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 

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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.

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