Free Yurii

By World BEYOND War, June 7, 2024

Yurii Sheliazhenko is facing trial on June 11 and the possibility of 5 years in prison for speaking in support of peace in Ukraine. Yurii has been formally charged by the Ukrainian government with the crime of justifying Russian aggression. The evidence is this statement which explicitly condemns Russian aggression.

Please sign and share this petition to the Ukrainian Government:

We call on you to drop any legal proceedings against Yurii Sheliazhenko, and to respect human rights, the right to conscientious objection, and the right to freedom of speech. The absurdity of prosecuting someone for justifying Russian warmaking on the basis of a statement in which he has explicitly condemned Russian warmaking, is matched by the absurdity of waging war in the name of freedom and democracy while engaging in this sort of harassment of citizens. We urge you to do better.


Yurii Sheliazhenko, PhD, is a Member of the Board of Directors of World BEYOND War. He is based in Ukraine. Yurii is executive secretary of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, a board member of the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection, and a council member of the International Peace Bureau. He obtained a Master of Mediation and Conflict Management degree in 2021 and a Master of Laws degree in 2016 at KROK University. In addition to his participation in the peace movement, he is a journalist, blogger, human rights defender, and legal scholar, an author of academic publications and a lecturer on legal theory and history. He has been a facilitator for World BEYOND War’s online courses. Yurii is a winner of the International Peace Bureau’s 2022 Sean MacBride Peace Prize. Here is a spotlight on Yurii as a World BEYOND War volunteer. Yurii is currently facilitating a World BEYOND War online course. More about Yurii here.



Poetry in Solidarity Against Repressions

By FREE CIVILIANS. Herald of Peace and Conscientious Objection

On the eve of the start of a political trial against Yurii Sheliazhenko on the fake accusation of the pacifist in “justifying” the war in anti-war statements, members of the Greek Association of Conscientious Objectors together with the “Feminism * Art * Activism” community read the poem “Peace” by Yannis Ritsos as a sign of solidarity.

My brothers and sisters,
The whole world fills its lungs
With all our dreams.
Join hands, brothers and sisters,
That is peace.

— Yiannis Ritsos

Yurii Sheliazhenko may be sentenced to 5 years in prison with confiscation of property for sending to President Zelenskyy a pacifist declaration “Peace Agenda for Ukraine and the World”, which condemns Russian aggression and all wars, suggests self-defense by unarmed methods and outlines a plan of building a better future without wars, where a non-violent way of life will prevail. In an attempt to discredit Yurii, the Security Service of Ukraine published a fake press release in hostile language and sent defamatory letters to the Ministry of Justice, the national media regulator and the UN OHCHR. The preliminary hearing in case 757/16536/24-k will be held on June 11, 2024 at 2:15 p.m. in the Pechersk District Court of Kyiv (15 Volodymyrska St.), judge O. A. Bilotserkivets.

Take Action in Washington DC

By Bill Galvin, Counseling Coordinator, Center on Conscience & War

Yurii Sheliazhenko, Executive Secretary of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, is facing trial on June 11, 2024.  Yurii is a conscientious objector to all war and has been an outspoken advocate for a peaceful resolution to the war that began with the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. The government of Ukraine alleges that a September 2022 statement which Yurii issued in the name of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement ”justified Russian aggression,”  even though it explicitly condemned the invasion.

Please join us – in solidarity with people of conscience around the world – by showing your support for Yurii at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, DC at noon on Monday, June 10.

Yurii was subjected to a search of his apartment on August 3rd, 2023 and since has endured repeatedly-extended house arrest and a prolonged investigation by the Ukrainian Security Service. His computer and smartphone were seized and despite a Court ruling, have not been returned. All of these injustices have had the ulterior objective  of disrupting Yurii’s advocacy and his legal assistance to conscientious objectors. The right to conscientious objection to military conscription has been suspended since the war began, and the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine has asked the Kyiv Region Administrative Court to prohibit and dissolve the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement.

