Dr Podolyan was arrested in May 2010 for allegedly “committing crimes relating to the organised narcotics drugs trade”. He was then kept in detention for four months, despite a medical condition which required immediate attention.
Dr Podolyan is a narcologist working on substitution maintenance therapy programmes which provide methadone and buprenorphine to people who inject drugs. These programmes are approved by Ukrainian law and are included in the existing national programme for HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.
His arrest was another incident in the ongoing persecution of people who use drugs in Ukraine.
The International HIV/AIDS Alliance in Ukraine (Alliance Ukraine) instigated a campaign for the release and acquittal of Dr Podolyan, which was joined globally by the ‘What’s Preventing Prevention?’ campaign, and is delighted at the Court of Appeal of Odessa's decision confirming the acquittal of Dr Podolyan, ordered by the Kiev District Court of Odessa earlier this year.
"We welcome the decision by the Appeal Court” said Pavlo Skala, Senior Programme Manager on Policy and Advocacy at Alliance Ukraine, “it confirms the inconsistency of the charges brought against Dr. Podolyan and the lack of adequate medical attention he received while he was detained. It comes as a great relief for him, his family and us all.
“However” Pavlo Skala went on, “we must not forget that his case illustrates deep inconsistencies in government policy regarding substitution maintenance therapy programmes in Ukraine. The rights of patients and professionals associated with these programmes must be respected and protected by the authorities.”
Anton Ofield-Kerr, Head of Policy at the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, commented that “The outcome of this case should put an end to the interference of law enforcement officers in substitution maintenance therapy programmes. Such interference seriously hinders the effectiveness of the response to HIV/AIDS in Ukraine.”