23 February 2021

The latest decisions of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine to ban broadcasting of TV channels and impose sanctions against some citizens of Ukraine and the Russian Federation, as well as against a list of legal entities accused of financing terrorism, raise major concerns. The NSDC is an important collective body in the structure of the presidential power, and it is entitled to consider such questions and impose sanctions, within the framework stipulated by the Constitution and legislation. And sanctions indeed are a powerful and effective tool for protecting the national security of Ukraine. However, it is unacceptable that the NSDC is used as an instrument of pressure on journalists, public figures and leaders of political parties.

If the Ukrainian authorities have enough evidence of the illegal actions of Viktor Medvedchuk, members of his family and his team, this evidence should become public and a subject of judicial scrutiny. The NSDC is not the Supreme Court, not the highest judicial body. Any data of intelligence agencies, any analytical information is only an element of the evidence base, but cannot be a substitute for a judicial verdict. In a democratic society, the constitutionally stipulated presumption of innocence, and the rights and freedoms of citizens must function.

I am not a supporter of the Opposition Platform for Life party. I am critical of Mr. Medvedchuk’s forms and methods of work, but I consider it unacceptable, in a democratic country, to use methods of political persecution, the practice of selective decisions and selective justice. Such actions of the authorities are in the plane of "simple decisions" presented to society as victories and the triumph of justice, while, in fact, they are dangerous signs of populism and authoritarianism.

As a people's deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, I consider it necessary to demand that MPs familiarize themselves with the materials on the basis of which the decision to impose the sanctions was made – all the more, names of some current members of parliament are on the sanctions list. A closed-door session of the Verkhovna Rada should be convened for this reason to hear the reports of the NSDC members. I also think that the decisions of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine should become a reason for going to court with the entire collected evidence base, but at the same time, the NSDC cannot replace the judicial authorities. This is one of the basic principles of democracy, otherwise the temptation of simple and quick decisions can lead us into an era of new autocracy and legal nihilism.

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