war crimes in Ukraine

The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.



«Now you’ll dig your own grave!» – this was what they yelled while beating an activist of the young opposition movement, Pavlov, whom they had taken away in their car by force. Pavlov had only been taking a photograph of the notorious events on Podol’ with the so-called «discovery» of explosives which the police had themselves planted. The office was rented by the youth organisation «Pora» It is specifically against young people that law enforcements agencies and youth structures artificially created to act as provocateurs direct their efforts (sometimes with real students, but more often with professionals who are, or pretend to be, a specific kind of mob with fascist leanings, ready to crush and destroy everything that a fairly high-standing official may point their way). The polite formulation would be the use of administrative resources, however, for any normal psyche, not suffering from a distortion of concepts, it is the banal old criminal element in the hands of immoral people.

Up till now it has all been limited in the main to beating up, with or without the involvement of these provocation groups. Searches and relentless, arbitrary and gruelingly long interrogations are carried out on a mass scale throughout Ukraine. With cynical, shamelessly unlawful maximum intimidation of young people supporting the opposition and their parents, threatening to launch criminal proceedings against them on charges of terrorism if they don’t step into line.

The circle of hatred is closing in on itself. Those who in their hatred of people began terror attacks against the Tsar, have today arrived at terror effectively against their own children. Lord, how little those in power here have changed: the same intimidation, the same immoral and basically illegal groups of provocateurs! And all so as not to allow a civic organization to really form itself. They say that these violations of the law are controlled by the powers at a high level. Perhaps in truth controlled today and administered in doses, but remaining immoral and illegal nonetheless. In this way the regime makes itself illegal, illegitimate. The crimes of the regime against the individual and against the law turn inevitably into crimes against human values and against humanity. This is something we all need to remember clearly.

Are not the present words about digging graves similar to those shouted by bestial Gestapo officers to the innocent victims of their national-religious-racial hatred at Babi Yar? The same words were used by NKVD officers in Bykivnya and not only there, constantly using a gun as their ‘convincing argument; at the slightest flicker of criticism of the class-religious-national hatred they were trying to inculcate. At least one of us heard such words in a Novosibirsk prison at the end of 1978 from a local KGB man, on hearing of a complaint to the Prosecutor about people being held for a long time not in a cell, but in a so-called «glass». «Ha, you want observance of the law! I’ll take you out now and shoot you. I’ve killed thousands like you, and no problems» – bellowed at that time an open Ukrainophobe. «Hit the «khakhly»[1] – bellowed his followers in the law enforcement agencies of supposedly independent Ukraine, dispersing with batons a peaceful religious process of Ukrainians on Sofiyskiy Square[2]. And no problems! The hatred of the authorities of a supposedly new State for its own citizens has in no way decreased, if anything it has even intensified. Since a new generation has had time to rise up, a generation that doesn’t want to live any longer in an atmosphere of lies and hatred, in an atmosphere of cynical lawlessness, where society has foisted upon it the principles of a cattle farm. It seeks to affirm: «We are people, not dogs!»

We will not go into the particular shades of hatred of the authorities towards Georgiy Gongadze – anti-Ukrainian, anti-Georgian, anti-American, and, simply, anti-journalist, if journalism becomes the embodiment of honesty and courage. And what words did he hear from his executioners, before they cut off his head, carrying out a death sentence or simply anticipating the as yet unarticulated wishes of those who had ordered the terrible crime. A death sentence passed in absolute lawlessness, in criminal fear of exposure and secrecy. A death sentence passed by people who, from the heights of their position, look down on others with disdain, calling them ‘scum’. By those who have transformed the entire law enforcement system of the State into a system to defend and keep them in power contrary to the will of that same «scum», so despised by the authorities.

The situation with all hated people is ultimately simple – outer hatred directed at others is a mirror reflection of their own inner inadequacy. If this person is not in power, then it’s not such a problem, but he is, then he invariably becomes a frightening social monster, extremely dangerous for neighbouring countries, and for all humanity. Hatred on any human level, every kind of hatred, directed at people on whatever grounds, has always been and will be a terrible obstacle on the road to civilized development of humanity.

Then, what do such hate-ridden creatures care about humanity? All leaders and criminal bosses are always solely preoccupied with themselves, indifferent to the real problems of the States they govern, to the problems of the actual people in them, and couldn’t care less about the civilized development of humanity. It is precisely our thoughtless lack of concern that makes it possible for them, having tricked the most credulous, to soon drive the others into their cattle pen of hatred.

Today, for example, they cannot hope to con us with some supposed incompatibility of freedom and democracy with the Orthodox Church. The number of credulous fools will decrease, if it is even decreasing in the Muslim world despite the supposedly unprecedented clash of civilizations. Nor can this universal move towards democracy be stopped by any morality-denying, anti-civili­za­tion mobilization of fundamentalists. Neither old, nor new, neither here, nor there. The driving-force for all social innovation has always been and will always remain youth, especially students.

Obviously today we can still not be certain that the parents of those young people in opposition now will support the initiative of their offspring as unanimously as did the parents of the young of Prague, bringing about in that fashion a second, this time ‘Velvet’, Prague Spring in November 1989. However, we cannot deny that this could come tomorrow. Tomorrow, when the convulsions of an immoral regime reaches its apogee, and the provocations and unwarranted repressions directed at the student youth are stopped, and those guilty of anti-student hatred and use of criminal elements are punished severely, and punished in accordance with current legislation. The chauvinism of the State authorities will not prevail. We have had enough of being governed by an immoral elite.

All crave freedom. The old slogan of solidarity: «For your freedom and ours!» was equally relevant in Prague and Warsaw, and the present regime in Ukraine is doing everything to make it relevant in Kyiv also. The consequen­ces of victory will inevitably be a fundamental shrinking of the zone of hatred and of bondage in Europe, and, ultimately, in the world.

It is the unprecedented horror of the twentieth «century of death» that places an obligation on the democratic countries of the world, on the world community, and, ultimately, on all people of good will to not remain indifferent to the attempts of those progeny of «an empire of evil», and supporters of still existing cruel, undemocratic, anti-popular state structures of power to again turn back the clocks, in defiance of the will of the people for freedom. The solidarity of evil must be countered by an ever more effective, because more moral, solidarity of good.

So, Grandsons and Granddaughters, for Your Freedom and Ours!

Zinoviy Antonyuk, Genrikh Altunyan, Myroslav Gorbachuk, Yevgeniy Zakharov, Sofiya Karasik, Mykhaylina Kotsyubinska, Irma Krein, Vladislav Nedobora, Vasil Ovsienko, Irina Rapp, Natalia Skoblinskaia, Nadiya Svitlychna

22 October 2004

[1] An offensive word used about Ukrainians. (translator’s note)

[2] In July 1995, the funeral of Patriarch Vladimir turned into an unpleasant squabble between different branches of the Orthodox Church as to where he was to be buried. (translator’s note)

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