New frame-up attempt against Vitrenko in Ukraine
10 Feb.-Ukrainian economist and former MP Dr Natalia Vitrenko appealed today to High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini to take action against the "defamation, intimidation, persecution and discrediting", to which Vitrenko and her political party are being subjected in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. In a video posted 8 February, titled "Ukrainian Terror instead of European Democracy", Vitrenko presented the latest evidence that the Ukraine Security Service (SBU) is attempting to silence her through a politically motivated frame-up on criminal charges of separatism. Ukrainian law defines as a crime "infringement of the territorial integrity of Ukraine". The law was instituted after the US-backed coup that overthrew Ukraine’s elected President Victor Yanukovych, the third anniversary of which comes on 22 February.
On 28 October 2016, the offices of Vitrenko’s Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine (PSPU) were raided and occupied by paramilitary forces, acting in a real estate dispute involving the building’s landlord. The contents of the office-property of the PSPU, its newspaper, associated organisations, and individual members-were carted off and sequestered by the SBU. In November Vitrenko warned that the SBU could be combing through the confiscated computer files for evidence to use in reviving a 2014 criminal investigation of the Gift of Life women’s NGO, and Vitrenko personally as its head, on false charges of "infringing the territorial integrity of Ukraine". This is Article 110 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, which carries a penalty of 10 years in prison.
Dr Vitrenko was interrogated by the SBU twice in 2014, regarding their charges that the Gift of Life organisation had received Russian funds for the purpose of engaging in what some media maliciously depicted as "propaganda work to discredit the Ukrainian government authorities, provoke armed conflict between different layers of the population of Ukraine, incite ethnic hatred, and provide informational support for conducting ?referenda’ in Ukraine’s eastern regions." In April 2015, after Vitrenko had strongly refuted the charges during her interrogation and the investigation had languished for a year, the Glavcom news agency (glavcom.ua) fanned its flames again, with several articles citing SBU "suspicions" about Vitrenko’s receiving money from the Russian Foreign Ministry-run Fund for the Support and Defence of the Rights of Compatriots Residing Abroad.
The allegations date to May 2014, when the bank accounts of Gift of Life were frozen. According to Ukrainian media, this was done "in the framework of an SBU investigation of funds transfers through Ukrinbank, intended for persons suspected of infringement of the territorial integrity and inviolability of Ukraine." A flood of media reports named Vitrenko as a major sponsor of separatists and terrorists, which are broad categories used by the current Ukrainian authorities against their political opponents.
The PSPU said in a statement on 8 April 2015: "It is no accident, that this falsehood has been disseminated. The regime brought to power by the Euromaidan is discrediting itself through economic collapse, social genocide, corruption, and its inability to establish peace and preserve the territorial integrity of the country or realise the promised European values. Natalia Vitrenko ... offered facts to prove that the ?suspicions’ are invalid and the statements false. But efforts to defame her and shape a negative view of her on the part of the public are continuing, through the media."
Once again at the end of 2016, it appears that the SBU did not find what it wanted in the material seized during the raid on PSPU headquarters. Instead, on 4 February Vitrenko learned through an article in Glavcom with the incendiary headline "Court seizes property of organisation headed by Vitrenko: infringement of the territorial integrity of Ukraine suspected", that the SBU is plunging ahead with its case, based on entirely fake evidence. The article claimed that on 23 January a Kiev court, having reviewed a motion filed by an SBU investigator, had ordered the seizure of property belonging to Gift of Life. The court order, however, listed property confiscated at a different location in Kiev, and to which the Gift of Life organisation had no connection whatsoever: tents, sleeping bags, bottles ("Are they trying to make it sound like a Molotov cocktail factory?" Vitrenko asks in her new video), and boxes of dried pasta.
Pointing out that the Ukrainian Constitution guarantees citizens protection against false accusations, Vitrenko in the video details what the human rights defence activity of Gift of Life (founded in 2000) actually was in 2012- 14, at which point it had to cease operations because the SBU caused its accounts to be frozen.
