Speech by Viktor Medvedchuk, MP of Ukraine, Chairman of the Political Council of Opposition Platform - For Life party during a court hearing to choose a measure of restraint for him.
Your Honor, respected court. Today, the note on suspicion and the materials are being considered, as well as the motion of the prosecution authorities to choose a measure of restraint for me. I have carefully studied these documents, listened no less carefully to the opinion and arguments of the prosecutors participating in this court hearing, and I want to state that this criminal case, the serious charges against me, are completely unfounded. Moreover, this is the second case that has been initiated against me. In the first case, the so-called investigation has been completed, and today familiarization with it is ongoing, and this is the second case, which I regard as illegal criminal prosecution and political repression.
Moreover, the accusations against me by the Prosecutor's Office and the investigators, which were prepared by the Security Service (SBU), are illegal for a number of reasons and arguments, which I will certainly provide. Moreover, accusations such as treason, which the SBU now investigates, and actually SBU investigates both the first and second cases and then transfers them to the State Bureau of Investigations, these actions of the SBU, in this case, are illegal and violate Art. 36 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine. So, treason, which the SBU tries to sew, I apologize for the non-legal term, just because in each case, and in general, it became a kind of another article, as once was for hooliganism, the so-called prosecution for hooliganism. In modern conditions, the government acts the way that if it does not like something or if something goes against the political course of the current government, then it becomes a particularly serious state crime. Art. 258-3, part 1, assistance to terrorist organizations "DPR" and "LPR"… Well, if I were not a lawyer, I would say it is completely absurd. And given that I, after all, have an understanding of jurisprudence, I would like to say that the accusations against me under these two articles are, first of all, and I emphasize this, they concern November 2014 and January 2015. I emphasize this because I believe that the facts which today form the basis of the so-called validity of the so-called notice of suspicion, are nothing but legally insignificant facts which were randomly gathered in order to build up this accusation and talk about it today.
On September 16, 2014, the Verkhovna Rada passed a law entitled: "On special order of local self-government in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions." On October 18, this law came into force. According to this law, in particular Art. 6, provided that the central government body represented by the Cabinet of Ministers, public authorities, ministries, and departments, as well as state and other structures, have the right to conclude contracts, business agreements with enterprises and bodies in the uncontrolled territory, i.e. in certain territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. According to Article 7 of this law, the state provides social and economic assistance to these territories. This law was fully in force from October 18, 2014, to March 21, 2015, because on March 21, 2015, the Verkhovna Rada suspended Articles 2 and 9 until certain conditions listed in Article 10 were met. And this law is still valid today because its effect is extended every year by the Verkhovna Rada during the New Year holidays. I think it will happen this year as well.
But the fact is that this law was fully in force from October 18 to March 21, 2015, and it provided for social and economic assistance to these territories. Please note that Medvedchuk did not promote the "DPR" and "LPR", but the state was obliged to and promoted them because all the materials of the case, which are in the so-called materials of suspicion, and what was quoted today by prosecutors regarding the so-called records of the so-called conversations, everything that is said there are government agencies. These are public and executive authorities. They were obliged, according to Article 7 of this law, which was in force at the time, to provide socio-economic assistance to these regions. It was not Medvedchuk, who for some reason "promoted" terrorist organizations, but the state at that time, in accordance with the law, provided socio-economic assistance, including in matters that are the subject of today's trial. Moreover, I am convinced and believe that any actions of individuals, officials of this period, at this time, when this law was in force, cannot be qualified under Article 258, and not only with 3, but with other numbers, starting with from the first to the fifth. Because there was a law that provided for all these actions. Such a qualification is impossible, in particular regarding the facts they are trying to bring against me today, also because, in my opinion, there are four circumstances that confirm the position I am expressing now.
There are, in my view, four circumstances that support the position I am currently expressing.
