Usual arsenal against peaceful protest
Democratic Alliance activists who arrived at the entry to President Yanukovych’s residence at Mezhyhirya on Monday in support of jailed fellow-activists were attacked by “unidentified thugs” and subjected to rough treatment by a formidable continent of Berkut riot police. There were also reports that the traffic police had prevented journalists from getting to Mezhyhirya.
Such measures, it should be noted, were applied in response to a fully peaceful gathering.
Around 50 people arrived in the morning for a protest entitled “You can’t scare us [“Nas ne zlyakaty”. The event was officially a meeting with MP Lesya Orobets.
Radio Svoboda reported that the men in black surrounded the protesters and one was dragged into a bus. The MP tried to pull him back and the other protesters blocked the bus so that it couldn’t take him away. .
Ukrainska Pravda reports a scuffle with the Berkut officers and says that it was the latter who provoked this by trying to push the protesters away from the gates of Viktor Yanukovych’s residence. The officers surrounded the protesters and detained one. He was, however, soon released and says that he was threatened while in the police van.
The protest on Monday came after Maxim Panov was sentenced to a 7 day period of imprisonment by the Vyshhorod District Court. He was accused of infringing the rules for holding peaceful assembly and disobeying a police officer. He was one of four activists from the Democratic Alliance who went, together with TVi journalists, to Mezhyhirya on 11 April to view the consequences of the flood used as an excuse for banning their totally peaceful protest.
Another of the original four – Vasyl Hatsko - was on Friday sentenced to 5 days imprisonment after coming to the court to protest over Maxim Panov’s imprisonment.
Days, not years, but it would be difficult to feel relief since these young people had merely come to exercise a totally constitutional right to take part in peaceful protest.
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Photos: Dmytro Larin, Ukrainska Pravda