Free Vitaliy!

IssueFebruary - March 2023
News by PN staff

Ukrainian conscientious objector Vitaliy Alexeienko had his appeal rejected on 16 January and is believed to have been imprisoned shortly afterwards by order of an appeal court in Ivano-Frankivsk in Western Ukraine. Ukraine has suspended the right of conscientious objection.

Vitaliy, 46, had told the authorities last June that he refused to be conscripted into the Ukrainian army because of his pacifist religious beliefs.

He said that he was willing to take up alternative service, as he had previously done in 1998 when living in Uzbekistan.

This option was ruled out and Vitaliy was given a one-year prison sentence. He was left free on bail, waiting to hear the result of his appeal.

According to fellow Ukrainian pacifist Yurii Sheliazhenko, the presiding judge at the appeal court said, ‘with displeasure’, that the court had received many emails in support of Vitaliy, all from one email address (probably through WRI Conscientious Objectors’ Alert email system).

The judges said they did not take these emails into consideration because they claimed not to know whether these were from real people.