Photo from UNIAN

Protesters on February 27 rallied in Kyiv in support of Odesa activist Serhiy Sternenko, who was sentenced to seven years in prison.

Read alsoSeventeen protesters detained amid Kyiv rally against Sternenko's imprisonment (Photos, video)The rally began on Bankova Street, where the President's Office is located. The protesters put forward the following demands to President Volodymyr Zelensky: immediate release of Sternenko, reform in judicial system and the High Council of Justice, and election of its members in a fair and transparent competition.

The protesters say the criminal prosecution of Sternenko has nothing to do with fair justice, and call his case a political one.

Then they marched to the Prosecutor General's Office, burning flares and throwing firecrackers. Outside the building, they demanded the firing of Ukraine's Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova.

Rallies in support of Sternenko

Sternenko's supporters call their protest campaign indefinite one. They also warn that today's rally is the last peaceful protest action.

Also, the protesters announced the next rally to be held in the Maidan Nezalezhnosti Square in Kyiv on March 9.

Verdict

  • 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.
  • Hundreds of people took to the streets in Kyiv in protest against Sternenko's imprisonment on February 23, which was followed by detentions amid clashes with police. The number of detainees grew to 24; they were later released after interrogation. Over 2,000 people took part in the protest event, police said.

Sternenko case

  • 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.