STARTING TODAY UKRAINIAN BERKUT POLICE CAN USE FORCE AND WEAPONS AGAINST THE POPULATION
January 28, 2014
Translated by Olia Knight
Today, the scandalous order by Interior Minister Vitaliy Zakarchenko comes into effect. This order empowers Berkut riot police to use force, specialized equipment, and weapons against the masses.
According to LIGABusinessInform that cited Yurliga, today, on January 28, 2014, the order signed by the Interior Minister Vitaly Zakarchenko from October 24, 2013 #1011 “On Berkut special police division for civil safety” came into effect.
According to the order, Berkut police have the right to use hand-to-hand combat, special equipment and weapons enumerated by articles 12 through 15 of law “On Police”, to fulfill their duties. According to the law, the police can use handcuffs, rubber batons, zip ties, tear gas, flash grenades, equipment for opening doors and stopping vehicles, water cannons, armored vehicles, and other specialized and transport machinery, along with use of service dogs.
As stated in the order, the tasks of the Berkut police include “maintaining public order in objects and territories of strategic economic importance; maintaining safety of the people, protection of their rights, freedoms, and legal interests; prevention of violation of laws, putting an end to such violations; protection and maintenance of public order; detection of criminal violations; search and detention of criminal suspects, armed suspects, as well as other dangerous suspects; freeing hostages, and prevention of terrorism acts”.
According to paragraph 27, part 1 article 10 of the Law on Police, Berkut has the duty to provide public order during public commercial events “at the expense of organizations and people holding these events”.
To exercise paragraph 20, part 1 article 11 of the Law, Berkut is, within its capabilities, responsible for temporary limitation or ban of public access to territories or objects to ensure public order, public safety, protection of public health and vitality.
Special forces also are responsible for public order in places of temporary stay of public officials under the state protection, as well as the adjacent territories.
Along with subdivisions of interior forces and central bodies of executive power, the Berkut participates in search and detention of criminal suspects, armed suspects, as well as other dangerous suspects; freeing hostages, and prevention of terrorism acts.
The law also stipulates that by decision of the Interior Minister or his deputies, the Berkut police must temporarily relocate to other territories for immediate public order maintenance, prevention of mass public order violations, as well as search and detention of criminal suspects, armed suspects, as well as other dangerous suspects; freeing hostages, and prevention of terrorism acts.
It must be noted that lawyers questioned the legality of Berkut’s existence before, since the subdivision is a militarized formation that does not have any stipulated legal grounds for its existence.
Meanwhile, as explained by advocate Igor Cherezov, Berkut operates under the Interior Ministry order #404 from June 28, 1994 that instituted the Charter of Transportation police of Ukraine. By the paragraph 11 of the Charter, the Berkut subdivision was created to “prevent mass protests and unrest, fight organized crime, search and detain extremely dangerous and armed criminals, as well as maintain public order during mass events, large industrial accidents, catastrophes, natural disasters, and other emergencies”.
As a reminder, MP Anatoliy Grytsenko addressed District Administrative Court of Kyiv to find the Interior Ministry Order # 1011 illegal and invalid.
Moreover, Verkhovna Rada registered a number of bills that provide for elimination of special police subdivisions (#3720, #3733).