The report of “Strana” from the trial on the case of the murder of the writer and journalist, where one of the defendants was elected as a member of the public council of NABU.
At the court sessions on the case of Oles Buzina‘s murder it’s unlikely that you will come across journalists. The investigation and trial on the case of Buzina has lasted for more than four years. At each new hearing there is less and less press.
And today the hall in the Shevchenkovsky regional court of Kiev, where the case is being considered, is almost empty: two media outlets, including us and several curious onlookers – that’s the whole audience. Even the defendants – Andrey Medvedko and Denis Polishchuk – came today without the usual group support of colleagues/nationalists – there is no need for stage extras. The case of Buzina passed from the category of “a point of honour” for the authorities into a sluggish story a long time ago. Many in governmental offices would probably want society to forget about it.
But Oles Buzina’s mother remembers.
Valentina Pavlovna will be 80 years old soon. She goes to every court session. With a shaking hand, she straightens her scarf, dark blue, with a fringe and embroidered gold and purple flowers. Grey hair is put into a bunch with a black velvet elastic band. She walks, leaning on a cane, and every step is made with difficulty.
She is tired. The trial has been going on for 1 year and 8 months, hearings are constantly transferred and postponed. Valentina Pavlovna admits: it seems to her that the trial is deliberately dragged out – waiting for her to pass away.
Oles Buzina’s mother doesn’t take her eyes off those accused of murdering her son.
Medvedko and Polishchuk are here, sitting to the left of four lawyers, and trying not to look towards Valentina Pavlovna. They are calm and jaunty, exchange words and laugh, from time to time glancing at their phones. They have both been free since the end of 2016 and, apparently, don’t really believe that they will be found guilty.
Surrealism was added to everything that is happening a day prior by one of the persons accused of murdering Buzina, Andrey Medvedko, who was elected to the NABU Public Control Council.
Although how exactly he got on the Council raises questions.
“Medvedko is a socially active person”
According to the conditions of the Internet competition, only an e-mail address and a mobile phone number were required to vote for candidates.
As a result of such a simplistic scheme it was possible to vote as many times as necessary: in Ukraine it’s not difficult to create different e-mail addresses and to acquire different sim cards in order to increase the number of votes for a certain candidate.
At the beginning of July “Strana” wrote that the results of voting for the new structure of the Council could be falsified. We found at least four instances when voting for candidates was made from the same IP addresses on the Internet, and each time voters specified different e-mail addresses and phone numbers.
The rigging was also evidenced by the more than twofold vote gap between the group of 14 vote leaders and the 15th-place candidate, as well as the close ties between the members of the new Council through a network of public organisations
According to such a scheme, the leader of the right-wing “C14” organisation Evgeny Karas entered the public council of NABU at the end of May of this year. However, among the members of the council he appears as a member of the “Union of Veterans of the War with Russia”. And now Andrey Medvedko, who is accused of murdering Buzina, was included in the NABU Public Control Council from the same organisation.
However, one of Andrey Medvedko’s lawyers claims that the new position of his client won’t influence the judgment in any way.
“The independent council under NABU is independent and depends on nothing,” sneers Sergey Voychenko.
He also adds that NABU has no connection to the case of Buzina.
“I in general learned about it from the news. This is the personal decision of Medvedko, he is a socially active person. But as the member of the public council of NABU he doesn’t make any decisions, nothing depends on him. You know the saying: ‘Two work, and the third observes’. This is about it,” commented Andrey Medvedko’s lawyer to “Strana”.
Oles Buzina’s mother in general is surprised that someone would vote for him.
“On the Internet how many are there for him, 300 people voted? Well, for the Internet this is zero. And the fact that in general people voted for him is surprising for me. It asks a big question about society.”
“There is a need to summon the street”
Valentine Pavlovna is upset that the defence in every possible way drags out the process, trying to obtain the removal of the judges and endlessly declaring motions.
And today Polishchuk and Medvedko’s lawyers, as usual, play for time. Sometimes it looks comical.
So, one of the four defenders, Aleksandr Dulsky, reads on a piece of paper for 40 minutes the grounds for dismissing the judge, referring to a conflict of interest.
After the last meeting the judge filed a complaint to the Supreme Council of Justice (SCJ) against the colleague of Dulsky, the lawyer Sergey Voychenko. The defence claims that the judge didn’t give the lawyer a chance to substantiate the motion and interrupted him because of which there was a verbal spar, and as a result the judge filed a complaint against the lawyer.