Firstly, it is the effect of this law. Secondly, the "DPR" and "LPR" were not recognized, I affirm this, as terrorist organizations during this period and could not be recognized as terrorist organizations. Thirdly, enterprises that worked and were provided with socio-economic assistance and were in economic, business, and other relations with the central executive bodies of Ukraine, paid taxes to the state budget of Ukraine. This is confirmed by the data of fiscal services. Even more, I will reveal a big secret, especially for the prosecutors: taxes were not paid until March 2015, but until 2017, and in 2017 a presidential decree introduced a so-called economic blockade, which banned the transportation of goods and services. And the fourth point is the absence of a ban at the legislative and - I emphasize - at the regulatory level, meaning not only by laws but also bylaws on the movement of goods and services at this time between the line of demarcation, i.e. uncontrolled and controlled territories.
In September 2014, a law was passed after all these events to suspend the law "On special order of local self-government," it is also called the law on the special status of Donbas - the law was passed and it was the law, not the instruction of Justice Ministry, but the law on the registration of enterprises operating in Donbas was passed and it allowed these enterprises to continue this activity. Even more, the materials of suspicion state that "the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine as the only legislative body of state power," I quote, in this part I agree with the materials of suspicion, but categorically deny the other part of this thesis set out in the materials of suspicion. It goes on to say: "The Verkhovna Rada has established and confirmed the terrorist status of "LPR and DPR." In addition, the materials of suspicion contain data from the so-called statements of political and legal nature, which were approved and adopted by the relevant resolutions of the Verkhovna Rada, namely: in July 2014, January 4, 2015, and January 27, 2015. What kind of statements are these - these are statements-appeals to international organizations - world and European - regarding, I emphasize, the recognition of "DPR", "LPR" as terrorist organizations. Proposal to recognize "DPR" and "LPR" as terrorist organizations. Appeal for inclusion of "DPR" and "LPR" in the list of terrorist organizations, nothing more. And what was the response from international organizations? It is true that all international organizations addressed by the Verkhovna Rada recognized the territorial integrity of Ukraine quite rightly and objectively. But none of the statements, messages, resolutions adopted by international organizations certifies that what was addressed, or what was proposed happened.
What are the terms used for these organizations: the first one - the self-proclaimed republics "DPR" and "LPR," the second one - separatist groups, and the third one - illegal armed groups. That's all. And no mention of terrorist organizations. Further in the powers of the Verkhovna Rada, in addition to these statements, which are not about recognition, were the appeals of MPs as people who used their right of legislative initiative. Thus, in December 2014, a draft resolution on the recognition of Donetsk and Luhansk "republics" as terrorist organizations was submitted – on December 8, 2014. The profile committee of legislative support of law enforcement prepared the conclusion, this resolution was not accepted. This conclusion stated that the recognition of an organization or organizations as a terrorist contradicts Article 85 of the Constitution of Ukraine, which lists the entirety of powers of the Verkhovna Rada, which do not provide for recognition as terrorist organizations. At the same time, a bill on recognizing "LPR and DPR" as terrorist organizations was submitted, which was also not approved or considered, and the conclusion of the Chief Scientific and Expert Committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine directly stated that such recognition, adoption of a special law on recognition of such terrorist organizations would be contrary to the powers of the Verkhovna Rada set out in Article 85. This conclusion explicitly states that the recognition of organizations as terrorist - I emphasize - is solely the prerogative of the court. And the law on terrorism provides that the court recognizes organizations as terrorist organizations upon the submission by the Prosecutor General, prosecutor of the regions and cities. All this indicates that the data that is stated in the material of suspicion as information that allegedly substantiates the suspicion against me are unfounded and legally insignificant. I say and affirm that it did not happen, and I am sure that at that time no one did such things, because it was the time of the Minsk agreements, it was the time of the Normandy meetings, it was the time when people believed that peaceful settlement can and should be, and it was time to find ways to achieve that result. And so it is very strange to listen today, let alone read in these procedural documents, which are the subject of today's trial, about what happened and how to assess the actions of those people who directly dealt with these issues to establish peace, so that the energy crisis, which took place in late 2014 and 2015, would be overcome.
