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Council of Europe Report: Berkut tortured protesters

Council of Europe Report: Berkut tortured protesters
Article by: Tetiana Yarmoshchuk
Translated by: Christine Chraibi

Russia’s involvement against Euromaidan not proven – report

The actions of Ukrainian security forces against protesters during the Euromaidan one year ago are qualified as “torture”. This is stated in the  Report  of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture of the Council of Europe, published on January 13, with the consent of Ukrainian authorities. However, the investigators can neither confirm nor deny that foreign special services were involved in the protests or that Yanukovych’s government financed the “titushky” and was involved in the abduction of AutoMaidan activist, Dmytro Bulatov.

In some cases, the behaviour of the Berkut Special Forces and internal troops vis-à-vis Euromaidan protestors can be qualified as “torture, conducted with the permission and the participation or assistance of law enforcement officials”. “In several instances, the alleged ill-treatment was of such severity that it could be considered as amounting to torture”.

The document states that cruel measures were applied particularly during detention and interrogation at the Ministry of the Interior. The European investigators also criticized the ex-authorities for failing to provide required medical assistance to the detained, calling it “inhuman and degrading”.

The report also notes that the Prosecutor’s Office has not been in a hurry to investigate these cases. “Despite the fact that many important steps have been taken, there are significant failures, such as the absence of forensic examinations and delays in processing investigation by judges.” Therefore, many investigations have come to a “dead end”.

The report singles out the so-called “grey zone”. This alludes to the possible presence of foreigners among Ukrainian security forces who were commissioned to check the Kyiv protests. The report states that Ukrainian authorities failed to confirm or refute the delegation’s suspicions in this regard. Investigators also mention the “grey zone” when referring to the support of former Ukrainian authorities for the “titushky” and their involvement in the kidnapping and beating of Automaidan activist, Dmytro Bulatov. These issues require more detailed investigation, they say.

“There is evidence that Russian secret services were involved and that the former government financed the “titushky.” says Serhiy Pashynsky

Serhiy Pashynsky, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defense and deputy from Narodny Front participated in the Euromaidan. In an interview with Radio Liberty, he says that he is surprised by the conclusions of the investigation committee.

“There are hundreds of hours of videos about the “titushky”, interviews on who hired them and what they were doing.” says Pashynsky.

Serhiy Pashynsky

He also cannot understand how the European investigators could miss seeing the presence of foreign security forces during the Euromaidan events.

“It was established that an FSB group was in Kyiv; we know how much time they spent here and the number of people involved.”

“There are facts confirming that Russia supplied flash grenades and poison gas.” asserts Pashinsky “This is a fact; there is evidence; it was shown to everyone.” The Head of the SBU, Valentyn Nalyvaychenko, stated that the FSB group was in Kyiv and that the SBU knows how long the Russian Special Forces were there and how many people were involved. Of course, these people did not show their documents when they left, nor did they leave a written confession; after all, they are FSB officers.”

The investigation on Bulatov’s abduction continues…

Bulatov after escape from abductors

The MIA continues the investigation of the abduction and torture of AutoMaidan activist, Dmytro Bulatov. Law enforcement officials are considering five versions. Two versions are most likely – kidnapping in order to intimidate Bulatov and stop him from continuing his social and political activities, or kidnapping in order to obtain ransom from Euromaidan leaders. Bulatov says that he has given all the relevant information to the police. In an interview with Radio Liberty, he refused to infer who was behind his kidnapping, because he believes that this should be done by the MIA.

“What actually happened to me is a very big mystery. I’ll do everything I can to find out. However, I can’t provide more information than the MIA has done through official channels.” says Bulatov.

The report of the Council of Europe does not provide any details about the mass shootings at Euromaidan in February 2014, when nearly a hundred people were killed in Kyiv. Most of the victims were gunned down by snipers; MIA police also died during the protests. It is still not known who opened fire on the activists and security forces.


Translated by: Christine Chraibi
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