Ukraine: Ruslan Kotsaba on trial again

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Ruslan Kotsaba

Ukrainian Pacifist Movement (UPM) released a statement informing that Ruslan Kotsaba, a journalist and pacifist from Ukraine, will be tried again for a video he posted in 2015 in which he was calling to boycott mobilisation for armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine. Kotsaba is being accused of treason and obstructing military operations for his expressions calling for peace. His trial will take place on 10th December. 

Kotsaba had already spent 524 days in prison following which he was acquitted in 2016. In their statement, UPM activists highlighted that Kotsaba's current re-trial is a politically motivated case. The prosecutor has asked the court to sentence Kotsaba to 13 years of imprisonment and confiscate his property. 

In their statement, UPM said they condemn this politically motivated case against Ruslan Kotsaba for expressing his antiwar views. UPM said "We demand the Ukrainian government to stop repressions against pacifists. Also, we call civil society in Ukraine and worldwide to raise voices in support for human rights to peace, freedom of thought and expression in Ukraine."

WRI stands in solidarity with Ruslan Kotsaba and all pacifists in Ukraine, and calls on the Ukrainian government to ensure the safety and freedom of expression of Kotsaba and all those opposing militarism and war. 

Read the full statement of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement below.

Statement by Ukrainian Pacifist Movement

10 December 2020, the court in Kolomyya scheduled hearings in a criminal case of Ruslan Kotsaba, the journalist and pacifist who published in 2015 video blog calling to boycott mobilization for armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine. Kotsaba was accused of treason and obstructing military operations, crimes punishable from 5 to 15 years of imprisonment, arrested, and declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.

After 524 days of arrest and a scandalous trial, he was acquitted by the Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast Court of Appeal and released in the courtroom. However, the High Specialized Court on Civil and Criminal Cases in 2017 quashed the acquittal and ordered a retrial. Then several judges and local courts recused from the case; the court ordered to return formal accusation for further investigation, but the order was quashed by the appellate court.

Now, judges Kalyniuk, Berkeshuk, and Veselov will examine 58 witnesses of the supposed political impact of Ruslan’s video blog and pass their judgment.

Ukrainian Pacifist Movement condemns politically motivated prosecution of Ruslan Kotsaba for expression of his antiwar views. We demand the Ukrainian government to stop repressions against pacifists. Also, we call civil society in Ukraine and worldwide to raise voices in support for human rights to peace, freedom of thought and expression in Ukraine.

Ukrainian Pacifist Movement

Update (11th December): The trial of Ruslan Kotsaba was postponed due to Covid-19 on the day of the trial (10th December). The new date of the trial hasn't been announced yet. 

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