A woman brings flowers to a memorial to slain Euromaidan activists on Vulytsia Institutska. 20.02.2017. Photo: Alya Shandra
Article by: Olha Reshetylova
The Ukrainian Wikipedia says: Euromaidan (also: the Eurorevolution, Revolution of Dignity) – national-patriotic protest rallies in Ukraine, first of all, against corruption, arbitrariness of law-enforcement bodies and special forces, and also in support of Ukraine’s European vector of foreign policy.
Four years after the Revolution, we can state that the basic requests of Euromaidan have not been fulfilled, and the state is still unable to protect the honor and dignity of its citizens.
Here is a sad rating, which is at the same time our responsibility before those who gave their lives on Euromaidan, our unfulfilled task, and our binding plan for the near future.
1. The reform of law enforcement agencies and special services
It was a confrontation with representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, when students were brutally beaten while peacefully protesting, which started the fighting on Maidan. It was then, during the turbulent events of the winter of 2013-14, that the world witnessed how closely the police was connected to the criminal world – when thousands of so-called titushkas – thugs secretly hired by the regime – were gathered to attack protesters where the police couldn’t, were coordinated and armed by the security forces.
However, the reform of the police and the Ministry of Internal Affairs which began in 2015 did not relaunch the system. Police officers who compromised themselves on Euromaidan and were noticed in other illegal acts were dismissed during re-attestation, but resumed their positions through the courts with the full assistance of the leadership of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
The last drop for the public’s patience was the conditional sentence for Yuri Krysin, a titushka chief who participated in the murder of journalist Viacheslav Veremiy during the events of Euromaidan.
Given the recent events, in particular, the trial of Odesa Mayor Hennadiy Trukhanov, who was accused of large-scale corruption yet released on bail, where titushkas present in the court hall beat up an activist, we see that the old police-criminal ties are gaining new strength and are again being actively used to confront civic society.
Similarly, Ukrainian society didn’t yet witness a reform of the Security Service (SBU). Despite President Poroshenko‘s public promise to implement the Concept of the Reform of the Special Service by the end of 2017, he has not even signed it. The transparent contest for the election of the head of the State Bureau of Investigations and the timeframe of its creation have basically been flunked.
2. Judicial reform
Yesterday, on the anniversary of the Euromaidan massacre, the families of the Heaven’s Hundred and activists picketed the premises of the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine (HQCJ), which should have ensured a renewal of the courts. They came because the Commission does not only not filter out tarnished judges, but promotes their re-certification and appointment to higher courts.
The public is especially outraged that the conclusions of the HQCJ allow the so-called Maidan judges who made unlawful decisions to disperse the protests, arrest Euromaidan activists, take away their driver’s licences etc, to continue climbing the career ladder. The HQCJ justifies its actions by saying that there are no court decisions against these judges – but these decisions are only a dream under the existing judicial esprit de corps. Similarly, the HQCJ disregards other recommendations for the appointment of judges made by the Public Integrity Council, which collects information about their corruption links, connections to the occupied territories of Donbas and Crimea, illegal actions etc. This circular bail and vicious circle can only be broken by the attention of media and society.
In particular, the certification of judges of courts of the first and second instance will begin in mid-March. Obviously, the opposition to the renewal of the judiciary will be ferocious at this stage too. Therefore, the Public Integrity Council needs our support.
3. Anticorruption reform
This is one of the most difficult tasks which Ukraine faced after Euromaidan.
However, due to the incredible efforts of Western partners and Ukrainian anti-corruption activists, the system of anti-corruption bodies was created at least partially – the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption – NAZK, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau – NABU, the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor – SAP… And immediately these bodies came under enormous pressure. The NAZK, the task of which is to control the electronic declarations of officials (another very important achievement of recent years), fell under the influence of the President’s Administration, and instead of becoming an instrument of anti-corruption control, on the contrary, it becomes an administrative resource tool.
NABU, which didn’t have its own complete set of tools, primarily technical ones, for full-fledged investigations, faced the resistance of the good old unreformed General Prosecutor’s Office and SBU. In addition, the public has a lot of questions and criticism regarding SAP chairman Nazar Kholodnytskyi and his selective approach to cases.
The Anticorruption Court has not yet been established. The draft law the president submitted to the parliament received a lot of negative comments from the Venice Commission, however, the pro-government political forces don’t care about that and actively promote its adoption.
All this stubborn struggle for the creation of an anti-corruption system in Ukraine takes place despite the authorities’ crushing information campaign and repressions against anti-corruption activists.
4. Renewal of the political elites
The snap elections to the Verkhovna Rada in 2014 did not bring about a cardinal renewal of the political elites. Particularly, candidates who during Euromaidan voted for the “Dictatorship Laws” which the Rada passed on 16 January 2014 to arbitrarily change the Constitution and publicly called to forcefully disperse the camp of the protesters, re-entered Parliament. With a few exceptions, almost nobody from the former Party of Regions has been prosecuted. Moreover, these politicians now enter political unions with the current authorities, continue to lobby the interests of big business in the parliament, have a great influence over the information space.
Another demand of Euromaidan was to limit oligarchic influence on political processes in the country. However, already in the spring of 2014, some of the richest people in the country were appointed heads of regional administrations in key areas, which later led to a confrontation between the regions and the center. The oligarchs began to form so-called private armies. Exiters from the Party of Regions regained their influence in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. The oligarchic-clan system is preparing for the next presidential election.
5. Investigation of the events at Euromaidan
However, an independent investigation turned out to be no simple task. In the first years, prosecutors attempted to send raw and underdeveloped cases to courts, drawing protests from the representatives of the victims. And then the department faced a huge number of problems in investigations and resistance from the leadership of the General Prosecutor’s Office, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the courts, and so on. Serhiy Horbatiuk, head of the department, constantly talks about it in his interviews.
Nevertheless, due to the perseverance of the lawyers of the Heaven’s Hundred and a group of professional, selfless investigators in the special department, several journalists who consistently tracked the affairs of the Maidan for four years managed to investigate at least a few episodes. According to lawyer Yevheniya Zakrevska, the greatest progress was made in the episodes of February 18 and 20.
However, part of the Berkut riot police, who are suspected and accused of carrying out the killings and beatings of activists, escaped to Russia through court decisions on their release from custody, where they hide to this day (heya, judicial reform!). None of the accused were released from service at the Ministry of Internal Affairs (howdy, reform of the law enforcement agencies!). None of the ex-Party of Regions members were held accountable for voting for the anti-constitutional “Dictatorship laws.” A suspicion notice on the organization of illegal voting was presented to several people, but they managed to escape the country and are wanted.
Investigations into the Euromaidan cases continue. Unfortunately, the interest of the media and society falls lower each year, although the investigators and lawyers are drawing closer to the finish line and need our support like never before.
The Revolution of Dignity isn’t over.
We still have a lot of work ahead of us.
Do not give up!