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Supreme Court sides with "Skhemy" driver in the lawsuit against Portnov

27.07.2022, 14:32
Photo credit: radiosvoboda.org
Photo credit: radiosvoboda.org

The Supreme Court partially satisfied the cassation appeal of "Skhemy" driver Borys Mazur in the case regarding the disclosure of his personal data by former People's Deputy and ex-deputy head of the Presidential Administration Andriy Portnov, Radio Liberty reports.

The court of cassation revoked the decision of the Pechersk District Court and the Kyiv Court of Appeal, which favoured Portnov, and passed the case to the first instance court for a new trial. This Supreme Court's decision entered into force on June 22, but only appeared in the court register now.

The defense filed a cassation appeal against the ruling of the Pechersk District Court of Kyiv, which in August 2020 had rejected "Skhemy" team member's lawsuit on the protection of the right to privacy and his request to oblige Andriy Portnov to take Borys Mazur's personal data from his public Telegram channel; instead, the Court obliged Borys Mazur to pay Portnov UAH 52,000 as redress for his spendings on legal services.

In December 2020, the Kyiv Court of Appeal reinforced this decision, also siding with Andriy Portnov.

Conversely, the Supreme Court, namely the panel of judges of the First Judicial Chamber of the Civil Court of Cassation, revoked the decision of the two previous instances, arguing that they should have established the illegal distribution of "Skhemy" team member's personal data by Portnov to be a violation of his rights.

As Oksana Maksymeniuk, "Skhemy" lawyer and the head of the legal department of the Regional Press Development Institute, explained, both the Pechersk District Court and the Kyiv Court of Appeal based their decisions on Portnov's explanations about alleged "illegal stalking," although he did not provide such evidence to the court.

"Having revoked the previous decisions and passed the case to the Pechersk District Court for a new trial, the Court of Cassation emphasized that in the future, when making a decision, the court must establish the fact of the personal data distribution, as well as the fact this data is limited access and must be made public only with the plaintiff's consent. If no such consent has been given(as in our case), then it is the defendant, i.e. Portnov, who must prove in court the grounds for distributing such information. And the court must establish the expediency and its scope, taking into account the disclosure of the plaintiff's identity. It was all these circumstances and facts that we emphasized during the hearings of the case in previous instances, and only the Court of Cassation took all the law-based arguments regarding the illegality of disclosing the personal information of the 'Skhemy' driver into account," noted Oksana Maksymeniuk.

As reported by IMI, on October 31, 2019, Andriy Portnov, former deputy head of the Administration of President Viktor Yanukovych, published the personal data of the driver of "Skhemy" program which was working on an investigation into the former official's influence and connections with the new Ukrainian authorities. The editors considered this to be direct pressure on the "Skhemy" team.

On November 2, 2019, Andriy Portnov threatened to publish "detailed intimate and personal information" of the entire editorial staff of "Skhemy," as well as to conduct "an analysis of their private life and to ensure unobtrusive nighttime escort for them," and published three car numbers, which, according to him, were related to the journalists.

On April 13 and 14, 2020, two Radio Liberty employees, Serhii Ishchenko and Borys Mazur, filed lawsuits against Portnov in the Pechersk District Court of Kyiv, demanding the protection of the right to privacy, the takedown of the personal data, and redress for moral damages.

On August 31, 2020, the judge of the Pechersk District Court of Kyiv Svitlana Volkova rejected the lawsuit for the protection of the right to privacy filed by "Skhemy" driver Borys Mazur, as well as his request to oblige the former deputy head of the Presidential Administration Andriy Portnov to remove his personal data from public access.

Mazur's defense filed an appeal against the court's decision.

On December 14, 2020, the Court of Appeal of the city of Kyiv rejected "Skhemy" driver Borys Mazur's complaint against the Pechersk District Court's ruling.

On January 15, 2021, Borys Mazur's defense, not agreeing with the decisions of the first two instances, filed a cassation appeal to the Supreme Court.

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