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Ukrainian Helsinki Union of human rights: Open letter to the Minister of Interior

The appeal on unlawful actions of militia regarding the viewers at the soccer match “Dynamo” – “Shakhtar” on 29 May 2005 in Kyiv

To Minister of Interior Yu. Lutsenko

Respected Minister!

Mass media communicated the information about the “specific” behavior of special militia squad “Berkut” after the end of soccer match “Dynamo” – “Shakhtar” on 29 May 2005 in Kyiv. We also have personal evidences of the victims of unlawful actions of militia. Yet, since video record of all present was made, and their names were written down, they have agreed to give only anonymous testimonies.

In our opinion, officers of the special squad “Berkut” committed the following violations of human rights:

-  illegal detention during 2 hours of fans from sector No. 11 (about 1000 persons) after the end of the match;

-  in spite of the 35-degree heat, the people could not leave the militia encirclement and drink water;

-  brutal treatment of the detained by “Berkut” officers;

-  violation of the right for privacy in the form of coercive video recording with mentioning of the names and surnames (this was the only possible way to leave the sector, which was encircled by militiamen);

-  forcible actions of militia, disproportionate to the danger to public order;

The majority of militia officers did not answer the questions about the reasons of such measures, but some of them explained that the reason was two smoke cartridges, blown up by the unknown persons. The fans believe that the intensified safety measures for protection of public order during the recent match “Dynamo” – “Shakhtar” have been excessive. They reckon that the quantity of militiamen on the stadium on 29 May “was absurd”, in particular because “such great number of militiamen created tension on the stadium”. At the same time the fans cannot understand “why, at the air temperature of 35 degree Celsius, it was forbidden to viewers to bring water in plastic bottles”.

It should be noted that at other mass happenings (concerts, festivals, etc.) the actions of militia are quite other and this in no way increases the danger to public order. That is why such actions of law-enforcers at soccer matches are ungrounded. The participants of the press conference pointed out that if the militiamen wanted to guarantee order on stadiums during soccer matches, then “it would be advisable to prohibit to come to stadiums at all and the question of struggle with offences would be solved once and for all”.

Other important question is for what the law-enforcers collected personal data about all viewers of the concrete sector, and how these data will be used in future.

The initiative group of has fans prepared, by their words, a number of documents, which contain the appeal to the commandment of the Ministry of Interior with the proposition to regulate the question of admittance of fans to stadiums and the control over their behavior. As far as we know, this situation is not unique and systematically repeats on different stadiums at different time. So, we are sure that the Ministry of Interior should analyze more thoroughly the cases of application of physical force and detention of viewers during soccer matches, and to carry out the appropriate measures in order to prevent the mentioned violations of human rights by militiamen.

Besides, it is necessary to reconsider cardinally the practice of use of special militia squads in the situations that do not represent substantial danger to public order, and to use these squads only in emergency situations, when the direct danger to people’s life exists. This is also confirmed by the fact that the actions of officers of special squads are, as a rule, disproportionate from the viewpoint of protection of public safety and order, and in most cases are carried out with the excessive application of force.

In our opinion, militia must guarantee the public order on stadiums, but not fight against fans, a priori regarding them as breakers of order. Such biased attitude to the fans distinguishes Ukrainian law-enforcers from their colleagues in the countries of the European Union.

Evhen Zakharov, the Head of the Board of the Ukrainian Helsinki Union of human rights

Volodymir Yavorskiy, Chief Executive of the Ukrainian Helsinki Union of human rights

13 June 2005

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