Solidarity with the Ukrainian journalist and conscientious objector Ruslan Kotsaba
Brutally assaulted by right-wing radicals
(28.06.2021) On 25 June 2021 the President of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement Ruslan Kotsaba was attacked by a neo-Nazi gang at the Ivano-Frankivsk railway station. Later he underwent surgery to save his sight due to a burn in his retina with the chemical brilliant green or "zelenka". The doctors diagnosed a corneal burn on one eye and he is now undergoing ophthalmological treatment. The attack is likely to be related to the court hearing against Ruslan Kotsaba scheduled for Tuesday, June 29.
EBCO joins the call of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement which urges the police to investigate the vile and savage act of political violence of right-wing radicals who even openly brag about their crime in social networks.
Unfortunately, this was not the first time that Ruslan Kotsaba was attacked. Already at his trial on 22/01/2021, Ruslan, his lawyer and his mother had been attacked on their way to the court by an extreme right-wing mob, which formed a "corridor of shame" through which Ruslan had to walk. He was sprayed with a fire extinguisher with the mob chanting "Death to enemies! Ukraine above all!"
“EBCO is shocked by the new attack as well as by the impunity of the criminals who attacked Ruslan Kotsaba, his mother and lawyer near the Kolomyia City District Court on the day of his retrial, on January 22nd 2021, placing again his life under threat. We urge the Ukrainian authorities to ensure that inciters of hatred and violence are arrested and held accountable without further delay”, Alexia Tsouni, EBCO President stated today.
In 2015, after a stay in the eastern Ukrainian war zone, the journalist had declared in a video published on Youtube that he would refuse to be drafted. At the same time, he had also advised his compatriots to do the same. Because of the video, he was arrested in 2015 and sentenced to 3 ½ years in prison for "treason" and "obstructing the activities of the armed forces." After 16 months in prison, he was acquitted by an appeals court. However, in 2017, this acquittal was again overturned by the Supreme Civil and Criminal Court. Trials have now continued for more than three years. If convicted, Ruslan Kotsaba faces several years in prison.
“EBCO expresses its solidarity with Ruslan Kotsaba and we urge the Ukrainian government to safeguard that all pacifists in Ukraine, including the activists of our member organisation Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, are able to freely express their opinions and continue their non-violent activity. We also urge the Ukrainian government to safeguard the right to conscientious objection to military service, according to the european and international standards, amongst others the standards set by the European Court of Human Rights”, Alexia Tsouni added.
European Bureau for Conscientious Objection (EBCO): Solidarity with the Ukrainian journalist and conscientious objector Ruslan Kotsaba who was brutally assaulted by right-wing radicals. June 28, 2021. https://ebco-beoc.org/node/505.