Detention extended of Maidan activist accused of injuring Crimean Berkut officer
The preliminary hearing was held on April 3 in the trial of Alexander Kostenko, the EuroMaidan activist facing surreal charges in Russian-occupied Crimea. The same day his detention was extended for another two months, with the next hearing set for April 20.
Natalya Poklonskaya, installed as ‘prosecutor’ after Russian occupied Crimea, told RIA Novosti that Kostenko is accused of inflicting injuries on one Crimean Berkut officer during the EuroMaidan protests in Kyiv in 2014. Most ominously, she mentioned that 50 people have been given victim status and promised “to punish all those who beat Crimeans on Maidan”.
28-year-old Kostenko was arrested on February 8 on quite incredible charges since they are over alleged injuries caused during the EuroMaidan protests in Kyiv which ended before Russia invaded and annexed Crimea. Crimean Berkut riot police officers were indeed sent to Kyiv by the Viktor Yanukovych regime to take part in measures aimed at suppressing the protests. The Berkut unit had so compromised itself during the protests that it was dissolved. Some officers fled to Crimea, or Russia, and seemingly 50 of them have now been cast as victims in this new Crimean show trial.
According to Poklonskaya’s ‘indictment’, Kostenko is charged under Article 115 § 2.b of the Russian Criminal Code with “deliberate infliction of mild damage to health”, as well as Article 222 § 1 (unlawfully obtaining, keeping or carrying the main parts of a firearm”). The investigators claim that “during mass disturbances in Kyiv in February 2014 he caused bodily injuries to an officer of the Crimean division of Berkut. He was also allegedly keeping in his home, without the legally prescribed permit, a rifle barrel.”
There is no information about the specific injury the officer from the Crimean Berkut unit is alleged to have incurred. Nor is there any clarity as to how the “investigative body supported by the Crimean Prosecutor’s Office” should have determined that Kostenko inflicted it.
This is not the only case in Crimea where the so-called prosecutor and courts are ignoring the fact that any alleged offence took place under Ukrainian law, and cannot be tried in accordance with Russian legislation.
The Deputy Head of the Mejlis, or Crimean Tatar representative assembly Akhtem Chiygoz and three other Crimean Tatars are also in custody facing equally preposterous charges relating to a demonstration on Feb 26, the day before Russia’s effective invasion began (see: Another Crimean Tatar charged over pre-annexation demonstration