Remand in custody extended for ex-Mayor of Kamianets-Podilsky
The Dunayevtsy City Court has rejected the application from the Kamianets-Podilsky City Council to change the preventive measure against former Mayor Anatoly Nesteruk and the Chief Administrator in the City Executive Committee, Mykola Nechai. The two have been remanded in custody since September 2010 when Mykola Nechai is alleged to have been caught red-handed accepting a bribe from a businessman.
The judge explained the refusal as being due to the gravity of the crime, and because at liberty they could obstruct the establishing of the truth.
The same court on 25 January rejected an application from 27 individuals and religious organizations to act as guarantors for Anatoly Nesteruk. The reason then given was that the former Mayor was suspected of committing a grave crime.
The two are charged with demanding from a private businessman 300 thousand UAH (110 of which they allegedly received) for leasing 1.5 hectares of land.
The arrest by the Security Service [SBU] on 20 September 2010 of the two men elicited mass protest in Kamianets-Podilsky and many questions.
During snap elections for Mayor in June 2008, Nesteruk received 86% of the votes. According to the people of Kamianets-Podilsky, he spent the next two years actually honouring his pre-election promises. These included making the old city not only a tourist attraction, but a comfortable place for its residents, and economic reforms, including to the housing and communal services system, were carried out.
His arrest, just over a month before elections he was widely expected to win outraged the city’s residents and prompted demonstrations and other acts of protest.
At a special meeting of the City Council on Sunday, 26 September, all deputies voted for an appeal to the law enforcement bodies to replace detention in custody for a signed undertaking not to abscond.
Neither this, nor the crowd of several hundred who picketed the regional court of appeal, were heeded, and the court upheld the custody order.
An article in the authoritative newspaper Dzerkalo Tyzhnya reported that most of those registering their protest believed that the men had been set up. They pointed out that it is long-established practice for businesspeople to make contributions to the social needs of the city. This is effectively part of the cost of leasing land, etc. Like so many other such methods for coping with chronic under-funding, the arrangement is not entirely legal. On the other hand, the money does appear to be spent on the needs of Kamianets-Podilsky and its residents.
The newspaper pointed out that it would be difficult to verify this now as all documents had been removed by the investigators.
An economic reason for the turn of events was postulated, with businesspeople perhaps aggrieved after Nesteruk reinstated city ownership of the municipal energy company. Most, however, believed there was a political reason. Although Nesteruk had formally left (Yulia Tymoshenko’s) Batkivshchyna Party on 14 September, saying that a Mayoral candidate should not be affiliated to a specific party, and even Batkivshchyna had put forward another candidate, it was clear that Nesteruk had every chance of being re-elected.
Information about the recent court hearing from UNIAN