WRI condemns attacks against Ukrainian conscientious objector Ruslan Kotsaba

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ruslan kotsaba

Journalist, conscientious objector, and a member of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement Ruslan Kotsaba was on trial again on 22nd January. The hearing, which took place at the Kolomyia City District Court of Ivano-Frankivsk Region, included testimonies by ten of the prosecution’s witnesses. The court hasn’t made a decision and scheduled another hearing to take place on 18 March 2021. Kotsaba is being tried for a video he posted in 2015 in which he was calling to boycott the military mobilisation for the conflict in Eastern Ukraine.

On his arrival to the courthouse, Kotsaba was attacked by a far-right mob. A video posted by the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement (UPM) shows an unknown man attacks Kotsaba with a fire extinguisher as the rest of the group chants slogans including "death to the enemy” and “Ukraine above all.”  

The attacks continued following the hearing as well. See another footage showing Kotsaba leaving the courthouse among violent protesters here.

The UPM activists said “fortunately, Kotsaba got no serious injuries”.

WRI strongly condemns the attacks against Ruslan Kotsaba and stands in solidarity with Kotsaba as well as the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement and all conscientious objectors in Ukraine. WRI also calls for the immediate and unconditional end of the criminal prosecution against Kotsaba. See a statement we released on Kotsaba’s case earlier this month here.

Background

Ruslan Kotsaba is being accused of treason and obstructing military operations for his expressions in a video he posted on Youtube in January 2015. In the video, Kotsaba voices his opposition to Ukraine’s warfare in the eastern part of the country. Addressing to then president Petro Poroshenko, he announces his refusal to be called up, calls on his fellow citizens to do the same and stand against conscription.

Following his video, Kotsaba was arrested in February 2015 on charges of treason and obstructing the military operations. He was duly acquitted in 2016, after spending 524 days under arrest. As highlighted by the UPM as well as in our statement early this month, Kotsaba’s current retrial is a clearly politically motivated persecution which must end immediately.

For more background and information on Ruslan’s case, see here.

In order to support Kotsaba, you can fill our CO-Alert and write to the Prosecutor General of Ukraine. See our template letter (both in English and Ukrainian) here (scroll down for the English translation).

WRI stands in solidarity with Ruslan Kotsana, Ukrainian Pacifist Movement and all conscientious objectors in Ukraine, and follows Ruslan Kotsaba's case closely. 

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