Kharkiv police break up peaceful protest
On Saturday in Kharkiv the police prevented local residents from holding a peaceful protest march against dirt on the city’s streets. According to the website MOST-Kharkiv, two protesters were detained.
The protest was organized by activists from the Kharkiv city branch of the youth organization Democratic Alliance and the Foundation of Regional Initiatives.
According to Anna Vlasenko from the Foundation of Regional Initiatives, the march had virtually only set off when police officers came up to them. “They said that there was no such problem as rubbish in the city and told us to disperse. Do of the guys were taken to the police station.”, she said.
MOST-Kharkiv managed to contact one of the young men, Vasyl, who confirmed that he was in the police station. He said that the police had told him that the meeting was unlawful since there had been no decision from the relevant commission of the City Council.
The two were soon released. Vasyl says that there were about 35 people on the march.
The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union states that the actions of the police were clearly unlawful since a peaceful gathering can only be banned by a court order which was not obtained. The stopping of the march effectively by a body of local self-government is in breach of the Constitution. In an informal conversation the police supposedly even said that it wasn’t important whether the action was lawful since they been given a directive from above. UHHRU has offered legal aid to the two young men detained and is also planning to apply to the court to have the police actions declared unlawful.