October 26, 2020
The President of the United States
The Secretary of State
The Speaker of the House
The Senate Majority Leader
Senator Bob Menendez
Senator Corey Booker
Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill
Dear Sir/ Madam:
I write to you as a American citizen registered to vote in the 11th Congressional district of New Jersey. I am a retired attorney at law and this matter concerns a professional colleague, Sergii Vynnyk from the Russian Federation. This matter is not only of personal concern, it is also of great interest to the global Ukrainian and the Ukrainian American community.
This case which has been developed since the beginning of 2019 against Mr. Vynnyk by the Russian government appears to replicate the well known and tragic case of Sergei Magnitsky. As you know the case against Mr. Magnitsky involved an egregious abuse of human rights and resulted in his untimely death. The United States has passed two statutes in his name, one for activity by the Russian government within its borders and the other for its activity globally.
For almost twenty years until 2018 Mr. Vynnyk had chaired a Ukrainian ethnic non-profit cultural organization in the Omsk Region (the City of Omsk), Russia. More recently since November 2018 he has represented the Ukrainian ethnic community in Russia and Western Asia within the Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) a global coordinating organization of Ukrainian culture and education with membership in some sixty countries of the world including the United States. In fact the founding convention of this organization took place in 1967 in New York City. I was president of this organization from 1998 through 2008 and as such I am familiar with the nature of its work. This structure also happens to be an NGO at the United Nations since 2003. I was its representative at the UN until 2012.
In the summer of 2019, specifically July 11th, the UWC was declared by the Russian Procurator General and the RF Ministry of Justice as an unwelcome organization on Russian territory. The UWC filed a petition with the Russian court in Moscow to rescind that ruling. Sergii Vynnyk as an attorney agreed to represent the UWC in the judicial proceeding which was formally filed on October 15, 2019 in Moscow. Not coincidentally on the very next day a criminal proceeding was filed by the Russian government against Mr. Vynnyk for alleged personal financial improprieties fabricated by Russian security services.
Criminal proceedings against Mr. Vynnyk have followed in tandem with the UWC proceedings. In addition, numerous actions by the Russian government served to interfere with Mr. Vynnyk’s representation of the UWC in the Moscow court, including such egregious interference as preventing his leaving the City of Omsk where he resides to travel to Moscow. On at least two occasions Mr. Vynnyk was stopped by the local police at the airport. To prevent default Mr. Vynnyk had to avail himself of video participation in the court proceedings.
On July 22, 2020 the Moscow appellate court ruled against the UWC. In August 2020 the Russian government brought a court proceeding to dissolve the Omsk Ukrainian Cultural Organization citing inactivity. Naturally, the court ruling was dissolution. Thereafter an administrative criminal proceeding was brought against Mr. Vynnyk for acting as the attorney for the UWC. Criminal charges against an attorney for representation in a judicial proceeding is a total travesty of the rule of law. Nonetheless the court imposed a criminal fine against Mr. Vynnyk for his representation.
The Russian government is not done. It continues to pursue the criminal prosecution against Mr. Vynnyk for security services fabricated financial impropriety and at this time the case remains pending. Clearly, this is a political case violating basic human rights that merits international attention.
I am asking for your intervention. Please voice your concern at the level of the President of Russia that the case of the Ukrainian World Congress and Sergii Vynnyk are known to you and that you will be acting according to international law on the side of justice, which will include imposing additional sanctions and such other remedies as are deemed necessary against the Russian Federation and its leadership. I am not exaggerating when I compare this matter to Magnitsky and stress that Sergii Vynnyk may become a similar victim of Russian gross abuse of human and minority rights. Let us deal with this expeditiously to prevent further abuse and right these egregious wrongs before more serious harm is done.
Askold S. Lozynskyj
The writer is hopeful that similar personalized letters be sent to national and local government officials throughout the world.