The City Hospital, or Underground Treatment

Maryana Pyetsukh
11.02.2014 Ukrayinska Pravda
Translated by Maria Stanislav

“Hospitals in Lviv are ready to receive the people injured at the Kyiv Maidan.” That statement, made by the Lviv City Head Andriy Sadoviy on January 20, sounded unusual at first. At the time, no one expected that the flood of injuries would be this overwhelming, that Kyiv hospitals wouldn’t be able to handle the load, that people would travel 500 kilometers to get treatment.

Medical staff of the People's Hospital. Photo by Yuliya Kochetova

Medical staff of the People’s Hospital, Euromaidan.
Photo by Yuliya Kochetova

Mr. Sadoviy explained the motive behind his statement – Lviv hospitals offered more safety than the ones in Kyiv. The very next day, the importance of this factor became crystal clear.

On the night of January 21, unidentified men kidnapped the activist Ihor Lutsenko, together with an injured Lviv resident Yuriy Verbytsky. Soon after that, numerous reports came rolling in, about Berkut officers and unidentified plainclothes men, who kept watch near medical facilities, hunting out patients with “characteristic” injuries.

Ghost Patients
“The bullet rammed through my eye and got stuck in my nose bridge. In our field hospital at Hrushevskogo, the medics removed the bullet, and sent me to the Olexandrivsky hospital to clean and stitch the eyeball. I got there at midnight, and by eight am, I escaped, together with a fellow protester who suffered a similar injury. Fortunately, I stayed long enough to have surgery,” we’re told by Ruslan, an activist from Hrushevskogo street, injured late on January 22.

Ruslan says that he and the other man were saved by their doctor, who told the police who came to collect “single” patients that he can’t recall which ward we’re in. “While he was talking to them, we got away. Automaidan activists collected us from the hospital, and took us back to the Maidan. Our discharge papers were delivered to us later,” Ruslan adds.

On January 22, around lunchtime, Andriy Sadoviy made a statement that Lviv has already started receiving the wounded from Kyiv.

However, the media office of the [Lviv] city council gives no further comment on the matter. They say that is for the sake of the patients’ safety. The doctors don’t want any additional hassle from law enforcement visits, either.

Ruslan, the Hrushevskogo activist we talked to, also went to Lviv to get treatment. He encountered additional health issues, unrelated to the eye injury. The field hospitals at the Euromaidan don’t have the equipment capable of full diagnostics. Whereas anyone who leaves the Maidan wearing an eyepatch automatically becomes a target for the police.

Originally, Ruslan was promised some assistance in getting treatment abroad. However, his apartment, where he hasn’t been for two months, was visited by the police, who took all his documents, including his foreign passport [required for international travel].

The decision to go to Lviv wasn’t made based on the statement of the Lviv city head – but on the suggestion of one of the Euromaidan self-defense squadron leaders, who recommended a doctor he knew.

In transit, Ruslan stayed as low-profile as possible. The Lviv residents that were picking the young man up from the train had been told neither the train number nor the exact time of arrival. After a brief “sick leave” in Lviv, Ruslan returned to the Maidan. He says that’s the only place where he feels perfectly safe.

In the future, Ruslan plans to get a good-quality prosthetic eye.

Officially Admitted, But Just As Scared
Lviv officially admitted some patients from Kyiv’s Euromaidan for treatment after the explosion in the Trade Unions House . After that case gained publicity [also covered in this post], it was no longer possible to anonymously treat the two heavily wounded Lviv residents – Nazar, aged 15, and Roman, aged 20.

At first glance, they appeared to be safe from persecution. In this case, they were the injured parties, not the suspects – which meant they shouldn’t have to fear arrest.

Nevertheless, Nazar’s and Roman’s families decided to play safe. After moving the boys from Kyiv to Lviv, they chose to limit their contact with the world to a minimum. They’d meet with the press, but reluctantly. Worried that the boys’ status may be changed from ‘injured person’ to ‘suspect’, the families would ask anyone involved to protect the hospital from future visits of the law enforcement.

The concerns weren’t too far-fetched – because the police already mentioned a version of the events where the people responsible for the explosion were the activists themselves – who, supposedly, were manufacturing and storing explosives in the Trade Union House. In fact, the criminal case was opened under the [Criminal Code] article dealing with careless storage of firearms and ammunition.

Considering this, the territory of the nominal Lviv Euromaidan was expanded. In addition to the constant blockade around the internal forces and the Berkut bases, and the patrols near the main Euromaidan stage and the picketed regional state administration, activists added a new patrol route, starting from January 7 – around the two hospitals, where Nazar and Roman are being treated, in different parts of the city.

On Friday, two policemen tried to pay Nazar a visit, but the activists did not let them through, saying that the boy is in no state to meet anyone yet.

