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Russian human rights commissioner hopes Zelensky will help release jailed RIA journalist

Vyshinsky, originally a Ukrainian national, obtained Russian citizenship in 2015
Ukraine’s President-elect Vladimir Zelensky AP Photo/Oleksii Chumachenko
Ukraine’s President-elect Vladimir Zelensky
© AP Photo/Oleksii Chumachenko

MOSCOW, May 14. /TASS/. Russian Human Rights Commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova hopes that Ukraine’s President-elect Vladimir Zelensky will take steps to release RIA Novosti Ukraine’s Editor-in-Chief Kirill Vyshinsky and put an end to his criminal prosecution.

"I sincerely hope that Ukraine’s President-elect Vladimir Zelensky will focus on this blatant injustice and take steps to end the criminal prosecution of this innocent man and release him," Moskalkova told reporters.

According to Moskalkova, dialogue that makes human rights a priority "opens the way for political and economic talks, contributing to finding mutual understanding between countries and nations."

The ombudsperson has called on the journalistic and human rights community and also indifferent people around the world to draw the society’s attention to Vyshinsky’s prosecution, noting that May 15 will mark the first anniversary since his arrest.

"Contrary to the norms of international law and common sense Kirill is subjected to criminal prosecution for his professional activity and for the right to think freely and speak, to put it mildly, for dissidence," she noted.

Moskalkova stressed that she has repeatedly asked Ukraine’s authorities to change the journalist’s pre-trial restriction, consider the case without bias and lift accusations of high treason. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Desir said he would back Moscow’s steps for Vyshinsky’s release.

On May 15, 2018 the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) carried out a large-scale operation against RIA Novosti Ukraine staff members, accusing them of high treason. The news agency’s Editor-in-chief Kirill Vyshinsky was taken into custody. The charges against Vyshinsky are particularly based on a number of articles dedicated to the 2014 events in Crimea. If found guilty, the journalist may face up to 15 years, but he pleaded not guilty.

Vyshinsky, originally a Ukrainian national, obtained Russian citizenship in 2015. He addressed Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko from the courtroom, renouncing his Ukrainian citizenship and saying he considered himself to be only a Russian national. He also addressed Russian President Vladimir Putin, asking for legal assistance in his release.