“The Ukrainian ‘justice’ has pushed the journalist from RIA Novosti Ukraine agency, Kirill Vyshinsky, to condition close to a heart attack. We demand that he is freed immediately. We also expect a reaction from OSCE’s RFoM [Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Desir],” reads Aleksandr Lukashevich’s comment posted by the envoy’s office on Twitter
The former head of RIA Novosti Ukraine news agency, Kirill Vyshinsky, was detained in Kiev in May this year, charged with high treason and placed in custody pending trial.
Ukrainian investigators claim that the high treason was manifested in Vyshinsky’s support of the self-proclaimed republics of Lugansk and Donetsk while the journalist insists that he was simply doing his job by providing unbiased reporting and covering positions of the both sides of the conflict. He also complained of procedural violations committed by Ukrainian law enforcement officers right from the start of the process, such as forging letters to defense lawyers.
Vyshinsky holds citizenship of both Russia and Ukraine but he has already expressed his readiness to give up his Ukrainian citizenship. Russian officials and mass media have denounced Ukraine’s treatment of the journalist.
President Vladimir Putin called the case “unprecedented” and emphasized that Vyshinsky was prosecuted for things which he had done openly as part of his work as a journalist. The Russian Foreign Ministry addressed Ukraine with the note of protest in connection with the case.
On Wednesday, Vyshinsky was urgently taken to a hospital from the court session that looked into the extension of his pre-trial arrest. His lawyer, Andrey Domansky, told the press that the situation was caused by the sharp decline in his client’s health. The lawyer also added that his client had previously had a heart attack and described the methods of treatment offered in the Ukrainian detention center as “obscure.”
On Thursday the court session continued with a rejection of Vyshinsky’s appeal for judge replacement. Later in the day the Kherson City Court extended the period of Kirill Vyshinsky’s pre-trial detention until November 4.