The Same “No!” to old tactics
On 7 August a press conference was held in Kyiv to call for the release from custody of Vadim Hladchuk, organizer of a picket outside the office of the Tender Chamber of Ukraine [the Chamber].
Vadim Hladchuk, head of a civic organization “Youth – Ukraines Hope” was one of a group who had been picketing the Tender Chamber for a month. Their demands were not extreme, although doubtless not convenient for some: to stop blocking the creation of a government website for tender advertisements not under the control of the Chamber itself. They were also calling for a stop to what they allege to be the corrupt dealings of the honorary head of the Chamber Oleksandr Tkachenko.
Vadim Hladchuk was detained by police on 1 August, supposedly to review his statement alleging unlawful behaviour by National Deputy Tkachenko in breaking his video recorder during a previous picket outside the Chamber. It was only in the police station that Vadim learned to his incredulity that he was accused of a robbery involving construction instruments which happened two years ago. He had, incidentally, been in Kyiv throughout that period but had received no summons or any other communication from the police.
It is not only the “delayed reaction” in this “case” which arouses bemusement, but also the fact that no specific details concerning the bodily injuries allegedly inflicted during the robbery, nor details about the instruments themselves, have been provided.
The woman who allegedly “recognized” Hladchuk is known to at least one civic activist as having been in conflict with local residents over her attempt to build on land she had seized. Lawyers also have information suggesting that she has had problems with the law enforcement agencies before over offences involving swindling.
This, unfortunately, has not stopped Hladchuk from being held in a SIZO [pre-trial detention centre], with the district court having extended the detention period to 10 days.
During the press conference Volodymyr Yavorsky, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, stressed that this case must receive public scrutiny as it involves a civic activist working to defend the public interest. He added that this case was intended to intimidate potential opponents of those in power and big business interests connected with them in the run-up to the elections.
Volodymyr Yavorsky particularly called on journalists to provide maximum coverage to this case since he believed it could augur the return of methods of persecution of political opponents practised under the Kuchma regime.
Material from UHHRU and