Kharkiv police continue their assault on freedom of speech


On 7 September around 18.00 police officers detained Serhiy Panasenko who was handing out a leaflet entitled “Huge Lies” near the metro station Kholodna Hora. According to his lawyer, Vitaly Filonenko, the detention is a flagrant example of police lawlessness and confidence that they can violate human rights with impunity.

Vitaly Filonenko learned that Serhiy had been detained from his anxious parents, yet had the greatest difficulty even finding him, with different police stations giving different information.

When he finally found Serhiy in the police car and asked why he hadn’t answered his mobile, Serhiy explained that the police had taken it off him so that he couldn’t ring his friends and lawyer. He was even refused his legal right, to ring a lawyer.

When Serhiy and his lawyer arrived at the police station, one of the officers who refused to identify himself was already filling out an administrative offences protocol for “petty hooliganism” which those who are supposed to protect law and order claimed that Serhiy Panasenko had committed by handing out the leaflet “Huge lies” with criticism of the city authorities”.

The lawyer explained to the newspaper Glavnoye that “when the protocol was drawn up, I asked for Serhiy Panasenko to be given the chance to write his explanation in the protocol, sign it and for us to be given a copy of it.  At that point the officer who’d written it up put it in his file and ran out of the room. I explained to the officers present that the protocol, by law, must be signed by the person it is about. However the officers said that there would be a note in the protocol saying that Serhiy had refused to sign it and receive it”.

He is convinced that the officers did not only unwarrantedly draw up a protocol on supposed petty hooliganism, but also violated the right stipulated by law for those facing administrative charges. “In addition the police officers effectively reported an attempt to falsify protocols on administrative liability”.

As reported here, this is by no means the first occasion when officers of district police stations have tried to stop the distribution of the leaflet “Huge Lies”, thus seriously violating their rights.

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