Maxim Goldarb: How people in Ukraine declared ‘state traitors’

8:52 27.09.2023 •

Recently, we often, almost every day, read in the Ukrainian news or hear on TV about “state traitors” exposed by the Security Service of Ukraine or the State Bureau of Investigation and prosecutors, whom they suspect of anti-state activities and treason, tells Maxim Goldarb, a Ukrainian politician and public activist at ‘Defend Democracy Press’.

As a rule, “traitors” include well-known public figures, politicians or public figures who disagree with the government’s policy, criticize it, speak out against war and for peace, reveal corrupt motives and meanings of the current regime. More rarely – ordinary citizens for absolutely minor “offenses”: posts in social networks, likes (approvals), public statements of their opinion, etc.

The authorities pursue several goals:

1) distracting the attention of Ukrainians from their own miscalculations, mistakes, crimes and failures;

2) formation of the image of “enemies of the people”;

3) criminal prosecution of political opponents and competitors;

4) creation and cultivation of an all-encompassing atmosphere of fear, mutual distrust and hatred in Ukrainian society (fulfillment of the principle of “divide and rule”).

Points 1, 2, 4 are aimed at achieving psychological results, such as mass deception of society, plunging it into the abyss of fear and distrust, distracting attention from reality. Point 3 makes it possible to deal with opponents of the authorities, to remove them from the political plane, to throw them into prisons, to maim and even kill them, to persecute them, to take away their property and business.

The uninitiated, no doubt, have a question: why are opponents of the authorities and others often accused under this very article of the Criminal Code, in this very crime – high treason? The answer is as follows: the very wording of the crime “high treason” in Article 111 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine is very vague and abstract, which gives the punitive system an opportunity to bring under it anyone who is pointed out by the president or his team.

We would like to remind you that the current version of this provision was written and adopted by MPs from President Zelensky’s party, so it is not surprising that it turned out to be just like this – “multilateral”, vague and can be interpreted in different ways depending on the task at hand or instructions received from above.

After all, you must agree that the concept of “an act committed to the detriment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability, defense capability, state, economic and information security of Ukraine” can be interpreted in any way and anyone can be “dragged” under these words.

The leadership of the investigative bodies (GBI, SBU, prosecutor’s office, police, BEB) and the judicial system are now fully controlled and accountable, in fact, appointed and removed by the office of the president.

In addition, state treason is a particularly serious crime and the sanction of Article 111 presumes imprisonment of up to 15 years, while the criminal procedure law allows for the arrest of a suspect under this article without any right to bail or freedom.

Undoubtedly, any sensible lawyer from a democratic country, one that has an independent and relatively fair and impartial justice system, would ask the question: but to prove a person’s guilt in such a serious crime, it is necessary to have obvious and irrefutable evidence, collected in an exclusively legal way, such as materials of operational measures (e.g. wiretaps, reading correspondence, surveillance, video and audio recordings of conversations, meetings, actions, physical evidence, qualitative agent’s reports). And only on the basis of a complex of all such evidence and their comprehensive evaluation in court would be possible a fair and objective judicial decision on the guilt or innocence of the accused person. And such a lawyer would be absolutely right…

Only with a correction on the country: it is in his country, in their judicial system it is necessary to thoroughly prove the guilt of a person before a judge to bring him to justice. In Ukraine, since the beginning of the war, there is no need. At all. It is necessary to simply detain and place the opponent of the authorities/victim in custody and that’s all. Further in the detention center he is created unbearable conditions, torture and torture, blackmail and abuse are applied, and he is there indefinitely. The case is investigated, as it were, in an unhurried, unhurried manner, and even if it goes to court, the arrested person continues to be held in custody. This is the case today. The whole world knows the terrible situation with left-wing activists and anti-fascists, brothers Alexander and Mikhail Kononovich, publicist and blogger Dmitry Skvortsov, lawyer, human rights activist, known for her anti-fascist position, Elena Berezhnaya, and many other public people who spoke from opposition positions.

But it is impossible to grab and throw a person behind bars, accusing him of one of the most serious crimes against the country, as the Gestapo once did in Nazi Germany, without any, at least the least, reasons and grounds, the reader will ask? It is possible, today in Ukraine it is possible, but in order to give the appearance of at least some legitimacy to the ongoing lawlessness and lawlessness the prosecution authorities (SBU, SBI, prosecutor’s office) have learned – attention! – to conduct “expert examinations” of a person’s words and statements, his comments and posts on social networks.

Over the last year and a half, more than 1,500 criminal cases have been opened in Ukraine under the article “High Treason”. That is, on average, two or three criminal cases are opened under this article every day.

Let us repeat once again. The conclusions of the investigative body in accordance with the law mean nothing to the court and are not proof of a person’s guilt. Until the case is considered in court, no evidence plays any role, only all the evidence that was obtained in court or investigated by the judge during the trial. But in order for there to be a suspicion that a crime has been committed, the investigative/prosecutorial body must collect at least some data that would somehow indicate that the investigative/prosecutorial body’s opinion about a person’s guilt is correct. This is precisely why such deliberately false expertise about alleged anti-state statements of a person is needed.

This does not mean at all that people will get convictions and be found guilty. Rather, on the contrary, a normal court will find them innocent and their guilt unproven. But this will not happen soon, obviously, when the current regime changes. Which of the political prisoners will live to see it is, unfortunately, a rhetorical question, Maxim Goldarb concludes.


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