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05.09.2011

Parliamentary Committee wants answers over police action on Independence Day

   

The Verkhovna Rada Committee on Law Enforcement Body Legislation has asked the Ministry of Internal Affairs [MIA], the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Kyiv City State Administration [KCSA] to explain on what grounds the police obstructed a peaceful opposition procession on 24 August in Kyiv and applied special means against members of the public. 

The Chair of the Committee, Viktor Shvets stated at a press conference on Friday that he had sent a letter to the Minister of Internal Affairs, the Prosecutor General and Head of the KCSA asking them to provide answers and explanations to the Committee. He added that he was sure that the Committee would then give a political assessment of the events, and said:

“I see a very serious threat in these events to the rights and freedoms of Ukrainian citizens”. In view of this the Committee will be recommending that the Verkhovna Rada consider this question at a plenary session.

Commenting on the Minister of Internal Affairs, Anatoly Mohylyov’s assertion that the police acted lawfully, Mr Shvets suggested that the Minister did not rush to conclusions.  “I think that the Minister must first of all answer the Committee regarding the grounds for Internal Affairs bodies to have unlawfully obstructed the peaceful movement of Ukrainian citizens through those Kyiv streets where movement had not been banned in accordance with rulings from the Kyiv Administrative Court”.

As reported, many thousands gathered at an opposition rally on 24 August at the Monument to Taras Shevchenko in Kyiv.  A large number of the protesters began making their way along Volodymyrska St towards the President’s Administration. 

Various reports, including that by Serhiy Leshchenko at Ukrainska Pravda, say that the court order ended with a list of the specific restrictions proposed. The streets which the protesters were banned from using did not include Volodymyrska St.  Yet it was on that street that the marchers were met by cordons of police and Special Force Berkut officers, at least one of whom used tear gas.

The protesters were taking a joint memorandum agreed at the rally organized by the Committee against Dictatorship. It demanded,  among other things,  “early elections (presidential, parliamentary, to the Kyiv Council and for Kyiv Mayor); a stop to illegal criminal prosecutions and the immediate release of Yury Lutsenko; Yulia Tymoshenko; and other political prisoners”

The MIA claimed that 6 of its officers were injured in the skirmish.  It has initiated a criminal investigation over “hooliganism” and is extremely actively summonsing people for questioning. These include 18 National Deputies, the former dissident and political prisoner Levko Lukyanenko (who refused to go) and others. 

One most disturbing event was the decision by the Shevchenkivsky District Court in Kyiv to jail for 10 days a woman who cut the President’s name off the ribbon on the wreath which read “To Taras Shevchenko from Viktor Yanukovych”. Opposition sources say that she was protesting against political repression. This is effectively confirmed by the Head of the Kyiv Police Public Liaison Department, Volodymyr Polishchuk who said that the woman had been sentenced to 10 days administrative arrest under Article 173 of the Code of Administrative Offences (petty hooliganism) and asserted that it was not just the ribbon that had prompted such a sentence.

“There were also insults. I saw that video, she did not simply cut the ribbon and go away. This was a protest action carried out with insults and descriptions of this regime”.

New information (about the Committee) from UNIAN   Photo from the BBC Ukrainian Service

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