Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
On September 27th the journalist Ruslan Kotsaba, together with lawyers Renat Kuzmin and Tatyana Montyan, will speak in Brussels at the roundtable “Human rights violations, restriction of freedom of speech, and political repressions in Ukraine” in European Parliament. At the request of Ukraina.ru he described what he will say in his speech to euro-deputies.
Who initiated the roundtable and your invitation?
“Four European Parliament Deputies, among whom there are representatives of Latvia — Tatjana Ždanoka and Andrejs Mamikins (from the social democrats faction), and also the Czech — Jiří Maštálka. The event was already announced, I received tickets. Besides me from Ukraine there will be Renat Kuzmin, at the moment the mother who the lawyer defends Oles Buzina, and the lawyer and human rights activist Tatyana Montyan. The official part of the event is the roundtable, the informal one — informal communication with euro-deputies and journalists.
Organizers would like by this roundtable to influence in a delicate way European bureaucracy in order for it to pay attention to what is really happening in Ukraine. I think that this roundtable is a rather effective form for this purpose. Now I carefully prepare this speech.”
On what you will place emphases?
“I will say that the situation with freedom of speech in Ukraine leaves much to be desired. Everything is very bad. In Ukraine all democratic freedoms and institutes are being folded up: our right to criticise the authorities, to evaluate statements, and in general — the right to freedom of speech, which should be guaranteed by Petro Poroshenko, as our guarantor of the Constitution.
But affairs now with freedom of speech are different: just during Poroshenko’s reign in Ukraine 12 journalists died. 40 sentences concerning people who showed Internet activity on social networks were pronounced (for example, made a statement concerning the war in Donbass and called for something that, according to the authorities, contradicts ‘the course of the party’).
Sergey Tomilenko, the head of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine, told me last week that for the last 6 months in Ukraine 122 cases of prosecution of journalists were recorded. The detection of crimes against journalists, according to my data, doesn’t exceed 8%. The State by its lack of activeness in the disclosure of these affairs condones further crimes against media workers.
And remember all these cases of law enforcement authorities ‘raids’ of the website Strana.ua and ‘Vesti’ media holdings. Even Kolomoisky’s channel ‘1+1’ was raided. And the general producer of ‘Channel 112’ Andrey Podshchipkov now asked for political asylum in Brussels. Everybody remembers the case with Igor Guzhva, the editor-in-chief of Strana.ua, and the arrested journalist Vasily Muravitsky.
And recent SBU raids in ‘Ukrainian Pravda’, and the ‘invitation’ of the SBU for a ‘preventive conversation with an employee of the journalist and video blogger Anatoly Shariy looks more like kidnapping. The young woman was roughly thrown into a car in the center of Kiev. And this is called an invitation?
The investigation into me is again renewed, there were already four courts hearings, and all four judges withdrew themselves in order not to dirty themselves in this shameful political mock trial. All these right-wing radicals and Nazis, constantly pursue and threaten me with punishment. When I make an appeal about this to law enforcement agencies, they refuse to register it for criminal proceedings.
Also foreign journalists suffer from communication with the Ukrainian authorities. Communication with Russian journalists, like in the case with me or with Muravitsky, threatens with the Article about high treason. And if last year Ukraine took 111th place in the rating of freedom of speech according to Freedom House, then now I don’t doubt that next year its place will be even lower.
I will also speak about the closing of the social networks ‘Odnoklassniki’ and ‘VKontakte’, and that the odious site ‘Mirotvorets‘ is still not closed, while even the G7 demanded its closing.
Also I want to report at this roundtable that we, adequate journalists, want to help the Verkhovna Rada to nevertheless adopt the law on impeachment of the President.
Petro Poroshenko is now inadequate, he usurped power. I will demand from our Deputies to organize a temporary parliamentary commission of inquiry to investigate his crimes against freedom of speech. And this investigation must end with an impeachment procedure. There are all grounds for this: the authorities introduced censorship, which is forbidden by the constitution.
Our State makes as its own a cave ideology of integrated, ethnic nationalism of the 1930’s, and now, I will remind, it’s the 21st century. Now the word ‘nationalism’ is so odious that it is better to use instead of it the concept ‘patriot’. These nationalists, if they are given free rein, will soon take rulers and compasses in their hands and will start measuring the skulls of everyone.”
You recently picketed the Ukrainian PEN club, which gathered in Lvov, because they refuse to accept statements in defence of freedom of speech and against the prosecution of Ukrainian journalists. While during this event they accepted a statement in defence of Nikolay Semena, who the Prosecutor’s Office of Crimea asks to give 3 years of jail to.
“I am going to publish a video, in which the head of the PEN club (international writers organization, with branches in the leading countries of the world; it deals with the issues of writers) Mykola Riabchuk calls me a villain, and says that I must immediately go back to Russia to my FSB curators. It is horrible that it is especially this person that heads the PEN club. While before this organization was headed by such Ukrainian dissidents as Evgen Sverstyuk and Mykola Vigranovsky.
And Riabchuk is a villain who turned the PEN club into a pro-authorities office and a feeding trough for himself and his family.”
At the moment are you able to say what you think in the Ukrainian media?
“You can’t even imagine how grateful I am to Mr Murayev for the opportunity to bring the truth to his NewsOne TV channel in the programme ‘I Think In This Way’. Already six episodes were aired.”
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