30 cases of persecution of activists recorded since beginning of the year in Ukraine
Since the beginning of the year, 30 incidents of harassment of activists and human rights defenders have been identified in Ukraine. Almost half of them, namely 14 cases, were recorded in Kyiv. These are the findings of the monitoring report on pressure and harassment of activists in the first quarter of 2021, prepared by the ZMINA Human Rights Center.
The experts noted a certain deterioration of the situation compared to the previous year, when 26 cases had been ecorded during the same monitoring period.
Among this year's incidents of pressure on activists, the most common were physical attacks, cases of destruction or damage to property and intimidation attempts : 6 cases each.
In addition, there were 5 cases of defamation, 3 attempts to obstruct a peaceful assembly, 2 incidents of legal prosecution, and one case each of violating privacy and search without legal grounds.
The largest number of incidents was recorded in Kyiv (14). The second place was attributed to Kharkiv region (3), the third place was to Odesa and Poltava regions (2 each). One case of persecution was documented in Kyiv, Mykolaiv, Lviv, Zhytomyr, Rivne, Kherson, Dnipropetrovsk, Luhansk and Donetsk regions.
Digital threats to public activists and journalists remain mainstream for the first quarter of the year: The Digital Security Laboratory, which monitors such incidents and provides assistance to victims, recorded 25 separate incidents in the first three months of 2021: 6 incidents in January; 12 in February and 7 in March. It is question of phishing (10 cases, among which one massive attack was committed through Telegram, in January), picking up, resetting or reusing the account password (7), intercepting SMS (3), hacking the site (2), blocking content or temporary blocking accounts in social networks (telegrams), etc.
ZMINA researcher Anastasia Moskvychova noted that in January-March 2021, the most risky activities were the protection of women's rights, LGBT rights and anti-corruption activities. Moskvichova pointed out that some of the cases recorded this year could be considered a continuation of last year's persecution due to the lack of a proper response from law enforcement agencies.
Among them is an arson incident at the construction site of ”The Dacha” Center in Kyiv for children being treated for cancer, which occurred on March 28, 2021. The walls and front doors were damaged, and the windows cracked due to the high temperature. Last year, a neighbor of the center cut off a lock on the construction site gate with an angle grider: at that time, activists complained to the police about damage of the property, but complaint was registered as a petition.
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