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24.07.2010

Kharkiv Regional Prosecutor finds no infringements in beating peaceful protesters

   

The Kharkiv Regional Prosecutor’s Office has stated in their response to the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union that they found no infringements over the situation in Kharkiv’s Gorky Park

The letter, signed by the Deputy Prosecutor O. Kuchar, asserts that neither the police who beat and/or unlawfully detained defenders of the Park nor the unidentified individuals in black with badges saying “Municipal Security” who also used force against peaceful protesters committed any offence.

The Prosecutor’s Office consider the facts cited in the UHHRU open appeal to be of a non-specific nature.  This is rather perplexing given the ample testimony and extremely graphic video footage confirming:

-        the use of violence by police officers against people trying to prevent the trees from being felled;

-        cases where the athletic young men in black and / or with “Municipal Security” badges beat up demonstrators, and the excavator injured several people by lowering its scoop on them, with the police doing nothing. 

The video clip here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_gk4KGWfKI&feature=youtube_gdata has been viewed by 16 thousand people, and is one of a number published in articles in the media (including English-language) and sent to the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner, Amnesty International, UEFA and others.

In response to the accusation that the Kharkiv authorities had ignored the public’s interest and opinion, the Prosecutor mentioned the “public hearings” orchestrated on19 June 2010.  Details and a very telling video clip of these hearings can be found at: http://www.kyivpost.com/news/opinion/op_ed/detail/70370/  however it also says a lot that the Prosecutor should be citing public hearings from 19 June when the tree felling began a full month earlier, on 20 May.

The Prosecutor claims that public opinion was taken into account when the General Plan for the city was approved in June 2004, yet this does not envisage the actions and road construction plans of the Kharkiv city authorities.  As reported, in 2008 the Ministry for Environmental Protection order the Kharkiv Regional Department for the Environment to revoke agreement of a plan for the disputed land which was done.

There was no – mandatory – State environmental impact assessment for the Park construction plans. Nor are the central authorities aware of any public hearings having been held regarding this construction. Yet despite this, the Kharkiv City Council on 19 May passed an unlawful decision to remove trees from Gorky Park and sent men in to carry out the work the very next day.  The figure of 503 trees has long been exceeded (a week ago the figure of 2,000 was given), and the unlawful nature of the authorities’ actions has been confirmed, among others, by a parliamentary committee, yet the work is continuing.

And in a number of such responses to official complaints, the Prosecutor and the Ministry of Internal Affairs simply deny what people can see with their own eyes.

See the appeal to the CE Human Rights Commissioner (which cites other videoclips) and list of organizations and individuals who signed it herekhpg.org/index.php?id=1275908780

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