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EU leaders demand from Zelensky to release Medvedchuk from house arrest, lift sanctions against opposition media

Source : 112 Ukraine

According to European leaders, the release of Viktor Medvedchuk will help ease tensions within Ukraine and in relations with Russia
11:17, 23 December 2021

Official website of the President of Ukraine

At the last week's Eastern Partnership summit in Brussels, the issue was raised of extrajudicial reprisals against opposition media in Ukraine and it was demanded that Volodymyr Zelensky lift the unlimited NSDC sanctions, which blocked the broadcasting of three leading information television channels – 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZIK, and later - "Strana.uа" and "Shariy.net" agencies.

According to European leaders, the release of Viktor Medvedchuk will help ease tensions within Ukraine and in relations with Russia.

In its turn, the question of the inadmissibility of sanctions against the media became one of the points of the proposals put forward by European leaders during the negotiations with the Ukrainian side held in strict confidentiality at various levels on relations with Russia and the internal situation in Ukraine as Strana reported.

“These were negotiations on de-escalation of tensions around Ukraine and Russia, as well as an exchange of views on issues of domestic Ukrainian politics and the situation with human rights in the country. European leaders put forward a list of proposals to Zelensky to defuse the situation. In particular, there was a clause stating that the NSDC sanctions against opposition media, including sanctions against Strana and three opposition TV channels closed back in February 2021, are unfair and should be canceled. The sanctions against the opposition media, according to the leaders of a number of European countries, only further exacerbate the situation and deepen the split in Ukraine. Also, the proposals said that Viktor Medvedchuk should be released from house arrest. According to the Europeans, these measures will help relieve tension in relations with Russia, as well as within Ukraine. The proposals were not publicly announced and were passed on to the Ukrainian side in confidentiality,” a source in diplomatic circles who was involved in the negotiations told Strana.

We remind that in Brussels, at the Eastern Partnership summit, Zelensky first met with the new German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, and also held talks with Macron and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

On February 2, President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a decree on the imposition of sanctions against 112 Ukraine, NewsOne, and ZIK TV channels. According to the decree, which came into force from the moment of signing, sanctions were applied to TV channels for five years. This provides for blocking the broadcasting of all three TV channels.

On February 26, journalists of the TV channels illegally closed by President Volodymyr Zelensky united and created a new TV channel - Pershiy Nezalezhniy. The founders of the new media are a group of journalists who previously worked on the 112 Ukraine, NewsOne, and ZIK channels. However, within an hour after the start of broadcasting, Pershiy Nezalezhniy TV channel was illegally turned off under pressure from the authorities.

On February 20, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky put into effect the decision of the National Security and Defense Councilon sanctions against 8 individuals and 19 legal entities. Among them are three Ukrainian citizens – the politician Viktor Medvedchuk and his wife Oksana Marchenko.

On May 13, Kyiv court chose the restriction measure for Viktor Medvedchuk, the opposition MP and Chairman of the Political Council of Opposition Platform – For Life party. On July 9, the court extended the house arrest of Viktor Medvedchuk until September 7. The lawyers of the politician stated about the recusal of the judge Serhiy Vovk right after the end of the court session. However, the court declined the appeal on recusal of the judge and prosecutor. On July 30, the Kyiv Court of Appeal refused to satisfy the appeal of the lawyers of Chairman of the Political Council of the Opposition Platform – For Life Viktor Medvedchuk against the extension of the politician's house arrest until September 7.

On July 30, the Kyiv Court of Appeal denied the lawyers of Viktor Medvedchuk, Chairman of the Political Council of the Opposition Platform – For Life, in satisfying the appeal regarding the extension of the politician's house arrest until September 7. During the court session on September 2, Pechersk District Court decided to extend the house arrest for another 2 months, until October 31.

The Opposition Platform – For Life responded to this legal arbitrariness, stressing that the political persecution of  MP Taras Kozak has only one purpose: reprisals against independent media, 112 Ukraine, NewsOne, and ZIK TV channels, and the destruction of freedom of speech in Ukraine. 

Commenting on the situation, Viktor Medvedchuk emphasized that his lawyers here are fully prepared to appeal against the measure of restraint and have evidence that refutes the prosecution's accusation and proves the illegality of applying house arrest to him.

