Location Ukraine Ukraine

Two Sides of One Politics: Odessa Massacre under Ukrainian ‘Investigation’

The United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU) has published “Report on the human rights situation in Ukraine 16 February to 15 May 2015”. It was issued by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Unfortunately this high organ was not impartial. It has based its investigations at official Ukrainian sources precisely. That is why real picture of lawlessness and human rights broking was hidden and situation was embellished.
Anyway if Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine directly contacted to oppressed and repressed people the result was quite different. Especially it is noticed in Odessa case. Reader can compare attitude of enforcement authorities to both sides of Odessa massacre. One side is favored while opposite side is faced with endless line of lawlessness.
We publish most interesting parts devoted to Odessa below and also publish small part devoted to shooting at Rymarskaya Street in Kharkov. In the first case HRMMU contacted to both sides, including civil society, in the second it was satisfied with authorities’ statements. The difference is visible.
From 10 to 16 April, the HRMMU interviewed lawyers and relatives of ‘pro-federalism’ activists detained by SBU in Odessa in April. In April and May, the HRMMU visited the Odessa pre-trial detention centre (SIZO) and privately interviewed detainees arrested on suspicion of terrorism. They informed the HRMMU that searches of their homes were carried out without warrants and with excessive use of force; they were not informed of their rights and access to legal aid was provided with delays of up to 70 hours; SBU was bringing their own witnesses and did not record all seized belongings. They were officially notified about their detention only the next day after the apprehension or even later with no possibility to inform relatives and without access to legal aid. In addition, the HRMMU received allegations that during interrogation, some detainees were subjected to ill-treatment and torture (beatings, suffocation with bag on the head, electric shocks and deprivation of sleep, food and water for more than 24 hours). The people arrested were not provided with a defense lawyer and were mocked at when requesting one. The Government of Ukraine claimed that all allegations of torture and ill-treatment would be duly investigated.

Law enforcement tolerating illegal action by ‘pro-unity’ supporters

The HRMMU is concerned that illegal activities of ‘pro-unity’ activists have been tolerated by Ukrainian law enforcement agencies. On 26 March, the HRMMU witnessed the abduction by ‘pro-unity’ activists of two lawyers representing ‘pro-federalism’ activists. This occurred during a protest organised by the lawyers as they attempted to enter the Odessa SIZO, where their clients were held. The police at the scene made no attempt to intervene. Moreover, as observed by the HRMMU, while the perpetrators were clearly identified on the spot, no investigation was open. The abduction appeared to have been stopped due to the intervention of the HRMMU which immediately reported on the incident to a police officer prompting him to eventually take action.
The HRMMU is highly concerned about the lack of independence of the judiciary. Due to direct intimidation and threats against judges, the judiciary fails to ensure impartial and fair trial. On 27 February, the Odessa Court of Appeal held a general meeting with all judges of Odessa region to discuss the increased pressure on the judiciary system by ‘pro-unity’ activists. The pressure reportedly includes death threats, physical attacks and forcefully putting judges into trash containers. In addition to the pressure from ‘pro-unity’ activists, the judges referred to pressure from the SBU to take ‘right’ decisions during hearings involving ‘pro-federalism’ activists suspected of terrorism and committing crimes against national security.

Accountability for the 2 May violence in Odessa

118. Two official investigations have been initiated to look into the 2 May violence in Odessa, when 48 persons died (six killed in the city centre and 42 – from the effects of the fire at the Trade Union Building), one by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the other by the Office of the Prosecutor General. However, these investigations are widely believed to be unreliable, particularly because of the inability or unwillingness of law enforcement bodies to bring to justice those responsible for the violence. The HRMMU believes that with no obstacles in the investigation of the 2 May violence, the prosecution of perpetrators is only hampered by the fact that some suspects have reportedly fled Ukraine, including the former Deputy Head of Odessa Regional Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Investigation led by Prosecutor General Office on police and fire brigade negligence

119. On 30 April 2015, the Office of the Prosecutor General notified the former Head of the Odessa Regional Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs about suspicions of official negligence, by failing to ensure public security which resulted in clashes between ‘pro-federalism’ and ‘pro-unity’ supporters during the march ‘For United Ukraine’. On 13 May, the Pecherskyi District Court of Kyiv placed the former Head of the Odessa Regional Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs under house arrest. (He is liberated now. – edit.)
120. No progress has been achieved in a criminal investigation into the negligence of the fire department, which having received numerous phone calls about the fire, took 40 minutes to arrive at the scene – the Trade Unions Building, where 42 people died of suffocation, burns and as a result of jumping out of the windows – despite being located in its immediate vicinity.

