Brussels, 7 April 2021 - EBCO calls for the dropping of all charges against Ruslan Kotsabaand the prosecution of the inciters of hatred and violence

(UPDATE on Ruslan Kotsaba case:The trial took place online on 8 April 2021. Since two judges didn’t show up it was postponed to May 17th.)

OPEN LETTER To:     Prosecutor General's Office of Ukraine, 13/15 Riznytska St., Kyiv, 01011, Ukraine, fax (+38) 044 280 26 03

Cc:     Court, Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights,

Security Service of Ukraine,

Dear Prosecutor General,

On behalf of the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection, I am writing to you to call for the immediate and unconditional end of the criminal prosecution against Ukrainian journalist, pacifist and conscientious objector Ruslan Kotsaba, simply because he publicly expressed his pacifist views. We consider his case a clear politically motivated persecution, in violation of his rights to freedom of expression and freedom of thought, conscience and religion, guaranteed under Articles 18 and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Articles 9 and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Moreover we were shocked by the far-right attacks against Ruslan Kotsaba on the day of his retrial, on January 22nd 2021, placing his life under threat. However, the police did not arrest any of the attackers. We therefore urge you to ensure that inciters of hatred and violence are arrested and held accountable.

We express our solidarity with Ruslan Kotsaba and we urge you 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 you 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.

Sincerely yours,

Alexia Tsouni

EBCO President