On Feb. 26, the
local legislature
issued an official appeal
to Ukraine’s parliament asking it to form an
ad-hoc investigative commission to “objectively establish the circumstances
under which evidence was fabricated in this criminal case and the defendants’
rights were violated during their court trial.”

On Oct. 2, Dmytro
Pavlychenko, 49, and his son, Serhiy, 20, were found guilty of murdering Judge Serhiy
Zubkov at his residence in Kyiv. Dmytro Pavlychenko was given a life sentence
and his son 13 years.

Supporters of the
father and son pair say authorities framed them through fabricating
, torture and other abuses.

Authorities have
maintained the pair is guilty and that they conducted a thorough, objective
murder investigation, part of which included Serhiy Pavlychenko’s confession,
but which supporters say was given under extreme duress.


“Because there
were established facts of fraud in relation to the criminal case against the
Pavlychenkos, falsified materials from the questioning of a key witness, and
because torture and psychological pressure was applied during the questioning
of the defendants – the court’s ruling gives rise to extreme resentment and
concern in society,” reads the appeal.

The appeal
continued: “The judicial proceedings (of the murder trial) were accompanied by
numerous journalistic investigations that prove the prisoners are innocent. No
witness in the case could identify the Pavlychenkos as the murderers.”

The growing
campaign to free the Pavlychenkos is led by hard-core fans of the Dynamo Kyiv
soccer team, of which Serhiy Pavlychenko was an avid member. Diehard fans of
other soccer teams in
and outside Ukraine
have joined their cause.

On Jan. 26 supporters
for the Pavlychenkos launched a
petition of U.S. President Barack Obama
on the White House’s official website
that called on the American government to extend the so-called Magnitsky bill
to punish officials involved in the judge’s murder investigation and certain
prosecutors in the case. The petition, however, fell short of the 100,000
required signatures to elicit an official reaction or response, mustering only
30,000 by the Feb. 25 deadline.


Still, U.S. Embassy
personnel from the political section have attended the appeals trial of the
murder case, the Kyiv Post has learned.

And celebrities
including former Eurovision winner and ex-member
of parliament Ruslana Lyzhychko
have campaigned for the Pavlychenkos.

The victim, Zubkov, died of
knife stab and gunshot wounds inside the building where he lived.

The police immediately
focused their investigation on the Pavlychenkos and arrested Dmytro
Pavlychenko three days
later. Authorities say
the Pavlychenkos’ murder motive was revenge.

Zubkov had evicted the Pavlychenko family
from their centrally located Kyiv apartment in a December 2010 ruling in favor
of Gooioord BV, a Dutch real estate developer. Dmytro Pavlychenko had publicly
fought the developer in Kyiv courts and had filed complaints against the police
and Zubkov.

As a judge, Zubkov had
presided over many property development disputes involving powerful companies
and residents. He made several rulings leading up to his death in favor of the
public interest, including over a property on Honchara Street, just blocks from
the Saint Sophia Square on which the Kyiv
Post had reported


In his ruling, he prevented a company from
developing a property on 17/23 Honchara Street and denied the developer Hr
560,000 in damages it sought from activists for removing an enclosure around
the development. Zubkov also put a halt to a property development near Kyiv’s
Zhovtneva Hospital. And on Sept. 15, 2010, the judge left kindergarten No. 183
in public ownership, ruling against another property developer.

Supporters of the
Pavlychenkos also point to a Nov. 7 high special court ruling that cancelled
Zubkov’s eviction of the Pavlychenko family. And on March 24, 2011, three days
after Zubkov’s murder, the High Council of Justice, the government body that
fires and hires judges, was supposed to start a hearing into whether Zubkov had
violated judicial ethics.

On Jan. 14 an
appeals court trial started hearing the murder case in Kyiv. The next hearing
is scheduled for March 12.

Kyiv Post editor Mark Rachkevych can be reached at [email protected].

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