Language Law protester gets two year suspended sentence
Vitaliy Hruzynov, an activist from the UNA-UNSO nationalist movement, was convicted on Oct. 17 of causing a police officer light injuries during scuffles outside the Verkhovna Rada on the day that the notorious language law was passed in its first reading in June 2012. The prosecutor had demanded a 4-year actual sentence. The court rejected evidence and arguments from the defence that Hruzynov could not have taken part in the scuffles.
Hruzynov was charged under Article 345 § 2 of the Criminal Code (disobeying the legitimate demands or deliberately inflicting blows on a police officer carrying out his duties) over the protest outside the Verkhovna Rada on June 5., 2012. The prosecutor alleged that he had pulled an officer’s helmet off and caused him light injuries. At first the prosecution accused him of assaulting two officers, however the other stated in court that he did not recognize Hruzynov and that charge was dropped.
The defence asserted that there was no evidence of Hruzynov’s guilt. The officers had described a man in a red jacket of medium build. Hruzynov was wearing a light embroidered shirt that day and could not easily be described as of medium build (being 1.85 metres and weighing 120 kilograms). His lawyer also pointed out that the prosecution had claimed that the same person assaulted the two officers. When one didn’t recognize Hruzynov, the prosecution effectively changed this story by retaining the charges over the other officer.
The court rejected testimony from witnesses saying that they were all friendly with the defendant and found that video footage was sufficient to convict Hruzynov. He was given a four-year suspended sentence with a probation period of 1 year.
See Language Law v. Ukraine’s Constitution for details about the highly controversial Kivalov-Kolesnichenko language bill which many believe flouted the Constitution by significantly increasing the role of the Russian language.
From the report at Kommersant-Ukraine (photo from Olena Bilozerskas blog)