“Our goal – to prevent a repeat of the events in Kyiv, where the police came and took people straight from their hospital beds,” we were told by Valeriy Varemchuk, coordinator of the people’s self-defense in Lviv. According to him, a few dozen people are responsible for the security of each hospital, and ready to react quickly in case of any threat. The main task is to hold out for the first half an hour – and then, Mr. Veremchuk assures us, thousands of Lviv residents will show up to protect the patients.

Nevertheless, the coordinator doubts that the police in Lviv will try to openly act against the Maidan activists. “There have been no significant incidents, conflicts or escalation with our local police. They understand the mood of the city very well, and they know that in case of any real conflicts, things will become much worse for the police themselves,” Mr. Veremchuk is convinced.

Plus, the national self-defense, which started the process of official registration, even coordinates some of its actions with the police.

Mr. Veremchuk also doubts that the police from other regions will come here to detain the Maidan activists. “Rudyak (head of the regional department of the MIA – ed.) insisted several times that Lviv region has enough manpower to maintain law and order. I have no reason to doubt his words,” Mr. Veremchuk says.

Despite the outward calm, the Lviv Euromaidan coordinators decided to play it safe – Nazar, aged 15, was sent off to Poland for treatment. They hope to send Roman abroad as well. Even though the Lviv medics assure that they have all facilities required to treat the boys.

The patients will likely stay abroad for a while. Roman had lost his left hand and some of the fingers on the right one, in addition to the closed-head injury, eye burns, and shell fragment wounds of the torso, neck and thighs. The doctors say that he requires a minimum of one month of in-patient treatment, followed by outpatient care, rehabilitation and prosthetic care.

Nazar has open-head injury and a broken cheek bone. He lost one eye, but the other one may yet be salvaged. He will undergo several surgeries in Poland.

The Invisible Roadblock
“This place has three driveways and five exits,” an activist of the Lviv self-defense reports to the coordinator Valeriy Veremchuk. On Sunday, January 9, activists took a third hospital under their protection. This is where Andriy Lenets, originally from Komarno town, Lviv region, is being treated after suffering beatings at the hands of the Berkut.

Andriy Lenets

Andriy Lenets

On January 23, after hearing of the deaths at Hrushevskogo, Andriy, a 41-year-old dental technician, took a leave of absence at work and went to the Maidan, together with his nephew Nestor, foreign language philologist, aged 32. They arrived late at night, and only spent an hour at the Maidan. After leaving the barricaded area and heading towards their accommodation, they were addressed by other activists, who needed a hand to pull someone’s car out of the snow.

These turned out to be Automaidan activists. The men joined them in the minibus and only drove for a few dozen meters when the vehicle was cut off by a Berkut bus.

“Berkut officers were pulling people out [of the minibus] and beating them. I was trying to cover my head with my arms – maybe five blows landed there. But I stayed on my feet for a long time, so I also caught a blow in the face. That one knocked out four or five of my teeth. After we were loaded into the car, one of the Berkut officers grabbed me and said he was going to drown me in the [river] Dnieper,” Andriy would tell in the courtroom, later.

Between eight and eleven am, Andriy was interrogated in the Obolonsky police department. His head wouldn’t stop bleeding, but the policemen refused to call the doctors, saying that they must finish the interrogation first.

Finally, the medics hospitalized Andriy, in the detention ward of the Kyiv Municipal Emergency Hospital. For ten days, he wasn’t allowed to see a dentist, despite the agonizing pain caused by the knocked-out teeth.

On February 6, Andriy was released into house arrest to his hometown of Komarno, in Lviv region. But at home, he took a turn for the worse. Local paramedics took him to the district hospital, but the doctors there were alarmed by his state and had him transferred to Lviv, to a specialized [medical] department.

Andriy’s family saw no need for additional security, until on the evening of the next day, they found out that his criminal case has been re-qualified from “hooliganism” to “participation in mass riots”. The new charge comes with a new preventive measure – detention.

“Everyone who passes by is potentially suspicious for us. We keep watch in the hallways, by the ward, and by the hospital building,” we’re told by the young men from Komarno who came to stand guard by their fellow townsman. They’re concerned that a convoy may come for Andriy at any time, to take him to the pre-trial detention facility.

Even though, technically, there are no legal grounds for this. First, the court must pass an appropriate resolution that requires a change of preventive measures. And secondly, the doctors must confirm that the patient’s state of health allows for his transfer to the detention facility.

At this time, the doctors strongly recommend that Andriy Lenets maintains complete bed rest and lack of stress. Only immediately family is allowed to see him. The doctors have also turned away two policemen who came to the hospital – the purpose of their visit remains unknown, even a whole day following Andriy’s hospitalization.

Maryana Pyetsukh, specially for UP.Life

This entry was posted in "Voices" in English, English, English News, Languages, Voices of Revolution and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The City Hospital, or Underground Treatment

  1. chornajuravka says:

    Reblogged this on Euromaidan PR.

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