Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
The political prisoner in Ukraine Eduard Kovalenko went on a hunger strike, the purpose of which is to draw the attention of the world community to Ukrainian political prisoners. Kovalenko tries to specify that many are outraged by the jailing of the director Oleg Sentsov, but don’t at all want to pay attention to thousands of political prisoners in Ukraine.
The head of “News Front” news agency and close friend of Kovalenko Konstantin Knyrik on his Facebook page spoke about the hunger strike, called on Europe to “pay attention to the problem with political prisoners in Ukraine”, and also communicated with the correspondent of the Federal News Agency.
“The world community pays attention to an individual prisoner who has been convicted of terrorism and who is in a pre-trial detention center, but doesn’t notice at all 1,000 political prisoners who are sat in Ukraine on absolutely far-fetched charges,” said Konstantin Knyrik in an interview to the FAN. “In particular, the case of Eduard Kovalenko: he held an authorised meeting, having notified the authorities about the venue, time, and number of participants, that was lawful from the point of view of Ukrainian legislation with an appeal to stop the war in Donbass. And he received 5 years in jail because of this meeting”.
Eduard Kovalenko was condemned to 5 years of imprisonment for organising an anti-war rally. In January, 2015 he spoke against mobilisation in front of the military registration and enlistment office in the city of Genichesk — the protesters called for the termination of the war in Donbass. For this he was accused of disrupting mobilisation and impending the activity of the UAF.
Kovalenko was convicted under article 114-1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine “Preventing the lawful activity of the Armed forces of Ukraine and other military formations”. Knyrik is sure that this article contradicts the enacted provisions of the law and in general is inhumane.
“This article was cooked up immediately after the beginning of the Operation of United Forces and anyone can fall victim to it!” claims the interlocutor of the FAN. “If a citizen of Ukraine simply writes on social networks that they are against war, then if the need arises this [statement] can easily be shaped around this law and the person jailed”.
In 2017 the court rejected the submitted appeal, and at the current moment Eduard Kovalenko is being transferred to Dnepropetrovsk.
To the question about Kovalenko’s lawyer, Knyrik said “it is rather difficult to defend such citizens there. People fall victim to certain repressive mechanisms when they defend such convicted persons”.
“According to our calculations, in Ukraine there are about 1,400 political prisoners. This data about the defence of human rights is confirmed by websites like Human Rights Watch. Even the OSCE reports no less than about 400 prisoners,” summed up Konstantin Knyrik.
As a reminder, earlier the head of the public organization “Odessa Human Rights Group” Nadezhda Melnichenko stated that, “according to some sources there are about 500, and according to other sources — 3000-4000”.
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