Human Rights in Ukraine. Website of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
The right to life

UHHRU condemns police role in Odessa tragedy


The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union [UHHRU] has issued a statement in which it stresses that the “mass street disturbances were not a spontaneous clash between different youth groups.  It was a planned attack on a peaceful procession of soccer fan carried out by pro-Russian separatists armed with sticks, bats, shock pistols and firearms.” This resulted in violence from both sides and the setting alight of the Trade Union building which claimed the lives of 38 people.

UHHRU is scathing of the police who are called upon to protect law and order and who instead “were effectively on the side of the armed extremists attacking”. You can see, for example, how “armed provocateurs hide behind police shields and shoot from there at the crowd using pistols and automatic rifles.”  The police thus bear full responsibility for the terrible loss of life.

UHHRU stresses that this is not just a question of the head of the regional police in the Odessa oblast, P. Lutsyk, against whom a court investigation is underway, but the heads of the departments which were directly in charge of public order on the streets.

“UHHRU demands adequate reaction from the leaders of the country to these events.  The public should not pay such a tragic price for the inadequate fulfilment by the state of its obligaitons”

They demand a thorough and comprehensive investigation into the circumstances behind the Odessa tragedy, and that those responsible are brought to justice, including Odessa police officials who failed to take the necessary measures in detaining and unarming provocateurs attacking a peaceful demonstration.

They point to the emergence of many groups illegally possessing arms and stress that none of them, whether pro-Maidan or anti- , has any right to do this.

In eastern regions of the country, laws are effectively not functioning, and with force ruling.  This is resulting in violence from criminal gans, with robberies and looting being seen in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, as well as abductions, torture, rape and murder. An end must be put to this, they stress.

UHHRU considers it vital, given the events in Odessa and eastern regions to draw up special measures aimed at protecting the presidential elections scheduled for May 25 from provocation.  One such measure could be to simultaneously hold a nationwide survey on the basis of the constitutional system in the new Constitution and the foreign policy direction for the country’s development.  This, they believe, will help to defuse the social tension in the country. 

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