Tax Code Protesters complain of pressure from authorities


Berkut riot police dispersing the entirely peaceful demonstration in early December 2010

Participants in the protests against the new Tax Code last autumn are calling on the Verkhovna Rada to revoke several norms in the Criminal Procedure which make it possible for the police to hold people without court order for over 72 hours. They accuse the law enforcement bodies of misusing the possibility of extending the period of detention in order to establish somebody’s identity. This, they allege, is what is happening now with Vitaly Gruzynov who has been held in custody now for over a week.

He is one of 7 activists accused of damaging the granite stone on Maidan Nezalezhnosti [Independence Square] in Kyiv during the peaceful protest by many thousands of small business owners on Maidan in late November last year.  The demonstrations were huge and coincided with the anniversary of the events in the same place known as the Orange Revolution.  Some concessions were made but then the protesters’ tent camp was forcibly dismantled almost the next day.

Shortly afterwards, one protester was taken into custody accused of damaging a car.  Serhiy Kostakov, spent more than seven months remanded in custody before being finally released earlier in July on a signed undertaking not to abscond. And a number, including some who were not protesters, were taken into custody for alleged damage to the granite stone.  They were held in custody for some time and the criminal investigation against them has not been terminated.

Vasyl Gruzynov was declared wanted by the police in April this year.

A Radio Svoboda correspondent spoke with the Coordinator of the civic movement “Common Cause”, Oleksandr Danylyuk. He says that he has turned to the Constitutional Court for explanation as to whether the police behaviour is in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Code.  [In fact, such individual submissions are not possible – translator]. The movement’s lawyers have also drawn up a draft law which would remove the norms in question and have sent it to some opposition deputies. He stresses that this should not be necessary since the Constitution clearly stipulates that a detainee cannot be held for more than 72 hours without a detention order.

The court hearing to decide whether Vasyl Gruzynov is to be remanded in custody is scheduled for Thursday.

The conversation with Oleksandr Danylyuk and photo are from Radio Svoboda

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