She wages a polemic in the video, that if her economic program had been adopted by Ukraine in the mid-1990s, when as a member of Parliament she issued it in opposition to International Monetary Fund-prescribed deregulation and privatisation, Ukraine would have been a thriving nation today; there would have been no economic hardship, such as made people fall for the "better life in Europe" slogans of the coup organisers, and thus there would have been no coup, no loss of Crimea, and no uprising in the Donbass leading to the deaths of 10,000 people. Far from "infringing" anything, Vitrenko states that her program would have protected Ukraine and guaranteed its future prosperity in cooperation with Eurasian development overall.
Vitrenko has demanded a retraction of the 4 February article on the Glavcom website.
The text of her appeal to Mogherini follows.
PSPU appeal: stop the defamation of a Ukrainian opposition party!
The letter below was sent on 10 February 2017 to the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini. Its full title is, "Appeal of the PSPU Central Committee: Help stop the defamation of a Ukrainian opposition party and its leader Natalia Vitrenko!" Copies were directed to the Kiev Embassies of Belarus, China, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and the USA, as well as to Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko, the heads of his Ministry of Internal Affairs, Security Service, and Prosecutor General’s Office, and the Ukrainian Parliament’s Human Rights Ombudsman.
The CC PSPU appeals to you to act for the cessation of the political defamation of an opposition party, the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine, and its leader, Doctor of Economics, Peoples Deputy of Ukraine in the 2nd and 3rd Convocations, and first female Presidential candidate in the history of Ukraine Natalia Vitrenko.
Despite the fact that Ukraine has signed and ratified an Association Agreement with the European Union and has assumed the obligation to ensure implementation of the norms and principles of European democracy (freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of political activity, political pluralism, the right to a fair trial, the supremacy of law, the right to respect for one’s private life, the right to peacefully possess property, and the presumption of innocence), a policy of defamation, intimidation, persecution and discreditation is being carried out against our Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine, an opposition party. Its result is to hinder the political activity of our party. We offer several examples by way of demonstration:
1. The Ministry of Justice of Ukraine has twice refused to register the decisions of the XXIX (8 Sept. 2015) and XXX (25 June 2016) Congresses of the PSPU on amending the Program and Charter of the PSPU in accordance with the requirements of the Law of Ukraine "On the condemnation of communist and national-socialist (Nazi) totalitarian regimes in Ukraine and the prohibition of propaganda of their symbols." The Ministry confronts the PSPU with unfounded claims, demonstratively refusing to work constructively on preparing the Congress documents.
2. The Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, ignoring the PSPU’s appeal, refuses to enter amendments to the composition of the party’s governing bodies as listed in the Register of Public Associations, which directly affects the legitimacy of the activity of the Central Committee of the PSPU, essentially blocking the activity of the party under its Charter.
3. Law enforcement agencies of Ukraine have conducted no investigation and have charged nobody in
- The beating, by Nazis from the Azov Battalion, of participants in a peaceful demonstration organised by the PSPU on 17 March 2016 in Kyiv;
- The forcible interference by neo-Nazis in the conduct of a legal peaceful demonstration by the PSPU on 9 May 2016 in Kyiv and the destruction of the PSPU’s party symbols.
4. The Security Service, Prosecutor’s Office, Ministry of Internal Affairs and courts of Ukraine, by their decisions, actions, and illegal non-action, allowed citizen A.E. Shatilin and neo-Nazis from the Azov Battalion to seize the premises of the PSPU’s central office on 28 October 2016, which had been rented since 2005 from the legal owner of the premises, the Siver Ukraina company. Tenants, besides the PSPU, also included other legal entities: the editorial offices of the PSPU newspaper Dosvitni ogni, the all-Ukraine women’s public organisation Dar Zhizni (Gift of Life), the all-Ukraine public organisation (AUPO) Eurasian People’s Union, and the public organisation (PO) Assembly of Orthodox Women of Ukraine. In addition to seizure of the premises, also seized were the PSPU’s charter documents, letterhead, party cards and the seal of the PSPU, party literature, party symbols, the party’s archive of its 20 years of activity, computer and duplicating equipment, personal data of the governing bodies and membership of the party, and personal belongings of PSPU Chairman N. Vitrenko and PSPU Deputy Chairman V. Marchenko.
