war crimes in Ukraine

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UMDPL: Сherkasy police infringed all regulations

Volodymyr Batchaev from the Association of Ukrainian Human Rights Monitors of Law Enforcement can see no grounds for most of the detentions in Cherkasy and is scathing in his assessment of police behaviour

Following the protests in Cherkasy, Natalya Zayika writes that the use by Berkut riot police of force; arrests; the fact that people were held in police stations for a long time without their families being informed and the violence against journalists have all marred the already far from unblotted reputation of the law enforcement system.  She spoke with Volodymyr Batchaev from the Association of Ukrainian Human Rights Monitors of Law Enforcement [UMDPL] about developments following the protests on Jan 23 and 26-27. 

Asked about the situation in the city, Batchaev says that from the point of view of observance of human rights, it’s bad. 

He calls the arrest and detention of Vladislav Kompaniyets a glaring example of this.  The young student, who has won various awards, taken part in a Mastermind competition and who has had second grade disability status since childhood, has been accused of trying to storm the Cherkasy Regional Administration on Jan 23.  Batchaev says that even from his outer appearance, you can see that this is not a young man who would be holding and throwing a Molotov cocktail. He was arrested when getting into a taxi. 

The young student was initially remanded in custody for two months, but he has now been released on a personal undertaking not to abscond.


Batchaev visited all those detained in the SIZO on Thursday.  He spoke to them all without prison staff present and is satisfied that they have not been beaten as some media reports had suggested. Many asked him whether they had lawyers, or to contact their parents, tell them that they were fine and to not worry.

While having no criticism of the SIZO staff, Batchaev is scathing in his assessment of the police’s behavior starting from the storming of the administration building. He says that they infringed al rules.

He is particularly outraged by their use of force, and batons, and stresses that the regulations are quite specific as to when such methods can be applied. Video footage shows that they beat everybody quite indiscriminately.

There have to be grounds for detaining a person, and after speaking with detainees Batchaev gained the impression that there were none. “It was a purge with people not even asked who they were and where they were from.”

After 32 people were detained in Cherkasy on Jan 25, Batchaev was told in the police station that they had simply had chats with the people.  He points out that these :chats” were with the use of force and special equipment which can only be used in the case of offenders.  The police then released 28 of them.

Batchaev is skeptical that the people detained actually took part in the storming of the administration.  Most, he says, are in the clothes they were in at the time they were detained.  Those planning to storm a building normally dress appropriately, and none of those detained have masks, protection for their hands and legs, etc.  He thinks it likely that some of those detained had come to the peaceful protest, or to see what was happening, or were simply passing by.

Cherkasy – the capital for ‘titushki’

Batchaev says that the current situation where the police are working together with dubious elements, the so-called titushki or hired thugs is something new. The titushki are given the particularly dodgy jobs.  He calls Cherkasy, Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv and Zaporizhya the capitals for this phenomenon (see also: Police together with “titushki” in Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhya

Asked about the fact that during the events in Cherkasy, journalists also suffered at the hands of the Berkut riot police, Batchaev mentions the video footage in which a Berkut officer uses foul language in telling a journalist to turn off his video recorder or he’ll kill him.

Batchaev calls this a glaring example of the Interior Ministry’s attitude to the press.  He says that the police have lost the information war to journalists. If trust in the police was minimal before (around 2 %), it’s now plummeting to the minus figures.

From the interview here

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