Translated by Michael Andrec and edited by Voices of Ukraine
Today’s story is about a group unique in many respects, known as the “Clerical Hundred” [a word play on the “Heavenly Hundred,” a term used for the 100-plus men and women killed by snipers and riot police during the Maidan protests]. Their mission can be defined as “restoring the documents of [Ukrainian oligarch Serhiy] Kurchenko and [former Ukrainian president Viktor] Yanukovych. Anybody can do this: no special knowledge is required,” says an excerpt from the online flyer of the initiative, inviting volunteers to join them.
For those who are still wondering what these volunteers actually do, I will provide a short background. After Yanukovych hastily fled from Mezhyhirya, and Kurchenko ran from his office at the Arena business center, they left some documents behind. But they were not nicely gathered together in folders. Instead, they attempted to destroy most of these particular documents by shredding them before their escape. As a result, a large number of tiny paper fragments ended up in the garbage. For example, the shredded Kurchenko documents were found in large bags in a dumpster near his office.
Investigative journalist Denys Bihus decided to attempt to restore these documents, since they would be of help in learning the details of the fraud committed by Yanukovych and his associates. But a single person could never assemble such a huge number of paper fragments. So, about a month ago, Denys wrote a post on Facebook asking for volunteers. This is how the “Clerical Hundred” was born, which I visited yesterday.
What I saw there truly impressed me. The volunteers are extremely meticulous: each little paper fragment is glued on special sheets of paper, which are then scanned.
They work in silent efficiency. Not a single scrap of paper is on the floor. Everybody is focused on the business at hand, and they treat it very seriously. “Have you come to help?” a volunteer named Olena asked me. “No, I came to write about you,” I explained. “I wish you had come here to help instead,” she replied unreservedly. There is just so much work to be done.
The volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds. Yesterday, I met a woman who was on maternity leave. Olena, with whom I spoke earlier, works in upper management in the retail sector. When asked why she bothers to do this, she explains: “I would like to see what it was that they were trying so hard to destroy.”
Only one man was among the ten volunteers. Vasyl is a modest 55-year-old who learned about the group through Facebook. This is his fifth time here with the “Clerical Hundred,” where he works between 3 to 5 hours per visit. Vasyl is a scientist and educator, he teaches at the National University of Life and Environmental Sciences and researches aquaculture and aquatic organisms. In his spare time, he helps the “Clerical Hundred.” “It’s the only thing I can do to help with this important matter,” he explains.
On weekends, there are about 30 volunteers, a bit less during the work week. Volunteers are always needed: “If you can stop by for an hour – then come in and help,” reads the group’s Internet announcement.
The results of the “Clerical Hundred’s” work will be handed over to Ukraine’s Prosecutor-General’s Office.