Civic activist charged over “unauthorized” protest

An activist from the NGO “Vidcich”, Kateryna Chepura was due to appear in court on 4 April on administrative charges over supposedly organizing an “unauthorized” protest outside the Club of the Cabinet of Ministers on 24 March where a public discussion was taking place of the draft Law on Higher Education.

Kateryna says that this was a spontaneous protest, she organized nothing and scarcely even took part in it since she was at the meeting virtually all the time.

The public discussion was supposedly to include student activists however when they arrived, they found that their names were not on the list. They demanded to be allowed into the meeting.

Kateryna Chepura was in fact admitted, the only activist to be so, and therefore she simply didn’t have time to take part in the protest. She says that there were no more than eight members of Vidsich outside. Clearly they could not have organized the protest in advance since it was prompted by the circumstances that arose.

She says that the police want a simple life with the person submitting notification of a meeting being responsible for everybody.

Ihor Mykhalko from the Kyiv Police says that at present legislation does not contain the concept of “spontaneous protest”. He told Radio Svoboda that the meeting took place without permission and therefore an administrative protocol was drawn up.

“That is, if they didn’t submit an application to the Kyiv City State Administration, there was no document giving permission. Yet the protest happened, that is why the protocol was drawn up”.

Members of Vidsich and other NGOs were planning to attend the court hearing, together with the Chair of the parliamentary committee on education, Maxim Lutsky (Party of the Regions) who considers the charge against Ms Chepura to be unlawful.


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