So, the side of the defense filed an appeal against the decision of the Pechersk District Court of Kyiv to extend the measure of restraint for the politician. On July 30, the Kyiv Court of Appeal refused to satisfy the appeal of the lawyers of Chairman of the Political Council of the Opposition Platform - For Life Viktor Medvedchuk against the extension of the politician's house arrest until September 7.

On October 8, MP from Opposition Platform - For Life Renat Kuzmin claimed that the State Bureau of Investigations summoned Medvedchuk - allegedly for him to look into materials of the already closed case on the state treason and violation of the rules and customs of war. At the same time, Kuzmin said, representatives of the Office of Prosecutor General of Ukraine attempted to hand the politician a new suspicion of state treason and aiding terrorism. However, Medvedchuk's lawyers did not let the prosecutors do that, breaking the law. However, Medvedchuk's lawyers did not allow prosecutors to do this. Later he published a video of how the prosecutors tried to hand over another suspicion to the Chairman of the Political Council of the Opposition Platform - For Life, MP Viktor Medvedchuk, but the politician's lawyers thwarted this attempt.

Already on Monday, October 11, Kuzmin announced that Medvedchuk was nevertheless handed a motion for arrest or bail of one billion UAH. Despite the fact that Medvedchuk is already under house arrest, he does not break it, and according to the law, the court simply cannot change his preventive measure to a more severe one. The new charges relate to the disruption of coal supplies to Ukraine from South Africa and the facilitation of fuel supplies from the occupied territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in 2014.

On October 12, the Pechersk district court decided to choose house arrest as a restrictive measure in the new case against Viktor Medvedchuk. The judges ruled that he is to remain under house arrest until December 7. Medvedchuk said that he would continue to fight the current government, no matter how much the repression against him intensifies. He stressed that together with the Opposition Platform - For Life, they will continue to protect the interests of the Ukrainian people.

On Wednesday, October 20, the consideration of the appeal, in this case, was supposed to take place, but the Kyiv Court of Appeal postponed the hearing of the appeal of the prosecutors against the court's decision on a measure of restraint for the Chairman of the Political Council of the Opposition Platform - For Life party, MP Viktor Medvedchuk. The court session was postponed for 11:00 on November 9.

At the beginning of September, the journalists of the illegally closed TV channels were visited by the Secretary of the Senator of France, Vice-Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defense and the Armed Forces of the French Senate, member of NATO PA and member of the Inter-Parliamentary Union Joël Guerriau and member of French Senate, member of the commission of Foreign Affairs and Defense Forces Nathalie Goulet.

They visited the Сhairman of the Political Council of the Opposition Platform - For Life party Viktor Medvedchuk, who is under house arrest, and met with him and the party's co-chairman Vadim Rabinovich. And already on November 1, German deputies of different levels arrived in Ukraine in November. In particular, Maximilian Krah, a member of the European Parliament, Petr Bystron, a representative of the Bundestag, and Ulrich Singer - a member of the local parliament in Bavariavisited the Chairman of the Political Council of the Opposition Platform - For Life Party, MP of Ukraine Viktor Medvedchuk and expressed their support to him. In turn, Viktor Medvedchuk thanked his German colleagues who took the time to visit him, taking into account the conditions and the situation he is in.

On Tuesday, November 2, the Pechersk District Court of Kyiv chose a measure of restraint in the form of a personal obligation to the Chairman of the Political Council of the Opposition Platform - For Life Viktor Medvedchuk, as requested by the Prosecutor's Office. However, this has no practical significance, since Medvedchuk is under house arrest in another case - on "coal treason."

On November 11, the leading European lawyer Bertrand Malmendier joined the team of the legal protection of Chairman of the Political Council of Opposition Platform - For Life party and MP Viktor Medvedchuk. He signed an agreement on the legal protection of the opposition leader.

Leading European politicians, international and Ukrainian experts and world media have criticized Zelensky's decree on the termination of the work of the TV channels 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and Zik.

Over the past four months, the world media, European politicians, and experts have published 120,969 materials on the persecution of the opposition and independent TV channels by the Ukrainian authorities.

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