Lawyers and Human Rights Activists Achieved the Release of the Ukrainian Journalist Vasily Muravitsky

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


On June 27th the Korolovsky court of Zhytomyr changed the measure of restraint imposed on the journalist Vasily Muravitsky to house arrest. The Zhytomyr journalist stayed in a pre-trial detention center for 11 months on a charge of treason. The prosecutor’s office wasn’t able to convince the judge of the need to elect for the journalist the most rigid measure of restriction and referred only to the weight of the crime.

The defendant’s lawyer Andrey Domansky stated that he is satisfied by the result of the hearing of the case, having noted the unethical behavior of the prosecutor, who deliberately dragged out today’s process.

“This is the first step towards our victory. Now the escort receives the court judgment and transports him to Zhytomyr regional police department. In 2 hours he will be free,” stated Domansky after the court announced its decision.

“A huge victory, taking into account the current state of justice! The case collapsed already before it started, and the court was simply tired of that falseness that was presented by the accuser,” said the lawyer Andrey Gozhy, commenting on the court’s decision.

A number of Ukrainian and international human rights organisations repeatedly urged the authorities to release Muravitsky. Amnesty International gave Muravitsky the status of a “prisoner of conscience”.

According to human rights activists from the Uspishna Varta organisation, the long imprisonment of the journalist in a pre-trial detention center before the announcement of a verdict put his family in a very difficult situation, because lawyer fees and the reception of parcels in the pre-trial detention center aren’t cheap: Vasily has a small child.

“We communicate with lawyers of political prisoners in Ukraine, they all agree that often the purpose of the ‘heavy’ charges under so-called ‘separatist’ articles that are brought to journalists and bloggers is the detention of the person for an indefinite period of time. The investigators can’t substantiate this need, but insist on it as the only option. And the judges support them. Thus, Vasilets and Timonin groundlessly stayed in a pre-trial detention center for 820 days, and Kotsaba was imprisoned for 524 days before he was acquitted. We communicate with Muravitsky’s lawyers and know what pressure is being put on him so that he plays ball with the investigation. It is also necessary to consider that during the period while the person is not condemned and is in a pre-trial detention center, there is the biggest isolation from the outside world. Often it seems to people that they were abandoned, and they agree to play ball for the sake of the soonest release,” reported the head of “Uspishna Varta” Natalya Natalina.

Yesterday during an OSCE conference, the human rights activists of “Uspishna Varta” informed Harlem Désir – the representative of the OSCE on freedom of speech – and Ricardo Gutierrez – the head of the European federation of journalists – about Muravitsky’s case. This case is also under the control of the UN monitoring mission.

Vasily Muravitsky: “I’m in Jail Because I Am the Personal Enemy of Poroshenko”

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