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Reporters Without Borders demands immediate release of Ukrainian journalist

August 09, 2017, 21:54 UTC+3 KIEV

Vasily Muravitsky has been accused by the Ukrainian authorities of high treason

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KIEV, August 9. /TASS/. The international organization Reporters Without Borders has called for an immediate release of Ukrainian journalist Vasily Muravitsky accused by the Ukrainian authorities of high treason.

The organization called for journalist’s release in the article "Two more victims of information war in Ukraine" posted on its website.

"Inciting hatred or violence must obviously be combatted, but on the basis of specific evidence and respecting international law. From the evidence so far produced, Vasily Muravitsky’s detention appears to be neither necessary nor proportionate. We call for his immediate release," said Johann Bihr, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk.

The article notes that Muravitsky was the most recent of the information war victims, and was placed in pre-trial detention in Zhytomir on charges of high treason.

However, more detailed allegations against Muravitsky indicate that he was arrested above all for working for Russian state media, the article said. The Prosecutor’s Office and the Security Service of Ukraine accused him of "subversive activities against Ukraine for the behalf of a foreign state", it said. He was arrested for two months and release on bail is excluded.

"We are all aware of propaganda’s destructive effects and its role in the tragic turn that events have taken in Ukraine, but the mere fact of working for a media outlet or expressing unwelcome opinions must not be criminalized," Johann Bihr said.

The defense ready to take legal battle to European Court of Human Rights

Earlier, Muravitsky’s defense said it did not rule out challenging the arrest at the European Court of Human Rights. "As it is a political case in all respects, if we get dismissal of the appeal, we will prepare an appeal to the ECHR," his lawyer Andrei Gozhiy said.

He said the date for considering the appeal has not been fixed as of yet. Gozhiy is confident that Muravitsky’s legal positions are very strong, but a political component could interfere. "If we were speaking about the field of law, we could be scheming some future moves. I think that in every European country this case would not have survived for even a week," he went on. "But the case has already been withdrawn from the field of law, and ‘raised’ to the field of politics and information war," he explained.

Russian Civic Chamber throws its weight behind the journalist

Earlier, the head of the Russian Civic Chamber’s commission on the development of information community, media and mass communications, Yevgeny Primakov, sent an appeal to some international organizations urging assistance in having a fair investigation into the case.

"I urge an honest investigation, an immediate release of Mr. Muravitsky, an immediate end to repressions against media in Ukraine, free access to information and liberalization of our Ukrainian colleagues’ cooperation with Russian media," said the appeal.

According to Primakov, criminal proceedings against Muravitsky come in violation of the freedom of speech. "This clearly demonstrates that a police state and censorship have established in Ukraine," he stressed.

Russian Foreign Ministry on Muravitsky’s case

The massive closures of Russian news and online resources and large-scale persecution of Ukrainian journalists indicate Ukraine is getting back to the worst totalitarian practices of suppressing dissent, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in connection with the developments around Ukrainian journalist Vasily Muravitsky.

"Regrettably this is yet another episode in Kiev’s campaign, being fanned on the pretext of struggle against aggressive propaganda, with the aim to quash oppositional journalists and cleanse Ukraine’s media space to suit the needs of the ruling regime," the Foreign Ministry said in a commentary earlier.

Its commentary said the "massive closure of Russian news and Internet resources in Ukraine, large-scale persecution of and pressures on Ukrainian journalists are acts of outrageous violations of the fundamental principles of the freedom of expression that constitute the basis of civilized principles of mass media operation and the fundamental documents of the United Nations, the OSCE, the Council of Europe and other international organizations concerned."

"Regrettably, it has to be stated that the Ukrainian version of the ‘European way’ is tantamount to a journey in time back to the worst totalitarian practices of suppressing dissent," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

"Once again we urge the OSCE and Council of Europe member-states to join Russia in its condemnation of Kiev’s barbaric and criminal policies towards mass media," it stated.

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