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Joint statement: regarding violations of the rule of law and human rights in Ukraine

December 07, 2018, 15:41 UTC+3

The full text of the appeal by defense attorneys for ex-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich on violations of the rule of law and human rights in Ukraine

1 pages in this article

Defense attorneys for ex-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich applied to leaders of major European countries and international institutions demanding action be taken to protect human rights in Ukraine.


Failure to allow delivery of closing arguments by President Victor Yanukovich in court on December 5th, 2018, and hasty retreat of the judges into the deliberation room is another confirmation of violations of the supremacy of law and basic norms of human rights.

This trial initially had nothing to do with fairness and legality. In fact we have witnessed a clumsy effort of political revenge of the government against its political opponent and millions of his supporters.

The compromised nature of the rule of law in Ukraine makes Western partners of Ukraine suspect that human rights abuses will continue to escalate.

In person of Victor Yanukovich the Ukrainian government violated rights of millions of Ukrainians who had voted for him. The government again tried to divide Ukrainians into two sorts, putting those who stood against Maidan and who disagreed with the coup d’etat into a “secondary rate” citizens. This trial became a vivid reminder that people with alternative opinion can not count for law or justice in Ukraine, or for a chance to be heard.

Each can understand who “managed” this trial and gave orders to the judges of Obolon district court of the city of Kiev to violate the law. These people rushed to announce a “fair and legal decision”, which will be made “in the nearest future”. They will wave the court’s decision in each of their interview. They will remind about it in each pre-election ad that they run in the media. And their paid “bloggers” and “experts” will praise this legal anarchy in their comments.

Despite extremely strong pressure by the government, this trial reminded millions of Ukrainians the circumstances of the anti-constitutional military coup d’etat of 2014.

The chain of tragic events in the modern history of Ukraine started specifically with the Maidan massacre, organized by representatives of the current government. Their purpose was undermining of the Agreement on settlement of the political crisis, signed by President Yanukovich on February 21, 2014 and guaranteed by EU countries.

Victor Yanukovich agreed to major concessions, including having snap presidential elections, in hope for de-escalation of the confrontation, and implemented his part of the conditions stipulated by the Agreement. Despite it, on February 22, 2014, the opposition usurped power in the country by means of anti-constitutional coup d’etat.

It was the coup d’etat that became a catalyst of events in Crimea and Donbass. The trial made it possible to document valuable self-incriminating evidence by organizers of the coup d’etat and their co-conspirators. The nation saw how people who used to be “Maidan leaders” during the questioning in court openly accused each other of surrendering Crimea.

In essence we’ve received evidence base against the individuals who are truly responsible for loss of Crimea and beginning of the military action in Donbass, which led to great number of victims among the peaceful population. For the first time in Ukraine’s history Armed forces, heavy military weapons, armored vehicles, missile systems and military aviation were used against its own people. All these events were happening with the former US Administration being fully aware about them.

The evidence given in court will have particular value when rule of law returns to Ukraine, and a fair court will objectively look at all the circumstances of this national catastrophe, which has become the worst in Ukraine’s history.

The blame for this national tragedy lies with those, who were dividing government positions in February 2014, and not thinking about the national unity. The blame lies with those people who paid for the opportunity of being in government and for the good of their foreign patrons with lives of Ukrainians and Ukraine’s territories.

During the five years that followed the coup d’etat we all were witnesses to the collapse of the state, loss of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, impoverishment of people, corruption in the top levels of government and complete breakdown of the system of justice.

As a result of this catastrophe, the Ukrainian people obtained only suffering and poverty. The main beneficiaries where top of the Ukrainian department, oligarchs who supported it, and their patrons from the former US Administration.

President Yanukovich’ legal team has thoroughly documented all the grave violations of the principle of supremacy of law and the Constitution of Ukraine, and will use them in further litigation in Ukraine and abroad. The scope of illegal methods that are used to by the government against President Yanukovich is unprecedented. It is very similar to other examples of people who are subject to political persecution by the Ukraine’s government.

  1. In 2014-2015 the Criminal Procedural code of Ukraine was seriously amended. These numerous amendments for the first time in Ukraine’s history authorized decisions on trials in absentia. No one from the country’s leadership concealed that the main purpose of the changes of the national legislation is passing a guilty verdict against President Victor Yanukovich;
  2. Later, in May 2016, Verkhovna Rada passed a special law that allowed appointment of an individual with no legal education to the position of Prosecutor General of Ukraine. It was done with the same purpose and in record time – only 4 hours, which is unprecedented for Ukraine. The individual who became the Prosecutor General never concealed his personal animosity towards President Yanukovich and desire to obtain a guilty verdict against him at any cost;
  3. The Prosecutor General’s office of Ukraine refused to take evidence from President Yanukovich despite the fact of having been informed about the latter’s place of residence in Rostov-on-Don;
  4. Neither notice of suspicion or indictment were handed in to President Yanukovich, as required by the Ukrainian law;
  5. President Yanukovich was illegally and unfairly denied his right to participate and provide evidence of his defense not only throughout the whole trial, but also at the pre-trial stage – the stage of investigation;
  6. The judges of Obolon district court of the city of Kiev were appointed “manually”, in violation of the procedure of automatized assignment of judges to cases;
  7. The judges of Obolon district court have illegally refused to implement the obligatory norms of the international legislation, in particular the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, of which Ukraine is a participating party;
  8. State defense attorneys, who were fully controlled by the Prosecutor General’s office of Ukraine, were appointed by the court despite categorical objections of Victor Yanukovich and presence of his defense attorneys;
  9. Main witnesses for defense were unfairly denied their right to provide their witness testimony;
  10. Expert opinions, provided by independent experts from the USA, UK, Switzerland and Ukraine were unfairly rejected by the court;
  11. President Yanukovich was illegally denied an unquestionable right of any defendant in a criminal trial – the right to deliver his closing arguments.

It is apparent that this trial is a result and a vivid example of complete destruction of the principles of supremacy of law in Ukraine. Western partners of Ukraine are concerned that the integrity of the ongoing trial of President Yanukovich does not comply with accepted standards insuring fairness and procedural integrity. Neither the people of Ukraine or the rest of the civilized world will believe in the objectivity of the court’s verdict.

Taking into account the aforesaid, we request that the following action is taken by you with the purpose of protecting basic human rights in Ukraine, restoring democracy and supremacy of law:

  1. demand from the Ukrainian authorities to immediately stop illegal pressure against investigators, courts, defense lawyers and journalists which are engaged in on-going treason trial and Maidan massacre investigation, related judicial proceedings and media coverage;
  2. demand from the Ukrainian authorities to institute procedural and substantive safeguards though independent monitors to observe the trial, while existing trial procedures be set to halt until independent observers can be identified and engaged;
  3. meet with representatives of civil society and lawyers to obtain facts about specific violations of the rule of law and basic principles of legal procedures in this and other important cases.

Hoping for your responsible and principled stance on this matter,

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