Ukraine Security Agency officers arrested him on October 31, less than a week after local elections in Ukraine, in which he ran for mayor of Kiev
Kiev, November 6. Hennadi Korban’s attorneys hail what they call “a triumph of justice” and are satisfied that, in their opinion, “[Ukrainian] courts still can make decisions with a minimum of independence,” declared attorney Oksana Tomchuk immediately after the judge’s 6 a.m. proclamation, which followed an all-night trial in Kiev’s Pechersk district court.
Borys Filatov, the UKROP candidate for mayor of Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine’s third largest city, also expressed his joy at hearing the news:
“Remember these people. They deserve to be at the head of the justice system,” he wrote in the description of a photo of Korban’s attorneys, which he posted on Facebook this morning.
The case is indeed highly controversial, as in the past months UKROP leaders would never refrain from criticizing the government and its policies, mainly the plan to implement the IMF-endorsed increase of utilities rates in the increasingly impoverished country.
Nevertheless, as opposed to previous critics of the Ukrainian government, such as the Opposition Block, a ghost of the pre-revolutionary pro-Russian Party of Regions, UKROP holds a fiercely anti-Russian stance. The charity organized by Korban, funds from which were allegedly defrauded, served the cause of supporting the war effort in the East of the country, which helped the party win the trust of a larger part of Ukraine’s society.
This is why many supporters of the party claim Korban’s arrest to be politically motivated. Numerous politicians put it in line with the arrests of members of the country’s main nationalistic party, “Svoboda”. The latter occurred following the deaths of 4 National Guard officers last August, during a protest against decentralization reforms in front of the Ukrainian parliament, in which members of Svoboda indeed did take part.
In response to growing social discontent, an increasing amount of pro-Western political parties are losing their faith in president Petro Poroshenko and the government led by Arsenii Yatseniuk. On Thursday, November 5, “Samopomich” [literally, Self-help] leaders, led by Lviv mayor Andriy Sadovyi, discussed a plan to leave the ruling coalition.
Whereas the accusations against Korban might in fact be justified, his arrest, in between the two rounds of Ukraine’s local elections, does not seem accidental. It is thought that the president is trying to discredit UKROP before November 15, when Ukraine will hold the second round of its local elections: UKROP party member Borys Filatov has in fact large chances of becoming Dnepropetrovsk’s mayor.
Nevertheless, Korban’s attorneys remain optimistic: they are glad their client’s “ordeal” is over and that he can return home to Dnepropetrovsk. Oksana Tomchuk has already announced she will nevertheless ask the Kiev City Court of Appeal to grant Korban full liberty.