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01 March 2019

The Shevchenko District Court of Kyiv satisfied the complaint of the lawyers of Ario Law Firm and released the citizen of the Republic of Moldova, the oppositionist Olexander Balika, from extradition arrest.  The court replaced the measure of restraint for the night house arrest – with the prohibition to leave the living accommodation from 20.00 pm to 9.00 am of the next morning.

It should be noted that legal defense in Ukraine is provided to the Moldovan oppositionist by the lawyers of Ario Law Firm, the senior partner Julian Khorunzhyi, the partner Yevhen Hrushovets, the lawyer Natalia Shvets, the lawyer Yaroslav Serbin.

Let us recall that Olexander Balika was detained in Kyiv on June 21, 2018. On July 6, 2018, extradition arrest was applied to him at the request of the Republic of Moldova. In Ukraine he applied for the political asylum. The required package of the documents confirming political motivation of the persecution and the application for a refugee status was signed by Olexander on July 5, 2018, but due to the fact that the oppositionist was detained on July 6 for the time of the extradition check and was in the pretrial detention facility, the SMS received the documents only at the end of July. The actions on registration of the necessary documents were taken by the SMS only in late September.

“Olexander Balika did not evade the investigation in the Republic of Moldova. He is absent in the Interpol database, which is confirmed by the fact that he repeatedly crossed the border with Ukraine. In addition, we provided the court with documents confirming that Balika was a candidate from the opposition party for the position of a member of the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova. Today there is a tough resistance between the opposition (Balika is the member of this party) and the authorities. This indicates that his persecution is politically motivated,” Yevhen Hrushovets, the partner of Ario Law Firm, said.

“Five members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, representatives of Great Britain, the Netherlands, Italy and Germany, indicated directly the political motivation of the Olexander’s Balika persecution. We submitted their appeal to the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Human Rights and the State Migration Service to the Court and added them to the proceedings materials,” Julian Khorunzhyi, the senior partner of Ario Law Firm, said.

As follows from the text of the appeal, the PACE members note that Mr. Balika is one of the key witnesses of the criminal case against the leaders of the Moldovan political party “Democratic Party of Moldova”, which (the case) was opened in Romania in 2017, and then was transferred to Moldova, despite of the fact that it has no prospects for an investigation in Moldova, since currently the highest public positions in Moldova, including the position of the Prosecutor General, is occupied by the representatives of the same political party  “Democratic Party of Moldova” and their allies.

“The extradition of Olexander Balika to Moldova will lead to criminal persecution against him personally for political reasons and may lead to the use of torture against him in order to obtain evidence against himself and the leaders of the political opposition in the country,” the appeal says.

In turn, the lawyer Natalia Shvets noted that the defense of Olexander Balika proved to the court the inconsistency of keeping Balika under custody.

“The defense has provided evidence that Olexander did not evade justice in his home country. Moreover, the materials of the extradition request submitted by the competent authorities of the Republic of Moldova indicate that for more than a year and a half since Balika was notified of the accusation, no investigative actions in the criminal case, including his participation, have been carried out, it means no investigation has been actually conducted,” the lawyer Natalia Shvets said. “He also did not hide from the law enforcement agencies of any state”.

She also drew attention to the fact that there were no criminal proceedings in Balika’s home country, except for the case, which has the signs of political persecution.

Also among the arguments of the defense side there are:

  • Olexander has strong social ties: he is married, has two children in his care, namely, a minor daughter and a young son,
  • he has permanent place of residence in Kyiv;
  • he has no convictions;
  • no reports of Balika’s being suspected of other crimes committing
  • appeal of Olexander Balika to the State Migration Service on application for granting him a status of a refugee or a person who needs additional protection;
  • Olexander Balika has no documents that would give him the right to travel outside Ukraine;
  • he has a certificate on appeal for defense in Ukraine.

Taking the above into account, the court decided to replace the measure of restraint and released the oppositionist from custody.