Yet another rally was held on Saturday outside the President's Office in Kyiv in support of Serhiy Sternenko, an Odesa activist protesters believe was illegally jailed, as well as Andriy Antonenko – war volunteer believed to be unlawfully accused of a journalist's assassination.
Unlike previously held events, the latest one appeared to be more vivid, with protesters throwing flares toward police officers and at the building, eventually breaking several windows.
The main entrance and walls of the building were massively vandalized, with graffiti spray-painted all over them.
Sternenko's supporters put forward their demands against President Volodymyr Zelensky, including to dismiss Interior Minister Arsen Avakov and Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova, contribute to Sternenko and Antonenko's release, and impose sanctions against Andriy Portnov, a lawyer and ex-official from ex-president Viktor Yanukovych team who activists claim has and exerts major influence over the country's judiciary.
More than a thousand protesters gathered on Bankova Street on Sternenko's birthday, March 20.
Police have vowed to bring perpetrators to responsibility for hooliganism. One of "the most aggressive" protesters was detained.
Kyiv PD says the detainee has a criminal record related to illegal weapon and ammo handling.
Sternenko's Telegram channel claims the detainee is a war veteran who fought in Donbas as part of the 93rd Separate Mechanized Brigade, Vladyslav Hranetsky-Stafiychuk.
The President's Office believes that the protesters on Saturday attempted to provoke law enforcement officers to a violent response.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to the President's Office chief, said protesters sought to "provoke some kind of wild violence or aggression on the part of police," Ukrainian Pravda writes.
At the same time, Podolyak assured that President Volodymyr Zelensky sees no point in obstructing protests.
In 2015, Sternenko's house in the city of Odesa was searched. The activist voluntarily handed law enforcers his air gun, a collectible knife, and a noise pistol.
The investigation was launched following a report by a local elected official, an anti-Maidan activist Sergei Shcherbich who said he had been abducted and illegally held. Shcherbych claimed Sternenko's intention was to rob him of UAH 300 (about US$11 at the current forex rate).
Sternenko was served with charge papers and put into custody before being bailed out.
Later, the activist was also accused of illegal possession of weapons.
Odesa's Prymorsky District Court on February 23, 2021, passed a guilty verdict in the case of activist Serhiy Sternenko, as well as his accomplice Ruslan Demchuk, both of whom have been convicted of abduction. The ruling on Sternenko provides for seven years and three months in prison and confiscation of half of the convict's property.
Rallies swept across dozens of Ukrainian cities protesting the verdict activists believe was unlawful, calling for justice in the case.
On a separate note, several criminal cases have been brought up against Sternenko, including homicide charges over the death of Ivan Kuznetsov, a person identified as one of the attackers who assaulted Sternenko in 2018 in what Sternenko believes was an attempt on his life. Sternenko maintained that he had acted in self-defense.
Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov believes that blogger and activist Serhiy Sternenko, who was recently sentenced to seven years on abduction charges has invented for himself an image of a hero rebel.