What is RIA Novosti news agency's director accused of?

Author : Anna Maliar

Source : 112 Ukraine

Kyrylo Vyshynsky is officially accused of "organizing subversive information campaigns in the context of conducting a hybrid war against our state"
23:17, 17 May 2018

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Kyrylo Vyshynsky

This is my response to the detention of the director of the Ukrainian department of RIA Novosti Kyrylo Vyshynsky. The official representatives of the relevant departments have extremely confused the situation with their statements. Now it is very difficult to understand what the director of RIA Novosti Ukraine is suspected of.

The inaccuracy in the words and texts of officials is surprising. So, the press secretary of the Prosecution General states: "The Prosecutor's Office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea together with the Security Service (SBU) in the framework of criminal proceedings on the facts of an aggressive war in the information sphere unleashing by the Russian Federation..." But the fact is that there is no such crime - "aggressive war in the information sphere". Indeed, the SBU started criminal proceedings, but under Art. 437 "Planning, preparing, unleashing and conducting an aggressive war."

Related: Russia sends Ukraine protest note over searches at RIA Novosti news agency

This inaccuracy creates the illusion among citizens that they can be held criminally liable for "information war". The Ukrainian parliament, elected after the deaths on Maidan and the war which has suddenly erupted, was never able to adopt the relevant legislation, which could introduce an emergency information position for the duration of the military operations. Within the framework of this legislation, it would be possible to “deny oxygen” to all Russian-oriented and separatist media.

In what way could the director of news agency be brought to responsibility?

Criminal liability may occur if he voiced:

1) calls for violent change or overthrow of the constitutional order;

2) calls for the seizure of state power;

3) calls for changing borders of the territory or state border (separatism).

Related: Kremlin calls SBU actions toward RIA News-Ukraine outrageous

Press Secretary of the Prosecution General states the following: "During the investigation, evidence was obtained that the information posted by RIA Novosti Ukraine Internet resource contains appeals aimed at harming Ukraine's sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability, state, and information security".

This is not a very precise wording, because appeals aimed at harming sovereignty are also not a crime, the law clearly defines what the call should be for to define them as a crime. I presume that the Prosecution General had in mind exactly the actions envisaged by Art. 109, 110, but could not exactly formulate the idea.

Related: Security Service considers detaining RIA News office head

But further the spokesman for the Prosecution General, for some reason, appeals to the art. 111 "Treason": "After the searches are completed, the issue of the detention of a person who directly led the illegal news agency RIA Novosti Ukraine and the suspicion report under part 1 of Article 111 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine will be resolute."

Article 111 "State Treason" is also indicated by the representatives of the Security Service on the website of the department and at a briefing.

This article provides responsibility for the following three actions:

- siding with the enemy during the period of martial law;

- espionage;

- providing assistance to a foreign state in organizing subversive activities.

Of these three points, the first two are discarded, because they are not mentioned in official reports of the SBU and the Prosecution General. Therefore, we have “assistance in subversive activities.” The SBU, I guess, meant subversive activities, because they wrote on the site: "The organization of subversive information campaigns in the context of conducting a hybrid war against our state."

Related: Prosecutor's office preliminary qualifies actions of RIA News-Ukraine Head as state treason

I must say that there is no responsibility for a "hybrid war" in the Criminal Code. Speaking about the "subversive information campaigns," of course they take place, and there is no doubt that the Russian Federation is always happy with them here. But in the fourth year of the war, the legislation still does not contain an explanation of what "subversion" is. This is not the fault of the SBU or the Prosecution General. But the lack of clarification in the legislation, the concept of "subversive activities" creates subjectivity. And this is a loophole for the Russian Federation, which has the opportunity to save its agents from criminal liability with the hands of our corrupt officials. Because formally, if the judge does not recognize the information content of "RIA Novosti Ukraine" as subversive activities, he will not violate the law.

Thus, due to the assumption by the representatives of law enforcement agencies of gross inaccuracy in the formulations, the question naturally arises: are they consciously or unconsciously mistaken? Are these the mistakes of those who prepare statements for the press, or are these errors committed in the proceedings? If in the proceedings, the conviction might not even be voiced.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or 112.International and its owners.

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