C14 filed a lawsuit against Hromadske TV “on the protection of honor, dignity and business reputation” in July 2018. One of the documents in the statement of claim featured a copy of a tweet posted to the Twitter of the media organization’s English-language service Hromadske International, which describes C14 as a "neo-Nazi group". The tweet was posted on May 4, 2018, when representatives of C14 captured and forcefully took Brazilian militant Rafael Lusvarghi to Ukraine’s Security Service.
The court noted that the information circulated by Hromadske back in May 2018“harms the reputation” of C14 and ordered Hromadske to refute the information and pay 3,500UAH ($136) in court fees to C14.
Olena Tchaikovska, the attorney for Hromadske TV, called the decision "incorrect and illegal."
“It introduces an egregious tendency that suppresses freedom of speech. We will appeal it,” she said.
“We are surprised by this decision. Not only does it contradict the judicial logic, but is also a dangerous precedent for other media and for freedom of speech in general,” commented on the court's decision editor-in-chief of Hromadske Angelina Karyakina.
"Hromadske takes responsibility for its materials, referring to laws, experts' opinions and established practice. Therefore, of course, we will appeal this decision in all instances, we are convinced of our rightness and professionalism.”
C14 declined to comment on the court’s decision to Hromadske.
“The position of C14 is that they are not a neo-Nazi group in their activities or in the nature of their activities. They are a nationalist group, but they are by no means neo-Nazi,” said Victor Moroz, C14’s lawyer at a previous court hearing. According to him, what Hromadske called the organization harms the business reputation of C14.
Hromadske television defends its position and insists that it did not commit any violations by characterizing the organization as “neo-Nazi.”
Other organizations such as Reuters and the Washington Post, along with government bodies, such as the British Parliament, have referred to C14 in a similar manner. Human rights organizations, such as the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, have referred to C14 as "neo-Nazi," too.
A number of experts studying right-wing movements note that today in Ukraine neo-Nazism manifests itself in small organizations, for example, in C14. Anton Shekhovtsov, an expert on ultra-right movements and academic in political science, told Hromadske that neo-Nazism manifests itself at the systemic level in C14.
Similarly, Andreas Umland, an expert at the Euro-Atlantic Cooperation Institute in Kyiv, also noted that C14, which was previously considered the youth organization of the Svoboda ("Freedom") party, can be qualified as neo-Nazi.