During the official visit of President Zelensky to Italy on February 7th to 8th the case of Vitaly Markiv who was sentenced to 24 years for the role in the murder of two media workers in eastern Ukraine had been prioritised over discussion on investments to the economy of Ukraine.
Vladimir Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, met Italian Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte. The official visit started with new demands by the authorities of Ukraine to ”reconsider the case of Vitaly Markiv” and release him. Vitaly Markiv, a holder of dual citizenship of Italy and Ukraine, was sentenced to 24 years of prison for his role in the murder of Italian photographer Andrea Rocchelli and his Russian colleague Andrey Mironov in the eastern Ukraine in May 2014.
The verdict was announced on July 12th, 2019 by the court of Andrea Rocchelli’s native city of Pavia. On November 20th, 2019 Ukraine filed an appeal against Markiv’s verdict. Since the arrest of Vitaly Markiv in the airport of Bologna on June 30, 2017 and until now, the authorities of Ukraine have been pressing Italy to influence the investigation and the court.
The official webpage of the Ukrainian President quotes Vladimir Zelensky as telling the Prime Minister Conte, “I understand that the Prime Minister cannot influence the Italian court. But I showed in detail what happened there, at what distance he was from the murder scene. And that we have to take the guy out” .
The Ukrainian mainstream media continues to spread claims which vary from ”the journalists bore responsibility for their own safety” to ”the two were killed in shelling by Russia-led troops”, referring to the Ukrainian investigation.
Ukraine’s Komskomolskaya Pravda quotes Oleg Saakyan, a political expert, as saying, ”Despite the fact that Italy is following the track in their politics which is not in line with interests of Ukraine, it is necessary to build up relations with Italy…
The case of Markiv is very sensitive to the patriotic and most active part of the population, which often opposes Zelensky. It means he cannot ignore it. Any positive developments in “Markiv’ case” will benefit Zelensky’s rating”.
This opinion is collaborated with the tone of publications in the Ukrainian media. Korrespondent.net states that Zelensky has come to Italy to discuss ”Markiv’s release or full revision of the case”. Bykvu.com put Makiv’s case Number 1 on the list of topics for discussion with the authorities of Italy, investments being the last on the list. Apostrophe.ua points out the emotional tone of President Zwelensky’s demand to Italy that ”they have to take the guy out”. Levy Bereg online portal simply states that ”Zelensky has discussed the return of guardsman Markiv to Ukraine” as if it was decided.