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Ukrainian Opposition City Official Faces Secession Charges

    19 January 2021 Tuesday

    Pechersk District Court starts hearing complaint by Kolesnikov's lawyer
    Mr Kolesnikov attended the session.
    Prosecutor General Sviatoslav Piskun arrived at the Court with a paper, which suggested Boris Kolesnikov's arrest.
    Kyiv, 8 April 2005 - The arrest of Borys Kolesnykov, head of the legislature in the eastern Donetsk region, has provoked a political scandal in Ukraine. While the authorities claim that Kolesnykov is a common criminal, the opposition, led by former Prime Minister and presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych, says the case is politically motivated.

    Thousands of people in Donetsk today rallied in support of their regional legislature head Borys Kolesnykov. And in Kyiv, some 2,000 people did the same near the court where his complaint was being heard.

    The authorities claim Kolesnykov attempted to illegally seize shares of an unnamed Donetsk-based company. The court session was held behind closed doors.The authorities have insisted that Kolesnykov's arrest was above board.

    Earlier today, Yanukovych demanded the immediate release of Kolesnykov. He threatened that his party and millions of its supporters will start a political strike if Kolesnykov is not released from custody immediately.

    The authorities, however, have insisted that Kolesnykov's arrest was above board.

    Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko, speaking in Ukraine's parliament, said that Kolesnykov was arrested in accordance with the law on various charges, including extortion and conspiracy to commit murder

    "If the investigators or the court find that Kolesnykov is a law-obeying citizen who has been illegally accused of violating the [Criminal Code], then, without doubt, I, as the minister, will beg [Kolesnykov's] pardon," said Lutsenko. "And everyone who acted unprofessionally during the investigation will be punished. I guarantee this. But on the other hand, I guarantee that if the investigators believe that Kolesnykov and other well-known figures from Donetsk are guilty, the case will go to court.”

    Others officials concur with the opposition that Kolesnykov has been unfairly treated.

    Nina Karpachova, Ukraine's ombudswoman, admitted that the authorities have violated Kolesnykov's rights.

    "Undoubtedly, the detainee's rights have been violated," Karpachova said. "There was a brutal violation of the detainee's right for direct access in the court. We all must know that! Tomorrow, it will concern your associates, your children, your relatives!"

    Yanukovych today sent a letter to Prosecutor-General Svyatoslav Piskun, Supreme Court Chairman Vasily Malyarenko, and Interior Minister Lutsenko demanding Kolesnykov's immediate release.

    After Viktor Yushchenko won the second round of the presidential elections on Dec. 26, the authorities in the hometown of his opponent, former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, suggested breaking away from Ukraine.

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