Imprisoned Tax Code protester declares hunger strike
Ihor Garkavenko , one of the people charged over the Tax Code Protest on Maidan Nezalezhnosti or Independence Square in Kyiv has gone on hunger strike in the SIZO [pre-trial detention centre] where he has been held since late December. At a press conference on Tuesday, his lawyers, Oleh Lewytsky and Artem Belov stated that their client and they are convinced that the criminal proceedings against him are pure political persecution.
Ihor Garkavenko, and six others, are accused of damaging the granite on Maidan Nezalezhnosti by allegedly driving metal stakes into the granite in order to erect tents.
Artem Belov says that on 3 March the Kyiv Court of Appeal is scheduled to review his appeal against the extension of his remand in custody to 4 months. “Ihor has tried to express his protest by lawful means – he has written applications, appealed against the ruling, but to no avail. Having lost hope of getting justice, he has resorted to this final legal form of defence – an indefinite hunger strike”.
Having read all the material in this case, Oleh Lewytsky is convinced that it is politically-motivated. He calls the charges absurd and stresses that Garkavenko should be considered a political prisoner. The investigators, he added, are arbitrary in their choice of evidence, ignore obvious facts and do not question witnesses who could confirm that at the time the tents were being erected, Garkavenko was in Kharkiv. He points out also that the law enforcement agencies are demonstrating a selective approach in applying the law. “Remember the so-called “blue and white Maidan” in 2007, the photographs of which are still posted on the President’s official website. Then they also erected tents, stuck metal stakes into the granite. Yet none of those who took part then have ever been punished. That is evidence of selective application of the law”.