Monitoring the trial of Alexander Shchegolev (session November 20, 2019)

On November 20, a regular court session was held on the case of the former head of the Security Service of Ukraine in Kiev and Kiev Region, Alexander Shchegolev, who is accused of having led the headquarters of the anti-terrorist operation conducted against Maidan supporters (winter 2013-2014). Experts from the International Society for Human Rights continue to monitor this lawsuit.

It is important to note the changes that have occurred in this lawsuit since our last observation. Firstly, after 3 years and 10 months of detention, on June 26 a measure of restraint for A. Shchegolev was replaced for round-the-clock house arrest. Thus, when making this decision, the court was guided by the position of the Constitutional Court, which considered the provision of part 5 of article 176 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of Ukraine, which prescribes the so-called “non alternative” measure of restraint, for persons suspected or accused of committing a serious or especially serious crime. In addition, on October 25, the court granted the defense’s request and replaced A. Shchegolev’s measure of restraint with a personal obligation.

At this hearing, the defense considered the return of the documents to A. Shchegolev (passport of a citizen of Ukraine and a passport for traveling abroad). Attorney V. Rybin motivated this application by the fact that his client, due to the lack of a passport, cannot exercise his constitutional right to receive a pension and official employment. In addition, according to A. Shchegolev, without a passport, he cannot conclude a contract for medical care. The prosecution objected to the satisfaction of the petition and noted that the absence of the accused’s documents was the only way to prevent A. Schegolev from traveling abroad. The court partially granted the petition, having decided to return to the accused only the passport of a citizen of Ukraine.

The only violation that the experts of the International Society for Human Rights can single out after observing this court session is that the session began with a delay of more than an hour. In previous reports, the ISHR experts repeatedly spoke about the violation of the principle of reasonable time in this trial (reports dated 12/13/2018; 07/02/2018), today, according to the lawyer, the consideration of criminal proceedings is moving faster due to a number of factors, among which, – loss of interest in the case on the part of the Media. In one of its decisions, the ECtHR expressed its position regarding media publications on lawsuits. In the case of “Burns and Evert v. Luxembourg”, the ECtHR noted that a fair trial may not be possible with a “fierce press campaign against the accused.”

In general, only positive trends can be noted in trials of defendants in politically motivated cases. So, for example, the court changed P.Mikhalchevsky’s measure of restraint to a “softer” one (report dated 10.29.2019), a similar situation with S. Yezhov (report dated 07.03.2019). Court hearings, despite the workload of the courts, began to be held much more often. The tendency to postpone court hearings also “slowed down”. All these facts may indicate that the current government does not exert pressure on the court regarding the consideration of the above cases.

Experts from the International Society for Human Rights will continue to monitor and clarify the details of this lawsuit.