, the SBU does not know the provisions of Article 25 part 2 of the Constitution, that citizens of Ukraine are not subject to expulsion and extradition beyond the borders of Ukraine to another state.
The defense attorney was unable to get to Muravitsky for two days, which is why the Zhytomyr City National Police are conducting an investigation into the criminal proceedings. The request for a meeting with a priest was also ignored by the investigators.
Vasily Alexandrovich found the strength to resist, to not break, to not succumb to coercion in exchange for an early pardon, release and suspended sentence, despite the fact that he was held in a doghouse cell full of bugs, measuring 40 square meters, with 12 other prisoners.
The honor and dignity of a human being are among the highest social values. Everyone has the right to respect for his dignity. No one may be subjected to cruel or degrading treatment (articles 3 ch. 1, art. 28 part 1-2 of the Constitution). It is prohibited to expose a person to inhumane or degrading treatment during criminal proceedings, to keep a person in degrading conditions (art. 11, part 2 of the Code of Criminal Procedure). No one shall be subjected to torture or inhumane or degrading treatment (Article 3 of the European Convention). As torture, Strasbourg understands “deliberate inhumane treatment, causing very serious and cruel suffering.” The purpose and form of this suffering is irrelevant (Ireland v. UK, 1978). The forms in which inhumane treatment can be expressed are manifold: psychological pressure, detention in very poor conditions, threat of deportation, and absence of medical care (ECHR Kalashnikov v. Russia, 2002, Franko v. Finland, 1994). Treatment of a person is considered “degrading” if it causes a “feeling of fear, suffering, inferiority” in the victims of such treatment, which makes them feel humiliated and trampled (Kudla v. Poland, No. 30210/96, 92, ECHR 2000-XI).
Here is a violation of the basic principles of the convention. Has the investigating judge figured it out? No!
The detention and arrest of Muravitsky was accompanied by a powerful media campaign, provoked by the ill-considered actions of the prosecution. The SBU, in violation of the confidentiality of the investigation (Article 222 of the Code of Criminal Procedure), wanting to disclose and tick off the documents from the criminal proceedings, reported on the brave capture of a terrorist, separatist and traitor of the Motherland. Media of a certain orientation, having picked up this information, began to hang out labels about the Kremlin agent, the pro-Russian blogger who composed “anti-Ukrainian articles,” “Putin’s assistant.” The 24 Canal site issued the pearls “Kremlin writer” and “information mercenary.” In general, the standard set of Ukrainian propaganda. The SBU did not stop, publishing angry posts on Facebook and being proud that the FSB is still ahead of them in the number of political prisoners. Some local journalists, who were tightly tied to the Yanukovych regime, were also involved in the harassment, while some were shown as assistants of MPs caught in bribes. Yes, a high moral “company.” There was an impression that the investigative and supervisory agencies had completely lost touch with reality, forgetting that their games on social networks had to do with the fate of a person.
The investigating judge was not at all concerned with the question that, in violation of Article 62 part 1 of the Constitution (presumption of innocence), Muravitsky was declared a criminal throughout the country. But in vain, because the European Court in Strasbourg is very attentive to these kinds of situations.
Article 6 of the European Convention guarantees the right to a fair trial. Everyone accused of a crime is presumed innocent until his guilt is established by law.
How to determine the independence and impartiality of the court? The ECHR provides criteria in the case of Pullar v. UK. First, it is necessary to establish that the court was subjectively impartial, that is, none of its members showed any bias or personal interest. Secondly, the court must be objectively impartial; there must be a sufficient number of safeguards to exclude doubts. In the case of Barbera, Messegu and Jabaro v. Spain, 1988 (p. 146), Strasbourg found that the principle of the presumption of innocence requires, among other things, that the judges do not start the trial with a prejudiced belief that the defendant committed the crime; the duty of proof is vested in the prosecution and any doubts should be interpreted in favor of the defendant. A fair trial may not be possible during a “fierce campaign in the press against the accused” (X v. Austria, 1963, Berns and Evert v. Luxemburg, 1991).
