Some thoughts regarding criminal cases against Tax Code Protesters
The “Small business owners’ Maidan”* had only just begun when the Shevchenkivsky Department of the Kyiv Police on 23 November initiated a criminal investigation under Article 293 of the Criminal Code, over group infringement of public order on 22 November: the blocking of vehicle transport on Khreshchatyk St.
Nobody has yet been charged in this case.
However the Minister of the Interior Anatoly Mohylyov stated in parliament on 14 January that the people who committed this crime are known and an investigation is presently underway against them, He also stressed that responsibility for the crime committed was borne by the heads of four civic organizations which were the organizers of the protest.
Mohylyov also stated that the protest’s initiators had not informed that they were erecting tentsm yet despite this “they had hammered into the marble covering of Maidan Nezaleznosti more than one hundred metal spikes, in his words, 132. Any conscious individual is clear that that is also a crime, the damaging of property not belonging to you. Thus the organizers did not take sufficient measures to prevent offences, and promoted its being first committed during the protest”.
Under this fact on 3 December a criminal case was initiated under Articles 28-I § 2 and 194-I § 1 of the Criminal Code. On 23 December Ihor Harkavenko was detained, on 25 December – Oleksandr Mandych, both of whom are charged with committing this offence.
Harkavenko was remanded by the court in custody, while Mandych on 28 December was released under a signed undertaking not to abscond.
The decision to initiate a criminal case against Serhiy Melnychenko is dated 23 December, but this has not thus far been handed to him since he was first in hospital then left Kyiv for the New Year holiday.
On 6 January a similar criminal case was initiated against Oleh Altyrsky and on 14 January against Roman Fedchuk. Both have had to give signed undertakings not to leave the place.
There have also been reports on the Internet of the involvement in this case of Oleksy Zaplatkin and Vitaly Hruzynov. The Press Secretary of the Central Police Department in Kyiv, Volodymyr Polishchuk reported that they were not suspects, and could be simply witnesses. Yet the Minister of the Interior stated that they were on the wanted list.
From one formal decision on initiating a criminal case to another we find the same sacramental phrase: such and such and such and such who “acted according to prior conspiracy with persons not identified by the detective inquiry investigators, deliberately damaged the marble covering of Maidan”.
Only this list of “such and such” is increasing.
In the decision presented to Harkavenko, such and such are Harkavenko, Zaplatkin and Hruzynov. While in the decision initiating a case against Fedchuk, - already all 7 of the above-named.
The problem is only that Harkavenko, according to his lawyer Oleh Levytsky, has no idea who Zaplatkin, Hruzynov and Mandych are, he simply doesn’t know them.
None of the Maidan activists know Zaplatkin and Hruzynov at all, cannot identify them, and have no contact with them. Pure phantoms!
These people who are not acquainted can clear not have come to a “prior conspiracy” and therefore paragraph 2 of Article 28-I cannot be applied.
It is also improbable that Harkavenko, Mandych, Zaplatkin and Hruzynov hammered stakes into the marble covering on Maidan.
Firstly, they were neither organizers nor members of any civic associations or trade unions, nor activists who stood out in any way, Nobody remembers their having participated in any protests. Only Mandych is recalled by some of the residents of the tent camp as having spent the night there once or twice.
Harkavenko came once or twice and expressed his disagreement with the protesters.
Secondly, all know that the tents were erected by National Deputies [MPs] during the night from 23 to 24 November. This is not known only to the investigators who write of “persons not identified by the detective inquiry investigators”. For this reason the charges of putting spikes into the granite on Maidan by the real participants – Vasylchenko, Fedchuk and Akhtyrsky – are extremely dubious.
Why did the police initiate a criminal case against four chance individuals who weren’t involved in Maidan-2 at all?
In my opinion, the answer is simple – all four have previous convictions.
And everyone can see how the Minister of the Interior in parliament lists their past sins. That, supposedly, is your “face of the protest” – purely criminal.
It turns out that it’s all the other way around: the criminal case is made up.
Does the Ministry of the Interior really think that nobody sees that? They would be better to terminate the cases, and not shame themselves before the whole world.
Let’s turn to the other criminal case – under Article 293.
Undoubtedly blocking traffic is bad. Yet who is responsible for it? In the statement of notification against the planned protest, the organizers named a figure of 100 thousand participants. It would have been quite sensible to assume that with such a number of people on Maidan Nezalezhnosti that there could not be traffic on Khreschatyk, and to close it at least for the first hours of the protest.
Why did the Ministry not do this?
There are, moreover, no grounds at all for asserting that the blocking of traffic was deliberate, and that it was not the result of a large number of people gathered and badly organized measures by the police.
And in general, is it really those who took part in the Tax Code Protest Maidan who should bear liability, and criminal at that, when they were forced to extreme measures?
They were placed in conditions when they lost the ability to work freely. That led them out onto Maidan. In my opinion, the moral liability for this conflict lies with the authors of the Tax Code who insisted on passing unacceptable norms and refused to discuss the draft code with business owners.
The criminal cases against the participants of Maidan 2 are therefore immoral!
They are also simply stupid after the President and Prime Minister acceded to the demands of the business owners.
The Interior Minister does not want to recognize this, continuing the investigation, expanding the circle of those accused.
They are in this way provoking people to new protests.
It is time to stop this campaign of intimidation!
“ Maidan refers in the first instance to he mass protest on Maidan Nezalezhnosti, or Independence Square in Kyiv, but more broadly symbolizes the willingness of ordinary people to come out onto the streets to uphold their rights.