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Marchuk's sentence canceled: the victim's lawyers to appeal to the Cassation Court

12.01.2024, 18:12

The lawyers of the journalist Maria Levedeva, the victim in the trial against the ex-Berkut officer Ruslan Marchuk's actions in the suppression of the Maidan protests on November 30, 2013, will appeal the decision of the Kyiv Court of Appeals overturning the conviction and appoint a new hearing in the Cassation Court.

Maria reported this in a comment to an IMI representative.

According to her, her defense is already working on the appeal. She reminded that the case was submitted to the court in 2016.

"First of all, it is surprising how quickly this ruling was reviewed by the court of appeal, with everything else going on in the background, with how the hearing in this case was delayed in the first instance court. The three judges at the appeal court did not change the decision, but simply canceled it, crossing out eight years of hearings, a lot of people's time and life. One of the victims, Dmytro Fortunatov, has already passed away, another victim, the poet and musician Yelyzaveta Zharikova, and the lawyer who was working on the case from the beginning, Yevhenia Zakrevska, are both fighting on the front line. In recent years the victims in the case have been represented in court by Oksana Mykhaylevych," Lebedeva said.

She noted that six civilians were affected in the case.

"What happened is really so terrible that it is difficult to comprehend. Everyone expected that the appeals court would uphold the ruling, although Marchuk could well have filed a motion to close the case, which he did. The effect that this would've had is that the ruling would have remained valid, the case would not have been tried further in the court of appeal. But the judges of the appellate court, who saw that the prosecution period under all three articles had expired, transferred it to the first instance court – to try the case from the very beginning," says the journalist.

According to Maria Lebedeva, the court will close the case because the statute of limitations has expired.

"In this way, Marchuk will officially clear himself of a rather serious crime, which should be recorded in his work history forever, if this person is a law-abiding citizen of Ukraine. The court will close the case due to the fact that the statute of limitations for prosecution for the crimes has expired. 'We are doing it because we can,' in short," adds the journalist.

As the IMI reported,  the Kyiv Court of Appeal overturned the ruling convicting former Berkut officer Ruslan Marchuk and ordered a new trial regarding his actions in the suppression of the Maidan protests on November 30, 2013. The term for prosecution in this case expired at the end of 2023.

On July 12, 2023, the Shevchenkivsky Court judge Andriy Trubnikov convicted Marchuk of excess of authority or official powers accompanied with violence (Part 2 of Article 365 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine), willful preclusion of legal professional activities of journalists (Part 1 of Article 171 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine) and illegal interference with peaceful assemblies (Article 340 of the Criminal Code).

The court issued a suspended sentence to Marchuk, sentencing him to five years in prison with a two-year probation period and barring him from holding positions in law enforcement bodies for two years.

Only the penalty for excess of power was enforced. As for the other two articles, by the time the judgement was passed, the term of prosecution had expired.

"It was this sentence that was canceled by the court of appeal today. But it is unlikely that a new trial in the first instance court will yield a new ruling. On the 10th anniversary of the Maidan crackdown  (11/30/23) the statute of limitations for prosecution under the most serious article in this case has expired. This means that Marchuk Marchuk can file a motion in the first instance court to close the proceedings. He is not acquitted, but he will face no responsibility," the Advocacy Advisory Panel noted.

On January 11, 2024, the chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Freedom of Speech, Yaroslav Yurchyshyn announced that the Committee was preparing a hearing on the investigation of crimes related to preclusion to journalistic work.

"There was an almost 80% drop in investigations of crimes against journalists in 2022 compared to 2021. The war may explain everything, but as a country that is entering the European community, which considers freedom of speech among its core values, we definitely should not allow this," he said.

In December, Yaroslav Yurchyshyn said that his work as the chair of the Freedom of Speech Committee has three priority vectors: releasing the Ukrainian journalists captured by Russia, investigating cases of preclusion to journalistic work, and creating competitive and high-quality access to information for journalists.

Speaking about the investigation into preclusions to journalists' work, Yurchyshyn said:

"As the fourth branch of power, journalists have very clear guarantees regarding their professional work. Since Ukraine is a developing democracy, the investigation of such cases has not always been smooth. And war is always a certain relief for the law enforcers, there is always something to do, we will be addressing your cases."

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