Let’s take a look at the disputed decision. Investigating Judge Galasyuk, who was disciplined in 2013 (decision of the Higher Disciplinary Commission of Judges No. 2044 / dp-13 of June 20, 2013), now after the so-called “judicial reforms” when judges will be appointed by Presidential decree, examines the investigator’s petition in a political case, during a successful media campaign by the Security Service. Without hesitation, he copies his decision, word for word, from the motion of the prosecution, using wording in the affirmative context about the guilt of my client.
I quoted above the decision of the investigating judge and repeat it again. “… the investigating judge, on the basis of the materials provided by the criminal proceedings, is convinced that a milder preventive measure regarding Muravitsky V.O. will not be sufficient to prevent the risks warned of by the investigator and the prosecutor.” You hear? “…warned of by the investigator and the prosecutor”! That is, he warned, told, pointed out the possibility, but did not prove it! The investigator and the prosecutor did not prove it. Did Judge Galasyuk recognize the requirements of the Code of Criminal Procedure and the ECHR? I don’t think so!
The investigating judge refuses to examine the petition if the investigator and the prosecutor fail to prove that none of the more lenient measures can be applied (art. 176, part 3 of the Code of Criminal Procedure). Not “provide proof,” but DO prove! There must also be likely risks: interfering with the courts and the investigation; concealment of traces of crime; preventing criminal proceedings; the opportunity to commit a new crime (art. 177 part 1 of the Code of Criminal Procedure).
Detention is an exceptional measure of restraint, which is applied only if the prosecutor proves that none of the more lenient measures can prevent the risks listed above (Article 178 part 1 of the CCP). The investigating judge, in choosing the measure of restraint, should establish the possibility of bail (art. 138 part 3 of the Code of Criminal Procedure). Bail shall not be determined in cases when the offense was committed with the use of violence or the threat of its use, with respect to a crime that caused someone’s death, in respect to a person who was already given bail but violated it (Article 178 part 4 CCP).
The investigating judge refers to the fact that bail and house arrest cannot be applied to Muravitsky due to Article 176 part 5 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. But this is not correct from the point of view of the above circumstances and the practice of the ECHR, to which we referred and will further refer.
Thus, in the decision we see that the prosecutor not only did not prove, but did not even convey the risks necessary for the detention of Muravitsky. The investigating judge did not investigate the issue, did not examine the evidence, but enriched the world’s jurisprudence with a unique formulation that would have appealed to the executioners (butchers) of 1937: “The arguments of the defense counsel and the suspect about the possibility of electing a milder preventive measure are not supported by evidence.” So it is the responsibility of the defense, according to Galasyuk, to prove the need to apply a milder measure of restraint?
But the ECHR has a different opinion! Not the accused, but the prosecution, must demonstrate evidence that is sufficiently convincing that the arrested person should be detained (Art. 5 of the European Convention, Iliykov v. Bulgaria, 2001). Concerning the detainee, there must be a reasonable suspicion, i.e., the presence of facts and information, of which an objective observer may conclude that a person has committed a crime (Fox, Campbell and Hartley v. UK, 1990). The objectivity of our investigating judge (objective observer) is clear from his decision, conclusions and motivations. Without a single proof, he dissolves a lawful and objective decision. In the just cited case, Strasbourg noted that the situation with the fight against terrorism presupposes a specific nature of work by law enforcement agencies; the availability of information that a person has been involved in criminal activities is not sufficient grounds for detention in the understanding of Article 5 of the Convention. There must be a combination of circumstances that give reason to believe that the negative consequences of escaping will be seen by the detainee as a lesser evil than detention (Stongmuller v. Austria, 1969). Dealing with the case of Clooth v. Belgium, 1991, the ECHR pointed out that unclear, general statements about the possibility of interference by a suspect in the course of the investigation are not enough; strong evidence is needed to confirm the validity of such fears. The length of the investigation is also very important, the longer the investigation lasts, the more convincing the arguments that should be submitted by the authorities when referring to the possibility of interference of the detainee in the investigation. It is necessary to offer convincing arguments that if the suspect is released before the trial, then he is likely to commit a serious crime, but an unsubstantiated statement about the possibility of committing a crime is not enough (Toth v. Austria).
