WRI stands in solidarity with Ukrainian conscientious objector Ruslan Kotsaba

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Ukrainian conscientious objector and journalist Ruslan Kotsaba
Translated by
Natalia García (ES)

Ukrainian journalist, conscientious objector and a member of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement Ruslan Kotsaba will be put on trial again on Friday (22nd January) for a video he posted in 2015 in which he was calling to boycott military mobilisation for the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. Kotsaba is being accused of treason and obstructing military operations for his expressions calling for peace. His trial, initially scheduled to take place on 10th December, was postponed to January due to Covid-19 related reasons. The trial date has now been announced to be 22nd January.

Early this month, War Resisters' International has sent a letter to the Kolomyia City District Court of Ivano-Frankivsk Region, which holds Kotsoba's trial, and to the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, Iryna Venediktova; urging the Court and the Prosecutor General to end the criminal prosecution against Kotsaba. The letter, signed by WRI Executive Committee member Igor Seke, stated:

...Ruslan Kotsaba has simply expressed his pacifist views and the criminal prosecution against him is a clear politically motivated persecution. Freedom of expression and freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as well as conscientious objection to military service, are fundamental human rights guaranteed under Articles 34 and 35 of Constitution of Ukraine, Articles 18 and 19 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Articles 9 and 10 of European Convention on Human Rights. No one should be punished for exercising their human rights and expressing their views opposing compulsory military service. We express our solidarity with Ruslan Kotsaba and we urge the court to consider Kotsaba's case on the basis of human rights and rule of law, without political prejudices...

Read the full letter to the Court below, and to the Prosecutor General here.

WRI stands in solidarity with Ruslan Kotsana, Ukrainian Pacifist Movement and all conscientious objectors and pacifists in Ukraine, and follows Ruslan Kotsaba's case closely. 

WRI Letter to the Kolomyia City District Court of Ivano-Frankivsk Region

Dear Honourable Court,

I’m writing on behalf of War Resisters’ International to call for the immediate and unconditional end of the criminal prosecution against Ruslan Kotsaba, journalist, pacifist and conscientious objector. Ruslan Kotsaba has simply expressed his pacifist views and the criminal prosecution against him is a clear politically motivated persecution.

Freedom of expression and freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as well as conscientious objection to military service, are fundamental human rights guaranteed under Articles 34 and 35 of Constitution of Ukraine, Articles 18 and 19 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Articles 9 and 10 of European Convention on Human Rights. No one should be punished for exercising their human rights and expressing their views opposing compulsory military service.

We express our solidarity with Ruslan Kotsaba and we urge the court to consider Kotsaba's case on the basis of human rights and rule of law, without political prejudices. We also urge you to guarantee that all pacifists in Ukraine, including the activists of our member organisation Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, are able to freely express their opinions and continue their non- violent activity. We also urge you to safeguard the right to conscientious objection to military service, according to the European and international standards, amongst others the standards set by the European Court of Human Rights and United Nations.

Sincerely yours,

Igor Seke
The War Resisters' International Executive Committee member

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