Crimean savagely beaten for Ukrainian symbols faces ‘extremism’ charges
10.09.16 | Halya Coynash
Ihor Movenko is in a Sevastopol hospital with severe injuries after being brutally beaten over the Ukrainian symbols and an ’Azov’ sticker on his bike. While criminal proceedings have, supposedly, been initiated against the assailant, it was Movenko who had his hands bound after the enforcement officers arrived. He is now facing administrative proceedings for so-called ‘extremism’.
The aftermath can be clearly seen in the video which his wife posted on the Internet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yR5--ZnWtDc
Movenko obviously needed medical attention, but was kept lying on the ground, his hands bound. His wife, Valentina, had sped over after being called by a witness to the events, and used her telephone to video the scene. On it she can be heard asking why a particular woman is standing there, provoking people. The woman calls herself a ‘patriot’ of her city, to which Valentina Movenko asks if the woman’s ‘patriotism’ allows her to approve of such violence.
The attack took place at around midday on September 7. 39-year-old Movenko had just stopped outside a shopping centre to make money out of a bankomat. He was attacked after he returned to the bike, and has a broken nose and other serious injuries to the face.
Valentina Movenko has since told the Crimean Human Rights Group, that from what she has been able to understand, a man came up to her husband, complaining about the Ukrainian symbols. Her husband is quite clear that he was attacked, and since he sustained serious injuries, and nobody else was hurt, it would be difficult to believe anything else to be the case. Yet the shopping centre security people have refused to give the CCTV footage to Valentina Movenko and claim that it has been passed to the police. Since they also assert that it was her husband who ‘provoked’ the attack and that it is he who is facing charges, any secrecy over the video footage is disturbing.
According to Valentina Movenko, the man who attacked her husband, claimed to be from the police, but did not show any ID. If he is indeed the man standing over Movenko, and near the police officers, then he appears to be on good terms with them.
According to his wife, Ihor Movenko has been told by officers from the so-called department for fighting extremism, that they will be bringing administrative charges against him for alleged ‘extremism’.
This is presumably in connection with the ‘Azov’ sticker. ‘Azov’, like ‘Right Sector’, has been banned as extremist by Russia. While both the original battalion, and the Azov Civic Corps, have far-right views which many of us do not share, the ban is in itself unwarranted. In Movenko’s case, it was a sticker which he has on his bike, together with Ukrainian symbols. His wife stresses that they reflect the couple’s position, but that her husband had made any calls to action, ‘extremist’ or otherwise.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly pushed the narrative that Russia’s invasion of Crimea was to ‘prevent bloodshed’ and ‘protect’ Russians. There had been no violence against Russians, nor were there any grounds for expecting the situation to change.
Following Russia’s invasion, it became dangerous to even appear on the streets with Ukrainian symbols. A number of Crimeans were seized and tortured for no more. The list of people who have disappeared without trace, some after being openly abducted, since Russia’s invasion, including pro-Ukrainian activists.
There have since also been prosecutions for holding the Ukrainian and / or Crimean Tatar flags, and all Ukrainian activists regularly get warnings on the eve of Ukrainian special days of the ‘inadmissibility of extremism’.
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