Today, the Kharkiv Regional Court of Appeal recognized 69-year old Kharkivite Yuriy Apukhtin not guilty of public calls to the violent overthrow of the Ukrainian state and set him free.
Apukhtin was the organizer of the undermining South-East movement which aimed at creating a so-called South-Eastern federal republic in Ukraine with its capital in Kharkiv, broad autonomy and instating Russian as the mandatory official language. The start of the movement was announced at the separatist meeting on March 30, 2014, in Kharkiv.
He was involved in organizing mass riots and was imprisoned twice in 2014. Apukhtin was released on bail for the first time.
In August 2014, the Kharkiv Regional Administrative Court banned the South-East movement for separatist activity.
Finally, the separatist was arrested in December 2014. In May 2017, Kyivskyi District Court of Kharkiv sentenced Yuriy Apukhtin to six years in prison and his lawyer appealed against the court’s decision.
The leader of the anti-state movement was released from custody in the courtroom today.
Some sources inform that the decision to release Apukhtin was taken to exchange him for the Ukrainian soldiers who are imprisoned by so-called DNR.
Nevertheless, the news about the separatist being freed stirred a surge of indignation among Kharkiv patriots and civic activists, who remember pretty well the anti-Ukrainian dangerous commotions in spring 2014.
Text: Olena Sokolynska