The pressure of law enforcement agencies on Ukrainian anti-corruption activists has become alarming. The chapter of the international anti-corruption network Transparency International Ukraine condemns persecution of public activists and stresses unacceptability to harass citizens fighting against corruption. In order to inform international partners about threatening of the third sector, TI Ukraine urges activists to inform about such cases.
The most prominent example of political pressure and selective justice is the trial of Vitalii Shabunin, head of “Anti-Corruption Action Center.” The court case is an example of harassment of the “Anti-Corruption Action Center” which has become a public lynching of an embarrassing activist by the authority.
In opinion of Yaroslav Yurchyshyn, an executive director of Transparency International Ukraine, everyone should bear responsibility for a violation of law, but in any case it should not become a pressure on activists and abuse of their power by law enforcement agencies: “None of the “Maidan cases”, the case of the Heavenly Hundred Heroes shooting or the case of obstructing the work of journalists in 2016 was investigated so fast. We can state that “Shabunin’s case” is nothing more but an exemplary punishment.”
The pressure from the Security Service of Ukraine was also admitted by Volodymyr Torbich, the head of Rivno regional «Agency of Investigative Journalists» human rights organization and a member of Transparency International Ukraine. Letters from SSU were received by «Fourth Estate» team after the investigation of unexplained wealth of Pavlo Demchyna, a native-born of Rivno region, and the first deputy head of SSU. The Directorate of SSU in Rivno region demanded from the regional organization, which is a member of the national project, to provide them with detailed information on the project funding.
According to Volodymyr Torbich: “The monitoring of international technical assistance is provided by the Ministry of Economic Development, an attempt to obtain information can be considered as a pressure on activists.” The investigative journalists working for “Schemes: Corruption in Details” program were threatened by the Security Service of Ukraine, and one of the programs dedicated to wealth of officials of the Security Service of Ukraine was prohibited.
It should be mentioned that TI Ukraine has also faced with political pressure on its side just after it publicly demanded publishing of a court decision on confiscation of 1,5 billion US dollars of “Yanukovych’s money”. The organization is also accused in such cases as “disruption of the defense contract” by the head of Defense Committee or “disinformation” by the Prosecutor General.
Transparency International Ukraine demands from law enforcement agencies to stop abusing their power and persecution of activists.
In its turn, Transparency International Ukraine is systematically monitoring the situation related to the suppression of civil society in order to inform international community about it.
We urge everybody to report such cases to [email protected] with tag “Suppression of activists.”