Azarov About the 9-Year Jail Sentence Given to Two Ukrainian Journalists: The Opposition Movement Will Sweep Away the Regime in Kiev

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


The Berdichevsky court of Ukraine recognized the journalists of the Ukrainian “Channel 17” Dmitry Vasilets and Evgeny Timonin of being guilty of assisting a terrorist organization, sentencing both to nine years of imprisonment. The sentence was announced on September 28th. The Ukrainian politician, former Prime Minister of Ukraine Nikolai Azarov in a conversation with the correspondent of Federal News Agency commented on the sentence given to the two journalists.

Political prisoners

According to the investigators, Vasilets and Timonin are guilty of allegedly organizing the separatist TV channel “Novorossiya.TV”. Although, if to be exact, in 2014 during a trip to Donetsk they only helped to create and publish the corresponding page on YouTube.

The accused, in turn, didn’t recognise any guilt. In their opinion, the case fabricated against them is only a pretext. The real reason, in their opinion, lies in the fact that they they sharply criticized the current Kiev authorities. It should be noted that Vasilets and Timonin were arrested as early as the autumn of 2015, and have since been sat in a pre-trial detention center.

The war against dissent

Nikolai, not so long ago the court passed a verdict on the case of May 2nd, in which they decided to release several involved persons. Also quite recently the court released Aleksandr Lavrinovich (the former Minister of Justice of Ukraine). And even Kotsaba was released, eventually. Why on this occasion was such a harsh sentence handed down?

“First of all, the sentence handed down to the journalists is proof that the focus is on the information processing of the population. And anyone who can spread accurate information to people finds themselves under constant persecution. By the way, this was recently discussed at a meeting in the European Parliament. Unfortunately, the European media, and indeed the Russian one, responded very poorly and practically became silent about this event. But, after all, a discussion of this kind happened for the first time in three and a half years. The European Parliament considered the situation with human rights in Ukraine, especially concerning restrictions against the media. In addition, a few days ago in Kiev a congress of bloggers and employees of websites took place. They complained that their constitutional right to freedom of speech is being violated.

The sentence given to Vasilets and Timonin is absolutely groundless and illegal. Those judges who passed this decision, I hope, will one day get the same sentence for adopting such a decision. I, by the way, don’t doubt it. Because one day there will come such a time in Ukraine when such judgments will be carefully investigated and severely punished. Certainly, public attention needs to be drawn to this case.

The situation connected to providing the constitutional right to freedom of speech in Ukraine is the worst in comparison with any country. I can’t even name such examples where such statements would result in 9 years. I very much hope that the constitutional authority will cancel this illegal sentence.”

Why, in your opinion, are human rights organizations silent?

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“Because no human rights organizations actually exist in Ukraine. Moreover, there are certain organizations that are financed either by the State Department, or various funds. And they support a certain policy. They can be called differently, make some statements to seem at least a little bit objective. However, Kiev set a certain trend, which they don’t go against. How differently to explain that the UN report on human rights violations in Ukraine is suppressed by the Ukrainian media and various ‘human rights’ organizations.”

How it is possible to save journalists from such a judgment if the appeal of the defence isn’t satisfied?

“It is necessary to address all possible bodies, to attract public attention to this case. It is necessary to force Europe to pay attention to such human rights violations.”

Is the emergence of independent media possible in the country?

“Of course it’s possible. Firstly, it’s not worth thinking that people are silent and have subsided. Such trials indeed show that the active oppositional movement gains strength in Ukraine. It will sweep away the Kiev regime. When it will happen, freedom of speech will be restored, there will be normal media. This regime won’t be able to exist for an infinitely long time.”

Address of Ukrainian Political Prisoner Dmitry Vasilets to the World Community

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