While Neo-Nazis become more active, the MIA dissolves the section on fighting xenophobia
The Ministry of Internal Affairs recently dissolved the departmental section involved in uncovering crimes under Article 161. The section focuses its efforts on hate crimes. The management of the Ministry would appear to believe that there are no such problems in Ukraine. Yesterday, members of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union had occasion to see how absolutely untrue this is. The young woman who approached the advice centre gave a harrowing tale.
On 15 August, her boyfriend went to the football match “Arsenal” (Kyiv) vs. “Volyn” (Lutsk),, following which he became the target of a neo-Nazi attack.
He says that going away from the stadium he and his friends, together with fans of “Arsenal”, were grabbed by 50 tattooed young men with bare chests from among “Dynamo” fans. They began the attack with gas canisters, then they pushed the fans against the wall and began brutally beating them, shouting “Sieg heil!” and “Kill the anti-fa” [a youth anti-fascist movement]. Several knives were also used.
The far-right thugs proudly informed of the results of the fight on their site. Ihor and Mykola (not their real names) ended up in hospital, one with concussion and having lost three front teeth, the other with three knife wounds.
The most interesting thing began in the hospital. Two men not in uniform but calling themselves policemen came up to Ihor. Without showing identification, they began questioning him, although the interrogation was more of an attempt to convince Ihor that the fight had been arranged between fans of the clubs. When his girlfriend began objecting and asking the doctor for permission to hold the conversation and for a lawyer, she was told “Get out, and don’t interfere, or because of oh-so-clever people like you, we’ll release them, and let the lawyer catch them.”
After they learned that Ihor is a Russian national, the threats began. The people calling themselves police officers tried to persuade Ihor and his girlfriend that if they make a report to the police department, he will be deported as an illegal immigrant.
The men left,, but Ihor did submit the report. However, judging from what happened, the police officers have their own version of the evidents.
The situation gives rise to a number of questions:
Why did they attempt to convince the victim that the fight had been arranged between fans of the clubs? Perhaps to conceal the fact that Ukraine has problems with football fans and they need people and funding for that?
Why did the police, if such they were, so obstruct Ihor in handing in a report? Perhaps in order to later try to convince the victim that the fight had been arranged between fans of the clubs? Or to conceal the fact that Ukraine has a problem with fascist movements and to report that Ukraine does not need a specialized section to fight hate crime?
If they weren’t police officers, who else has an interest in stopping the victim from turning to the police and reporting the crime. You might think it was the neo-Nazists themselves, yet it’s not like them.
Most of the victims are indeed frightened to submit a report. They are worried, not without cause, of reprisals from the neo-Nazis whose antics are being fuelled by the lack of response from the authorities.
Yet the MIA believes that there is nothing to fear, and the section for tackling hate crimes has been dissolved. So don’t worry if somebody knifes you after a football match screaming Heil Hitler. The police will say that that’s simply hooligan antics between supporters of completing fan clubs.
P.S. It transpired that the two men are indeed police officers – the young woman recognized one of them at the Pechersky District Police Station.
According to Viacheslav Lichachov, Head of the Programme for Monitoring and Analysis of Racism and Xenophobia in Ukraine run by the Congress of National Communities of Ukraine, there is an upward trend in the number of attacks on anti-fascists and opponents from sub-cultures. “Such attacks have become more frequent, and increasingly more brutal. This has been seen particularly during 2010.”
“ Infringement of citizens’ equality on the basis of their racial or ethnic origin or their attitude to religion.” Article 161 covers “deliberate actions aimed at inciting ethnic, racial or religious enmity and hatred, at denigrating a person’s ethnic honour and dignity or causing offence with regard to religious beliefs, as well as direct or indirect restrictions of rights, or the establishment of direct or indirect privileges for citizens on the basis of race, skin colour, political, religious, or other convictions, gender, ethnic or social origin, material position, language or other grounds”.