Alexia Tsouni, President of the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection, which is the member of the Council of Europe wrote an open letter to Prosecutor General of Ukraine Iryna Venedyktova, Head of the SBU Ivan Bakanov, Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights Lyudmyla Denisova, as well as mission of Ukraine to the EU. She asked to immediately lift all charges from journalist Ruslan Kotsaba and stop criminal prosecution. The proper statement is published on the official website of the organization.
In the letter, the Bureau’s president has also urged the Ukrainian authorities to prosecute the hate mongers and people involved in the acts of violence against the journalist.
“On behalf of the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection, I am writing to you to call for the immediate and unconditional end of the criminal prosecution against Ukrainian journalist, pacifist and conscientious objector Ruslan Kotsaba, simply because he publicly expressed his pacifist views. We consider his case a clear politically motivated persecution, in violation of his rights to freedom of expression and freedom of thought, conscience and religion, guaranteed under Articles 18 and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Articles 9 and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights,” the letter says.
Alexia Tsouni also underlined that the Bureau was shocked by attacks of far-right activists at Ruslan Kotsaba on the day of the court hearing of the process, on January 22, 2021, threatening his life, as well as on June 25, 2021, when his eyes were seriously injured by far-right activists who poured over him brilliant green.
“However, the police did not arrest any of the attackers and took no measures to stop political violence and pressure on the court. We therefore urge you to ensure that inciters of hatred and violence are arrested and held accountable. We express our solidarity with Ruslan Kotsaba and we urge you to safeguard that all pacifists in Ukraine, including the activists of our member organisation Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, are able to freely express their opinions and continue their non-violent activity. We also urge you to safeguard the right to conscientious objection to military service, according to the European and international standards, amongst others the standards set by the European Court of Human Rights,” the Bureau’s president noted.
On June 25, a group of far-right activists attacked journalist Ruslan Kotsaba at the railway platform in Ivano-Frankivsk. As a result, the journalist was hospitalized with numerous traumas. In May 2016, the court sentenced Kostaba to 3.6 years of deprivation of freedom with confiscation of property. At the beginning of June 2017, the Supreme special court of Ukraine retuned the case of Kotsaba for new consideration.
Kotsaba urged the Ukrainian not to participate in the war and was sentenced by Ivano-Frankivsk court. However, the Appeal Court canceled this indictment. Kotsaba was released.