Criminal case initiated against opposition deputy in Cherkasy
A criminal investigation over “hooliganism” has been initiated against a Cherkasy City Council Deputy from the opposition Batkivshchyna Party, Mykola Bulatetsky. He is accused of having damaged property in the Cherkasy Mayor’s office purportedly valued at 14 thousand UAH – glass partitions and turnstiles for getting into the City Council.
The Cherkasy Regional MIA reports that on 14 March there was an “authorized” rally outside the Cherkasy City Council. This was initiated by the Cherkasy City and Regional Union of Afghanistan War veterans and the regional committee of the Socialist Party. There were around 400 people who, after demanding the resignation of Mayor Odarych, responded to calls from the speakers to go to his office and moved towards the building. It was, according to the police, at this point that the damage was done. A criminal investigation has been initiated under Article 298 § 2 of the Criminal Code « Group hooliganism ». The police assert that the evidence, including CCTIV cameras, suggest that Mr Bulaletsky was involved. They state that they are finding out who else was responsible.
The Mayor’s office has instructed that a complaint be sent to him, demanding that he pay for the damage.
Mykola Bulaletsky himself rejects any blame and refuses to pay compensation. He says that there shouldn’t be turnstiles in the City Executive Office since why should deputies be protecting themselves from ordinary citizens?
While details at present are scant, more is of concern about this report than simply the use of the term “authorized, inappropriate for a country whose Constitution only requires notification of a meeting, not permission. Attempts to bring criminal charges over apparent damage to state property, or in the case of the Tax Code protesters in November 2010, the granite stone on Independence Square in Kyiv, have become more frequent.
It is perhaps alkso worth mentioning that a few days earlier members of civic organizations involved in monitoring the elections briefed the Secretary to Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bob Dechertm, about what they believe are methods already being or likely to be used in the run-up to the parliamentary elections. One of the methods mentioned was initiating prosecutions against members of the opposition, including candidates likely to gain a lot of votes, as well as civic activists.