For the second year running, a court has banned a totally peaceful gathering by the civic movment Stop Censorship in the village of Novi Petrivtsi near the President’s reputedly sumptuous residence at Mezhyhirya.
The Kyvi District Administrative Court banned the action planned for Journalist Day between 8.30 and 10.00.
Stop Censorship was planning to present “Kyiv. Map of Corruption”, a map for tourists highlighting places linked with high-profile corruption investigations. Stop Censorship planned in this way to remind President Yanukovych of his problem exactly two years ago to show journalists his residence
Last year Stop Censorship announced plans to hold a peaceful protest outside Mezhyhirya aimed at reminding Yanukovych of his promise on the Friday before the planned gathering on Monday. The very next day the Village Head of Novi Petrivtsi Rodion Starenki lodged an application for the protest to be banned. Most worryingly, Judge Hanna Panova from the Kyiv District Administrative Court allowed the application. The President, she said, had the right to rest: ““Taking into consideration the constitutional principles of defence of human rights to personal life, its inviolability, the right to rest outside working hours, the said gathering would infringe the mentioned personal human rights”.
The Judge also referred to the Decree of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR from 28 July 1988 requiring notification of peaceful gatherings 10 days in advance. This Decree has often been pulled out of the woodwork to try to justify restrictions on peaceful assembly despite the clear illegitimacy of citing a Decree passed by a country which no longer exists.
Also of concern is the fact that Stop Censorship found out by chance on 10 November 2011 from the lawyer representing the Novi Petrivtsi City Council that the appeal against the ban had been heard and rejected in July without the journalists being notified.
Both last year and this Wednesday, journalists complied with the ban but travelled to Mezhyhirya to see how it was being implemented. Last year Yanukovych drove past in his cortege, totally ignoring them. This year, the President’s Administration had prepared themselves (although the ban would appear to have been issued late last night). There were around 20 officers from the Department for State Security and a Special Force Berkut unit guarding Mezhyhirya from the entirely unarmed and peaceful journalists.
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