Is militia with people? (Open letter to Minister of Interior of Ukraine Yu. Lutsenko)
Respected Minister Lutsenko!
In the beginning of May our organization received from the Kharkiv Regional Department of the Ministry of Interior seven letters Nos. 46/811, 46/812, 46/813, 46/814, 46/815 and 46/816 of 12 April signed by I. Repeshko, the head of the Department. Copies of these letters are attached. The letters informed about the results of check of the information published on the site “Maydan”, which concerned the violations of operating laws by officers of law-enforcing organs. Check of the information was carried out on your errand and no violations on the side of law-enforcers were disclosed.
The results of such “check” arouse indignation, since they do not represent the facts in at least three cases. I can testify that, because I personally took part in the events, described on the site “Maydan”.
So, letter No. 46/814 reads (there and further the style of letters is reproduced exactly): “On 16 November 2004, at 9 a.m., citizens Ruslan Girman and Anton Vlasov were stopped by officers of the Leninskiy district militia station for inspection of documents. It appeared that Girman and Vlasov carried some agitation printed materials without proper dateline… For conduction of the additional check the mentioned citizens were transported to the Leninskiy district militia station, where they explained that they had got received the agitation materials from Kyiv and knew nothing about the contents. After explanation of circumstances citizens R. Girman and A. Vlasov were released, the agitation materials were not seized. In the course of conduction of service check the information on violations by officers of the Leninskiy district militia station was not objectively confirmed”.
In reality, two activists of “PORA” were detained at once after receiving by them of the parcel in “Avtolux” (a bus courier service. – Translators note); they were coercively taken into different cars and transported to the Leninskiy district militia station allegedly in order to learn that this parcel contained nothing criminal. In the cars passports of the detained were taken away. The agitation materials of “PORA”, which were passed through “Avtolux” – stickers, leaflets, etc., were seized in the district station. The young men stayed in militia until about 16:30 (at that the protocol of detention was not compiled), then they got their passports and were released. However, it appeared that the 11th page with the data on registration was torn out from the both passports. The complaint to prosecutors office about this fact was unsuccessful. So, some violations on the side of law-enforcers took place: illegal detention, illegal holding in the building of district station during about 5 hours and premeditated spoilage of passports.
Letters Nos. 46/815 and 46/816 communicate that the check of the information, placed on the “Maydan” site on 17 November 2004, has been conducted. The information concerned the detention by militia officers on 17 November of the participants of students action on the Svobody Square in Kharkiv. Letter No. 46/816 reads: “During the check is was found that on 17 November 2004 the citizens, who conducted the mass actions on the Svobody Square in Kharkiv, were not taken to the organs of internal affairs, and no information concerning this fact was registered”. Letter No. 46/815 states about the detention of participants of the action “Polosaty reis” (“Striped voyage”) and their holding in the Dzerzhinskiy district militia station the following: “in course of the check it was ascertained that on 17 November 2004 the citizens, who conducted this action, were not taken to the Dzerzhinskiy district militia station, and no information concerning this fact was registered”.
In fact, on 17 November 2004, about midday, 9 activists were illegally detained on the Svobody Square. The detained distributed agitation materials among the people present on the square. Three of the activists, who were older and more respectable, were released, and 6 young activists of “PORA” (5 Kyiv dwellers and one Kharkovite) were taken to the Dzerzhinskiy district station. The day before, on 16 November, there were some troubles with the group of activists from Kyiv. In particular, two of them were detained on Pushkinska Street, where they distributed the materials of “PORA” to the passers-by, and transported to the Kyivskiy district station, and nine other activists were blocked in a flat by tough guys in civil clothes and militiamen from the Kyivskiy district station (I called journalists, personally told to militiamen, and the persons in civilian disappeared at once). At night these guys tried to force into the flat, and in the morning did not let anybody out, and the activists of “PORA” could leave the flat only under the cameras of journalists. The youths went to the Svobody Square, where they were detained as soon as they took out their agitation materials. The same evening I personally went to the Dzerzhinskiy district militia station, communicated with its head Yuri Belianinov, who permitted me to feed the boys. Six young people spent the night in the militia station, and on the next day the trial was conducted, where the protocol on administrative violation was considered in accordance with Article 185 part 2 of the Code on administrative offences. The boys were defended by advocate Volodymir Zinchenko, who was invited by me late at night on 17 November. The petition was presented on summon of the officers of law-enforcing organs in the connection with their illegal actions: the advocate insisted that there had been no grounds for the detention. On the same day the “PORA” activists were released, and consideration of the case was postponed. Later there were two more court sittings on this case, and on 7 December the final decision was issued: the activists were released from administrative responsibility, and the court contended itself with oral reprimand.
