Hundreds of people have taken to the streets in Kyiv in protest against Odesa activist Serhiy Sternenko's imprisonment.
About 500 people have gathered on Bankova Street, where the President's Office is located; some of them are standing near the gates of the President's Office from the side of Instytutska Street, according to an UNIAN correspondent.
Bankova Street was free for passage, but law enforcement officers were checking whether people were not carrying arms or other prohibited and dangerous items.
Participants in the rally were shouting such slogans as "Freedom to patriots," "Evil [Interior Minister] Avakov," "Down with Ze [Zelensky]," and "Free Sternenko."
The entrance to the area of the President's Office is being guarded by four ranks of law enforcement officers in riot gear. Also, there are about 100 law enforcement officers standing outside the Office's building.
Odesa's Prymorsky District Court on February 23, 2021, passed a guilty verdict in the case of activist Serhiy Sternenko, who has been convicted of abduction. The ruling provides for seven years and three months in prison and confiscation of half of the convict's property.
Sternenko was found guilty of committing criminal offenses under Part 2 of Article 146 (Unlawful imprisonment or kidnapping), Part 2 of Article 187 (Robbery) and Part 1 of Article 263 (Illegal handling of weapons, ammunition or explosives) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. The punishment was imposed under Article 187 and Article 263, as the term for criminal prosecution under Article 146 has already expired.
- In 2015, Sternenko's house in the city of Odesa was searched. The activist voluntarily handed to law enforcers his air gun, a collectible knife, and a noise pistol.
- Investigative actions were carried out on citizen Serhiy Shcherbych's report of his alleged abduction. Shcherbych alleged Sternenko wanted to steal UAH 300 (about US$11 at the current forex rate).
- After the raid, Sternenko was served with charge papers and put in custody before being bailed out.
- Later, the activist was also accused of illegal possession of weapons.
- 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 were attempts on his life.