16:25 16.03.2021

Sanction-related decisions should not be used to persecute political, public figures – ex-political prisoners

3 min read

KYIV. March 16 (Interfax-Ukraine) – Former Ukrainian political prisoners, founders of the Liberation of Prisoners platform call on the authorities to refrain from discrediting and persecuting political and public figures in the wake of the right decisions to impose sanctions against pro-Russian TV channels and politicians.

"We sincerely and unquestioningly support those actions of the authorities that are really aimed at the destruction and inevitable eradication of the ramified criminal network built and introduced in Ukraine by the aggressor country – the Russian Federation [...] We urge President Volodymyr Zelensky [...] to state wisdom [...] Correct and necessary decisions aimed at the closure of pro-Russian TV channels and other media outlets, the introduction of sanctions against pro-Moscow politicians – collaborators within the country, firstly, require the introduction of legislative justification, secondly, in no case should they be used as a formal pretext for criminal and sanctioning prosecution of political and public leaders, individuals who have undoubtedly proved their loyalty to the ideals of the Ukrainian state, but conduct their activities in opposition to the course of the current government, " according to the text of the appeal, which was presented on Tuesday at a press conference at Interfax-Ukraine by former political prisoner Volodymyr Balukh.

The appeal notes the inadmissibility of the priority of "permanent political competition and the struggle for ratings" over state interests.

"We also strongly oppose and condemn the authorities' attempts to use the negative image of outspoken collaborator Medvedchuk in order to discredit the personalities who represented the authorities in the extremely difficult times of the outbreak of war, bloody hostilities [...] in particular, fifth President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko," the appeal said.

Balukh said that it is necessary to adopt a law on collaboration. "Everyone who carries out their activities, receiving 'dirty money' earned on our blood, should know that the punishment will be irreversible," he said.

Former political prisoner Yevhen Panov, in turn, said that by fully supporting the appeal, he calls on the head of state "to stop political persecution."

"While the patriots of Ukraine need to unite, we are starting to fight 'with our own people'. We have a stronger enemy on the eastern border to fight with. Why are the people who defended Ukraine at the front [...] are now behind bars?" he said.

MP of Ukraine from European Solidarity party Ahtem Chiygoz said that the current situation "undermines the struggle of political prisoners who are in the penal colonies of the Russian Federation."

"We should not mitigate the dignity and struggle of our political prisoners, who are in the hands of the enemy," he said.

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