war crimes in Ukraine

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Kyiv mayor violates the right of citizens for peaceful assemblies

Vira Zasulich, Kyiv
Participants of the meeting of protest against the actions of Kyiv mayor Oleksandr Omelchenko were beaten, and their leader Vitaliy Cherniakhovskiy was arrested

The Forum of salvation of Kyiv and the Ukrainian people’s party are alarmed at the fact that Kyiv mayor Oleksandr Omelchenko is not criticized in Ukrainian mass media and have decided to correct the situation. They criticized the actions of the mayor concerning building in the city and turned to him with the demand to leave his post. They also believe that he was a direct organizer of the bloody events that took place near the building of the Kyiv city state administration on 30 April and resulted in the arrest of Vitaliy Cherniakhovskiy, the leader of the Forum of salvation of Kyiv on 14 May.

By words of Vitaliy Cherniakhovskiy, on 13 April he handed the application for the permission to conduct a meeting of protest on 14 April-31 July near the building of the city administration. Members of the Forum of salvation of Kyiv, Ukrainian people’s party and Coalition of Participants of the Orange Revolution (CPOR) took part in the action. Several tents were erected near the Kyiv city administration, but in several days several tents of Oleksandr Omelchenko’s supporters appeared between the building of the administration and the tent camp. On 30 April, at 5:30 a.m., the camp was attacked by strangers. The eyewitnesses told that about 70 guys appeared suddenly from the direction of the Central department store; they passed through the camp with knifes, bringing down the tents. After that they approached to the tents of Omelchenko’s supporters, took out plastic sticks and attacked the participants of the action. Members of the CPOR, whose number was twice less, resisted to the attackers. Naturally, there were victims among the participants of the action, several persons were transported to a hospital with broken heads, fractures and wounds. One can see on the video record, which was made during the incident, that militia did not interfere and did not take any measures to establish order; moreover, some militiamen were obviously on the side of the attackers. The order was introduced by the team of a patrol car, which appeared near. The patrolmen interfered and helped to bind the attackers. 14 persons were transported to militia station. They affirmed that they were returning from a discotheque, and when they passed through the tent camp, they were attacked by armed people from the tents. Yet, the witnesses and videocassette evidenced quite other things. So, the attackers were brought to responsibility. It is interesting that five of 14 persons have given a written undertaking not to leave a place, three are held in custody until now, and nobody knows what has happened to the others. As to the indifferent militiamen, representatives of the press-center of the militia department of Kyiv confirmed the information that on the same day five militiamen had been dismissed from law-enforcing organs.

Cherniakhovskiy is sure that the attackers are the members of the Ukrainian national Assembly or were hired by the members of this organization. It also became known that several days before the attack Eduard Kovalenko, the head of the UNA, visited the tent camp and proposed money to the boys from the CPOR for liquidation of their camp.

Cherniakhovskiy believes that the attack was ordered by the mayor of Kyiv, since he could not remove the tents from the building of the Kyiv city administration in legal way. Vitaliy Cherniakhovskiy made this declaration at the press conference in the UNIAN, which was conducted on 19 May at 15:00. Cherniakhovskiy became the hero of news headlines on 14 May, when he was literally carried into the building of the Kyiv city administration by two militiamen. He was accused of petty hooliganism and spoilage of state property. This was caused by the fact that during the action for the protection of stray animals the Forum of salvation of Kyiv launched its picket, and the local power took fright at appearance of new tents (the old one had been already destroyed) and decided to “deactivate”, with the help of militia, the main ideological leader. They hoped that after that the frightened people would voluntarily leave the place of the action. At first they tried to negotiate with Vitaliy and to persuade him to take away the people. Yet, when Cherniakhovskiy wrote with marker “It is all up with Omelia” on the banner of Eurovision, the militiamen understood that the situation went beyond control and it was time to act. After Cherniakhovskiy was carried in the building of the city administration, his friends did not see him and knew nothing about him for several hours. Later it became known that he had been transported to the Shevchenkivskiy district court, after which the Ukrainian Helsinki Union sent advocate to him, and consideration of the case was postponed for several days.

It also became known that Oleksandr Omelchenko tried to prohibit, through court, the building of small architectural constructions near the walls of his residence, but, according to the information of the UNP, he could prohibit that only to the Ukrainian people’s party. Yet, Cherniakhovskiy, being a deputy, had personal permission approved by the city administration, on the basis of which his associates acted.

Volodymir Grekov, one of the members of the Forum of salvation of Kyiv, said at a press conference that Omelchenko had taken the extreme measures, since he disliked this organization and its activities. However, V. Grekov believes that Omelchenko is not absolutely good-for-nothing person. He said: “When mayor’s face distorts at the words “Forum of salvation of Kyiv”, this happens only because of remorse”. The participants of the conference hope that Yuri Lutsenko, Yulia Timoshenko and Viktor Yushchenko, who almost nurtured the young people that took part in the Orange revolution and supported the picketing of the Kyiv city administration, would hear and endorse the voice of people on the arbitrary actions of the Kyiv mayor, the mayor’s conscience would wake up, and he would resign on his own wish.

Unfortunately, we have not managed to contact with the press-service of Oleksandr Omelchenko and get the commentary on this incident, so we have the information only from one side.


20 May 2005

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