In 2016, the Ivano-Frankivsk City Court acquitted Kotsaba on the charge of treason but sentenced him to 3.5 years for “obstructing the legitimate activities of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.” Then Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast Court of Appeal acquitted him on all charges and released him in the courtroom on 14th July 2016. But the political vendetta persisted. Surrounded by an aggressive mob, the High Specialized Court on Civil and Criminal Cases quashed Kotsaba’s acquittal in 2017 and ordered a retrial. He was acquitted again, and again acquittal was quashed. Judges and local courts started to recuse themselves from the case, avoiding involvement in this political prosecution.
Ruslan Kotsaba, a 53-year-old father of two daughters, was hosting his own show and reporting political events on Ukrainian television. Last International Conscientious Objectors’ Day he launched a phone poll on TV in which 91% of the 578 participants voted against conscription. One of the recent projects in which he participated was a live-streamed dialogue between Kyiv and Donetsk public figures discussing how to achieve peace. Also, he is president of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement which advocates for human rights, peace, and conscientious objection to military service. From the 2nd February 2021, Ruslan is out of job because the government cancelled the KRT television license claiming it opposes Russian propaganda.
Ruslan is on trial again in Kolomyia City District Court of Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast, and the threat of imprisonment persists. War Resisters’ International, European Bureau for Conscientious Objection, International Fellowship of Reconciliation, and other peace organizations called for the end of the political persecution of Ruslan.
Now Ruslan is going through a lot of hardships. The TV channels he worked with are officially proclaimed enemy voices by the government and taken out of the air. On the first day of his retrial, 22 January 2021, the violent mob attacked Ruslan, his lawyer, and his mother under the court shouting “Death to the enemies! Ukraine above all!”. But he refuses to feel intimidated or regret his 2015 video blog. Recently Ruslan Kotsaba published a new video blog, in which he remembered what happened during the six years after he spoke up, calling again to stop the war and commemorate all people, especially all the children, killed on both sides.