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17.06.2011

Stop Censorship appeals against ban on protest outside President’s Residence

   

As reported, a year after President Yanukovych’s promise to journalists that they could visit his reportedly sumptuous residence Mezhyhirya came to nothing, the civic movement Stop Censorship announced plans to hold a peaceful protest outside Mezhyhirya aimed at reminding Yanukovych of his promise. The planned event, timed to coincide with Journalist Day on 6 June was announced on Friday. The very next day the Village Head of Novi Petrivtsi Rodion Starenki lodged an application for the protest to be banned. Most worryingly, Judge Hanna Panova from the Kyiv District Administrative Court allowed the application.  The President, she said, had the right to rest: ““Taking into consideration the constitutional principles of defence of human rights to personal life, its inviolability, the right to rest outside working hours, the said gathering would infringe the mentioned personal human rights”.

The Judge also referred to the Decree of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR from 28 July 1988 requiring notification of peaceful gatherings 10 days in advance.  This Decree has often been pulled out of the woodwork to try to justify restrictions on peaceful assembly despite the clear illegitimacy of citing a Decree passed by a country which no longer exists.

As one of the journalists noted, according to official registration records, Viktor Yanukovych lives in Kyiv at 15 Obolonska Embankment.  This is the address given on his income declaration and where he’s registered to vote. 

Journalists complied with the ban but travelled to Mezhyhirya to see how it was being implemented.  Worth noting also that Yanukovych drove past in his cortege, totally ignoring them.

The appeal is presented by Taras Shevchenko and Olha Sushko from the Media Law Institute and Roman Holovenko from the Institute for Mass Information.

Stop Censorship considers the court ban of a peaceful protest on the basis of a Soviet decree from 1988 nonsensical, as well as being in breach of the Constitution. They say that if their appeal is unsuccessful, they will approach the European Court of Human Rights. 

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