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Public Apology demanded over criminal trial of Dmytro Groysman

Halya Coynash

With the verdict due on 12 August in what remains of the widely condemned criminal prosecution of Dmytro Groysman, an appeal has been launched demanding withdrawal of all charges, a public apology and prosecution of those responsible for a gravely flawed case. 

The appeal is especially poignant since the verdict is due exactly one week after Dmytro (Dima) Groysman, Coordinator of the Vinnytsa Human Rights Group and very prominent human rights activist, died of a heart attack.  Dima had suffered from an incurable heart disorder, but had also faced intolerable pressure and strain in connection with the criminal prosecution. 

The charges were so overtly absurd, the infringements of the law so brazen that nobody was left in any doubt that the prosecution was aimed at silencing a vocal activist.  Dima had constantly highlighted police violations, infringements of refugees’ rights and other human rights problems.  The many rights, media and other civic organizations who registered protest over the case, including international NGOs such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, were clear that the criminal proceedings were also intended as a warning to other civic activists in Ukraine.

A full explanation of the criminal charges, and links to the supposedly offending images, can be found here.  Dima was accused over material he had posted on his Live Journal blog of “desecration of State symbols” and of disseminating pornography.  The main charge of “desecration” was in fact an image expressing protest over the former President’s failure to veto a law which failed to provide real measures to fight child pornography, while unwarrantedly restricting freedom of speech.  The “pornography” charges included re-posting of a video clip which was openly available on You Tube.

The case reeked of harassment from the outset.  The police had arrived on 16 October 2010 with a warrant to search Dima’s flat over suspected pornography offences.  They had no warrant, yet not only searched the premises of the Vinnytsa Human Rights Group next door, but also removed a large number of financial and other documents, including material regarding asylum seekers whom the Vinnytsa Human Rights Group was assisting. 

None of the above led as it should to this case being thrown out of court and proceedings launched against those responsible for overt harassment of a civic activist.

Nor, unfortunately, could there be confidence that this case within Ukraine would receive the judicial assessment it warranted.

At the 72nd court hearing into the case held on 7 August, hours before Dima Groysman was laid to rest, the prosecution withdrew almost all of the charges, leaving only one, linked with supposed “pornography”. Dima’s final speech at the hearing was read out by his lawyer.

The signatories to the appeal addressed to Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka and posted on the No Borders Project website are demanding:

Withdrawal of all criminal charges against Dima Groysman;

A public apology to Dima’s memory and to his family and close ones for this unwarranted criminal prosecution which probably led to his premature death;

Criminal proceedings against those directly responsible for falsification and other irregularities in this case

Prosecution is demanded over breaches by officers of the Vinnytsa City and Vinnytsa Regional Prosecutor’s Office in failing to oversee observance of the law by police officers investigating the charges against Dmytro Groysman; over the supposed expert assessment provided by I. Bezbach in conspiracy with the investigator O. Soldatov; and against Soldatov for flagrant infringements of the law in obtaining information from communication channels; and with respect to the use of police officers Bilous and Koliyenko as supposedly independent witnesses of the search on 16 October 2010.

Criminal proceedings are also called for against investigators Soldatov and Rudenko, as well as the Vinnytsa Deputy Prosecutor A. Dobroserdov for overtly wrongful prosecution of Dmytro Groysman. 


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