Neo-Nazis Seize Odessa Court, Threaten to Repeat 2nd May After the Liberation of the Russian Mefedov

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Translated by Ollie Richardson for Fort Russ

7th June, 2016


The Odessa regional court of appeal overturned the first instance of the decision of the court regarding the Russian Eugene Mefedov about placing him in custody in connection with the fact that he allegedly threatened to kill the prosecution witness in the case of May 2nd.

We will briefly recall the history of the issue. On May 27th, Malinovsky court decided to release Evgeny Mefedov on house arrest after being in prison for more than two years for the case of May 2nd. However, prosecutors immediately filed a new charge against Mefedov: at 16:00 on 26th May he was accused of sending a message to the chief prosecution’s witness, Posmichenko, in which he informed Posmichenko that when he is released from custody he will deal with Posmichenko.

Posmichenko wrote an application to law enforcement bodies, after which criminal proceedings were opened using article 129 of the criminal code of Ukraine (threats to kill) against Mefedov for suspicion of committing this crime, and he was again remanded in custody.

Mefedov’s lawyer asked the court of appeals to release his client from behind bars in connection with the groundlessness of these accusations. In particular, he pointed out that the prosecution case is unfounded and contains a lot of contradictions. No one has seen the message but Posmichenko, because he, in his own words, he removed it immediately.

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And only on May 27th, when it became known that Mefedov was released from custody, according to the allegation, did Posmichenko supposedly remember about the message, and contact law enforcement. Moreover, the defence confirms that Mefedov could not have physically sent this message, because exactly at this moment he had been sent to the courtroom for hearing the case of May 2nd.

The representative of state prosecution asked to leave Mefedov in custody but was not able to convincingly refute any of the claims of the defence. Mefedov himself claims that the words of Posmichenko are not credible — especially that, according to Mefedov, they are not even his words, but a statement written “at the dictation” of the prosecution.

After deliberation, the judges decided to grant the Mefedov’s defense motion and release him from custody. This provoked a negative reaction from those gathered in the hall’s audience of extremist from organisations of the “Euromaidan” wing: “Self-Defense of Odessa”, “Right Sector”, “Svoboda”, and others. Neo-Nazis blocked the door to the conference room from the inside in order to prevent the release of Mefedov, who was on the dock. Activists shouting threats at Mefedov, judges, and representatives of the state prosecution and erected barricades of furniture before the door to the hall. They demanded that the judges immediately return to the jury room and rewrite their decision in accordance with the wishes of “euromaidan protesters”.

The judges ask law enforcement officers to record violations of the law (the pressure on the court and threats to the judges) by the activists, but they did nothing.

As of 18:15, the court room remains blockaded. One part of the extremists are holding it from the inside out, and others are crowded in the court yard. In addition, radicals put a military truck outside the courthouse. One of the participants of the blockade has already said that if the judges don’t comply, the activists can turn the building of the Court of Appeal into another House of Trade Unions, alluding to the events of 2nd May 2014.

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