French senators met with Viktor Medvedchuk, currently under house arrest
Secretary of the French Senate, Deputy chairman of the Foreign Policy Committee, member of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly for France and member of the Inter-Parliamentary Union Joël Guerriau as well as French Senator Nathalie Goulet arrived in Kyiv. They visited the chairman of the political council of the “Opposition Platform - For Life” party Viktor Medvedchuk, who is under house arrest, and met with him and the party’s co-chairman Vadym Rabinovych.
The key point of both this meeting and the visit of French senators to Ukraine as a whole was the issue of obstruction of journalistic activities and the activities of the media outside the control of the authorities, political repressions, illegal criminal prosecution of dissenters and opposition politicians.
Viktor Medvedchuk noted that the pressure on him personally, the “Opposition Platform - For Life” party and the 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZIK TV channels has been systemic, well prearranged and organized, since it was started by the President of Ukraine back in the summer of 2019, when Zelensky openly threatened the mentioned channels and Viktor Medvedchuk, saying that “this will be a very loud story that will end very badly”.
In 2019, the Security Service of Ukraine, according to many media reports, conducted illegal investigation activities against more than ten MPs from Opposition Platform - For Life, in particular Viktor Medvedchuk and his family members. In addition, the involvement of far-right radical organizations to obstruct the activities of the party was planned. As a proof of such an organized work stands the fact that during this time more than 80 attacks on the offices of the “Opposition Platform - For Life” party countrywide, including in Kyiv, were carried out.
On February 2 and 19, 2021, Zelensky illegally, ignoring the norms of the Constitution of Ukraine, by his decrees enacted the decisions of the NSDC, which, on far-fetched and still unfounded accusations, introduced sanctions against three TV channels – 112 Ukraine, Newsone and ZIK – and their owner, member of the political council of the “Opposition Platform - For Life” party MP Taras Kozak, as well as the chairman of the political council of the party Viktor Medvedchuk and their family members – Oksana Marchenko and Nataliia Lavreniuk. The journalists of the banned stations launched a new TV project – the “First Independent” TV channel. However, on February 26, an hour after it went on the air, it was disconnected from the satellite and blocked in cable networks without any legal grounds, with the only reference to a letter from the Deputy Head of the Security Service of Ukraine, which is flagrant arbitrariness and an act of censorship.
Earlier, the Office of the Prosecutor General opened a number of criminal proceedings on far-fetched grounds against Viktor Medvedchuk and Taras Kozak. On May 13, 2021, the Pecherskyi District Court of Kyiv placed Viktor Medvedchuk under house arrest, which was extended twice – in July and September 2021.
Such actions of the Ukrainian authorities are seen as political persecution of one of the key opposition politicians and are aimed at combating dissent, suppressing the opposition in an unconstitutional way, using falsification of evidence in criminal proceedings and unprecedented pressure on court, and ultimately – at the establishment in Ukraine of the sole dictatorship of Zelensky. The unfairness of the criminal proceedings and their openly political motivation gave rise to Viktor Medvedchuk’s two appeals to the European Court of Human Rights, which were accepted for consideration.
Commenting on the situation in Ukraine, Joël Guerriau said: “Freedom of speech is the foundation for any democratic country, and in a democratic country there are judicial procedures. And this is the only way. Only the Constitution and its implementation guarantee freedom in the state. That is why the closure of TV channels, illegal persecution is a threatening situation that needs to be covered by the international media”.
Nathalie Goulet noted: “We came to Kyiv to meet with journalists in order to tell about your vision, because freedom of speech is extremely important for international organizations. We came in order to collect as much objective information as possible about what is happening in Ukraine. Any non-legal mechanisms, politically motivated decisions open the door for a totalitarian state rule. French journalists are already aware of the situation, and we are sounding the alarm to support our Ukrainian colleagues. This is a really terrible situation, because there was no court hearing and no court decision”. Commenting on the arrest of Viktor Medvedchuk, she stressed: “If parliamentarians are under pressure, their working conditions are not normal due to the actions of the authorities, then we are ready to help and inform our colleagues about this, sound the alarm. And to do this within the framework of inter-parliamentary relations of the Council of Europe, as well as within the OSCE, because there are people working there who are specifically dealing with these issues”. She added: “Today, for example, we were in the studio at the TV channels that were closed, as you probably know, and the journalists were shut down there on purpose. And of course, after all these meetings, it was natural to meet with Mr. Medvedchuk. Because wherever we visited, everyone told us about him. And we wanted to learn from him for ourselves what was happening, and we understood that. We will discuss this situation with our colleagues in France as soon as we come back, his situation and in general what is happening in Ukraine”.
In addition, Viktor Medvedchuk informed the representatives of the French Senate that the “Opposition Platform - For Life” party will consistently and resolutely seek peace in Donbas, full implementation of the Minsk agreements and the decisions adopted in the “Normandy format”, and this work will continue, despite the obstruction from the authorities. Medvedchuk promised to make every effort to resume the initiative of the “Parliamentary dimension of the “Normandy format”, which he, the chairman of the political council of the party, presented in the French Senate on January 22, 2020, in the Bundestag on January 28, 2020 and in the State Duma of the Russian Federation on March 10, 2020. The “Normandy format” parliamentary dimension” meetings have been temporarily suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Deputy chairman of the Foreign Policy Committee in the French Senate, member of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly Joël Guerriau acknowledged Medvedchuk’s role in resolving the conflict in eastern Ukraine, saying: “We definitely met with one of the leaders of Ukraine, opposition leader Viktor Medvedchuk. We discussed a lot of different issues with him related to the freedom of speech, peace in Donbas. He seemed to us very calm, very self-confident, and he has a very good command of the situation. He, of course, provided us with an overview of the situation, and thanks to him, we understood very well what was happening. Medvedchuk is one of those rare people who have been aware of this situation from the very beginning, he owns every moment of the history of the conflict in Donbas. And he told us absolutely everything that happened there to date, and he explained to us how this issue can be resolved”.
Press service of Opposition Platform - For Life