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Prosecutors open a case against "Skhemy" journalists after a statement from a judge found to hold Russian citizenship

27.07.2023, 10:40
Зhoto: RFE/RL
Зhoto: RFE/RL

The Slovyansk district prosecutors have opened a case over Radio Liberty journalists' possible interference with the work of Donetsk District Administrative Court judge, Lyudmila Arestova, whom "Skhemy" journalists found to hold Russian citizenship, Radio Liberty reports.

The case was opened after Judge Arestova reported "interference in the administration of justice aimed at discrediting her", sending the report to the High Council of Justice and the Prosecutor General's Office.

"On June 27, 2023, the Slovyansk District Prosecutor's Office entered the information into the Unified Register of Pretrial Investigations, filed under Part 1 of Art. 376 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine: interfering with the activities of a judge in the administration of justice," said the acting head of the Slovyansk District Prosecutor's Office, Dmytro Levichev, in response to RFE/RL's request.

The article stipulates a fine amounting up to fifty tax-free minimum incomes, up to two years of community labour or up to six months of arrest.

In her appeal to the SCJ and the Prosecutor General's Office, Arestova noted that in order to "smear" her as a judge, "Skhemy" journalist Heorhiy Shabayev "actively cooperates with the aggressor country amidst a war with Russia," "passes the intelligence he collects to the Russian special services" and "carries out illegal surveillance."

Journalist Heorhiy Shabayev wrote on Facebook that a case had been opened against him.

"Just think about it: a Ukrainian judge with a Russian passport, who spent a total of 255 days in Crimea over the past five years, accuses me, a citizen of Ukraine who was last in Crimea 11 years ago, that I, not she, work for the Russian FSB. Friends, doesn't this sound like Russian propaganda to you, when Russians absurdly accuse Ukrainians of what they themselves are doing?" he wrote.

We remind you that on July 13, "Skhemy" reported in their investigation that according to an extract from the automated system "Rospasport", a Donetsk District Administrative Court judge, Lyudmila Arestova, is a citizen of the Russian Federation. The extract indicates that Arestova received her Russian passport in 2014 on the basis of the so-called "agreement on the integration of Crimea into Russia," which recognized Ukrainian citizens and stateless persons who permanently lived on the peninsula at that time as citizens of Russia.

The journalists also found out that the judge has made multiple trips to the occupied Crimea between 2018 to January 2022, spending more than 250 days there in total. In her comment, the judge stated that she "has no Russian citizenship" and assumed that a passport "may have really been issued" to her, as to the rest of the people formally registered in Crimea, after the pseudo-referendum. As to the trips to the occupied peninsula, Arestova explained that she needed to visit her parents.

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