Interrogations and arrests: Ukrainian police and courts against civic gatherings
The Kyiv police have an increased workload, with interrogations of people involved in civic protests. A fan of the Kyiv Dynamo football club, Andriy Korynovsky, was initially summonsed for questioning as a witness, then made into a suspect. They released him after 15 hours of questioning on a signed undertaking not to abscond.
The Kyiv Police deny that he was detained over chanting a slogan with a political subtext. There are a large number of spectators who are convinced that this was indeed the reason. He is facing charges of hooliganism which could carry 5 years imprisonment.
As reported, the police also released two protesters detained over the opposition protests on Independence Day. They too were detained on suspicion of “acts of hooliganism”. Politicians have also been to the police for questioning, including the deputy leader of (Yulia Tymoshenko’s) Batkivshchyna Party, Oleksandr Turchynov and member of Our Ukraine – People’s Self-Defence Viacheslav Kyrylenko.
Human rights activist and member of the Board of the Respublica Institute, Volodymyr Chemerys, says that over the summer the situation with regard to observance of the right to peaceful assembly has worsened in Ukraine. He says that courts are through their own bias passing decisions to ban rallies and protests basing this purely on supposition, not facts. “This does not comply with European Court of Human Rights practice. The fact that there is a counter-demonstration cannot be grounds for banning a protest. Courts here are doing that”.
He doesn’t think that the signal to restrict peaceful demonstrations and protests is coming from the President’s Administration. He believes it is totally at the initiative of law enforcement officers who want to demonstrate their loyalty and willingness to oblige. .
Chemerys is convinced that the cases initiated against protesters on Independence Day and all similar cases against members of protest movements will crumble. He says that all the cases have been initiated to show that the police won’t leave anyone alone who dares to do their own thing. He adds that the detention and interrogation of politicians shows the police’s inadequacy since it only increases popularity for the opposition, who will gladly use them for PR.