“Bankova prisoner” Vladyslav Zagorovka: I could not sleep for 1.5 months after injuries

Iryna Solomko
February 6, 2014  Pravda.com.ua

Translated by Olia Knight
Source: http://life.pravda.com.ua/person/2014/02/6/151574/

Legal justice in Ukraine is a phrase that does not correspond to reality. It can only cause an ironic smile. I do not think Ukraine is a country that even hints at having legal justice.

a4dd00a-300Vladyslav Zagorovka, one of  the “Bankova prisoners” [from clashes near the Presidential Administration Building on Dec. 1, 2013], in an interview with Hromadske radio, spoke of how owners of the Donetsk firm where he worked as a long-haul truck driver fired him after he sustained injuries and was detained in connection with events on Bankova. This is his first time talking about the reasons why he agreed to a deal with the investigation, how he survived torture in an  investigatory isolation ward, and how his children reacted to this story.

Iryna Solomko recorded the conversation with Vladyslav and his wife Svitlana.

Mr. Vladyslav, it has been two months since you became a victim of the situation on Bankova Street. How are you feeling now?

– Much better than immediately after my release from the investigatory isolation ward. However, I am never going to be as healthy as I was before the beatings and arrest.

You had problems with your vision right after these events, people said you could barely see with one of your eyes…

– (Svitlana) He was temporarily blind after the beatings, and the doctors were supposed to operate on him, but the vision got better on its own.

But you are wearing glasses now. How much worse is your vision now?

— Well, some people now say that I have had bad vision “since childhood” (smiles). Please understand that previously, I had commercial driver medical checkups every year, and more recently I do it every two years. My vision was always 20/20, and it turns out that now I am blind since childhood (laughs).

— So, the doctors are trying to give their expert opinion that your vision did not worsen as a result of beatings by Berkut and not because of events of December 1 on Bankova Street?

– Yes.

What else have you been diagnosed with besides problems with your vision?

– Fractured ribs, concussion, brain injury, and a cyst in one of the areas of the brain. I hope that the cyst dissolves one day. When they forced me to sign the agreement with the investigators, I had hypertension, and now I must take blood pressure medications.

– (Svitlana) He had hematologic brain injury. Doctors say it will take 10 to 15 years for the damage to dissolve.

After you have been discharged from Oleksandriv hospital, before Christmas you had to be taken in to the hospital again

– Yes, I am on sick leave right now, but at least on an outpatient basis.

– (Svitlana) But doctors said that is due to viral infection, and not because of the head wound. We went to a neuropathologist for a consult, and he outlined the treatment plan and explained that during high fever the legs could “fall asleep”, and that Vladyslav could have convulsions, epileptic seizures, and other complications. Therefore, the problem is neurological.

While you were on sick leave, you were fired without notice, which is unlawful. Are you currently unemployed?

– Yes, I am unemployed now. My wife had power of attorney to receive my paychecks, and they forced her to write the notice on the basis of this power of attorney.

How did they explain their actions?

– The same old: “He should go to Maidan, they pay him there, so let them pay him.” My wife heard a lot of uncensored cussing words.

Therefore, your being fired is directly connected to your participation in Euromaidan protests?

– Yes.

Then why did you agree to sign the termination agreement? Why not try to fight the unlawful termination?

– I see no sense in continuing to work in such an environment. I feel threatened to work with the firm owners. If they are so biased against me already, I do not see myself working with these people.

What are your plans for the future? Are you going to be a driver again, or are you thinking about a new career path? For instance, when Euromaidan activists found out about your termination, are they ready to help you find a job, since you have three children and need to provide for your family?

– Being a long-haul driver is in my blood, how to say this, this is my whole life. I cannot imagine changing my profession in such a short period of time. Besides, I have never thought about changing my profession before these events. It’s even in my dreams – to drive somewhere.

So where do you live now? You have three children, your wife is on maternity leave, and you are unemployed.

– People helped with a number of things, we are greatly thankful to them! If it weren’t for those people, I would still be at Lukyanivka investigatory isolation ward, and would probably be sentenced already. People helped financially, and we get some child payments – we have enough for basic foods.

Have you visited Maidan after these events?

–  Of course, and not just once (he and his wife laugh together). My wife is a press attaché and a bodyguard; she even accompanies me to the hospital. Well, to Maidan as well… (laughs). We came a couple of times, went to Hrushevskoho, to Bankova, to Maidan, went everywhere.

 Do you feel any emotions when, for example, you come to Bankova or you are in the spot where Berkut beat you?

– So many emotions! I don’t even know how to put them to words… In what country do I live, and why can’t I walk where I want to? I consider Kyiv my hometown. And if it is not a private property, then why can’t I walk there? I don’t know, maybe soon Victor Fedorovych [Yanukovych] will consider that the air is also his property – will we require a permit for this, to breathe? I don’t know how this will all end.


