Kharkov, Ukraine. A quiet gentle, old man who has been held in a Ukrainian prison since April 30th of 2014, has been sentenced to 6 years for having been one of the founders of the Kharkov People’s Republic and Donbass independence.
Kharkov Kiev District Court found Yuri Apukhtin, the founder and coordinator of the Novorossiya movement, guilty of organizing mass disturbances followed by massacres and public calls for a violent overthrow of the Ukrainian constitutional system and a coup, according to Ukrainian prosecutors.
“The court ruled to sentence Apukhtin Yuriy Mykhailovych to imprisonment for six years,” Judge Yana Hubska said, reading a ruling on Tuesday. With that, one of the founders of the Donbass independence movement was off to prison for six years. International legal onservers have concerns that since Apukhtin has been in prison through the events he has been accused of participation in.
In accordance with the so-called ‘Savchenko law’ the court included the time Apukhtin had spent in a remand prison (from April 30 to May 7, 2014, and from December 19, 2014, to date) into the sentence under the formula ‘a day in a remand prison counts as two days in a jail.’
“I didn’t expect any other decision. I considered myself innocent and still do so,” Apukhtin said after the judgment was rendered. Apukhtin’s lawyer Dmytro Tyhonenkov said he considers the judgment unfounded and the defense team will appeal against it.
Ukrainian prosecutor Maksym Mozhovoi said that a decision on whether to file an appeal will be made after the consideration of the text of the ruling.”I believe the court has rendered justified and substantiated. We will make a decision on the appeal after thorough consideration of the text of the ruling,” he said.
It was in a preliminary inquiry that Apukhtin was accused of organized mass riots near the building of Kharkov Regional State Administration in April 2014. He publically called for an overthrow of the constitutional system, non-recognition of the current state authorities, setting up the Kharkov People’s Republic (KPR) and the so-called KPR Constitution.
Legal experts claim the Apukhtin trial is a violation of the Minsk accords point five which states; Provide pardon and amnesty by way of enacting a law that forbids persecution and punishment of persons in relation to events that took place in particular districts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine.