Ukrainian blogger and satirist Serhii Poyarkov was sued by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who accused him of a crime under Part 1 of Article 346 (“Threat or violence against a statesman or public figure”) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, which entails a punishment of up to five years in prison. The court hearing was carried out on the 30th of June 2020, reported the IMI.
According to the Ukrainian News, Poyarkov has insulted Zelenskyy in an episode of the TV show “Serhiy Poyarkov” on the Priamyi TV channel, where he called the president “a little green schmuck” and his father “dumb”. According to the article of the IMI, the artist claimed that Zelenskyy testified against him, saying that he was terrified and that he believed that the parodies were actual threats to his life. In January 2020, Poyarkov allegedly stated that charges were brought against him by the Security Service because of a joke he had made on his YouTube channel.
“There was no crime or attempt. Parody cannot be considered as a crime”, said Poyarkov.
According to the Euromaidan Press, this recent case demonstrates that Zelenskyy perceives criticism or jokes against himself as a threat and that the Ukrainian authorities attempt to limit the freedom of speech in the country. Poyarkov claimed that by attacking him, the authorities want to frighten others, as they have realized that there are a lot of people who are less brutal and open than him but thinking the same way as he does. However, such a case could lead to a radical loss of support for the president.
You can find here Poyarkov´s Youtube channel and the video where he demonstrates the official letter informing of the charges being brought against him by Security Service for the joke against Zelenskyy. Read more about the freedom of speech in Freemuse’s report, the State of Artistic Freedom 2020.