On unlawful harassment of civic activists
Kostyantin and Maxim Latsyba
A number of well-known public figures, journalists and civic organizations, including the Kharkiv Human Rights Group; the Centre for Civil Liberties, UHHRU, the Democratic Initiatives Foundations and others have expressed protest over the unlawful harassment of two brothers – Maxim and Kostyantin – Latsyba. In their open letter to the President, Prosecutor General, Minister of the Interior and parliamentarians they state:
“The circumstances set out below give grounds for asserting that the criminal proceedings are nothing more than politically motivated persecution for their active civic role, and in particular, for their participation in a meeting outside Mezhyhirya (the President’s estate – translator). This is unacceptable in any civilized and democratic country.
Since May this year Maxim and Kostyantin Latsyba have on a number of occasions received phone calls from investigators of the Brovary and Boryspil police stations concerning criminal proceedings regarding car theft. The police are supposedly in possession of a video where the thieves drove off in a car with number plates similar to those on the car belonging to Maxim Latsyba. No evidence of the car having been in the places where the crimes were committed has been provided. The police are trying to take the car away but this poses the risk that material will be falsified. Serhiy Hadaichuk, an investigator from the Brovary Police Station has attempted to pressurize Kostyantin Latsyba into telephoning an unfamiliar number in order to resolve the matter.
We believe that this criminal investigation is being used solely to obstruct the civic activities of Maxim and Kostyantin Latsyba and to make them an example in order to scare all activists, stifle their civic activity and discredit them to the public.
In view of this we demand:
- that the Verkhovna Rada create an enquiry commission to investigate harassment by the police of Maxim and Kostyantin Latsyba and other participants of the peaceful gathering outside Mezhyhirya
- that the Interior Ministry and the Prosecutor General’s Office investigate the lawfulness and justification for these investigative actions and bring those responsible to answer.
We also call on members of the public; journalists; lawyers; civic activists to show solidarity in defending one another.
Maxim Latsyba is the Head of the Civil Society Development Programme of the Ukrainian Independent Centre for Political Research; one of the leading experts on legislation for civil society; the initiator of a whole range of laws aimed at developing civil society, including the Law on Civic Associations; the Access to Public Information Act; the Law on Charitable activities and charities, and others. Kostyantin Latsyba works for the Ukrainian Independent Centre for Political Research and is involved in development of civic organizations and civic networks. He is an activist in the Democratic Alliance party.