The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion is recognized in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (Article 10), as well as by the United Nations (Article 18 Universal Declaration of Human Rights) as a fundamental human right.

We urge Ukraine to respect the human right to freedom of expression and refrain from criminalizing peace speech, as is happening with the case of Yurii Sheliazhenko who is standing for peace and human rights and calling for the end of the armed conflict and war atrocities.

Please stand in solidarity with Yurii: 12 noon, Monday June 10 at the Ukrainian Embassy; 3350 M St NW, Washington, DC, 20007

For questions or more information, please call Bill Galvin, Center on Conscience and War, 202-498-3486.

Thank you!

20 Responses

  1. Love, peace, and kindness are the main basic qualities of being a human! Speaking the truth should be rewarded by humanity not punished! Those who punish for such reasons, are likely evil disguised as man.

  2. Advocating for peace is not the same thing as justifying Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and should not be against the law.

  3. I understand Ukraine is taking a terrible beating in this war of Russian aggression. Yuri is a man who could be of incredible value to you if you talk to him in detail. Have the courage to do so & you will be richly rewarded.

  4. The USA precipitated war by aggressively surrounding Russia ,ignoring UN agreements and by arming neo nazis to attack Russia similar provocation to Lydia ,Chechnya etc.
    Coexistence existed before this.

  5. “[ … ] That is, we can say that the SBU, instead of actually spending its forces, resources, time to fight against occupants or collaborators, is using its forces to investigate, to follow journalists.” (Yevhen Shulhat, investigative journalist)

    “That’s sad that, during the war, independent journalism is attacked by security services which must fight with [the] enemy, not with reporters”, “Authorities use their power in [the] wrong direction.” (Anna Babinets, editor-in-chief of the investigative internet outlet Slidstvo.Info)

    “Several Ukrainian investigative journalists have faced surveillance, threats, violence, and harassment over their work since Russia’s full-scale invasion of the country. ” (Committee to Protect Journalists –

  6. “In other cases, too, the SBU was involved in proceedings which the critics consider retaliation actions against educational work. E.g., in April, state officials raided the house of a prominent Charkiw anti-corruption activist. Already at the beginning of this year, the investigative journalists of made public an unlawful observation of their editorial department by the domestic secret service. Since then, the SBU has been under criticism of being involved in political campaigns. And moreover, this happens at a time when the country has to repel a Russian aggression – also at the level of the secret service. [ … ] According to Shabunin, by that, the signal that aggressions against investigative journalists have no consequences has been sent, intimidating critics and preparing the ground for more aggressions, particularly putting in danger not the famous faces of Kiev but the lesser known activists on the regional level. [ … ] Shabunin calls the Ukrainian parliament weak. He criticizes that the parliament members mainly let the decisions of the presidential office through on the nod.” (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, June, 5, 2024, text translated from German)

    “[ … ] In this way, the responsibles of the Bihus shadowing have not only not been punished, but have even been protected.” (Victor Shabunin, anti-corruption activist)

  7. Yes. This attack on dissent and on peace activists is so reminiscent of the peace movement of the 60’s against the Viet Nam war. We were told that to want peace meant that we must be Communists or getting our orders from Moscow: that to be against war means we must be anti-American: that to be pro-peace meant that we were colluding with our “enemies”. That did not stop us. We knew that it was an old tactic designed to delegatimize and disempower us.

  8. While I do not support Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the fact remains that Russia had been promised decades ago that NATO would not expand any closer to Russia’s borders. Seeing as how NATO is an extension of American imperialism, and America’s history when it comes treaties and promises, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that NATO has since expanded and encroached further and further toward Russia’s borders. I do not support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but you can only push so far before the one you’re pushing pushes back. Calling for peace is something we should all do, as well as get our government to stop supporting war that comes along. Peace activists are not the enemy. The ones in our own government who constantly push for war are the enemy.

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