I think prosecutors do not know that our country extracted 83 million tons of coal in 2013, and according to the results of 2014, this production decreased to 40 million, and 95% of all thermal coal used by thermal power plants was extracted on uncontrolled territory. And it is the state, I emphasize, based on the logic of the accusation and based on the wording of what I am accused of today, which is assistance to terrorist organizations, it is the state that assisted these organizations. But it did not assist the interests of organizations, but the interests of Ukraine, because there was no other place to get this coal from. Continuing these arguments, I want to say that, based on these circumstances, Your Honor, I believe that in this case, it cannot be just about the absence of corpus delicti in my actions, but it must be about and is about the absence of crime. And I am firmly convinced of that. Because it is impossible to qualify actions that were legal, to please those who are trying to get rid of the opposition today, to please those who do not like Medvedchuk, and put forward another suspicion. Therefore, I believe that there is no evidence which substantiates the suspicion.
Further, the materials of suspicion indicate that Medvedchuk, since April 2014, carried out subversive activities against Ukraine. Well, to call it absurd or empty gossip, which is indicated on papers called documents, is to say nothing. And in fact, what did Medvedchuk do in April 2014?
In contradistinction to many of those who write these papers and who claim in their statements about the so-called, in their opinion, criminal activity of Medvedchuk. And so, in late April of 2014, Acting President Turchynov addressed me and the current MP Shufrych. He turned to me because the Ukrainian authorities were trying (and it was objective at the time) to reach a peaceful settlement in Donbas. This was the main goal, and it took up all the time of the Kyiv authorities. A lot of people were sent to these territories, to Donbas: MPs, officials, people who had authority and weight, a public authority in Donbas. But there was one problem: the so-called leaders of those who exercised leadership in Donbas, in the then partially uncontrolled territories of Ukraine, refused to meet them. And Turchynov turned to me and Shufrych to go and make an agreement because he thought that they would talk to me and him. He was not wrong, they were really talking. Leaders. Such as Bolotov, who headed Luhansk, such as Gubarev, the so-called People's Governor of Donetsk. They were sitting at the table, and we were performing our civic duty. It was not an instruction from Acting President, but a request to establish at least some sort of communication and peace talks. In May, we were there about three times with Mr. Shufrych and met with these people. And we decided on May 15 that we agree on the list of issues initiated by Donbas represented by them, and initiated by Ukraine in the person of the Acting President. And when we arrived and told Turchynov about it, Turchynov told me and Shufrych: "Look, no problem, we need to start, we will work out this list now, but, Viktor Volodymyrovych, call them and tell them to release the hostages." So I said: "Allright. I will call now. " I left, and I called. They said: "Viktor Volodymyrovych, will this be the first issue of our negotiations, because there are hostages whom you call yours, and there are those who are there with you and they are in prisons." And when we told Turchynov about it, Turchynov said: "No, we will not talk about it." It was May 15.
Events developed very rapidly. President Poroshenko came to power and raised this issue in early June because it was the most pressing issue. I say this because it is mentioned in the materials of suspicion as a subversive activity of Medvedchuk. So, at the time President Poroshenko asked to continue these talks, because on June 8 he signed a decree on the establishment of the Trilateral Contact Group, which included a representative of the OSCE, a representative of Ukraine Kuchma, and a representative of Russia, Russia's ambassador to Ukraine. But it was necessary to agree that representatives of Donetsk and Luhansk met with these people. So we travel again to Donetsk and Luhansk with Shufrych, we negotiate, we meet them. I'm not talking now about whether it was comfortable for us and whether there was a threat to life and all that. I am not talking about it and have never spoken about it in my public speeches. But it was like that. And it was a success when on June 23 we arrived in Donetsk and held a meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group for the first time in Donetsk with the participation of representatives of Donetsk and Luhansk. It was at this time during the Normandy format, negotiations between the heads of four states - Merkel, Hollande, Putin and Poroshenko, a decision was made on the proposal of Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, that Medvedchuk, as she proposed, become an official representative for the organization of meetings and work of Trilateral Contact Group. It was the end of June 2014. Is this also subversive activity against Ukraine? We held two meetings, on 23rd and 27th, and the media covered the course of these meetings and what it cost for us with Nestor Shufrych to take the OSCE representative out of there and provide protection from the attackers. The next meeting was scheduled for July 1, but on the night of July 1, the President of Ukraine announced that he had abandoned the ATO suspension regime, which had been suspended since June 20, and decided, he had such authority and right, to continue combat actions, which ended with the Minsk agreement in September.
