Crimean courts find against civic activists
Kateryna Chepura and Ivan Shivalo
In Simferopol and Sevastopol hearings took place on Monday against activists from the campaign “Revenge for Dividing Ukraine”. Both courts found them guilty of having circulated election campaigning material without the legally requiring issue details.
As reported, on Friday in Sevastopol and Sunday in Simferopol two activists – Kateryna Chepura and Yury Shyvalo.- were detained by the police and held at police stations for several hours.
On Sunday the police came up to them when they were already going down an underpass after having handed out leaflets explaining why people should not vote for the Party of the Regions and its candidate for single-mandate electoral district No. 1 Vitalina Dzoz.
The activists say that the police threatened to use force in getting them to go first to a control point and then taking them to the police station.
They were charged with distributing campaigning material without issue details. According to Kateryna Chepura, the police tried to take the leaflets – which did have the phone number of the organizer on them - away, but the activists refused to hand them over.
The police claim that they didn’t detain the activists, but merely “invited them to the police station for a talk”.
Kateryna Chepura says that they will be appealing against the court rulings and that they will continue their activities. They will prove in court that they have the right to freely circulate information about parliamentary candidates. She considers that the police are acting on the side of one political party.
The members of the campaign also say that the Party of the Regions whom they are criticizing on their leaflets are not yet registered with the CEC and that therefore the considerable amount of billboards advertising the Party of the Regions are in breach of the law too.
Lawyer Arsen Osmanov explains that according to the law on the elections, once a party is a participant in the elections, they can campaign for themselves only after they are registered with the CEC and only using their election fund. Either, therefore, they are not participants, or they are flagrantly breaking the law.
The Crimean branch of the Party of the Regions first promised to comment on this, but failed to phone back. The Crimean police also refused to comment.
New information from a report by Volodymyr Prytula at Radio Svoboda