Destruction of Stalin monument – pretext for repression?
The police have detained over 10 members of nationalist organizations on suspicion of destroying the bust of Stalin in Zaporizhya. Many have been searched, and others have disappeared without trace. The cases against most of those detained have been reclassified by the SBU [Security Service] as terrorism. The Prosecutor General and local prosecutor’s offices, the police and SBU are making no comment. Human rights groups and members of the opposition consider the explosion to have been set up as provocation and the criminal cases planned crushing of the most active right-wing forces.
According to Olesya Prymenko from the organization “Zhinocha Sich”, since the beginning of the year the police and SBU have detained 11 members of the organization “Tryzub” and two members of the VO Svoboda Party [Freedom Party led by Oleh Tyahnybok). Most were accused of involvement in organizing the explosion which destroyed the bust to Stalin, however the SBU then reclassified this under the Article of the Criminal Code on terrorism.
According to Zhinocha Sich, the whereabouts of another 5 members of “Tryzub” are unknown, but there are reports that they were detained and taken away somewhere by the police or police in plain clothes.
The homes of several members, including R. Vynar, A. Stempytsky and D. Yarosh have been search. According to Olesya Prymenko, they broke down the door when there were only small children there. She states that “the police say that they detained armed Tryzub members who were on their way to prepare a coup. At present some have had the charges changed from terrorism to resisting the authorities or even hooliganism, yet why is there no retraction?”
Official charges were due to be made by courts in Kyiv and Ivano-Frankivsk on 12 January yet the court hearings did not take place. Olesya Prymenko points out that the young men and their relatives still don’t know what they are accused of.
Andriy Parubiy from Our Ukraine – People’s Self-Defence is convinced that the cases against members of rightwing organizations and the destruction of the bust of Stalin are part of a single planned provocation. He says it is in the style of the Stalinist regime in the 1930s. He believes the bust was not destroyed by the Tryzub members since they admitted to involvement in previous actions against the monument, making their denial of involvement this time inexplicable.
The police are also trying to implicate journalists not involved in right-wing organizations in the destruction of the bust and participation in terrorist activities. The poet Maryna Bratsylo had her flat searched and computer equipment taken away in Boryspil, while on 12 January the flat was searched of journalist and blogger Olena Bilozerska in Kyiv.
These and other arrests and searches are taking place with flagrant violations of the law and human rights, human rights activist Oleksandr Turkovsky says.
“There have been any number of violations. Searches without warrants or ID being produced, even without the residents being present; detention without proper grounds. The police are using dubious methods”.
The investigation against most of the detained members of Tryzub is being run by the SBU. However SBU spokesperson, Maryna Ostapenko has refused to make any comment. The Prosecutor General’s Office claims it does not have full information and sends people to the Zaporizhya regional Prosecutor’s office which also refuses to comment. The Ministry for the Interior is also silent.
Meanwhile the Director of the Institute of National Remembrance, Valery Soldatenko condemned the destruction of the monument. He claims there are statuses to tyrants and despots in the world, and that those who carried out the act did not consider that it could lead to a dangerous chain of reaction.
On the other hand, activist from the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists, Mykola Kokhanivsky, known as the person who destroyed the statue to Lenin in Kyiv, believes that the authorities’ actions against Tryzub are due to fear, and the wish to intimidate those ready to fight.
On 14 January friends and supporters of those detain plan to gather at the President’s Administration and demand that President Yanukovych provides information about each of those under suspicion and ensures that they are released.