“Stop Censorship!” comes out in support of Volodarsky and Groisman

The civil movement “Stop Censorship!” is concerned over the criminal prosecutions of Oleksandr Volodarsky who is accused of hooliganism and flagrant disrespect for public morality and Dmytro Groisman, the Vinnytsa human rights activist charged with circulating pornography.

As reported here, Oleksandr Volodarsky was found guilty of hooliganism carried out by a group (Article 296 § 2 of the Criminal Code).  This was over his protest against the actions of the National Expert Commission for the Protection of Public Morality when he and an unidentified female simulated sexual intercourse outside the Verkhovna Rada. Oleksandr was sentenced to one year’s restriction of liberty and is presently appealing against the sentence.


Dmytro Groisman is accused under Article 338 § 1 of the Criminal Code “desecration of State symbols” for posting on his blog in Live Journal a cartoon picture depicting an erect penis on the body of the Constitution of Ukraine. This carries a fine, custodial arrest or deprivation of liberty for up to 3 years.


He is also accused under Article 301 § 1 of the Criminal Code “Circulation of objects, images or works of a pornographic nature”,

“We are convinced that in both cases we are dealing with the flaws in legislation and application of law practice of the court as well as the law enforcement agencies which are continuing the practice of a totalitarian country in forming charges and punishing with the most severe sanctions for expressing protest, albeit “in cynical form”.


Whatever the aesthetic value of the performance against the Verkhovna Rada, this is not a matter for deprivation of liberty. However obscene the content of the statements in a private blog, this cannot be grounds for criminal prosecution.

As well as liberalization of court practice, there is also an urgent issue linked with reviewing the relevant norms of the Criminal Code. We hope that among the opposition or pro-regime majority there will be supporters of freedom of speech in its various forms who will initiate the needed changes.


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