New arrest fears for Severodonetsk civic activist Rimma Bilotserkivska
On Tuesday a Severodonetsk judge, Ruslan Yukhymchuk issued an order to have Rimma Bilotserkivska declared on the wanted list and to change the restraint measure. Oleksy Svyetikov from the Committee of Voters of Ukraine [CVU] believes there are grounds for fearing that the plan is to remand her in custody.
As he was leaving the courtroom, Yukhymchuk also ordered a Griffon unit officer (the special unit guarding courts) to detain Ms. Bryleva who is representing Rimma Bilotserkivska. The lawyer had called out “Shame!”.
In fact, the officer was unable to carry out Yukhymchuk’s order to subject the lawyer to administrative arrest since those present demanded to see the court order, and the judge was nowhere to be found.
It was this same judge who issued an arrest warrant against Rimma Bilotserkivska on 23 May, and it took considerable effort, including by the Prosecutor’s office to get this revoked.
As reported, the court in Rubizhne, under the same Yukhymchuk, issued the first arrest warrant in May. The justification given was that the activist had not appeared at two hearings and was therefore “hiding” from the court. She had already stated clearly her refusal to attend hearings in a court with no jurisdiction over the case.
The criminal proceedings against her were initiated five years ago when she led a group of residents of an apartment block protesting against the destruction of a green area outside their homes. The authorities ignored them, and when the construction workers arrived and showed equally little interest in the residents’ objections. Ms Bilotserkivska saw no alternative but to climb up to stop the digging work. The charges are of obstructing cranes.
It should be stressed that it was widely known that Rimma Bilotserkivska was very likely to be standing for parliament in the October parliamentary elections. Ms Bilotserkivska’s attempt to run for election was in fact thwarted by the Central Election Committee which refused to register her.