war crimes in Ukraine

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Our militia does not guard us, even in a prison

Igor Stoliarov, Odessa
The people, who had troubles with militia, have lately often turn to me as to a journalist, who tries to be independent. The sad reality is that Ruslan Bodelian and his team, having achieved power in Odessa (through a decision of the Kirovograd oblast court), cannot fulfil their main promise – to provide order in the city.

Recently we have learned that in the bright daytime a terrorist act was committed: as a result of an explosion of a mine a young woman, the wife of a local businessman, lost her leg. We observed a number of criminal acts before: an attempt at life of an assistant of a local MP, killing Boris Vikhrov, the head of the oblast arbitration court, and journalist Igor Bondar. We have listed only the crimes, about which some newspapers dared to write – the newspapers, which still are not afraid of different and already usual claims against mass media from various oblast militia bosses. The militia bosses have accustomed to defend their honor and dignity through courts… Unfortunately, almost all the trials finish in favor of so-called ‘law-enforcers’.

Various reports brag about the decrease of the crime level in the city, but people die and many criminals are never found.

I would not remind militia the names of many victims, whose lot is unknown since 1998. This is a consequence of kidnappings and unprofessional work of law-enforcing organs. The list of Odessa journalists, who were killed to tried to be killed is long: Igor Rozov, Boris Derevianko, Leonid Kapeliushny, Volodymir Bekhter, Ludmila Dobrovolska, Igor Bondar and others…

But one feels the greatest horror, when hears about mysterious deaths in prisons – in the places, where human life must be carefully guarded.

I shall remind our readers that some time ago the oblast organization of the Ukrainian republican party published the appeal, in which it demanded to bring to responsibility some bosses of the Odessa oblast law-enforcing bodies. The reason was understandable: the family of farmer Andrey Dekusar, a supporter of agricultural reforms, was brutally slaughtered.

Very little time passed after this tragic act, and the militia reported that the criminal was found and soon would be tried. It was wishful thinking… The suspect committed suicide: hang himself on the mattress case, which had not to be in the cell at all. The oppositional TV company ‘APT’ was the first to make public the case, which caused displeasure of law-enforcers.

Penitentiaries still remain the places inaccessible to independent journalists, to say nothing about any human rights of convicts. Nonetheless, intolerable conditions in many prisons, including those of Odessa, are elucidated both by former prisoners and human rights protectors. Meanwhile, militia officers continue to insist that ‘there are no violations’.

Again about a crime. How can one describe such a fact. A young Odessa inhabitant Igor Markov voluntarily came to the Directorate of struggle with organized crime (DSOC), being summoned there. There he was detained for the illegal storage of marihuana in the quantity of a little more than six grams, that is according to Article 229-6 part 1 of the Criminal Code. The drug was found in his nightgown pocket, when he was absent, but in the presence of his mother.

The mother reckons (and this she wrote in her complaint addressed to Odessa prosecutor Medentsev): ‘my son was arrested by the order of investigating officer Sergey Popov, who since 1997 had special antipathy to him, many times threatened him and promised to put him behind the bars…

During the entire investigation Popov terrorized me both at home and at work. Three searches were conducted, during which the militiamen tried to find anything that will blacken my son…’

Igor Markov’s mother, without trying to defend her son (she considers it to be a ‘duty of professionals’) tries to understand another, most painful problem – the cause of her son’s mysterious death.

This is seen from the next quotation from the complaint:

‘On 18-19 December my son and his advocate finished to study the criminal case materials, and it had to passed to the district court.

However, on 21 December 2000, without informing the advocate, investigating officer Popov transferred, owing to unknown reasons, my son to the detention block of the militia directorate situated in 44 Preobrazhenskaya St. Here ‘he was processed’ by cops and guards’.

Later he was found hanged in the prison yard. At hand there were no tools for hanging.

A forensic expertise was held, it showed the presence of amphetamine (a hallucinogenic drug) in his body.

Up to now it is not clear what kind of confession the cops wanted from Markov. What did he know? Whom did he impede to commit crimes?

I shall continue to quote the complaint: ‘On 22 December 2000 at 14:30 Popov;s colleague Dmitrenko informed about my son’s advocate, but nobody found it proper to inform me about the tragic death of my only son.

The advocate demanded that mother should be informed, but Dmitrenko refused saying that he already had no official relation to Igor Markov, since he already came under the responsibility of the court. If that is true then it is not clear why Popov took my son from the preliminary prison to the detention block.’

Markov’s mother does not understand up to now what has really happened with her son and why his body after an interrogation in the detention block was found in the yard.

Neither it is clear why Igor committed suicide, if several days before he met with his mother, asked to bring him shaving tackle and some other hygienic things and was in good mood. The mother is still convinced that her son could not go from life by his own will, and she demands to investigate Sergey Popov’s activities.

There are some other interesting facts.

The case of Yakimenko, who escaped from the detention block of the USS still remain mysterious. The case became even more controversial after the General prosecutor’s office got the video record of Yakimenko’s confessions. It should be reminded that the latter case was also conducted by the Odessa city prosecutor’s office.

Recently Vladimir Ruben, a member of the oblast Bar, spoke on TV. He was illegally prohibited to defend an accused Rudenko. Such violations of the right have unfortunately become, according to Mr. Ruben, quite common. Other advocates usually try not to notice such situations, but Ruben decided to fight for the right of an accused for legal defense.

A day before two other advocates – Rozhkovski and Tepliakova – got a refusal to defend this very client. Ms. Tepliakova, with tears in her eyes, told that she would not be able to stand ‘such brutal behavior as demonstrated by Sergey Popov’.

Meanwhile, it became Igor Markov’s mother insisted in her complaint that one of the reasons of persecuting her son became the desire to get some information about the case of the above-mentioned Rudenko.

Another example of illegal actions of militia is framing innocent people by putting firearms and ammunition in the places of search. In this manner two women were framed and detained.

Sergey Popov was more than once mentioned by businessman Maklakov, the owner of the cafe ‘Niagara’. This unfortunately businessman suffered much both from racketeers and militia, although the latter must protect from the former.

Aleksandr Orlov, a Polish citizen, who was made to give a written undertaking not to leave a place more than a year ago, is waiting in vain for the trial. More than once he turned to top militia officers with complaints, where he described the activities of Sergey Popov and demanded to dismiss the officer at once and to bring him to criminal responsibility.

All his demands were futile…
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