On May 2nd I had the privilege of conducting an interview with Ruslan Kotsaba, a famous Ukrainian journalist, who was sentenced to jail, for telling telling the thruth about Ukraine, Odessa and Eastern Ukraine.
Hereunder the interview and transcript in English:
Gepubliceerd op 13 mei 2017
A court in Ivano-Frankivsk, western Ukraine sentenced journalist Ruslan Kotsaba to three and a half years in prison on May 11-2016. His sentencing occurred the following day.
Transcript of the Interview:
My name is Ruslan Kotsaba, I’am from Western Ukraine. Today I came to Odessa because of the memorial events dedicated to the tragic date…Three years ago innocent people, including old people and women were killed.
I think it was simply a turn of events. Ukrainian authorities and police in particular showed incompetence; moreover, politicians wanted to provoke a conflict in order to manipulate people afterwards. They needed blood, confrontation. This confrontation was made very extreme on both sides and as a result of it innocent people suffered.
Unfortunately, Ukrainian media discredited themselves during this conflict, as well as with everything else. Ukrainian mass media are propaganda machines and aren’t independent. They are working either for an oligarch who is financing this media or for the government which is, unfortunately, promoting Nazism. Not nationalism, but Nazism. They are building everything on hatred and hostility. An example of this propaganda is the statement that Russia, our closest neighbor with the longest border with Ukraine, is the enemy. Note: not Putin or Medvedev, but ordinary Russians are the enemy.
Journalists who are involved in propaganda should be condemned. According to the world standards of journalism, objective media attention should be on both sides of the conflict. Especially in case of an armed conflict. If these standards aren’t followed, those are not true mass media, but propaganda machines. World society as well as fellow-journalists should condemn us for playing along with the authorities and their dirty games. Ukrainian government builds everything on hatred, aggression, war. Current situation is very profitable for their business. Imagine, war comes to an end, there is no shelling any more. In this case Poroshenko will be forced to do something. He will have to implement political and economic reforms, make changes in Constitution, while he is not ready and doesn’t have majority support in Parliament.Journalists from all over the world should also know that there is no freedom of speech in Ukraine!
I’m a living example of that. I was arrested and they wanted to sentence me to 13 years of jail for expressing my opinion about war in Ukraine on my YouTube page and calling it a civil war.
I used to work as a war correspondent on TV channel 112, which had accreditation on both sides of the conflict. When I started going there and telling the truth, I was thrown in jail.
For truth about smuggling, alcoholism, pillage etc at the front. Therefore journalists from around the world should support those Ukrainian journalists who are objectively showing all points of view instead of ones who are busy with propaganda of hatred and war.
By the way, anywhere in world war propaganda is banned, it’s not the case only in Ukraine and probably in North Korea. I was thrown in jail for making anti-war video, just for being a pacifist.
He was convicted under article 114-1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, namely, hindering the activities of Ukrainian Armed Forces and other military forces. Prior to his arrest in February 2015, he called on Ukrainian men of military age to defy compulsory military draft and refuse to serve in the civil war zone of eastern Ukraine. He posted a video to the internet saying, “I would prefer to go to prison than to take part in this fratricidal war.”
Ruslan Kotsaba speaks to Sonja van den Ende – www.freesuriyah.org, about the situation in Ukraine, Odessa, Donetsk and Lughansk. I interviewed him in Odessa on 2 May, 2017, during my visit to Odessa, to report about the 2nd May 2014 Tragedy.
Ruslan Kozaba was born in 1966 in Ivano-Frankivsk in the West Caucasus . In 1990, he took part in the protests against the communist rulers. After completing an administrative academy, he headed the fishery and migration supervision in his birthplace of Ivano-Frankivsk. During the Orange Revolution in 2004 he was organizing the protest movement. Until 2014 he worked as a freelance correspondent for the TV station 112 Ukraine .
During the war in the Eastern Ukraine , Kozaba, who personally visited the Donbass , was widely known for his calls for a peaceful political solution to the conflict and against a military intervention by the Ukrainian government. He published on YouTube a video that has seen hundreds of thousands of people expressing his unwillingness to go to the army and called for a general boycott of the current mobilization wave, which was illegal because no state of war was imposed . He also said that he would rather spend two to five years in prison than to commit “a deliberate murder of my countrymen in the East”. “It is impossible in the 21st century that people kill people, only to live independently.” The war in the Eastern Ukraine is, according to him, a civil war with only a small share of Russian citizens .
The appeal of Kozaba attracted the attention of the Russian media, whereupon Kozaba, at the invitation of the radio station Rossija 1, once took part in the Polittalk broadcast “Spezialny Korrespondent” in Moscow , where he repeated his views once more.
After this appearance, a prosecution against Koszaba on the initiative of the security service SBU was opened by the prosecutor’s office Ivano-Frankivsk for high treason and mobilization. On 7 February 2015 Kozaba was arrested and presented to the judge . In the process, Kozaba refused to recognize his “treason” and repeated his appeal to the Ukrainians not to go to the army. He compared the trial against himself with Stalinist tragedy and called it an attack on free speech.
Although the mobilization rate in the Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast was the lowest in the country, the prosecution was unable to find any witnesses who returned their non-mobilization to Kozaba. As witnesses, Ivano-Frankivian soldiers appeared from the front who accused Kozaba of sabotaging the rotation, making their personal war service conditions more difficult. The prosecution demanded 13 years of deprivation of liberty for Kozaba with confiscation of his private property.
On 12 May 2016, Ruslan Kozaba was sentenced to 3.5 years of freedom deprivation. The court saw no high treason in his actions, but found him guilty of “hindering the legitimate activities of the Ukrainian forces.