More than a year later, Euromaidan activists still demand justice for victims

People come to mourn to vul.Institutska in Kyiv, where snipers shot peaceful protesters during the Euromaidan revolution

People come to mourn to vul.Institutska in Kyiv, where snipers shot peaceful protesters during the Euromaidan revolution 

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On 22 February 2014, the Euromaidan revolution in Kyiv succeeded in ousting the authoritarian president Yanukovych, paying a high price: the death of over a hundred protesters and many hundreds injured and missing. As of July 2015, not a single member of the Berkut riot police has been punished for their lawless actions. Activists that were rallying to change their country during Euromaidan still campaign to bring justice and punish the Berkut riot police killing and persecuting activists, as well as those giving orders.

Nearly one and a half years after Euromaidan’s victory, activists still fight against Ukraine’s corrupt law enforcement system that persecuted ordinary Ukrainians every day and led to brutality, kidnappings, and killings during the popular uprising of 2013-2014. One of the main demands of Euromaidan – justice for the persecuted – has not been fulfilled, and a judicial reform is not even in the making.

The violent dispersal of a student protest on 20 November 2013 triggered mass protests demanding justice. None of the perpetrators have been punished

The violent dispersal of a student protest on 20 November 2013 triggered mass protests demanding justice. None of the perpetrators have been punished as of 13 July 2015.

Oleg Slaboshpitskyi

Oleg Slabospitsky

Oleg Slabospitsky is one of the activists trying to make Ukraine’s still-corrupt courts and prosecutors work for justice. Together with the civic sector organizations Initiative of the lawyers of the Heaven’s Hundred (an unofficial volunteer initiative that deals with the rights of protesters killed during Euromaidan protests), Euromaidan SOS, OZON (a civic initiative that monitors court proceedings), the Civic sector of Euromaidan, Automaidan and others, he demands that a temporary commission be formed in Ukraine’s parliament to make sure that victims are not forgotten. It would have legal rights to make inquiries into the investigations, and request reports from the law enforcement:

“During Maidan we demanded justice with the words ‘An unpunished evil brings more evil.’ Today, not a single criminal involved in crimes committed during Euromaidan is behind bars and only some have been brought to court. No matter how many years pass after the crimes committed by officials of the Yanukovych regime, they should be investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice.”

A rally is planned for July 13, demanding that a parliamentary commission be formed to properly investigate the cases. Otherwise, they will be closed at the end of November, according to new regulations.

Rally posters saying “we demand a temporary investigative committee in the Verkhovna Rada. 1.5 years have passed and no criminal is behind bars”

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The new Ukrainian government elected after Yanukovych fled from Ukraine has seen three changes of the Prosecutor General. During the service of the first two, investigations into crimes committed by the police during Euromaidan were hampered and blocked.

We are in a state of undeclared war, and the Euromaidan cases start being forgotten

Now activists demand not only to bring perpetrators of crimes committed during Euromaidan protests to justice, but to launch an investigation into why Ukraine’s two former Prosecutor Generals, Makhnitskyi and Yarema, not only failed to do justice but also obstructed the investigations. The legal cases only started to move during the service of Viktor Shokin, Ukraine’s third Prosecutor General, but still not at the desired pace.

“There is an esprit de corps between the Prosecutor’s Office, the MIA and other departments. Until we have people in law enforcement that are not involved in corruption schemes and that would be willing to break this mutual covering up of crimes, we will not have any progress. Civil society is doing everything it can to bring justice, but investigations are blocked at the level of the MIA,”

commented Mr.Slaboshpitskyi. According to him, the cases that are sent from the Prosecutor’s office to courts are already written in a way allowing for perpetrators to avoid being jailed. They are released upon bail or held under house arrest, and they escape.

“The system has not changed. Until very recently, the deputy chief of the Berkut forces that violently dispersed Euromaidan activists had been serving in Kyiv’s police. Oleksandr Tereschuk, the head of police in Lutsk that was responsible for dispersing the local protests has been appointed as Kyiv’s head of police. Berkut troopers team up when they come to the court hearings, and behave the same way as during the clashes, as if saying ‘if we were only able to, we would squash you on the spot,’”

Oleg told Euromaidan Press. As for the new police reform, he hopes it will be fully implemented, saying that right now people are more exhilarated with the external changes. What would be more important is to include a public disclosure of personnel appointments on all levels, according to the Civic Sector of Euromaidan.

  • puttypants

    I’m perplexed are Ukrainians trying to kill their own country? Do they know that part of their historical territory has been stolen from them? He looks like a strong young man instead of helping his country by going to war his trying to kill the country with those demands at this time. Get justice for those killed after the war. The government has enough to do to fight the war and keep the country from going down economically. Get a damn head on your shoulders. I’m disgusted with many Ukrainians and their expectations of miracles. How is it that they don’t understand what’s really going on int thier county? Get to work to save you country. Don’t ask what your country can do for you ask what you can do for your country.

    • Oleksandra Shandra

      Yes, anybody attempting to battle corruption and change the system should be shamed and sent to war, where there is little happening at the moment. Excellent logic.

      • puttypants

        That’s not what I said. I said if that young man really cares about Ukraine he should enlist in fighting the war first. Justice for those who fell in Maidan can come later. Ukrainians need priorities and the first has to be to win the war and improve the economy. Jimma was right and said it much better than I. Read Ukrainian history. disunity has always been its greatest problem and why they haven’t been able to succeed in their fight for independence. .
        Everyone’s unhappy about everything. They must get their act together this time or there will be no Ukraine. This constant haranguing against their own government doesn’t serve a purpose right now. Right now Ukraine needs unity and to work together to get things right. Stop all the pissing, moaning and whining about the government. They will make mistakes many of them. They are in unprecedented situation without any experience as to how to fight such an aggressive neighbor. I believe they’re doing the best they know how. Maybe it won’t be good enough and hopefully, in the next election Ukrainians will get leaders they believe in?

        • Oleksandra Shandra

          he, together with others, is demanding a parliamentary commission. I don’t see any moaning. I think this young man understands very well what the government needs.

          • puttypants

            People don’t need to have the government do everything for them. That’s such a Soviet mentality. Tell the government you’re starting your own committee to investigate, and they want access to all police files, ability to interview etc., and present findings to government. Only those who gave the orders to shot should be prosecuted. The minions just did their job.

          • Oleksandra Shandra

            that has already been done. to bring people to justice you need to have functioning courts.

          • puttypants

            Great. I’m sure the government is trying to do that too as quickly as possible.

  • Jimma

    I am an American. I have been in and out of Ukraine for 6 years. I love the country and its people. I have spent a lot of time talking to US Politicians seeking aid. Every time I get the same question, “when are they going to get it right there?” I can’t invest or ask others to invest with so much uncertainty going on. Now this Right Sector face off in the West. Do you the people of Ukraine not understand you are at war with a tyrant who is waiting for Ukraine to break apart internally? Get it together! Time to concentrate on uniting against a common enemy.