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Pornography charges as weapon against EuroMaidan activists

Halya Coynash

The police in Donetsk are accusing a EuroMaidan activist of sexual abuse of a young girl whom nobody seems able to identify.  The accusations against a Kharkiv activist of circulating pornography via the social network VKontakte are just as questionable.  

This all comes just days after an attempt by the Kyiv police to accuse inhabitants of a EuroMaidan tent of having raped a young woman.  The supposed allegation made by a woman identified only as being from Zhytomir was widely reported by a large number of Russian websites on Dec 30.  The story then simply fizzled out, .  

Oleksandr Chyzhov, from the Kharkiv EuroMaidan reported on facebook that he was confronted by 5 officers of the Department for Fighting Organized Crime on Saturday morning and taken to a local police station.

He says that on the way one of the alleged officers took his mobile phone away from him, without witnesses and without a protocol being drawn up.  The man recorded the contact numbers on the phone without providing any explanation.

He was taken to the office of investigator Volodymyr Babushkin where they accused him of circulating pornographic material over VKontakte.

Chyzhov asserts that they threatened to take away his personal and work computers; to make phone calls to his work, neighbours, relatives and friends claiming that he was involved in circulating pornography.

He refused to answer questions without a lawyer. After holding him there for around 2 hours, they forced him to make a note in the register log that he had no complaints, and let him go, having handed him a summons for Jan 8 to give evidence, for the moment as a witness.

“Witness of what is unclear. When I came home and got on the Internet, I found that my page on VKontakte had been hacked and that I didn’t have access to it.  The password retrieval function is also not working”.

On Dec 31 the police in Donetsk detained Yevhen Nasadyuk an artist and EuroMaidan activist.  He was forcibly taken to a district police station, supposedly on the basis of a complaint from neighbours alleging that he had seduced an underage girl.

They didn’t allow him to use his mobile, claiming that he might “warn his accomplices”. During the interrogation they asserted that they have some kind of pornographic video. 

Relatives phoned the neighbours who said that the police had indeed turned up, however they were looking for a young woman who allegedly lived there and who had supposedly been abused.  Nobody in fact knows who made the allegations. Nasadyuk had been planning to take part that day in a protest action involving New Year greetings to the president’s wife, Ludmila Yanukovych

Allegations of rape and sexual abuse must have specific victims, meaning that they can be proven or disproven.  Such considerations do not appear to stop the police from using them to put pressure on civic activists.  Ukraine’s legislation with regard to pornography and what constitutes circulation of such materials is notoriously vague, making it easier to use as a weapon.  It was used as such against Dmytro Groisman, Coordinator of the Vinnytsa Human Rights Group.  Dmytro died of heart failure in April 2013, two days before he was due to give his last words in a grotesque criminal trial that had dragged on for three years.

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