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8 February, 2013

General Prosecutors Office Run Amuck?

The mounting selective justice and persecution of opposition leaders - all of this reminds one of the Stalin era when murder was followed by accusations in order to eliminate everyone the regime viewed as enemy

Throw enough mud and some of it will stick. This seems to be the policy be followed by Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka and First Deputy Prosecutor General Renat Kuzmin in 2013 in response to the international criticism of the selective judgment and imprisonment of political prisoners, most significantly, opposition Leader Yulia Tymoshenko.

There are (no doubt about it) many unsolved murder cases in Donetsk and the surrounding region, - some going back 16 years. So why not accuse her of one of them? And they claim to have evidence while not telling anyone anything about what sort of evidence they have. The presumption of innocence is not something you hear much about in the PGO.

All of this reminds one of the Stalin era when murder was followed by accusations in order to eliminate everyone the regime viewed as an enemy.

To international observers, things are appearing stranger and stranger — while the PGO overlooks the kleptocratic enrichment of the Family in power, prosecutors continue old (and start new) vendettas against not only Tymoshenko, but also those in her circle.

“The new cases against opposition lawmakers Serhiy Vlasenko and Hryhoriy Nemyria are harming relations between Ukraine and the European Union.” So said the European Parliament's special representative, Alexander Kwasniewski, at the 9th Ukrainian Lunch in Davos, organized by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation. "We must remove these political mistakes, they are not necessary. Most of these things are very easy to avoid if you want to choose the best strategy — association with the EU," Kwasniewski said.

And this is true: The Association Agreement is only waiting for Ukraine to act according to its own promises to behave like a state ruled by law.

Nemyria, who earlier received a fine but was not allowed to to pay it, was last week effectively detained for about an hour (passing through passport control) when his passport was withheld and he was asked to wait. Thirty minutes later, officials from the Prosecutor’s Office appeared and while videotaping the incident served Nemyria a summons to appear for questioning as a witness.

Vlasenko has been intimidated because of cases against him stemming from civil disputes with his former wife. On Thursday, 24 January, he was refused permission to leave Ukraine, thus depriving him of the ability to attend a session of PACE in Strasbourg. Authorities claimed there was a court decision prohibiting him to leave the country until he pays awards in a civil dispute concerning the separation of property after his divorce. But this violates his immunity as an MP. The Law on the Status of MPs is very clear that an MP may only be arrested or detained or charged after agreement from parliament is obtained. And Vlasenko claims he had already paid this "debt".

Yevheniya Tymoshenko, the former prime minister's daughter has had her e-mail hacked and tampered with. For instance a false bill from the Berlin Clinic that treated her mother was fabricated in order to let it look like Tymoshenko was bribed, while in fact she was treated on a voluntary basis and only had her direct travel costs covered.

Hacking now seems to be the choice method for undermining critical journalists.

Ukrainska Pravda journalists Serhiy Leshchenko and Mustafa Nayem have had their e-mail accounts hacked and fake e-mails have been written to incriminate them.

And all of this happens despite the fact that Ukraine again committed itself to reform the Prosecutor’s Office at a session in PACE last year.

Some changes in legislation have been passed — but the behaviour and the implementation seems to be the reverse.

The Council of Europe continues the work of Sisyphus to try, try and try again. But, so far, the Rule of Law is still the victim.


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