The Case of Pavel Volkov

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


Pavel Volkov is a journalist and blogger who was born in 1984 in Zaporozhye. His last place of work before his
 detention was as a columnist of the business newspaper “Vzglyad”. Before 2014 he took part in the social movement “Ukrainian Choice”, participated in round tables, and made publications on the website and in the paper version of the “Ukrainian Choice” newspaper.

He was arrested on September 27th, 2017, and at the same time searches were carried out at the apartments of his mother and wife (illegally, without the presence of a lawyer and with a false witnesses). Since then he has been in uncontested custody in a pre-trial detention center, and the judges prolong Pavel’s detention every two months, referring only to the lack of an alternative measure of restraint for those articles that he is accused under.

Pavel Volkov is accused under two heavy articles of the Criminal Code of Ukraine for his journalistic activity:

  • Part 2 of Article 110 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine – infringement on the territorial integrity of Ukraine (by a group of persons);

  • Article 258-3 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine – rendering other assistance to terrorists.

Thus both articles incriminate him for the same actions (publications on the Internet and an allegedly discovered badge of an observer of the referendum in Donetsk; except for the badge, there is no evidence of participation in a referendum, and the badge can’t be considered as an official document). Both articles are universal for the persecution of dissidents in Ukraine. Article 110 refers to the Constitution (“in violation of the order established by the Constitution”), but this order isn’t established by the Constitution. The group of persons (part 2 of Article 110) that appear in the charges are “unspecified”, which makes it possible to unsubstantially use a heavier article in the charges. According to Article 258-3 he is charged with giving certain information assistance to terrorists, although such a form of assistance isn’t stipulated by either Ukrainian nor international laws, and the so-called “DPR” and “LPR” are not recognised as terrorist organisations by anybody.

Court sessions take place in the Shevchenkovsky district court of Zaporozhye. He is in pre-trial detention center No. 10 in the city of Zaporozhye.

At the beginning of July, 2018 Pavel Volkov had been kept in a pre-trial detention center for the 10th month, and the court refuses to change the measure of restraint to house arrest, despite his worsening state of health (Pavel has chronic asthma, an allergy, and cholecystitis). The judges ignore the fact that a considerable part of the evidence of the charges have been recognised as inadmissible and the carried-out linguistic examination confirm his innocence.

On July 5, 2018 the Shevchenkovsky court of Zaporozhye prolonged the journalist Pavel Volkov’s measure of restraint — up to September 2nd. The next court session was appointed for August 27th. Volkov’s defence sent a request to the European Parliament to pay attention to the arrested journalist.

On August 27 the Shevchenkovsky court of the city of Zaporozhye prolonged Pavel Volkov’s measure of restraint for another 2 months – up to October 25th, despite the arguments given by the defence concerning the deterioration of the defendant’s state of health.

During the trial, the prosecutor did not attach new evidence to the case. And the prosecutor also rejected the motion for a repeated examination of the equipment confiscated during a search due to procedural violations.

On September 11th, during a hearing on the case of Pavel Volkov, the prosecutor, once again abusing procedural laws and violating the European principle of “reasonable parity”, tried to repeatedly present unreasonable motions for the purpose of dragging the process on, since a part of the evidence had been lost. But the court refused to satisfy the prosecutor.

In addition, the court left without consideration the defence’s motion for recognising the evidence as inadmissible, having declared that an assessment would be given in the consultation room upon sentencing. Then a break in the case until September 13th was declared.

On September 13th, 2018 the Shevchenkovsky court satisfied the motion of the lawyer Svetlana Novitskaya in the case of the journalist Pavel Volkov for the recognition of two volumes of evidence as inadmissible. The subsequent court sessions were appointed for September 25th and 26th.

On September 25, 2018, it became known before the hearing that one of the judges had broken a leg. Because of this Volkov’s trial was suspended for an indefinite period of time. Meanwhile, the term of the journalist’s detention expires on October 25th, and if the judge doesn’t leave from the sick-list by this time, then there is a risk that the hearing of the case will start from the beginning with a new judiciary panel.

As a reminder, during her speech at the “Human Dimension Implementation Meeting 2018” conference in Warsaw, the head of board of the human rights platform “Uspishna Varta” Natalya Natalina informed the OSCE about the case of the journalist Pavel Volkov, who has been in jail in Zaporozhye for over a year for his publications, and who is accused of assisting terrorists, the maximum prison term for which is 15 years. The case of the journalist Pavel Volkov is being continuously monitored by the human rights activists of “Uspishna Varta”.

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