And then the events began, which are now partially mentioned, that it was necessary to proceed from the current situation. But I just want to point out that then the second, another stage began. This is a stage that was directly connected to the fact that it was necessary to carry out exchanges, to release detainees. And again there was an appeal, there is such a term, from the top political leadership of Ukraine, to engage in these activities. And I want to tell you, I did this and by 2018 I liberated 495 people who returned to their homes, to their families. But, Your Honor, this is like a hint to the prosecutors: hundreds of people were released from that side as a result of my agreements. Apparently, this can next time be qualified as assistance to terrorists. Well, why not? Or if we take electricity, without which Ukraine could not live, and agreements were signed between the state structures of Russia and Ukraine in late 2014, and these agreements were valid throughout 2015. Electricity was supplied to Donetsk and Luhansk, by the way, not only in 2015, it was then supplied, again, until March 2017. Is this also assistance to the terrorist organizations "DPR" and "LPR," according to the prosecution? And when I talk about swaps and about what happened, I want to say that it was cited today in the materials of suspicion, and prosecutors emphasized this. It is said that in late December, Medvedchuk visited Donetsk and agreed on coal supplies. But Medvedchuk did not agree on coal supplies. Medvedchuk addressed the political issue of the possibility of supplying coal to Ukraine. Political issue. None of the heads of enterprises, none of those involved in these issues, can say that Medvedchuk had anything to do with it. But at the end of December, Medvedchuk was really in Donetsk. And not only in Donetsk (representatives of the prosecution did not do their work well!). He was in Luhansk, and this date is well known, December 26, 2014. This is the first full-scale swap format, as a result of which more than 150 Ukrainian citizens have been liberated and managed to return home to their families.
On December 26, 2014, the first full-scale exchange format, which resulted in the release of more than 150 Ukrainian citizens who returned home to their families. And Medvedchuk was in Donetsk and met with the leader of Donetsk, Mr. Zakharchenko (I am giving a cue to prosecutors), and with representatives and leadership of Luhansk, and went personally to the former pre-trial detention centers of the SBU in Donetsk, at that time pre-trial detention centers of the so-called Ministry of State Security of Donetsk and Luhansk, and took those 150 people out of the cells. And took them by buses to the contact line and passed these people to those who accompanied them to Kharkiv and then to Kyiv. And the question arises: when will the next suspicion be? Because Ukraine also transferred hundreds of people there - about 200. And this, too, can be seen as assistance to the so-called terrorist organizations, by the logic and wording of the prosecution.
Based on the materials of suspicion and mentioning it all, I want to draw your attention to what I am very interested in.When I read these materials of suspicion, as the heads of law enforcement agencies, the Prosecutor General, the head of the SBU, who made every effort to falsify the first and fabricate the second criminal case, how these people feel about it. The people in charge of law enforcement bodies today, at that time one was lecturing to students, another was creating conditions for Kvartal 95 entertainment programs, how would they react to that fact, and I want to bring it up to you, Your Honor, when a column of 120 people of our servicemen in Luhansk region was released after the operation near Debaltseve by my agreement and they had to be transferred across the contact line on foot. And without waiting for the demining of the minefield, we walked on this minefield towards the controlled part of Ukraine, illuminating our way with flashlights from mobile phones. Ask the then first Deputy Chairman of the SBU, who himself pointed flashlight at our feet and the column that was moving through the minefield how it was. He later became Chairman of the SBU. I wonder how they would react to this? Is this also subversive activity against Ukraine?
All this once again confirms that this is a complete absurdity, pulling by the ears, sucking out of the fingers of accusations that cannot take place, because there are no events that can be qualified under certain articles of the Criminal Code. Not even talking about a peaceful plan to resolve the situation, which was worked out by 2018 and which became part of the program of our party and was approved at its congress in January 2019! I coordinated it with representatives of Donetsk, Luhansk, Moscow on the basis of the Minsk agreements and it provides return of Donbas to Ukraine, and Ukraine - to Donbas. Through the consciousness of the people, through the understanding that they must live in one country, that we must restore the territorial integrity of the country. And that, a person who promised to implement the peace settlement, came to power and did nothing. And the previous five years nothing has been done. Although I, as a person who understands these issues, and as it is said, “connected with the political leadership of Ukraine and the political leadership of Russia,” I can say that this could have been done in 2015 and in 2016. But every year it gets harder and harder.
