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Regular ‘Berkuters’ punished for the killings on Maidan, leadership walks free

Regular ‘Berkuters’ punished for the killings on Maidan, leadership walks free
Article by: Iryna Stelmakh
Translated by: Mariya Shcherbinina
Kyiv – Judge Tetyana Ostapchuk of the Pechersk District court in Kyiv approved the plaint of the Office of the Prosecutor General and extended the detention of former ‘Berkuter’ Serhiy Zinchenko by another two months: until January 25. Earlier, she made the same decision regarding Pavlo Abroskin. Both young men have been in jail for nine months now. They are suspected of shooting dozens of Maidaners on February 20 on Institutska street. The same suspicion was posed regarding their leader Dmytro Sadovnyk who fled after being sentenced to house arrest, and is currently on the run. In order to find the culprits, political will is necessary, and there is none, say the families of the Heaven’s Hundred and advocates, and propose to file the case to international institutions for it not to be delayed. 

24-year-old fighter of the disbanded special corps Berkut Serhiy Zinchenko sits on the bench with the Criminal Code in his hands. He has been behind bars for nine months. The Office of the Prosecutor General incriminates him with involvement in the murder of 39 Maidaners on February 20 on Institutska street. His elder sister Natalya approaches the bars to support her brother. She is appalled by the ‘judgement’ passed on Serhiy, she says he was in the reinforcement, in reserve, and he sat in the bus during the shooting.

“This is a political order. Two sergeants, one of which has only served for 1,5 years, cannot be responsible for this Maidan. Especially since he could not be reached by phone when the events happened. They were in the bus, both Abroskin and Zinchenko. The people here are this way: as they jailed him, he is guilty,” she told Radio Liberty during recess in court.

There is a video which is one of the pieces of evidence of Serhiy Zinchenko’s involvement in the mass killings, however, Natalya claims he is not in it.

“Serhiy has smaller shoulders. The prosecutors said he lost weight. How can someone lose seven centimeters of height and ten in the shoulders? It is nonsense. This is not reasonable. The face there is not visible. How did they determine the shape of his face? How can they identify someone in a helmet and a mask?” Asks Serhiy’s sister.

Besides Serhiy Zinchenko, his peer Pavlo Abroskin and their leader, the head of the so-called black regiment of Berkut police major Dmytro Sadovnyk are suspected of shooting the Heaven’s Hundred. Several days ago the court also extended Pavlo Abroskin’s detention by another 2 months – until January 25. The whereabouts of Dmytro Sadovnyk are unclear. He was sentenced to house arrest, and he fled. Now he is on the run.

The Office of the Prosecutor General explains: these three are the subject of the case because the other ‘Berkuters’ hadn’t been identified. Plus, it not necessary for those on trial to have been shooting at the protesters. They were part of the regiment, so they are responsible for everyone, explains prosecutor Olexiy Donsky.

“The matter is that there is the objective side of the crime, and if the crime is committed by a group of people, it is not necessary for everyone to have been shooting to be incriminated with a certain crime. If we are talking about mass murder, everyone has to play a part in the objective side of the crime. In this case there was a single fighter regiment which carried out a single task, and the actions of some conditioned the actions of others. So the murder couldn’t have happened without some fighters,” said the prosecutor.

Head of the main investigative headquarters, deputy Prosecutor General of Ukraine Oleh Zalisko adds that almost 2,5 thousand witnesses were questioned, 100 searches conducted, together with a thousand expert investigations. The phones of 1400 servicemen were checked and 77 people were informed of suspicion. However, despite all this, the investigation is slowed down by the fact that 90% of the documents had been destroyed.

“Unfortunately, 90% of the documentation that regarded the events in Maidan has been destroyed consciously, and this is also a matter of investigating the crime. All of the fighters who took part in countering the protests, both the leaders and the executors, have not given any information that would help us establish the truth during the investigation,” Zalisko explains.

Lawyer: let’s send the case to the International Criminal Court

The lawyers of the families of the Heaven’s Hundred are not surprised by such ‘excuses’ on part of the Prosecutor’s office. The fact that the fighters do not help the investigation and refuse to testify is a given, as the Berkut vertical of power has not changed, and nobody wants to testify against their command. The case is being consciously slowed down, says the lawyer of the Heaven’s Hundred Pavlo Dykan, however, it can still be solved.

“The statements that ‘we will do everything’ have been heard for nine months, but they are still only declarative in nature. We tell them: come together, talk about the problems. We tell them they can be solved, as can the case. Maybe not in some part, as we don’t have many of the officials. They are outside the country and we cannot get to them. But then let’s send the case to the International Criminal Court,” offers the lawyer.

The families of those who died on Institutska have gathered a lot of evidence. Almost everyone knows where from and what caliber was shot at their brother or son, and they are ready to get involved in the investigation. Ukraine has to do everything it can, adds the lawyer, and judge those who are really involved, and not just anybody, who cannot bribe their way out or who simply got caught. In the name of the Heaven’s Hundred and all of Ukraine.

Translated by: Mariya Shcherbinina
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