War and justice

“I am a girl, I was scared”: The court put under house arrest a blogger suspected of distributing a video about the operation of air defense

The court has chosen measures of restraint for four bloggers suspected of disseminating on the internet the information on the operation of air defense and the results of air targets hitting: home arrest 24 hours a day for each. They are forbidden to leave the places of their residence till July 31. The pre-trial investigation states that, during a massive RF missile attack against Kyiv on May 16, the suspects disseminated the videos of Ukraine’s air defense operation and posted the filmed materials on social media. The journalist of MIHR attended one of the sessions.

“I ask the Ukrainian people to forgive me”

In the narrow corridor of Solomiansky Court in the capital, accompanied by two lawyers, there is Inna Chernetska (Voronova), a 36-year-old blogger. She has 123,000 followers on Instagram, where she presents herself as a singer. On May 16, during a massive missile attack of the RF against Kyiv, the blogger posted a video on social media, which, as the Security Service of Ukraine states, shows an operation of the Ukrainian air defense and the results of the enemy’s targets hit. The footage was signed, indicating the apartment complex, which makes it clear where the video was shot. 

The SSU says that within minutes the videos posted at night on May 16 were picked up by Telegram channels and Russian propaganda public groups, including the internet resources controlled by the RF intelligence services. Later Chernetska deleted the video from Instagram. 

“I admit my guilt completely. I ask the Ukrainian people to forgive me and pledge not to repeat this,” says the blogger after the preventive conversation and urgent investigative activities conducted by the SSU. The woman with a blurred face in the video of the SSU can be recognized as Chernetska.

Inna Chernetska, screenshot from the SSU video

On May 31, the blogger recorded and posted another video on social media: with the explanations of her act, where, among other things, she stated that she did not understand why she had been notified of suspicion of committing an offense. The blogger said that the shots posted on social media had been “received by her from a resident” of the apartment complex, that she got scared and decided to ask her followers what was going on:

“I am a girl, I do not understand… For me, anything flying in the sky, it may be missiles or a nuclear explosion, it may be anything whatsoever… I was scared. I inquired. I realized from the feedback that this video was not allowed to be posted, and I deleted it immediately. Now am I, a single mom of two kids, in our country, about to receive suspicion for eight years for having been scared at night? Are you serious?” wonders Chernetska. But currently, there is no more video with this declaration of the blogger on Instagram either. 

On May 31, the suspicion was indeed reported to Chernetska under Article 114-2, Part 2 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. Here is its full version: dissemination of information on relocation, movement, or deployment of the AFU or other military formations created under the laws of Ukraine with the possibility of their identification in the area if such information was not made publicly available by the General Staff of the AFU, the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine or other authorized state bodies, perpetrated in the conditions of martial law.

On this suspicion, the blogger faces five to eight years of imprisonment. 

Article 114-2 of the CCU on unauthorized dissemination of information about the movement of arms, weapons, and ammunition into Ukraine, movement, relocation, or deployment of the AFU is a new criminal law article. It appeared in the spring of 2022 as a supplement to the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code, and it was implemented after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Round-the-clock house arrest

The preventive measure was chosen for Chernetska behind closed doors, as the case file contains sensitive military information that is not subject to dissemination. 

The court granted the prosecutor’s request for the round-the-clock house arrest.  As the prosecutor informed the journalists later, the petition did not mention wearing an electronic bracelet.

Solomiansky Court, announcement of the decision. Photo by MIHR

Chernetska is forbidden to leave her residence without the investigator, prosecutor or court’s permit until July 31. She is also under an obligation to arrive at each of their requests. The blogger is to give up the passport and documents that give her the right to travel abroad.  Moreover, according to the court ruling, to control Chernetska’s behavior, law enforcement officers “have the right to show up in the dwelling where she stays under arrest and to require oral or written explanations on the issues related to the performance of her duties.”    

“I believe that our country does everything for us to leave it,” said Chernetska to the MIHR journalist when commenting on the court ruling. “I did not shoot that video.” She did not give any other comments to the press. The lawyers asked journalists to give their defendant “a discount,” saying that she had not fled but responded emotionally because “this is her first court session as a suspect.”   

Position in defense

The defenders of Chernetska had counted on the measure of restraint as a personal obligation. The lawyers declared the unreasonableness of the risks specified by the prosecutor in the petition.

Chernetska received the court ruling. Photo by MIHR

“Inna is a mom. She has two minor children. I also wonder: in the event of a siren of danger, how and where should she escape with her kids if she is under home arrest 24 hours a day?  Does she have the right to run to an air-raid shelter or not?” says Bohdan Khmelnytskyi, one of the blogger’s defenders, to journalists.

The lawyers do not comment on where the video posted by Chernetska on Instagram had come from, the one that was the reason for announcing her a suspect.

“I can comment on the suspicion as follows: it is too much to give eight years to a mom of two kids for a distributed video… She is really sorry for having posted that video. We have all seen and heard it. However, regarding what is in the video, what kind of video it is, whether it is dark there, and whether it is air defense or not, we have yet to figure it out. We have experts, and we have involved them now. We hope that the experts will give an accurate assessment for us to comment on what the experts will provide,” stated Kmelnytskyi.

After the court’s decision had been announced, the lawyers said they would appeal it. The blogger herself, on her page on Instagram, also informed about filing the appeal.

Iryna Domashchenko

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