Human Rights in Ukraine. Website of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
Freedom of peaceful assembly

Lviv Human Rights Activist not willing to accept court ruling


Lviv human rights activist, Oleksiy Verentsov and pensioner Ihor Tanyachkevych have appealed to the Lviv Regional Court of Appeal the ruling by the Halytsky Court in Lviv which sentenced both men to 3 days administrative arrest for “holding an unlawful protest outside the Lviv Regional Prosecutor’s Office” They spent four days in custody.

Oleksiy Verentsov, Head of the civic organization “Guards of the Law” and pensioner Ihor Tanyachkevych have lodged the suit in order to create a precedent and to demonstrate that a person can be detained in a police station without any grounds at all, without the right of a phone call and without being allowed to see a lawyer.

Oleksiy Verentsov explained how on 12 October during the picket outside the Lviv Regional Prosecutor’s Office he had first been called to by police officers, then grabbed by the arm and dragged to the police station but released. Yet the next day he was taken to the police station where a protocol on administrative detention was drawn up and he was held for 24 hours in a cell.

Pensioner Ihor Tanyachkevych was also taken to the station. He had taken part in the picket to protest against the prosecutor’s dragging out examination of his case for years.

Both men state that they were not allowed to see a lawyer and held for 24 hours in terrible, unsanitary conditions. Their documents, money and telephones were taken away and it was cold and dirty in the cell. Both men declared a hunger strike.

Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union lawyer, Oleh Myshchyk stresses that the men were detained unlawfully on several grounds. The picket had not been banned, and the organization had notified the authorities back in August that each Tuesday from 17 August until 1 November they would protest for 2 and a half hours. Two hours before the picket on 12 October the Mayor’s office was also notified.

According to the Constitution and a Constitutional Court judgment from 2001 there are no time frames for informing the authorities about a protest. The police drew up several different protocols. According to their lawyer, the men did not show any resistance to the police as the latter first claimed, the protest did not cause obstruction and disturb the peace since the picketers were on the pavement. In addition the judge did not take into account the time which Verentsov and Tanyachkevych had spent in custody, meaning that they were imprisoned for a day longer than they should have been.

“You need only imagine what happens with ordinary people if the police see fit to behave like this with human rights activists. It has become standard to detain a person claiming that they showed resistance. We have dozens of such cases. We want to create a precedent with this case. You can’t behave in such a dishonest manner.”

If the Lviv Court of Appeal does not allow the appeal by civic activists, they will turn to the European Court of Human Rights.

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