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Petition of the Human Rights Agenda regarding the re-classification of the criminal case against the head of the Center for Combating Corruption Vitaliy Shabunin as “assault on a member of the press”

On 18 January 2018 investigators of the Head Office of the National Police served the head of the Center for Combating Corruption Vitaliy Shabunin a notice regarding the change of charges against him to part 2, Art. 345-1 of the Criminal Code (threat of violence or violence against members of the press).

This concerns the verbal altercation that occurred on 8 June 2017, in the course of which Vitaliy Shabunin hit Vsevolod Filimonenko. As a result, criminal charges were brought against Vitaliy Shabunin on the grounds of part 2, Art. 122 of the Criminal Code (causing moderate bodily harm). He himself admits to hitting a person and is ready to take responsibility “in full accordance with the law, but for this and only for this, not for what the prosecutor’s office is making up”.

As a reminder, when classifying a criminal case, it is important to take into account the person’s attitude not just toward his own actions, but also toward all other circumstances of the case, including the injured party’s legal status. Art. 345-1 of the Criminal Code requires pre-trial investigation authorities and prosecutor’s office to prove the following facts using appropriate and admissible evidence:

– beatings or bodily harm had been caused;

– the injured party was a member of the press at the time the crime was committed, and the offender was aware of it;

– beatings or bodily harm had been caused specifically in connection with the professional activities of the injured party (as a member of the press) (i.e. in retaliation for such activities or in order to impede them);

– such activities were being performed on a professional basis;

– such activities were being performed legally.

The footage of the incident clearly shows that it occurred due to personal reasons and is not connected to Vsevolod Filimonenko’s professional activities. In light of the above information, we consider changing legal grounds for this criminal case unwarranted.

The long history of persecution and defamation against Vitaliy Shabunin and his colleagues at the Center for Combating Corruption that started over two years ago in response to their investigations of bribes among high-ranking officials casts doubt on the professionalism of law enforcement and leads one to suspect a political agenda in their decision to change the article in this case to one with a stricter punishment.

In accordance with court decisions, Vitaliy Shabunin’s case is being handled by 10 investigators. It is particularly telling if we compare this to the number of investigators per case assigned to the thousands of proceedings on crimes committed during the Euromaidan. Proceedings that state leaders and law enforcement have been fervently calling a “matter of honor”.

Another reason to conclude a selective approach here – last year law enforcement conducted no proper investigations of assaults on members of the press. Also, only recently Yuriy Krysin, the person responsible for organizing attacks of hired goons on Euromaidan participants, got probation for hooliganism despite his direct involvement in the murder of journalist Viacheslav Veremiy.

In light of this, we support the petition of the media community that calls for impartial investigations of attacks on members of the press in connection with their professional activities and protests against the practice of using the Criminal Code for persecuting undesirables.

The Human Rights Agenda is worried by the rising number of politically motivated actions by state authorities against representatives of civil society organizations that fight corruption or hold protests against high-ranking officials.

The Human Rights Agenda platform is an informal coalition of human rights organizations that monitor, analyze and develop legislation based on the main principles of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The Platform comprises such organizations as Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, Center for Civil Liberties, Amnesty International Ukraine, Human Rights Information Center, Centre of Law Enforcement Activities Research, No Borders project and Euromaidan SOS. The platform’s work is coordinated by the Center for Civil Liberties. Contacts: human.rights.agenda.ua@gmail.com

Center for Civil Liberties

Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group

Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

Luhansk Oblast Human Rights Center “Alternative”

Open Dialogue Foundation

Human Rights Platform

Institute of Mass Information

Human Rights Information Center

Automaidan

Myrnyi Bereg (i.e. Peaceful Shores)

Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research

Association of the Families of Kremlin’s Political Prisoners

Ternopil Human Rights Group

Human Rights Center “All Rights”

Center for Civil Monitoring and Analytics (Ternopil)

UA Center

Women’s Anti-Corruption Movement

Ternopil-Tiraspol Friendship Society

Center for Regional Development and Law (Ternopil)

Democratic Alliance of Ternopil Oblast

Civic Space

Association for Democratic Development (Chernihiv)

Ukrainian League of Lawyers for Corruption Combating

Center for Law and Political Studies “DUMA” (Kharkiv)

CSO Human Rights Vector

Media Initiative on Human Rights

National Union of Journalists of Ukraine

Information and Educational Center “VIS” (Vinnytsia)

Charity Foundation Vostok-SOS

Human Rights Center “Postup” (i.e. Pace)

LGBT Human Rights Center “Our World”

Laboratory of Democratic Transformations

Human Rights Vector

Ukraine Without Torture

Civil Committee on Human Rights

DEJURE foundation

Dobrochyn (i.e. Charity) Center (Chernihiv)

Chernihiv Human Rights Center

Association of Political Sciences (Kropyvnytskyi)

Ukrainian Politics Center “Exampeus” (Kropyvnytskyi)

Volunteer Association of the Participants of the Maidan and military actions (Kropyvnytskyi)

People’s Control of Kirovohrad Oblast

Lustration Council of Kirovohrad Oblast

Petition is open for signature. Please send your replies to this address human.rights.agenda.ua@gmail.com

 

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