RFE/RL President thinks court's ruling in the case of the Ukreximbank attack on journalists is a "slap on the wrist"
Radio Liberty President Jamie Fly said that the decision of the Holosiivsky District Court of Kyiv in the case of the attack on "Scheme" journalists Kyrylo Ovsyany and Oleksandr Mazur at Ukreximbank "does not fully respect the free press," Radio Liberty reports.
"Ukrainians are defending their democratic values on the front lines of the Russian war, but the district court's ruling does not fully respect the free press. While I welcome the guilty verdict, real justice for Kyrylo Ovsyany and Oleksandr Mazur required more than just a 'slap on the wrist,'" said Jamie Fly.
As IMI reported, on September 14, the Holosiivsky District Court of Kyiv imposed a fine on three Ukreximbank employees accused of attacking Skhemy journalists Kyrylo Ovsyany and Oleksandr Mazur.
The court found guilty and fined the former Ukreximbank board chairman Yevhen Metzher UAH 3,400, and fined ex-head of the institution's banking security department Ihor Telbizov and head of the internal security department Oleh Osipov UAH 1,700 each.
It was the state accusers (prosecutors) that requested this specific punishment – a fine without deprivation of the right to hold positions.
Volodymyr Pikalov, head of Ukreximbank's information policy department, is also accused in the case, but he has been drafted into the army. The court will make the decision regarding him later.
The journalists' attorney Anatoliy Popov said that the victims were contesting the closing of the criminal proceedings under the most serious article, 146 of the Criminal Code ("Illegal deprivation of freedom or abduction of a person"), which provides for restriction of freedom for a term of up to three years or imprisonment for the same term.
On October 4, 2021, in Kyiv, employees of the state-owned Ukreximbank attacked Skhemy filming crew during the recording of an interview with the financial institution's board chairman Yevhen Metzher right in his office. Being asked about a loan to structures related to the "DPR," Metzher ordered to take away the journalists' cameras, destroy the video recordings of the interview, and prohibit further filming. In addition, the journalists were illegally detained in the office premises, not being allowed to leave it. Ihor Telbizov applied force against the journalists.
There are four defendants in the case – Ukreximbank's former board chairman Yevhen Metzher, ex-head of the bank's information policy department Volodymyr Pikalov, ex-head of the institution's banking security department Ihor Telbizov, and head of the internal security department Oleh Osipov. They pleaded not guilty.
The actions of the former board chairman of the bank Yevhen Metzger and his press secretary have been qualified under Article 171 of the Criminal Code ("Illegal seizure of materials collected by a journalist and their and technical equipment, obstruction of the work of a journalist committed by an official abusing their official position").
The actions of Ihor Telbizov and Oleh Osipov have been classified under two criminal articles – the same Article 171 and Article 121 ("Deliberate violent actions that caused physical pain and did not cause bodily harm").
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