The day after seizure of the premises, on 29 October 2016 an SBU investigator, in coordination with the prosecutor’s office, without a warrant, without a court ruling in its favour, and without informing the PSPU or the allUkraine women’s organisation (AUWO) Dar Zhizni, conducted a research, resulting in the confiscation of property of the party and the Editorial Board of the PSPU party newspaper: hard disks with political journalistic information of the newspaper’s Editorial Board, literature, party documents, and personal belongings of Natalia Vitrenko and Vladimir Marchenko. The search and seizure of this property was conducted in the absence of any criminal or administrative claims against the PSPU, but under the framework of a falsely fabricated criminal case, opened back in April 2014 against the AUWO Dar Zhizni, headed by Natalia Vitrenko. This politically motivated, completely unfounded and unproven criminal case had in effect been frozen for two and a half years.
A criminal case was opened on 29 October 2016 in the matter of the seizure of the premises and property of the PSPU and the editorial offices of the party newspaper; on 12 December 2016 the PSPU and the Editorial Board of Dosvitni ogni, the AUWO Dar Zhizni, the AUPO Eurasian People’s Union, and the PO Assembly of Orthodox Women of Ukraine, as well as N. Vitrenko and V. Marchenko personally, were recognised as aggrieved parties.
Nonetheless, neither the investigator in that case, the prosecutor’s office, nor the SBU has taken any action since that time (three and a half months!) in defence of the interests of the PSPU, the Editorial Board of the party newspaper, the public organisations, and the party leadership. The appeals of PSPU Chairman N. Vitrenko to President of Ukraine P. Poroshenko, Prosecutor General of Ukraine Yu. Lutsenko, head of the Security Service of Ukraine V. Hrytsak did not prompt them to defend the rights of the political party, the public organisations, or the journalists.
In effect the PSPU has been deprived of the possibility of defending its rights in court. Even the legal owner of the premises, the Siver Ukraina company, is unable to lodge a complaint against the search and property-seizure actions of the SBU and the prosecutor’s office, because the case has not been transferred from the primary court (the Pechersky District Court of the city of Kyiv) to the Appeals Court of the city of Kyiv for two months, so far.
5. Furthermore, the Security Service of Ukraine and the prosecutor’s office, with the assistance of the investigating judge of the Pechersky District of the city of Kyiv, carried out searches on 18 November 2016 and 20 January 2017, and on 23 January 2017 property was seized by order of the court-property of persons unknown and having nothing whatsoever to do with the PSPU, Natalia Vitrenko, or the women’s organisation she heads. This search and seizure was done, it bears repeating, under the falsely fabricated criminal case against the all-Ukraine women’s public organisation Dar Zhizni, which the Ukrainian government continues to use for purposes of defaming N. Vitrenko, accusing her of infringing the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
6. The Ukrainian media, carrying out political instructions to defame N. Vitrenko and make her a target for terrorists, publish false information on the basis of information from the SBU and the prosecutor’s office, and ascribe non-existent crimes to Natalia Vitrenko.
The Central Committee of the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine is convinced that these actions by the Ukrainian authorities are political motivated, for the purpose of impeding the activity of this opposition political party and its leader, Doctor of Economics, People’s Deputy of Ukraine in the 2nd and 3rd convocations, and first female Presidential candidate in the history of Ukraine Natalia Mikhailovna Vitrenko.
The CC PSPU asks you to consider our Appeal to help the PSPU, the Editorial Board of Dosvitni ogni newspaper, and the other public organisations named above, to carry out their lawful activity in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights and the practice of the European Court of Human Rights, which the nation of Ukraine has undertaken the obligation to honour.
On behalf of the CC PSPU,
Chairman of the PSPU Natalia Vitrenko
Australian Alert Service 15 February 2017 Vol. 19 No. 7 www.cecaust.com.au
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