Yevheniya Zakrevska, attorney
15.02.2004 00:30 Ukrayinska Pravda
Translated by Maria Stanislav
Here is a synopsis of the most recent events:
1) On February 12, we learned that ALL criminal proceedings have been closed, under which ‘law-enforcing’ thugs could theoretically be held accountable for the beatings on November 30, December 1, December 11, etc. This applies to proceedings regarding specific individuals and in relation to the incidents as a whole.
This means the death of the last, however elusive, chance to punish the perpetrators – “managers,” organizers and performers of brutal police crimes, who are likely members of, and managed by, a group of people from among the highest ranks of government. The government has announced that these criminals shall have complete and unconditional amnesty.
We remember, that the law granting this amnesty was a part of the package of laws whose adoption, de facto, made people go to Hrushevskiy Street. And while the rest of the laws [the "dictatorship laws of January 16"] were cancelled, this one was passed again, the same day.
This means that the government sent a clear message that one of the terms of the “truce” is to continue the absolute impunity of policemen and others responsible for the beatings.
I’m the attorney for many people who suffered from the above crimes. Now, a group of people, including MPs, prosecutors and judges, have robbed me of the last remaining legal means to help my defendants in the Ukrainian legal field. Truth be told, I thought that this piece of news would put an immediate end to the truce at Hrushevskiy Street.
Maybe I just tend to hold grudges, and haven’t forgotten WHY and FOR WHAT huge crowds of people took to the street on December 1, and stayed there. [I haven't forgotten] WHICH LAWS triggered the clashes at Hrushevskiy Street, and so on. But maybe it’s just me and my abnormally long memory… because many seem to pretend that the main demand of the people at Hrushevskiy Street was release of the hostages.
Dear everyone, you’re confusing causes and effects – people aren’t standing in Hrushevskiy Street because the police took hostages. On the contrary – the hostages were taken because people are standing on Hrushevskiy Street.
Here is why releasing the hostages cannot be the condition for leaving Hrushevskiy Street.
2) The Kyiv City Prosecutor openly and publicly confessed to crimes committed as part of a large group of investigators and prosecutors: under Article 147 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (taking hostages), Article 372 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (instituting criminal proceedings against knowingly innocent persons), and more. Then he announces the terms of release of the “Hrushevskiy hostages” and of closing criminal proceedings against innocent people: vacating buildings (KMDA [Kyiv City Hall], Trade Union House, Ukrainian House) and unblocking streets, namely, Hrushevskiy, Horodetskiy, Kreschatyk, Instytutska, Tryokhsvyatytelska, Volodymyrsky descent, Prorizna, Zankovetska, and the Independence Square [Maidan].
No one is even talking about charges against policemen anymore.
And yet, this statement is taken in stride. Somehow, no one thinks that the only normal reaction to a statement like this should be to enter it into the Single Register of Pre-Trial Investigations, initiate criminal proceedings, and start pre-trial investigation.
3) On February 14, almost all remaining hostages (INNOCENT PEOPLE, remember?) are released to house arrest, but NO CHARGES ARE DROPPED. In fact, the charges are upgraded to heavier crimes, creating the procedural possibility to detain these people again.
4) On February 14, at 14:36 Dmitry Yarosh makes a statement: “Today, on our demands and according to the court rulings, the last hostage was freed. Due to this, the Pravy Sector [Right Sector] announces that it is ready to assist in restoring vehicle traffic through Hrushevskiy Street. We also demand the immediate closing of all criminal cases against our brothers.“
Once again, no word of holding the police accountable for past and present crimes. The Right Sector has a peculiar idea of what “releasing hostages” means… It is also unclear who they consider their brothers.
And the remains of the day? A promise to open up Hrushevskiy Street…
5) On February 14, at 16:00, based on the already-confirmed information, the Svoboda [Liberty] party makes the decision to vacate the KMDA [Kyiv City Hall], and people start gathering… An hour ago [evening of 15.02], Tyahnybok stood atop the barricade near the Trade Union House and talked about the need to vacate the KMDA and Hrushevskiy Street.
If the Right Sector and Svoboda members fulfill the promises they made to the government, and the rest do nothing to prevent this, we will have the following:
- at best, a handful of people at Maidan, surrounded by a tight cordon of Berkut [riot police];
- several hundred still-open criminal cases against so-called “released hostages,” most of whom are under house arrest and still facing up to 15 years in prison;
- several hundred beaten, several dozen missing, and several dead – with no hope to bring the perpetrators to justice;
- strong internal conviction of all Berkut officers and other so-called “law enforcers” that they possess impunity for any past and future outrageous lawlessness. The opposition will, essentially, grant them such impunity, complete with indulgence for future crimes. This will invariably lead to an escalation of violence on the part of the law enforcement.
- lack of any valid mechanisms of pressure on Yanuk [President Yanukovych], the Rada [Parliament], and the “dismissed” Cabinet of Ministers – meaning, no hope for any “reboot” of the government.
Maybe we should remember WHY such crowds of people took to the streets on December 1? Maybe we should remember that it was on that day that the KMDA was occupied?
Maybe we should remember that NONE OF OUR DEMANDS, including the most important one – TO PUNISH THE PEOPLE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE VIOLENCE on the night of November 30 – WERE MET BY THE GOVERNMENT?
What happened is exactly the opposite! Since then, the GOVERNMENT committed NEW CRIMES, for which NO LAW ENFORCER AND NO OFFICIAL was held accountable. And today, the government simply CANCELLED any legal mechanisms of bringing anyone to justice for these crimes.
Maybe we should be consistent?
Maybe it’s not just up to the Svoboda party to decide whether to vacate KMDA, but up to the people who want to stay there?
Maybe it’s not just up to the Right Sector to decide when and on which conditions to dismantle the barricades and leave Hrushevskiy Street?
Maybe we can remember beyond the latest crimes and ultimatums of the government, and we can set the tone of the dialogue… if we can see there’s room for dialogue, and people to hold it with.
And finally, a personal request. If, by any chance, I get arrested – please, don’t pay such a price for my “freedom.”