Location Ukraine Ukraine

Lviv student was sentenced to 2.5 years for quotes from Lenin in Facebook

The court also decided to destroy the «Capital» by Karl Marx as an instrument of crime

The Ukrainian court sentenced a third-year student of the University of Lviv to 2.5 years in prison with a one-year delay for placing Lenin’s citations on social networks.

The Lviv Prosecutor’s Office and the Galytsky District Court of Lviv decided to boast of their dubious achievements in the fight against crime and on May 10 posted on their official websites press releases about the conviction of a student of the Lviv University for «propaganda of communist ideology». The name of the student is not disclosed, it is known only that he is a native of Lviv. This is the first verdict of such kind in Ukraine and the Prosecutor’s Office of the Lviv region already hints that it is not the last, as two more such cases are investigated.

Lviv student, according to the prosecutor’s office, committed a criminal offense under article 436-1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (Manufacturing, distribution of communist, Nazi symbols and propaganda of communist and national-socialist (Nazi) totalitarian regimes).

The article was introduced into the Criminal Code after the adoption of the so-called decommunization law, and it defines criminal liability for violation of the law.

«There are still 2 such cases, pre-trial investigation is ongoing, for this purpose, all the circumstances are not disclosed, since investigative priority actions are being carried out. In this case, the young man was exposed by Security Service last year and his Facebook page was blocked. The information he published — can not be voiced, because it is also a criminally punishable act», — head of the press service of the Lviv Prosecutor’s Office Nadezhda Pits told reporters.

It is possible that the prosecutor’s office implies the persons detained in Lviv on May 1, 2016. Then the police arrested an anarchist and Young communist league members, who, according to the special service, planned to destabilize the situation in the country during the May Day holidays. They then seized left-wing leaflets.

According to the published verdict, the Single State Register of Judicial Decisions, the Galytsky District Court of Lviv, presided over by Judge Strelbitsky, with the participation of the prosecutor Matlakh, passed a verdict on May 4, 2017. According to the storyline of this case, the student from May 2015 to April 2016, at home and using his own portable laptop Emachines with a user account in the social network Facebook under a pseudonym «deliberately, in order to bring communist ideology to a wide range of people, realizing that the page has open access and can be accessed by an unlimited number of users of the social network Facebook, carried out publications, including in the social network communities on which, according to the conclusion of linguistic examination №56 / 205 dated March 27, 2017 contains propaganda of elements of communist ideology, which consists in disseminating tendentious information aimed at idealizing and popularizing communist ideology and in public use of products with symbols of the communist regime, which include: publications on V.I . Lenin, that is, a person who held a leading position in the highest authorities in the USSR, his philosophical and political quotations, as well as generally known Communist slogans.” Slogans in the verdict of the court in the register are hidden. But according to the information received by Ukrainian journalists in Lviv’s prosecutor’s office, these are quotations: «Lenin lived, Lenin lives, Lenin will live,» «Plan is law, fulfillment is duty, overfulfilment is honor!» etc.

Despite all the doubtfulness of the accusation and lawyer’s participation in the case, the student for unknown reason decided not to fight on the pre-trial investigation for closing the case and seek an acquittal in court, but pleaded guilty and entered into an agreement with the prosecutor on confessing guilt.

Under the terms of the agreement, the accused man during the pre-trial investigation fully acknowledged his guilt for the crimes envisaged in part 1 of article 436-1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, and undertook to unconditionally acknowledge it in the amount of the charge in the judicial proceedings. The parties to the agreement immediately agreed the punishment in the form of two years and six months of imprisonment without confiscation of property with exemption from serving a sentence with a trial for one year. The court approved this agreement.
Special attention deserves «material evidence» in this «matter of the century», the court decided to destroy as a weapon of crime. Among criminal tools the yellow-and-blue color ribbons of the national flag and even the «Capital» by Karl Marx were included.

Judge Strelbitsky decided to destroy such subjects of the criminal activities of the Lvov student: «a Young communist league member ticket of the accused, a party ticket of the accused, a textbook «Capital» by Karl Marx, St. George’s, yellow-blue and red ribbons, an invitation with the inscription «Guest of the ХХІХ extraordinary congress of PSPU» in the name of the accused, 4 raincoats, 5 flags, 19 T-shirts, 7 caps and 5 CDs with communist symbols, 8 Young communist league member tickets, … postcards with communist symbols. «At the same time, the court returned the student a laptop and a tablet PC with charger devices.

Ukrainian opposition journalists believe that this verdict creates a dangerous precedent, similar verdicts will follow it in large numbers, as there are many groups in social networks, including youth ones, using communist symbols. And legal experts note that the ban on symbolism related to the Communist Party and the Soviet past (the «decommunization» laws passed in May 2015) violate the right to freedom of expression. This, in particular, is the official position of Amnesty International.

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