Human Rights in Ukraine. Website of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
Freedom of expression

Activists jailed for anti-Yanukovych graffiti


The “Chorny Komitet” or “Black Committee” website informs that a court in the city of Sumy sentenced four of its activists to varying terms of imprisonment.  They were charged, it asserts, with “painting posters showing Yanukovych with a gunshot wound in the head; extremist captions on walls, and an arson attempt on a hostel.

The Committee asserts that one of the defendants, Ihor Hannenko was accused of a protest action which he had no relation to, and that a confession was beaten out of him.

It says that the same torture methods were used against two others, Mykhailo Pysartsov and Dmytro Danilov who have been held in a SIZO [pre-trial detention centre] for over a year.

The Committee says that Volodymyr Nykonenko was found guilty of painting posters with the image of the President which was deemed extremist.

Chorny Komitet asserts that Pysartsov and Danilov got two year sentences; Hannenko – 1.8; and Nykonenko 1 year.

The criminal investigation was reported by the Lviv police in June 2011 specifically over the posters with Yanukovych’s head.

This is not the only case involving criminal investigations over anti-Yanukovych graffiti.  In late February 2012, extraordinarily disproportionate measures were taken against two young students in Kherson. They were detained on 29 February for pasting up leaflets with criminal investigations initially initiated.  The criminal charges were eventually dropped, and the two were fined for “spreading untruthful rumours which could arouse panic among the population or disrupt public order”,  an administrative offence (Article 173-1 of the Code of Administrative Offences). 

Following the initial police actions against the two Kherson students, a group of young people, having formed the System for Collective Safety of Young People MAMA, held protest actions in support of them.  Three young men were detained in Donetsk.

The “offending” posters had a photo of Viktor Yanukovych and a slight, but crucial difference in the words of a famous Soviet song.  The relevant line in the original says “I don’t know another country [other than the USSR – translator] where people breathe so freely”.  The changed version reads: “I don’t know another country whose President is a former prisoner”. 

It should be noted that Viktor Yanukovych did indeed serve two prison terms on criminal charges.

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