war crimes in Ukraine

The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.

Second court hearing in the Taras Zelenyak Case (updated)

Yevhen Zakharov
Grave procedural irregularities join the ever increasing list of highly dubious elements in this case

The second hearing was held on 4 October in Novosibirsk into the case involving Taras Zelenyak who is charged under Article 282 § 1 of the Russian Federation Criminal Code (“Inciting ethnic, racial or religious enmity”) with propagating hatred of Russians on the forum of the Ukrainian website proUA. 

Before it began, unidentified individuals in civilian clothes aggressively prevented representative of the national and cultural organization of Ukrainians Anatoly Minyailo from entering the courtroom.

The court heard two witnesses for the prosecution: a technician for the limited liability company “Akadem-Alliance” Aleksandr Volobuyev who appeared as the expert during the removal of the computer from Zelenyak’s home, and the head of the security service of “Akadem-Alliance”, Yevgeny Timakov, who was a witness during the search and removal of the computer (A witness in those situations may not be a court witness!).  

Volobuyev said that the investigators had found a folder with the name “katsapy” [a derogatory word for Russians] in Zelenyak’s computer, in the presence of the witnesses of the search. The folder had contained three or four WORD documents. One of these was called “The History of Nazism” (Zelenyak corrected him: “The Psychology of Nazism”)  Volobuyev said that the hard disk had been copied, while the investigators had sealed the computer and taken it away. The accused disagreed at this point and asserted that the computer had not been sealed. The judge asked Volobuyev more than 10 questions about computer networks, servers, connection, retention of information, how it is stored, access to the Internet, in particular, whether this access can be traced. She also asked whether questions to Zelenyak had come from Ukraine, whether employees of “Akadem-Alliance” had checked the information, who traces and whether this information is criminal. Among Volobuyev’s answers, there was an interesting assertion that employees only trace the theft of traffic, that they can determine the time when an Internet session begins and ends, as well as the amount of information passed, but they cannot give any testimony as to the content of the messages passed.

Zelenyak also asked Volobuyev  a lot of questions. Including a number of specialist questions about computer networks. He asked for example on what grounds the employees of “Akadem-Alliance” studied customers’ information, how exactly the computer was sealed. He repeated many times that the computer had not been sealed.

According to Yevgeny Timakov, during the search Zelenyak had been absolutely calm, even when they found the folder with the name “Katsapy”. He had said that he had been expressing his opinion, and considered all that he had written on the forum to be the truth. The judge asked him: “Were you at the search as a witness?” Who invited you and what did you know about the search?”  Timakov replied that he had been invited by Volobuyev, that the search had been a long time ago with FSB officers. Zelenyak asked Timakov the same questions as Volobuyev. Timakov said that the investigator had sealed the computer and that it had been taken away in a box which Zelenyak had himself provided, and that in addition everything had been secured with signatures and stamps. However Zelenyak asserted that the computer had not been sealed. He asked the judge to summons the second witness of the search.

The judge asked whether a procedural document had been made during the search. It turned out that this had not been done, and that the protocol was written later.

Zelenyak’s lawyer asked for a break in the hearing to prepare a written submission to the court. The judge set the next hearing for 26 October at 13.30.

After the hearing ended, a correspondent from IA Regnum asked if she could put a question to Zelenyak. “Only a personal one”, Taras Zelenyak responded. “Your computer was taken away. Do you now have access to the Internet?” – “Yes, I do”, he answered, laughing.

A correspondent from the agency Taiga-info was able to talk more with Zelenyak. He said that Ukrainians had given him moral support, and that after the first court hearing on 11 September he had been constantly phoned by people from Ukraine. Even the Ambassador of the Russian Federation in Ukraine Viktor Chernomyrdin had phoned.  However on principle he did not take the calls – his mother had spoken with all callers. He had nothing to do with the civic action on his behalf outside the consulates and embassy of the RF in Ukraine, however he did carefully follow all that was being said on the subject in Ukraine.

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