16.06.2010 | Halya Coynash

The Minister of Internal Affairs’ strange concept of lawful behaviour


The Minister of Internal Affairs, Anatoly Mohylyov considers the decision by the Kharkiv authorities to fell trees in Gorky Park to have been lawful. The UNIAN information agency reports him as having spoken of this at a meeting of the Kharkiv Regional Department of the MIA.

“The decision to build a road was taken by the authorities, it was passed lawfully, we must ensure that this norm of the law is carried out”, the Minister stated.

He has been misinformed, and clearly prefers not to read the appeals sent to him by human rights and environmental groups (including over unlawful behaviour by the police), nor information from the Minister for the Environment.  All of these would tell him that the only correct fact was that the authorities took the decision. On 19 May after which men with saws, and no safety provisions were sent to Gorky Park to fell trees. They had no permits, their claim that the road was in the General Plan is quite simply false, and the tree-felling which could easily have killed somebody was illegal.

UNIAN reports that Mohylyov goes on to say that “If somebody doesn’t like this norm, they have the right to approach the court. While it is in force, we are obliged to ensure its enforcement. Full stop. We must not go by what somebody thinks is correct or incorrect. The task of the police is to ensure protection of public order.”

On 20 May the police were called by protesters because the workmen could produce only the City Council decision from the day before.  They then STOPPED the felling. They were soon after clearly instructed to behave differently and over subsequent days consistently stood by while unidentified individuals from an unidentified department used violence against peaceful protesters. On occasion police used violence themselves, and also detained only peaceful demonstrators, not those attacking them.

This is not to mention the fact that the authorities carried out no public debate, and they sent in workmen to begin felling a day after taking the decision.

More information and VIDEO evidence of the lawlessness can be found here: and in our appeal to the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner here: 

It is deeply disturbing that the Minister of Internal Affairs should be defending such clearly unlawful behaviour.


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