Although Valentina Buzina has a different version of events.
“At the last hearing Voychenko said that it is necessary to summon the street for hearings. And it was for this that the judge wrote a complaint against him. If you are going to call the street, it is necessary to understand that sooner or later the street can walk also over you,” said Valentina Pavlovna to “Strana”.
“You won’t be able to love him now”
Anyway, the lawyer believes that now the court is biased in favour of the defence, so he insists on a challenge.
“In such a situation like this one of has to leave. I could leave, but then I will deprive the defendants of their right to a defence. Can you leave? Yes. You are the initiator of the appeal to the SCJ and you created the conditions for the challenge,” Dulsky argues, addressing the judges.
Two female judges listen to him with half an ear and quietly exchange words among themselves. At some point the lawyer suddenly becomes silent. The judge looks at him interrogatively:
“No, I waited until you talk.”
“We listen, continue.”
Dulchenko for some reason offers a reminder to the court that Ukraine chose the path of European integration, so the judicial system must meet the high standards of the EU.
The mother of Buzina looks at her lawyer, without coming off, and rhythmically nods. So far it is unclear what the defence is getting at and what Valentina Pavlovna and the judges think about all of this.
“With your ‘you finished?’ you have demonstrated a blatant disregard for me,” the lawyer says with some resentment. “You are prejudiced and can’t be objective. I’m generally surprised why you did not recuse yourself. After the conflict with Voychenko you, to put it mildly, don’t love him and you won’t be able to love him …,” says Dulsky, whose reasoning is reminiscent of a mocking verbiage designed to infinitely play for time.
The judge who Dulchenko challenges takes the floor:
“For me, as a judge, to ‘love a lawyer’ sounds strange. In Europe, which you hold up to us as an example, for such unethical behaviour the defender would be already removed from the process.”
The court listens in turn to the other lawyers of Medvedko and Polishchuk, and then the defendants: they all insist on a challenge. Then the floor is taken by the prosecutors – they are against it. Finally Valentin Buzina is given an opportunity to express herself.
Buzina’s mother straightens her scarf with her usual gesture. Her hands shake, but her voice is firm. She directly voiced what professional ethics don’t allow to say to the prosecutors openly: the defence stages such a circus during every hearing.
“It is already the third list of judges. And at each hearing you announce a challenge to them. You say the same thing from hearing to hearing, more or less. You even don’t change a word, I already recited them by heart. Don’t do this, please. Don’t drag out the process. If you do not want to act according to the law, then I call upon you: on your conscience.”
“Ukraine won’t forgive the murder of Oles”
The judges leave for the consultative room – such is the procedure. 20 minutes later they return and report about their decision: the challenge isn’t accepted. The current judicial structure continues to consider the case. However, today’s hearing is immediately declared closed: the conference hall was “reserved” for two hours – time expired.
Valentina Pavlovna admits to “Strana”: she has already gotten used to the eternal postponement of hearings. For her personally it is all the same what judges and what structure will consider the case. As long as it is considered.
“Because the past judges didn’t hold hearings, but simply took part in them. Sometimes they didn’t even open their mouths,” she complains.
But Oles Buzina’s mother isn’t going to retreat and and hopes for a fair punishment for the guilty:
“My son was killed. Killed for nothing. I will fight. Yes, I may die. Perhaps even in an hour. But if they think that this is the end of it, they are wrong. Ukraine won’t forgive the murder of Oles. I understand now that it is necessary to draw the attention of society. And now, instead of defending Oles, they defend God knows who. If these two, Medvedko and Polishchuk, aren’t found guilty, prove it and release them. I don’t insist. I didn’t look for them. The Minister of Internal Affairs said to the whole world – it is them. So address the minister, let him now disprove it. But I’m not afraid. I am afraid of nothing. And if they kill me, they will do me a service. I already have no strength any more, I have no health. I already suffered so much…”
Oles Buzina was killed in April 2015 in the yard of the high-rise building where he lived. Soon the Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov, having declared that “Oles Buzina’s murder is solved”, and the suspects are detained.
They turned out to be two people close to the nationalist group “C14”, who were also members of ATO units: Andrey Medvedko (served in the “Kiev-2” and “Garpun” special battalion) and Denis Polishchuk (he was a part of the 54th reconnaissance battalion).
The persons accused of Buzina’s murder risk from 10 to 15 years of imprisonment or life imprisonment. Medvedko and Polishchuk deny any guilt.
The next hearing on the case of Oles Buzina is appointed for October 24th, at 10:00.
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