It is interesting that the site of the Kharkiv regional Department of Ministry of Interior of Ukraine still contains two messages on the detention of six activists:
It is communicated that “on 17 November of the current year, on the Svoboda Square, militia officers detained six young people – dwellers of Kyiv aged from 18 to 20…”. Besides, the following is written in the second, more detailed, message:
“On 17 November of the current year, on the Svoboda Square, militia officers detained six young people – dwellers of Kyiv aged from 18 to 20, who distributed the agitation production of the public organization “PORA”, containing the statements that expressed disrespect for citizens of Ukraine and the appeals for disobedience to law-enforcers. The young people behaved aggressively, used unprintable words toward the law-enforcing officers. When the law-enforcers tried to detain them, they started a fight and showed resistance to the militiamen. One of the youths fell on the traffic area of the street, under the wheels of a route taxi, to which passengers were getting at that moment. A group of young people were taken to the Dzerzhinskiy Station of the Kharkiv City Department of the Ministry of Interior, where, in the course of search, the militiamen found and seized: many aerosol cans with orange paint, hats of white cloth with black stripes, agitation materials of the public organization “PORA” and gas container with the special substance “Teren-4”. The materials have been collected against the offenders in accordance with Article 185 of the Administrative Code of Ukraine (Malicious disobedience to legal order of militia officers)”.
The results of check of other cases are not trustworthy too. In my opinion, I. Repeshko, the new head of the Kharkiv regional department, should urgently and thoroughly examine, how these checks have been conducted, if their results contradict even the information on the events on the site of the department.
In your assessment of the first 100 days of the work of the Ministry of Interior you positively estimated the process of depolitization, decriminalization and purge of the ranks of the Ministry of Interior. I have to state that this statement can be applied to Kharkiv militia only partly, at best. This is confirmed by these “checks”, dismissal of Mykhaylo Pritula and the results of attestation, which has been completed recently. The Kharkiv group for human rights protection has plenty of unchecked information from various sources about the illegal actions of workers of law-enforcing organs in the Kharkiv region, but we do not pass this information to the commandment of the Ministry of Interior, since we cannot guarantee safety to those, who have given us this information, and cannot verify it by ourselves. Now, when we see the examples of checking such information, we do not consider necessary to pass it at all, because there is no assurance of the unbiased scrutiny and check of these data.
I believe that the main thing has not been done. It is extremely necessary to select militia officers, real professionals and patriots (as a rule, these characteristics coincide), and to create with their aid new Directorate of internal safety, in which we would confine. It should be expedient to dismiss the militiamen, who have smirched themselves with dishonorable deeds, and to return the real professionals, who have been dismissed before. Why, for example, nobody proposed to return to militia lieutenant colonel Yuri Kutepov, who was respected by everybody, or lieutenant-general Vitaliy Muzyka (many bad things are written and said about Muzyka, but I do not believe that, I believe in my own observations and impressions)?
I understand all complexity of the problem of reform of law-enforcing organs and I want to stress on the fact that joint efforts of Ministry of Interior and society are needed for realization of such reform. Yet, it seems that the feedback mechanisms do not exist, that the officials of the Ministry do not hear the society. And even do not want to hear. I would be very glad, if I am not right.
Taking into account the extreme social importance of this problem, I am sending this appeal in the form of an open letter, which is a common practice of interaction among human rights protecting organizations and state organs.
Co-chairman of the KhG, head of the Board of the Ukrainian Helsinki Union of human rights,
Member of the Board of the international association “Memorial”