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Ukraine: Police stop peaceful protest and exhibition and charge human rights defender Mr Nazariy Boyarsky
On 1 July, 2012, Mr Nazariy Boyarski and his colleagues started to hold a peaceful protest and exhibition timed to coincide with the final of the Euro 2012 football championship in support of Belarusian human rights defender Mr Ales Bialiatski.
Mr Ales Bialiatski is currently serving a 4 and a half year prison sentence in Belarus, and has protested against the deteriorating human rights situation in the Ukraine over the last two years. The police stopped the protest as soon as it began and detained the protest leader Nazariy Boyarski for three hours. Nazariy Boyarski is an active human rights defender and legal expert at the Center for Civil Liberties, a Ukrainian NGO.
During the Euro 2012 football championship a number of Ukrainian NGOs lead by the Center for Civil Liberties organized a campaign in support of human rights and human rights defenders entitled “Human Rights Offside”. An event in support of Ales Bialiatski was organised to conclude the campaign.
On 1 July, at 4:00pm, a group of activists started to ready the materials for a protest, exhibition and letter signing campaign in support of Ales Bialiatski in an area which was not included in the list of sites where protests were prohibited for the duration of Euro 2012. A few minutes later, the police arrived and prevented the activists from going ahead with the planned actions, arrested the leader of the actions Nazariy Boyarski, took him to the police station of the Pechyorsk district and detained him there for three hours. He was kept in the police station yard for much of this time before his detention was registered. Ten exhibition stands were confiscated by the police who did not follow the appropriate protocol. A police officer reportedly told an activist that the stands have been destroyed, although this information has not yet been confirmed.
Nazariy Boyarski was told by police that the protest actions had not been sanctioned. However, Article 39 of the Constitution of Ukraine stipulates that organizers of public actions and peaceful rallies should only inform authorities about such an event and no approval is required. The organisers had sent a notice to the Kiev City Hall about the planned exhibition earlier that day, in accordance with the law. The exhibition was planned to be held on Rustaveli street, outside of the football fan areas where the Kiev Administrative Court of Appeals had banned protests during Euro 2012.
On 2 July, at 4:00pm, a court hearing was held concerning the charges filed by the Pechyorsk District Police against Nazariy Boyarski. The police asked that Nazariy Boyarski be charged with “violation of order and conduct of assembly, meetings, street marches and demonstrations” under Art.185.1 of the Administrative Code of Ukraine. This offence is punishable by a reprimand or a fine of between 340 and 1700 Ukrainian Hrivna (approximately 33 to 165 Euro). If the same person is repeatedly charged with this offence during the course of one year, the punishment may include a bigger fine and administrative detention of up to 15 days. The court sent the case back to the police to fill out the application properly and to present proper documentation.
Front Line Defenders believes that the arrest of Nazariy Boyarski and the police complaint against him are directly related to his work in the defence of human rights.