The SBU and prosecutors say that they have been “following” Muravitsky for two years. So how can he prevent the investigation while being, let’s say, under house arrest? What serious crime can he commit, being under the control of such a powerful intelligence agency? Are you saying that in two years, five investigators, five prosecutors and a whole host of operatives could not collect enough material on one journalist?
The decision of the investigating judge did not address the above questions, which are the minimum required by the ECHR and Ukrainian law. There’s nothing left to investigate. But wait, there’s something else. The investigating judge stated that although Muravitsky lives in the region, is married and has a minor son, these circumstances cannot be considered a deterrent to hiding from the investigation. And why did the judge decide this? God only knows — evidence, apparently, after the judicial reform, is no longer needed in the court’s rulings.
But even the Supreme Court for Civil and Criminal Cases explained to the courts that the investigating judge should bear in mind that the investigator, the prosecutor, has no right to initiate an application for preventive measure in the absence of grounds under Art. 177 CCP. Therefore, in case of an application that is not substantiated, not supported by the goals and grounds specified in the CCP, the latter should be rejected. The investigating judge, the court, must bear in mind that the rationale for applying a preventive measure in the presence of one or several risks / grounds, determines the prosecutor’s duty to prove the impossibility of applying other, milder measures. In each case of considering an application for a preventive measure, the investigating judge, when deciding on the issue of a preventive measure, except for the presence of risks specified in Article 177 of the Criminal Procedure Code, on the basis of the materials provided by the parties to criminal proceedings, must evaluate all circumstances, including in accordance with Art. 178 CPC: the weight of the available evidence of the commission of a criminal offense by a suspect or accused. Thus, the suspicion of the pre-trial investigation of the commission of a criminal offense by the suspect or the accused (paragraph 9, 10 letter No. 511-550 / 0 / 4-13 of 04/04/2013) must be substantiated. I’m not going to read the letter of explanation in full, but the determination of investigating Judge Galasyuk goes against every item stated in it and the Court of Appeal can easily verify it.
To sum up. The investigators and the prosecutor put forward inadequate and unreasonable suspicions, and the court, without verifying and fulfilling its duty, took the side of the state prosecution.
Vasily Muravitsky cannot be detained, since the acts he is accused of committing did not cause any damage, did not result in the loss of life or property. To approach the case purely formally and mathematically is prohibited by the ECHR (see the decisions on cases Bozan v. France, December 18, 1986, p. 60, Series A No. 111, and Khodorkovsky v. Russia, application No. 5829/04, paragraph 142, May 31, 2011). Detention as a preventive measure must not be based only on imperative national law, which is not enough, but must be necessary in the specific circumstances, which in our case are not proven, not verified by the court and not reflected in the decision of the investigating judge (see decisions on Neštiak v. Slovakia (), statement No. 65559/01, paragraph 74, February 27, 2007, and Khayredinov v. Ukraine, application No. 38717/04, par. 27-28, October 14, 2010).
Esteemed court, at the moment the case of Muravitsky has riveted public attention. From yesterday’s “traitor,” he has today become a symbol of the political struggle for freedom of speech and European values.
The international organization Reporters Without Borders, on August 9, 2017, called for the immediate release of journalists detained in Ukraine, including Vasily Muravitsky. Thus, according to an authoritative international human rights organization (headquarters in Paris, France, EU), my client is recognized as a political prisoner.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (headquarters in New York, USA), referring to the case of the blogger Muravitsky, said that Ukraine is pursuing critics and media that are considered anti-patriotic. It also urged the Ukrainian authorities to immediately release Vasily Muravitsky and drop all charges against him.
This case is being observed by the OSCE monitoring mission in Ukraine.
The Finnish Union of Journalists is conducting a study of the issues related to the arrest and charges against Muravitsky, for a report to the Finnish Foreign Minister.
Today the Court of Appeal is considering not just a complaint about the measure of restraint. It is now deciding the direction Ukraine will go, which standards will be at the basis of our justice — revolutionary expediency, political necessity or human rights!
Attorney Andrei Gozhy, defender of Vasily Muravitsky
City of Zhitomir, Ukraine, August 28, 2017
At the end of the speech, the courtroom erupted in a round of applause.
More on the case:
New repression in Ukraine: Journalist Vasily Muravitsky arrested
Opposition journalist investigated for ‘treason & terrorism’ in Ukraine