With each year it gets harder and harder, and the peace plan also provides assistance to those people, but it provides for the main thing – restoration of peace and restoration of territorial integrity, but you can also make accusations. And weren’t they? When the peace plan was first announced at the request of one of the lawmakers, representative of the European Solidarity party, a criminal investigation was filed and registered, which was again treason, a state crime, and I have been hearing all this for many years.
What is my point? I want to say that such actions, which have been going on all this time, should be analyzed in connection with the political course and state needs, and the articles of the Criminal Code are useless here, because there were political decisions that were made rightly or wrongly and political decisions are assessed by voters in the election. One was given it, the other, I’m sure, will be given one soon, and when the mechanism of the law enforcement system is used as a resource to fight and destroy the opposition, it is a criminal act. When people cross, using special cynicism, the “red lines,” when people break the law, violate the Constitution and “generate” current legislation, they must know that the law will inevitably come, and justice will prevail.
Speaking about today’s criminal case, and incrimination of particularly serious crimes, the materials of suspicion, the ridiculous, I beg your pardon, motion for choosing precautionary measures, which lists some nonsense, all this says one thing: that the goal of the authorities is to destroy the opposition. The goal set by the authorities - through illegal prosecution, through political repression with the help of the law enforcement system to do everything to make someone (in this case - me) to give up the political struggle, to stop active political activities, thus destroying the second party in the country - Opposition Platform - For Life; to stop its activities in the Verkhovna Rada. All this will end in nothing, the struggle will continue despite today’s absurd accusations, absurd accusations of the first case and further suspicions, which, I think, are prepared by law enforcement agencies, because they need to come out and boldly declare at briefings, as it was on May 11 and October 8. I mean the Prosecutor General and the Chairman of the Security Service of Ukraine, who accuse Medvedchuk of all sins without reason, without evidence, I confirm this.
Getting back to leaders of law enforcement agencies, I would like to say that when they insolently claim that Medvedchuk conducts undermining activity, when they show the so-called records of some fancy phone calls (which prosecutors did and quoted as well today)… I’d love to remind them all that in the materials of the criminal case, the investigation in which has been over for a while (like Prosecutor General said), there’s a very interesting document. Prosecutors are yet to find it. The document states the following: one of procedural leaders of prosecutor’s office – not the lawyer – turned to the Department of Counter-Intelligence of the SBU, asking to declassify and provide the documents, namely the request for conducting the NSRD, decrees, protocols and decisions of judges. Do you know what the Counter-Intelligence Department replied? They said that it’s a secret data that is not subject to declassification, according to Article 9 of the Law on Counter-Intelligence. What does it mean? It means that the tapes revealed on May 11 cannot be recognized by the court as acceptable. That also applies to the tapes we’re currently talking about. These are the records of some fancy conversations; there are no documents that would let the court use them as acceptable proof.
Thus, such actions only have one goal: to affect the public opinion in Ukraine, to demonstrate that Medvedchuk held such conversations. Excuse me, but Medvedchuk, as a lawyer, has a question: do you actually possess the original records? I don’t remember such conversations. Do you happen to have the original recording devices? I’m pretty sure you don’t. This is why the copies of materials are void – they’ve been tampered. There were neither conversations, nor the grounds to refer to. So it’s one thing to state things on briefings, and a totally different thing to provide any sort of proof. Today it is done to reason the suspicion, tomorrow it appears in the materials of the investigation within the pretrial proceeding.
Your Honor, respected court, I would like to stress once again that all these actions make an illegal criminal investigation. All these actions are political repressions that have the same goal: to use the law enforcement system in the interests of the government, which wants to oppress the opposition. But as one of the leaders of a political force, as a man who can and will defend himself, as the one who will continue his political struggle, I’d like to state that the government will fail to do so. Thank you.