And how did your children react to this situation you found yourself in?

– The family reacted negatively of course. The psychological impact is immense. Everything is more or less okay now, but at the beginning, when I was just released, everybody was on the verge of nervous breakdown… They felt everything deeply.

My middle daughter Yana who is now in second grade, has taken it the hardest. She hid when the TV people came over for some time, because she was very scared. She had to process so much information that overwhelmed her. But we persevered, and she is now aware of the political situation, and knows what Maidan is, and what keeps happening there. She has matured so much throughout this experience.

So it was incredibly stressful on your family? Has your daughter complained about attitudes at school and their reaction? Probably everybody knew what happened to you.

– She did not complain to me yet. The majority of people around us are adequate, compassionate, helpful, and supportive.

What about the other eight “Bankova prisoners”, do you stay in contact with them? Do you attempt to support each other, or not?

– Yes, I was present during the court hearing in the case of Garagutsa. At first I thought that I was the only one with brain injuries. But among those I talked to, all of us have similar problems.

So the health consequences are the same?

– Not just health, but mental health and psychological state. Practically everyone has been affected in the same way.

What do you mean by the “psychological state”?

– (Svitlana) He could not sleep for 1.5 months, he probably slept an hour at a time. Ha walked around like a zombie, and could not fall asleep either during the day or during the night. And it is so painful to watch, because it affects him and obviously the family. Because a person who does not get enough rest is agitated, screams… This is very difficult.

–  I can even smile now (both Vladyslav and his wife smile).

Have you been pardoned under the law adopted by the Verkhovna Rada, the so-called law “On Amnesty”?

–There was a court hearing, but nobody warned me there would be a trial or about any specific measures taken during the hearing. I am going to meet with my lawyer in a couple of days, she will more concretely explain to me what happened during the hearing.

When did you find out about the amnesty?

– On TV. I was watching the 5th channel live from Maidan – and saw in subtitles that the court hearing over my case was underway. I was in shock.

So, you have been amnestied without being present at the hearing?

– Yes. They do what they want to do, whatever comes into their head. They do not consider it important to even warn somebody about their actions.

 Let’s talk about the December events: everyone was very surprised when you were among the first people to sign a cooperation agreement with investigators. Why did you sign it?

– Why did I sign it? It’s not even important what they promised me – it was either sign, or I would be moved, in the state I was in, straight from the hospital back to an investigatory isolation ward again. I found out that my wife was in the hospital. They hinted seemingly “by accident” between words that my wife had a stroke and a concussion. I simply had no other choice.

So, the prosecutor approached you with this agreement and told you that your wife…

–  No, not the prosecutor himself. I was in such a state of shock then I do not remember who said that. There were many people with me then, and it came out, as if between words.

But in principle, they pressured you to sign the agreement?

– Wow, that: “in principle.” They did not just pressure me. First, I realized that with this condition – a concussion and severe brain injuries – I could not leave the hospital even if I wanted to with all my desire. And then they offered: either sign, or go back to the investigatory isolation ward …

 What about the case where you are the victim – since there is video evidence that Berkut beat you up – is there an official investigation? Generally, are you informed about the status of the case, or not?

– I know nothing about this. Maybe someone somewhere is doing something on this case. But I was not called in for questioning, absolutely nothing. Silence. …

As I say, legal justice in Ukraine is a phrase that is far from true. It only causes an ironic smile on your face. I do not think Ukraine is a country that even hints at having legal justice.

 What would you consider appropriate consequences for the events of December 1? Will you try to somehow get the Berkut police responsible for your beating punished? Maybe go to the European Court on human rights?

– Firstly, I still understand that if I resisted the police in detention, I’d be beaten. But after detention… and so brutally beaten, they stepped on my head… I knew that our police force was inadequate. But I could have never imagined that it was so inadequate, since I have never been in situations like this before. But now I have seen how this happens.

Even if I was some kind of maniac – this does not mean that after I’ve been arrested they can beat me … I … don’t know.

Of course, I will try. I don’t yet know how exactly. Honestly, I don’t think it’s possible to bring those responsible under our current government to justice. Well, I may address this issue through other avenues.

So, you will not abandon this case?

– No, not under any circumstances.


FULL AUDIO HERE (or through source link):


This entry was posted in "Voices" in English, English, Maidan Diary, Pictures, Video, Voices of Revolution and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to “Bankova prisoner” Vladyslav Zagorovka: I could not sleep for 1.5 months after injuries

  1. chornajuravka says:

    Reblogged this on Follow the Ukrainian protests.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.