Maidan Self-Defense activists prosecuted for catching a thief
Four members of the Maidan Self-Defense force are facing criminal charges over an incident which appears to have been orchestrated with police connivance. It is perhaps no coincidence that it comes around a week after public statements regarding the number of volunteers in these self-defense units and calls for similar units around the country. The four men, all veterans of the Afghanistan war were placed under house arrest by the Podilsky District Court in Kyiv on Tuesday thus very effectively preventing them from defending Maidan.
The likely additional aim of sullying the reputation of the self-defense volunteers is less likely to be achieved, with the charges extremely unconvincing.
The four men, known only by their last names: Kokoshko; Chop; Zablotsky and Bordiychuk are accused of abducting a person and demanding 14 thousand UAH for his release.
The men say that they caught a thief on Maidan for the second time. The thief agreed to show them where he had hidden the items previously stolen, but appears instead to have led them into a police trap. He claimed to have been beaten and that they had demanded 14 thousand UAH from him.
The police in turn assert that a 31-year-old man approached them saying that he had arrived in Kyiv at the beginning of January to take part in the protests on Maidan Nezalezhnosti. He claims that late in the evening at Ukraine House four men began beating him and demanding 14 thousand UAH.
At least one of the veterans was summoned to the police as a witness, only to find himself arrested. The court found nothing wrong with the case and obliged the prosecutor who specifically asked for all 4 men to be placed under 24-hour house arrest.
The police have now informed that they have initiated criminal charges over the demonstration outside the court on Tuesday. They assert that the protesters damaged the convoy vehicle in which the detained men were being transported by letting down a back tire, perforating the petrol tank and stealing number plates. They also accuse the protesters of damaging another police car.
The criminal investigation is over alleged ‘hooliganism’.