AntAC Against Pynzenyk: the Supreme Court Recognised Figures to be a Value Judgement
The Supreme Court passed its decision on the case of the Anti-corruption Action Centre vs. MP Pavlo Pynzenyk with the speed of lightning and without involvement of the parties. The Court decided, that the figures, voiced by Pynzenyk, are a value judgement and thus will not be subject to refuting.
The Supreme Court decided that the figures voiced by MP from the Narodnyi Front, Pavlo Pynzenyk, during his press-briefing in May of 2017, are value judgements about the AntAC and its members, and therefore should not be subject to refuting.
Current legislation differentiates value judgements and statements of facts. The latter ones are subject to refuting, if invalid, unlike value judgements. The main difference of value judgements is that they do not contain factual data, which can be easily validated, but only criticisms, evaluation and opinions.
“Income amounts, measured in exact figures, are the example of data that can be easily checked. However, as it turns out, the Supreme Court believes that the income amounts cannot be validated and thus they are not factual data. What is more, documents, submitted by the AntAC and its members of the board were never considered and evaluated in any way, — says Olena Shcherban, the AntAC lawyer. This precedent means that from now on anybody can be defamed in public and told lies about the amount of their salary, number of flats they own, children and companies, and it will be considered value judgement and not be subject to refuting,” — she adds.
The speed of passing this decision by the court is even more surprising. Pynzenyk appealed in February of 2018 and the decision has been passed already. It is in the time when thousands of cases from as far back as 2015-2016 are still waiting to see the light of day in court. For instance, the AntAC complaint of 2017 in the similar case has not been considered yet. However, in this particular case the Court decided to hear the case with the speed of lightning via the simplified procedure, without calling the parties for the hearing.
For reference, on May 23, 2017, MP Pynzenyk held a press briefing at the Verkhovna Rada, during which he claimed that the AntAC is breaking the law on the operation of non-profit organizations and named false numbers of funds that members of the NGO allegedly receive along with salaries. He also showed a film with false information about the Anti-corruption Action Centre and threatened to take away the non-profit status from the NGO.
During the briefing, the MP named false amounts of incomes of the NGO members of the board in 2016 and beginning of 2017, also specifying that they received this income as private entrepreneurs.
That is why the AntAC filed a lawsuit against the MP in order to make him refute the numbers that did not reflect the reality in any way.
Quote from what Pynzenyk had said:
“Despite high salaries of the members of this organization, the money was additionally transferred to private entrepreneurs:
- Private entrepreneur V.V. Shabunin in 2016-2017 received 1.7 million UAH;
- Private entrepreneur O.Yu. Ustinova from the same organization — 1.86 million UAH;
- Private entrepreneur D.M. Kaleniuk in 2016-2017 received 130 thousand UAH.”
To prove the fact that the income amounts named by the MP have nothing in common with the truth, the AntAC members submitted copies of their tax declarations, assets declarations, excerpts from the Unified Register of legal entities and private entrepreneurs to show that Private entrepreneurs Shabunin and Kaleniuk had been liquidated long ago.
Moreover, in January of 2018 the AntAC won the appeal against Pynzenyk for dissemination of false information about the organization. Kyiv city Appeals Court deemed the information spread by Pynzenyk false and obliged him to refute it in a month period on a similar briefing.
Important fact, it is based on MP Pavlo Pynzenyk’s claim that the Fiscal Service and Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine opened a criminal proceeding against the AntAC members of the board in June.
A bona fide discrediting campaign was built based on that very information against the AntAC for alleged tax avoidance, not limited to Ukraine, but abroad as well.