Statement of the Members of the Coalition on the attack on anti-corruption activist Vitaliy Shabunin

President of Ukraine

Petro Poroshenko

Prosecutor General of Ukraine

Yuriy Lutsenko

Chief of National Police of Ukraine

Serhiy Kniazev

Chief of National Security Service of Ukraine

Vasyl Grytsak

Constitution Court of Ukraine

Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine

Authorized Human Rights Representative of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine

Lyudmyla Denisova

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Office

Governments of the EU Countries, USA and Canada

OPEN LETTER

On July 17, 2018 another attack on Vitaliy Shabunin, Head of the Board of Anticorruption Action Center took place. The attack happened during the meeting for resignation of the anticorruption prosecutor Nazar Kholodnytskyi, which was happening in front of the building of Specialized Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office. Activists demanded to release Mr. Kholodnytskyi of his duties due to the closure of the so-called “backpack case” where two of main suspects were named the son of the Ministry of Interior Arsen Avakov, Oleksandr and former Deputy Minister of Interior Sergiy Chebotar.

During the meeting, individuals in military uniform attacked Vitaliy Shabunin and threw green dye over his face. Vitaliy got chemical burns of his eye in result of the attack. Police officers who were present at the meeting did not take any measures to protect participants of the peaceful meeting and prevent the attack.

We would like to remind that this is not the first case of pressure on Vitaliy Shabunin and his ANTAC. During last couple years’ representatives of the Ukrainian government and Prosecutor’s General Office of Ukraine and Security Service of Ukraine organized a wide campaign against activist, which includes different forms and ways of pressure e.g. surveillance, wiretapping, discrediting campaigns as well as falsified criminal cases.

Thus, ANTAC was involved in the criminal case, initiated by the Prosecutor General Office on embezzling funds, allocated by the US and EU countries governments for reforming the Prosecutor’s Office. As a part of the case on March 22, 2016, Pecherskyi District Court of Kyiv issued a warrant to search and  seizure of documents and equipment from the ANTAC. Later on this case was closed down however information and personal data of activists were used in further discrediting campaign.

On April 9, 2017, a meeting in front of the house of Vitaliy Shabunin took place. The aim of this meeting was to create pressure on activists and his discrediting. Allegedly, Security Service of Ukraine was involved in organizing this protest.

On May 11, 2017, Oleksandra Ustinova, employee of the ANTAC reported that her and her apartment was under the surveillance of individuals who create a film about her on request of SSU to discredit her.

On June 7, 2017 six individuals called Vitaly Shabunin with a military subpoena to military commissariat even though since 2000 Vitaliy was released off his military duty due to health conditions. Next day when he arrived to the commissariat he was attacked with a pepper gun.

On June 9, 2017, Investigative Unit of the State Fiscal Service of Kyiv on the request of Pavlo Pynzenyk, MP, started criminal proceeding against authority of the ANTAC due to the failure of the organization to pay taxes.

Another criminal case was started against Viatliy Shabunin. The reason was an incident, which took place on June 8 next to the commissariat. Within this incident, Vitaliy was accused in “injuring journalists while he was performing his professional duty”.

Over thirty human rights organizations stated that this case has all signs of political background and the actions of law enforcements are not fair.

Later, Boryspil District Prosecutor’s Office opened a criminal proceeding against a Board Member of ANTAC Oleksandra Ustinova accusing her in preventing journalists from performing their professional duties.

Aside from that, activists who fight corruption became a target for a series of discrediting campaigns, which last for several past years. Media published materials against activists. In addition, such materials were disseminated through internet web-sites, which have bad reputation and social media. In particular, a series of discrediting materials were published against member of ANTAC Vitaliy Shabunin, Oleksandra Ustinova and others. International lobbying companies were also involved in these campaigns.

In addition, community is concerned because of the fact that despite multiple promises, Ukrainian government did not cancel the law on e-declarations for anticorruption activists, which was criticized in a conclusion of Venetian Commission.

The attack on Vitaly Shabunin and a series of attacks against other activists who fight corruption and organized crimes in most cases are left without proper investigation. Discrediting campaigns against activists in media and social media, falsified and politically motivated criminal cases as well as worsening legislation in the sphere of freedom of assembly in Ukraine becomes a very concerning tendency.

This signals about systemic and well-planned pressure of the government to that part of the civic society, which continuously and disconcertingly fights against corruption. Over fifty civil society organizations from the EU and US issued a statement for support of anticorruption activists in Ukraine in November 2017.

We underline it once again that activity of activists who combat corruption and organized crime is critically important for implementation of democratic change in Ukraine and reforming the country on its way to European integration. In particular, it pertains to establishing anticorruption agencies, launching e-declaration of the assets in Ukraine for public servants as well as effective investigation of corruption cases and making liable all responsible for them.

 With this said we call law enforcements to

  • Сonduct quick, comprehensive and fair investigation of the attack on Vitaliy Shabunin, Head of the Anticorruption Action Center and make all responsible for this attack liable. In addition, we call to take all necessary steps to prevent new attacks in future.
  • Immediately stop politically motivated criminal proceeding against Vitaliy Shabunin, Oleksandra Ustinova and ANTAC and abstain from further pressure on them
  • Guarantee the security of participants of peaceful meetings in future.

Constitutional Court of Ukraine to:

  • Review Constitutional Appeal regarding electronic declarations for civic activists as one that conflicts the Constitution of Ukraine. The Appeal was submitted by the Human Rights Authorized Representative of Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and the group of members of Parliament.

Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to:

  • Cancel legislative provisions on e-declarations for civic activists who work in the sphere of combating corruption. Abstain from adoption of new legislative acts, which could worsen the work of civic assemblies.

Human Rights Authorized Representative of Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine:

  • Take under control the investigation of attack on Vitaliy Shabunin. Create a system of operative response on cases of attacks on civic activists on the basis of the Office of the Ombudsman of Ukraine.

President of Ukraine:

  • Openly condemn cases of physical violence and discrediting campaigns against activists and civic organizations, which combat corruption.

International organizations and governments of democratic countries:

  • Create a pressure on Ukrainian government in order to better overall situation in the sphere of protection anticorruption activists and NGOs in Ukraine and in particular investigation of attacks and impunity, cancellation of discriminating legislation and cutting off pressure on anticorruption activists for falsified accusations.