“I’d like to have the video that I found online added as evidence in this case. You can see how my son was killed, how he died and how Abroskin fired the gun.” the father of Maidan hero, Nazar Voytovych, turns to Serhiy Diachuk, presiding judge of the Sviatoshynsky District Court.
“We protest. Pre-investigation inquiries have been carried out and all videos and photos have been submitted.” Pavlo Abroskin’s lawyer interrupts Yuriy Voytovych.
Nazar’s father desperately searches for the four CDs. His son died from a bullet in the face. Yuriy Voytovych travelled from Ternopil (western Ukraine) to testify in court. He spent many months preparing his testimony; for three long months after his son’s death, he watched videos online to find additional facts and circumstances and the place of death as only the cause of his son’s murder was known. Nazar Voytovych was killed near the Zhovtnevy Palace. The bullet entered the boy’s cheek and bisected his carotid artery; the 17-year-old died instantly. Yuriy Voytovych found out about his son’s death from a volunteer working at St. Michael’s Cathedral, where the bodies of young men killed on Instytutska were laid.
“When did you find out about your son’s place of death?” continues Abroskin’s lawyer.
“Three or four months later.” replies Voytovych.
“Did you tell the Prosecutor’s Office about the video and everything else you wanted to present here?”
“No, I’ve collected this material and want to show it in court. I found everything myself.” says the father.
The court decides to review Yuriy Voytovych’s material – photos and videos from different online resources. It is difficult to identify Nazar Voytovych among the dead with the naked eye. But Yuriy Voytovych points to his son – a young man in blue jeans, a white-collared jacket and a brown scarf. Voytovych spent over a year watching hundreds of video clips and looking at photos, and finally found his son. He first saw Nazar with a shield on Instytutska, and then watched as his dead body was carried away by four people. The court admits the video as evidence establishing the circumstances of Nazar Voytovych’s death. However, it is impossible to identify Abroskin as the man responsible for shooting Nazar. We see only some people in helmets, who could be members of the Berkut Special Forces, standing behind a barricade of snow.
“Was the man that you identified as Abroskin wearing a balaclava?” asks the defense lawyer.
“I saw a face and an aquiline nose, so I think it was Abroskin.” insists Voytovych. However, after a lengthy interrogation by the defense, the father is not so sure anymore and hesitates about the Abroskin’s facial features – was it the aquiline nose or the eyes?
The judge announces that the pre-trial investigation has been completed, but given the circumstances of Nazar Voytovych’s death and the father’s statement about Abroskin’s presence in the video, he has decided to include the father’s photos and videos as evidence.
As the court convenes, members of the Maidan research group show a new video with Pavlo Abroskin during the shootings on Instytutska. According to Yevgeniya Zakrevska, the lawyer representing the Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred, this is just another example of a case where lawyers submit new evidence, photos and videos after the investigation has been completed. This video was submitted to the court earlier and should be examined by investigators. Zakrevska points out that material, provided by Yuriy Voytovych and other relatives of Maidan victims, must be considered as evidence and examined by court investigators.
Pavlo Abroskin’s father, mother and sister have been sitting at the defendant’s bench for more than six hours. The family tries to attend every hearing as they get to see Abroskin and follow court proceedings. .
Abroskin’s mother listens to Yuriy Voytovych’s story and weeps silently. The family then watches the video of Nazar’s murder. After the court session, Abroskin’s father says he is tired of speaking to journalists and will do so only in the presence of their lawyer as his words are often distorted. Abroskin’s sister, Yevgeniya, remarks that no one listens to their opinion as opposed to the prosecution’s.
Five members of the jury and three judges of the Sviatoshynsky Court attend the hearing. The lawyers are the same and it seems that nothing has changed in one year. Time is precious, and witnesses are asked to be less emotional and more explicit and testify more factually. Further hearings have been scheduled. In order not to impede court proceedings, the relatives of Maidan victims, the lawyers representing Zinchenko and Abroskin and the defendants prepare for hearings and read all the materials concerning their case – they have been charged with 39 killings of activists of the Revolution of Dignity.
“Was your son often in Kyiv?” asks the Prosecutor.
“No. He took part in Euromaidan protests in Ternopil. He went to Kyiv to protest against Yanukovych. That day, he arrived in the capital and within a few hours, he was at the Zhovtnevy Palace where he was shot dead. That’s how his trip to Kyiv ended…”
In December 2019, the Kyiv Court of Appeal released three former Berkut officers charged with the mass murder of 48 Maidan activists, and freed from house arrest two other defendants. Abroskin and Zinchenkon were in this group. They were on the list of prisoners that Ukraine handed over to Russia on December 29, 2019.
They are currently believed to be somewhere in Russia.