Kyiv police on Aug. 16 handed Vitaly Shabunin, the head of the Anti-Corruption Action Center’s executive board, a notice of suspicion, accusing him of assaulting journalist and activist Vsevolod Filimonenko. If convicted, Shabunin faces up to three years in prison.
On June 8, Filimonenko approached Shabunin when unknown people served him summons to a military enlistment office, in what Shabunin deemed to be harassment by the government. Shabunin then hit Filimonenko in the face, saying that it was payback for Filimonenko insulting Oleksandra Ustinova, an expert at the Anti-Corruption Action Center, and making her cry. Subsequently Filimonenko attacked Shabunin with pepper spray.
Shabunin’s lawyers argue that medics had initially found no injuries, and Filimonenko’s injuries were recorded only two weeks after the June 8 incident in what they suspect to be a falsified examination.
Meanwhile, Reanimation Package of Reforms expert Oleksandr Lemenov has accused Filimonenko of extortion and having links to Kremlin-backed separatists and ex-President Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, claims that Filimonenko denies.
The Anti-Corruption Action Center and other anti-corruption activists see the case as part of what they see as a campaign by President Petro Poroshenko to intimidate and weaken civil society. Ukraine’s notoriously corrupt tax police opened a criminal case against the Anti-Corruption Action Center in early August.