Investigation led by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

121. The investigation headed by the Investigation Unit of the Ministry of Internal Affairs on mass disorder in the city centre and at the Trade Union Building continues to raise grave concerns. In September 2014, the investigation was split into several criminal proceedings, including three major ones: on the mass disorder at the Trade Union Building (Kulikovo Pole Square), on mass disorder in the city centre and against a ‘pro-unity’ activist charged with murder.

Investigation regarding the mass disorder at the Trade Union building.

122. The investigation led by the Ministry of Internal Affairs into mass disorder at the Trade Union Building is still on-going. By 15 May, no substantive progress has been observed in the investigation into the death of 42 people, and no suspect had been identified. At the same time, on 9 February, the Office of the Prosecutor General closed the criminal investigation for lack of evidence against a ‘pro-unity’ activist, accused of beating ‘pro-federalism’ supporters, jumping out of the burning Trade Union Building. On 19 August, he was arrested and transferred to the SIZO in Kherson. On 26 August, the District Court of Kherson ruled on placing him in custodial detention. However, on 30 August, due to the pressure from ‘pro-unity’ activists, the Court of Appeal of Kherson Region changed the measure of restraint to an obligation not to leave Odesa without the investigator’s permission. On 17 February, victims appealed this decision as being groundless and politically motivated with no result to date as the trial on the matter is on-going investigation into mass disorder in the city centre.
123. On 25 March, the Office of the Prosecutor General submitted a revised indictment against 20 ‘pro-federalism’ supporters charged under Article 294 (mass disorder) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (one of whom had reportedly fled to Crimea) to the Malinovskyi District Court of Odessa. The defence lawyers maintain that in addition to previously mentioned numerous omissions, including violation of the principle of fair trial, the revised indictment contained new procedural mistakes and referred rather to the political views of the accused, than to evidence of their participation in the mass disorder. The court ruled to return the indictment to the Office of the Prosecutor General for the second time.
124. Consideration of the motion of the ‘pro-federalism’ suspects regarding the returned indictment was carried out in the absence of some of defence lawyers (due to failure of the court to properly notify the parties of the hearing in advance). The Court of Appeals of Odessa region also disregarded a request from defendants for legal aid which was hampered by the absence of their lawyers. On 26 March, a judge of the Malinovskyi District Court of Odessa extended the detention of 10 ‘pro-federalism’ detainees without a full panel of judges as prescribed by law when considering grave crimes. Furthermore, the court session was not public and transparent since none of the defenders and their lawyers were notified of the court date and, they were thus unable to participate.
125. On 27 April, the Malinovskyi District Court of Odessa ruled once again to return the indictment to the Office of the Prosecutor General due to numerous omissions and procedural mistakes. On 15 May, the Court of Appeals of Odessa Region considered the appeal of the prosecution against the decision of the Malinovskyi District Court. The HRMMU observed numerous procedural violations during the hearing which was held in the absence of several defence lawyers. Appeals for legal aid of the defendants, including minor, were ignored by the court. The panel of judges seemed prejudiced against the defence and decided to submit the indictment to the Malinovskyi District Court of Odessa for a new consideration. Investigation regarding the ‘pro-unity’ activist charged with murder.
126. On 22 April, almost one year after the opening of the criminal investigation, the indictment against the single ‘pro-unity’ activist, charged with participation in mass disorder, murder and injuring a law enforcement officer in the city centre, was submitted to the Primorskii District Court of Odessa.

Investigation into the Rymarska case

127. The investigation into the shooting at Rymarska street in Kharkov on 14 March 2014 due to a conflict between activists of the ‘pro-federalism’ group Oplot and activists of the ‘pro-unity’ group Patriots of Ukraine which resulted in two people killed and several wounded including a police officer, has shown little progress. More than a year after the event, no perpetrators have been identified.
128. In 2014, the SBU informed the HRMMU that there would be no indictments in the case, as according to the pre-trial investigation, the shooting was a case of self-defence. At the same time, the HRMMU is not aware that the case has been officially closed. Information from the SBU, Ministry of Internal Affairs, and Kharkov Regional Prosecutor’s Office suggests that the majority of the members of the Patriots of Ukraine, allegedly involved in shooting, are now serving with the Azov Regiment in the conflict zone, and therefore cannot be reached. (“Azov” was officially included to the Ministry of Internal Affairs armed forces. That is why its servants are not reachable only due to official position of Ukrainian government to lean on fascists and protect them. – edit.).

The source: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Countries/UA/10thOHCHRreportUkraine.pdf

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