Photo by Media Center Ukraine – Odesa: Oleksii Arunyan, journalist of the judicial journalism media “Graty” (Gates); Yulia Lisova, coordinator of the Justtalk space; Onysia Synyuk, legal analyst at the ZMINA Human Rights Center
October 3, 2023, 14:05

Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, there has been only one acquittal for collaboration – ZMINA Human Rights Center

In general, there are already about 800 such criminal cases. This was stated by Onysia Synyuk, legal analyst at the ZMINA Human Rights Center, at a briefing at the Media Center Ukraine – Odesa.

She noted that the legislation on treason and collaboration appeared almost in the first days of the full-scale invasion. But now, in judicial practice, it is necessary to distinguish between the territories that were occupied during the full-scale invasion and those that have been occupied since 2014. Because those accused of collaboration had different life circumstances. 

“There is only one acquittal and only one appeal regarding the charges of collaboration. It concerns an electrician from the de-occupied Lyman in the Kharkiv region. He went to work for the occupation authorities to maintain the city’s vital functions and to provide for his two children. However, the court of first instance did not take into account such arguments of the lawyer,” – the human rights activist said.

Oleksiy Arunyan, a journalist with the court journalism publication Graty, noted that after the de-occupation of two cities, Svitlohirsk and Lyman, he followed the trials for collaborator activities. There were 80 such cases opened, and they were considered in Dnipro. However, investigators, prosecutors, and judges often took a formal approach to such cases, the journalist noted.

“It is very important what the reintegration policy will be after the de-occupation of our territories. Because there are people who hold positions in the occupation administrations to maintain the life of cities. In fact, pro-Russian citizens fled with the Russian troops. And the people who are now accused of collaboration were forced to work for the occupiers because they needed money and needed to ensure the life of the cities,” – the journalist said.

He added that many people were sentenced because they pleaded guilty and cooperated with the investigation. But in this case, an appeal cannot be filed. However, it is the appellate courts that are more attentive to cases of high treason and collaboration with the enemy.

According to Yulia Lisova, coordinator of the Justtalk space, this unclear legislation is the main problem with treason and collaboration cases. 

“The line between collaboration and treason is very thin. The article on collaboration is too broad. Formally, you can prosecute a shopkeeper and a mayor. And Ukraine should give clear signals to the residents of the occupied territories about what is a crime and what is not. Because while the minimum sentence for collaboration is 5 years, the minimum sentence for treason is 15 years or life imprisonment. And it all depends on a particular prosecutor and judge,” – the expert noted.

More details about the discussions on the practice of applying the legislation on collaboration can be found here.

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