Doctor of Juridical Science, Professor, Academician of the National Academy of Legal Sciences Vitaly Zhuravsky commented on the illegality of sanctions against TV channels 112 Ukraine, ZiK and NewsOne.
This case should be viewed from two sides: legal and political.
I was aт MP in 2014 and I remember very well the plenary session on August 14, 2014. At the time, Arseniy Yatsenyuk who was a prime minister, initiated the draft law on sanctions. It was considered in parliament, and parliamentarian Zarubinskyi asked him whether the sanctions would apply to legal entities that are registered under the legislation of Ukraine, and natural persons - citizens of Ukraine. Yatsenyuk replied that the sanctions apply only to foreign states, foreign citizens.
If you carefully read the law on sanctions, you can see it is there. The imposition of sanctions against print media registered in Ukraine, and against television and radio companies registered in Ukraine was removed from the bill. Therefore, the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (NSDC) is illegal. It does not comply with the law on sanctions. There is no concrete evidence that three channels, 112 Ukraine, ZiK and NewsOne, committed a crime.
By the way, in Art. 3 of the sanctions law says: "The application of sanctions is based on the principles of legality, transparency and objectivity." In accordance with Art. 107 of the Constitution, the main function of the NSDC is coordination, control of state authorities in issues concerning national security. I am asking then: what are these channels guilty of in terms of national security?
Now the Supreme Court is demanding evidence from the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), Office of the President and the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine. The Supreme Court had no choice but to do it, because there is no evidence. Without evidence, the Supreme Court, like any other court, cannot decide anything. A person is presumed innocent until proved guilty before the court (Article 62 of the Constitution "Presumption of innocence"). In addition, it also says that the prosecution cannot be based on evidence obtained by illegal means, or on assumptions.
If you listen carefully to Danilov after the NSDC meeting on February 2, 2021, where he was talking about the sanctions against the channels and against the owner of the channels, Taras Kozak, he said: we have an assumption that the owner is associated with the activities of terrorist organizations. However, there is a law on fighting terrorism. There are two articles - 23 and 24, which clearly state that if a person is accused of terrorist activity, then evidence is collected and suspicion is announced. But suspicions have not been announced to anyone. That is, today the public, society does not have any evidence of the involvement of individuals, citizens of Ukraine, in terrorist activities or support of any terrorist organizations.
Based on the information that I have, there can be only one legal decision: to return these three TV channels to the owner, to compensate for major material damage, to apologize to the journalists and to the MP of Ukraine, who is a citizen of Ukraine. And these three TV channels are registered in Ukraine. According to Ukrainian law, they are in the jurisdiction of Ukraine, and sanctions are applied to legal entities and individuals that are not in the jurisdiction of Ukraine.
I would like to hope that there will be a fair decision in this case but the authorities will put pressure on the Supreme Court and will do everything to drag out this decision.
Can the NSDC meet again after a fair decision and declare sanctions again? Unfortunately, in our country anything can happen. The law "On the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine" has Article 9, which says that the main organizational form of the NSDC's activity is its meeting. And when the sanctions against the channels were adopted, there was no meeting. Some kind of poll was organized. Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada Razumkov said this. The meeting is chaired, according to the law, by the head of the NSDC. He didn't. The voting is done personally. There was no vote. Therefore, the court may consider this issue from the point of view of violation of the procedure. In addition, when they imposed sanctions against 19 companies, they imposed sanctions without evidence. There was no meeting on March 23, as Razumkov said. That is, even members of the NSDC also have an ambiguous attitude to such PR actions of the NSDC.
The NSDC has become a kind of an "investigative" and "judicial" body. The last decision was opposed by Deputy Prime Minister Reznikov, Prosecutor General Venedyktova, Speaker Razumkov, and Minister of Internal Affairs Avakov. So, let's hope that the truth will prevail. But there is one detail. Ukraine is under external control. What worries me is that there is a statement from one very influential embassy and a very influential state that supports these sanctions.
But I emphasize that everything should be decided in court with the provision of evidence. There simply should not be any other way. Therefore, I believe that the court will overturn these illegal sanctions.
Doctor of Juridical Science, Professor,
Academician of the National Academy of Legal Sciences