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“Skhemy” appealed to Supreme court over Portnov

15.01.2021, 18:33
Photo credit: Radio Liberty
Photo credit: Radio Liberty

The defence of Borys Mazur, the driver of “Skhemy” investigative journalism program, appealed to the Supreme Court in a dispute with Andriy Portnov, a former MP and former deputy head of the Presidential Administration, disagreeing with the decisions of the first two instances in his favor, as Radio Liberty reported.

A cassation appeal was filed against the decision of the Pechersk District Court, which in August  dismissed the privacy claim filed by Skhemy’s driver Borys Mazur. Thus, his request to oblige former Deputy Chief of Staff Andriy Portnov to revoke his personal data from the public domain has been rejected. The court also ruled to recover 52,500 hryvnias (around $1 892) of lawyers’ fees of Portnov from Borys Mazur. On December, the Kyiv court of Appeal confirmed this decision in favour of Andriy Portnov.

Oksana Maksymenyuk, lawyer with “Skhemy” and head of the legal department at the Institute for Regional Press Development, who represents Borys Mazur in this case, filed a complaint with the Civil Court of Cassation demanding to reverse the decision issued by the Kyiv Court of Appeal and Pechersk District Court and to sustain the claims of the driver of the "Skhemy" in full, ie to take down his personal data from public domain and to cancel the reimbursement of legal expenses.

The defense believes that the courts have thus created a bad precedent through which the personal data of any person might be made public, although the law prohibits the dissemination of such information.

"The right of one person cannot prevail over the right of another person. The state in this case - the court - should intervene and protect the right, considering all the evidence," Oksana Maksymenyuk stressed.

According to the lawyer, the court failed doing it and did not investigate the case properly.

"The court's decision was guided solely by the arguments provided by Portnov's representative - why he disseminated personal data. We did not ask why he did it - we demanded the removal of personal data," - said the defender of "Skhemy".

"We expect that the Court of Cassation will carefully consider the case, check all the arguments of the parties and correctly apply the law on personal data protection. In our opinion, the decision of the Pechersk court was made in violation of such rules, so decisions should be revoked and personal information removed, - the lawyer of "Skhemy" noted.

In addition, the defense separatedly indicated that the amount of compensation of legal fees were excessive. "Imposing on the plaintiff the amount of legal aid costs in the amount of 52.5 thousand hryvnias (around $1 800) is not aimed to compensate, but to “put a bridle on” and “to impose censorship” on the employee of the editorial office conducting journalistic investigations. Such compensation clearly causes a" cooling effect "on work not only the plaintiff, but also the entire editorial board and journalists in general, who prepare materials of public interest and concern public figures who themselves attract attention with their actions and statements, "the complaint reads.

Despite disagreeing with the excessiveness of these costs, in order to prevent the seizure of property as part of the enforcement of a court decision, these funds have been paid to Andriy Portnov, as the lawyer said.

"We decided to pay because when the court's decision takes effect, it must be enforced. If the decision is not enforced voluntarily, then enforcement of the decision, such as the seizure of property and funds in the accounts, can be applied. We look forward that the Supreme Court will make a legal decision and the amount of funds for legal aid will be reimbursed after the decision is revoked, "as the lawyer of" Schemes " explained.

As IMI reported, on December 14, the Kyiv Court of Appeals dismissed an appeal filed by Borys Mazur, driver with Skhemy program challenging the decision by the Pechersk District Court, which in August disallowed him a lawsuit to protect his right to privacy and rejected a request to oblige the former MP and former deputy head of the Presidential Administration. Andriy Portnov to take down his personal data from the public space.

in September 2020, it became known that National Police abandoned the criminal proceedings against Andriy Portnov, who had previously publicly threatened the editorial board of the Skhemy investigative journalism program and disclosed the detailed personal data of the program's drivers. 

The criminal proceedings were registered under two articles of the Criminal Code: “Obstruction to the lawful professional activity of journalists” and “Threat or violence against the journalist”. Proceedings under the first article have been dropped on July 31, and under the second one have been dropped on August 5, 2020. The cases were dropped "due to the absence of elements of crime."

As IMI reported, on August 31 2020, Svitlana Volkova, a judge of the Pechersk District Court of Kyiv dismissed the privacy claim filed by Skhemy’s driver Borys Mazur. Thus, his request to oblige former Deputy Chief of Staff Andriy Portnov to revoke his personal data from the public domain has been rejected. The court also ruled to recover 52,500 hryvnias (around $1 892) of lawyers’ fees of Portnov from Borys Mazur.

As IMI reported, Two Radio Liberty employees Serhiy Ishchenko and Borys Mazur have filed civil claims with the Pechersk district court of Kyiv against the deputy head of the Presidential Administration Andriy Portnov., as Detektor Media reported, citing the Judiciary website.

The claims were filed on April 13 and 14 in order to defend one’s right to privacy, to obligation the defender to remove personal data and to oblige him to repair moral damage.

There is no information about the date of the court hearings as for now.

On October 31, the former MP and Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration of Viktor Yanukovych Andriy Portnov in his Telegram channel disclosed the personal data of a member of the TV crew of “Schemes: corruption in details" program, as the editorial board is preparing an investigation into the influence and relations of the former official with the new Ukrainian authorities.

Then, he disclosed data of number plates of three other cars related to “Schemes” journalists.

The "Schemes" editorial board regards it is direct pressure.

On November 4, the media movement “Media for conscious choice” and other media figures call on the authorities and the law enforcement agencies to hold the former official Andriy Portnov to account for having threatened journalists with “Scheme” investigative program and ask to ensure security for journalists.

 

On November 2, 2019, Andriy Portnov threatened the entire editorial board of the Schema investigative journalism program with the publication of "their detailed personal and personal information," as well as "analysis of private life and unobtrusive support in the dark," and published three license plates . in his words, related to journalists.

On November 4, 2019, the Media for Conscious Choice Movement and other media representatives called on the authorities and law enforcement agencies to bring Andriy Portnov to justice and asked to guarantee the safety of journalists.

On November 7, the police have launched criminal proceedings due to threats to the journalists with Radio Liberty, as it is reported on the website of the National Police.

The aforementioned information is qualified obstruction to lawful activity of journalists and threat or violence against a journalist.

As IMI reported, on October 31, the former MP and Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration of Viktor Yanukovych Andriy Portnov in his Telegram channel disclosed the personal data of a member of the TV crew of “Schemes: corruption in details" program, as the editorial board is preparing an investigation into the influence and relations of the former official with the new Ukrainian authorities.

Then, he disclosed data of number plates of three other cars related to “Schemes” journalists. The "Schemes" editorial board regards it is direct pressure.

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