Article by: Yana Polyanska
‘National lustration,’ which began with throwing members of the parliament into trash containers, continued with the beating of a member of the Party of Regions. One of the leaders of Opposition Block Nestor Shufrych, who came to Odesa to hold an electoral press-conference, was beaten on the steps of the oblast state administration building. Right Sector representatives participated actively in the fight, confirms Yury Mindiuk, the organization’s spokesman. According to him, the activists had initially only planned to throw the member of the parliament into the trash, however, Shufrych is “an unbalanced and aggressive person,” who provoked the beating himself.
“I understand he began the fight himself. He has always liked doing it and this time, too. It was definitely not the conception we had in mind. It happened on the scene,” added Mindiuk.
The Opposition Block press service published a statement saying that “a bunch of hooligans tried to disrupt the press-conference,” however, Shufrych had not lost his nerve and “rebuked the attackers before reinforcements arrived.” As a result of the fight near the Odesa oblast state administration, member of the Parliament Nestor Shufrych sustained a closed traumatic brain injury and a concussion.
Does Right Sector think they crossed the line having beaten Shufrych in Odesa?
The video made on location and uploaded to YouTube by user Yury Kozaryz shows how a crowd with red-and-black bands blocked Nestor Shufrych, prevented him from leaving the scene, pushed and beat him. From time to time the activists shouted to Shufrych that he had coordinated the titushky in Maidan and that he was guilty of murder. The video also shows how the people who escorted the member of the government were asking for a corridor to let them pass.
Yury Mindiuk comments: Right Sector understands that the activists overstepped legal limits. However, they are more concerned with the fact that lustration may not happen in Ukraine, and “former bandits who robed this country will never be held responsible.”
“It goes without saying that the national tribunal may exceed some legal limits. However, in reality, we are concerned with the fact that the government, the law enforcement in this country do not react in any way to the fact that criminals are still trying to govern and take advantage of their position,” said Mindiuk.
This is why, Mindiuk said, Right Sector had developed the “conception of lustration of past politicians through trash containers.” According to him, the organization is now holding an internal competition of ‘national lustration’: the participants select the most odious politicians whose place is among garbage. In this way, says he, Right Sector marks the politicians who should never work in the government again.
Whom has ‘national lustration’ already touched?
A number of other politicians had gone through ‘national lustration’ before Nestor Shufrych. The ‘first bird’ was the instance when activists in April of 2013 threw snowballs at Party of Regions member Iryna Horina, Iryna Berezhna and Yulia Lyovochkina, as well as the advisor to the President at the time, Viktor Yanukovych, Maryna Stavniychuk.
The TrashBucketChallenge, or lustration of the government members by shoving them into the trash, began in 2014. This challenge was posed at various times to Oleh Rudenko, Oleksandr Danylchuk and Vitaly Fedak, members of the Parliament Vitaly Zhuravsky, Mykola Koretsky, Viktor Pylypyshyn, Serhiy Kuzmenko, Volodymyr Vovchenko, Oleksandr Kharlamov, former ‘regional’ Vitaly Hrushevsky, as well as the ‘otaman-separatist’ from Zaporizhya Oleksandr Panchenko. Radio Liberty created a database of all those who had been subject to ‘lustration.’
Experts: throwing them into the trash is the consequence of the government’s long-term policies
Nestor Shufrych’s case de-facto ended the stage of ‘trash-throwing’ and pushed national lustration towards physical violence. Social psychologist Viktor Pushkar explains the radicalization of the Ukrainian society with the fact that the judicial system is not doing its duty as it should be, therefore the aggression that stems from impunity of those who are guilty escalates.
“The attempts at violence or the so-called TrashBucketChallenge, when some members of the government are sat in trash collectors, are a symbolic humiliation, it escapes the limits of the legal field. And it may be considered lynching to an extent. It is necessary to establish a sufficient judicial system, otherwise grievous injuries or even political murders may follow,” he thinks.
According to political expert Serhiy Hayday, throughout all the years of independence politics was only a way of enrichment for the government. As a result, says he, the Ukrainians have accumulated “a strive for social revenge” against the politicians.
“It is not a provocation of any sort, it is the real state of society. I think that such a lustration through trash collectors is the soft option. Unfortunately, we are very close to possibly lynching,” he adds.
Lynching is next?
Serhiy Hayday offers the parallel with the Great French Revolution, which historians date at 1789-1799. The events at the time are considered a breakthrough moment in the history of Western democracy, when republican order replaced absolute monarchy. This transformation was followed with radical moods in French society.
“The elites there were subject to deadly rotation by means of the guillotine. And each new team that came to rule France ended with the guillotine. The old class suffered first, the aristocrats and everyone connected to the monarchy. And then revolution ‘consumed’ those who was inadequate and unable to deal with the challenges at the time. I think there won’t be the same amount of blood as back then. But we are very close,” the political expert thinks.
Hayday: odious politicians should leave politics before it’s too late
According to the expert, the members of the government still don’t feel the moods in society, do not trash-throwing and paint-pouring seriously as ‘warning bells.’
Hayday predicts that aggression will continue to grow in society, which would result in innocent people suffering alongside the culprits. Hayday advises odious politicians to leave politics before it’s too late and not run in the elections. And those who are elected in the nearest elections have to really change the country, for the regular Ukrainian to feel that their life has gotten better. Improvement of life is able to calm down the aggression which is growing in society, he is convinced.