One dead in police dispersal of peaceful protest by Chornobyl Clean-up Workers
Gennady Konoplyov, former miner, who died during the police action on Sunday evening in Donetsk
On Sunday evening police together with unidentified individuals in plain clothes began forcibly dismantling the tent camp erected by Chornobyl Clean-up Worker outside the regional department of the Pension Fund in Donetsk. The men, whose health was seriously damaged during their participation in the clean-up work after the 1986 Chornobyl Disaster, are protesting against cuts in pensions to which they are entitled.
As a result of Sunday’s storming of the tent camp, one man is dead and two have been hospitalized. According to a Radio Svoboda report, the police have confirmed the death. The report suggests that it was the unidentified individuals, “accompanied by the police”, who used force to dismantle the tent camp. This is not what was reported via human rights group sources and on many Internet sites.
Members of the initiative group recounted how, just after seven in the evening, people in uniform came into the tent containing the majority of protesters on hunger strike (at present 27 people) and poured water onto two gas burners being used to heat the tent, Others began dismantling it.
One of the protesters became ill and was put into an ambulance. The protesters were prevented from getting near it by police officers. There was a scuffle between police and the protesters who wanted to know what had happened to their colleague.
The man who died has been named as Gennady Konoplyov, born in 1942. A former miner with disability status, he lived in Rodynsk in the Donetsk region. Not involved in the Chornobyl clean-up, he had arrived in Donetsk on 23 November to demonstrate his support for them and take part in their hunger strike. It would seem that he died of heart failure.
The protesters have refused to move and are now continuing their vigil in the open.
As reported, on 23 November the District Administrative Court in Donetsk banned the protest. The Donetsk City Council claimed that the protest was banned due to the threat of a terrorist act. The Council cited statements from the police reported by the Internet publication Ostrov of terrorist attacks in Donetsk. The Council “was therefore forced to turn to the District Administrative Court”.
The Initiative Group of Chornobyl Clean-up Workers in Donetsk immediately stated that the protesters had no intention of leaving their test camp, despite the court ban.
The men have been fasting in protest since 15 November, until Sunday evening in a tent camp near the Regional Department of the Pension Fund. They are demanding their payments and pensions in full, as well as a meeting with the Prime Minister.