The Persecution of Ukraine Pacifist Yurii Sheliazhenko

August 17th, 2023 - by Mao Valpiana / Movimento Nonviolento / Pressenza

Ukraine: Corrupt Military, Loyal Objectors
Mao Valpiana / Movimento Nonviolento / Pressenza

(August 16, 2023) — A new chapter in the court case involving Yurii Sheliazhenko, the Ukrainian pacifist leader accused of “justifying the Russian war of aggression,” in essence of being a “friend of Putin [is starting].”

On Monday, Aug. 14 [2023], he was due to appear at the Solomianskyi District Court, 25 Maxim Kryvonos Street, Kiev, before Judge Sergiyenko, who had to rule on the prosecutor’s request to assign Yurii house arrest for 60 days, 24 hours a day, and validate the seizure of the computer, phone and documents taken during the Aug. 3 raid when Special Services agents entered his home by breaking down the door.

This, paradoxically, comes in the days when President Zelensky announced the dismissal of all regional officials in charge of military recruitment “in order to eradicate a system of corruption that upon delivery of bribes allows conscripts to escape the army and cross the border illegally.”

The measure against the corruption, rampant in the Ukrainian army, hides a much more substantial fact: the widespread sentiment against mass, compulsory recruitment that many young Ukrainians are rejecting. Conscription renunciation, desertion, conscientious objection, and refusal to enlist in order to be sent to war are at the heart of the actions of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, which has always loyally and truthfully supported these anti-militarist and nonviolent positions, as clearly written in the document “Peace Agenda for Ukraine and the World” that cost Yurii Sheliazhenko his indictment.

The unfaithful and corrupt military acts covertly to personally avoid war. Honest and loyal conscientious objectors act in the light of day to abolish war. This is the difference between militarism and nonviolence.

President Zelenzky, who represents all Ukrainians, needs to ask himself some questions about who the real enemies of the homeland are: instead of persecuting the pacifists, who are making nonviolent resistance for the freedom of Ukraine, he should, with them, seek ways to peace, favor a diplomatic solution, starting with an agreed “cease-fire,” to defend the battered Ukrainian people from the criminal and illegal aggression of Putin’s Russia.

Anomalies in the Case Against Sheliazhenko
After the first interrogation, Yurii Sheliazhenko filed a constitutional complaint in which he disputes the vagueness of the Criminal Code article used to charge him with the crime of justifying Russian aggression; a letter sent by the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Ukrainian Parliament to the Security Service also appears in the file concerning the whole affair, indicating Yurii as a threat to national security; letters sent by Yurii to the Ombudsman were left unanswered under the pretext that they would be “anonymous,” because they were unsigned even when forwarded by email with a scanned copy with a handwritten signature attached.

All this, according to Yurii, violates the right of defense and the constitutional right to petition, provided for in Ukrainian jurisprudence.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian pacifists have also cashed in on support and solidarity from the Science4Peace Forum, which brings together the world’s top physicists, including Italy’s Giorgio Parisi, Nobel Laureate in Physics 2021.

The Nonviolent Movement supports Yurii Sheliazhenko and the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement in their action for the respect of human rights, the right to peace, for the repudiation of war, the greatest crime against humanity, because Ukrainian objectors together with Russian and Belarusian objectors are already making peace from below, are already building a future of coexistence.

Mao Valpiana is President of the Nonviolent Movement’s “War Objection Campaign.”