Experts: Authorities and civic society must unite to secure proper investigation of crimes against Maidan activists


Kyiv, December 7, 2015. According to the preliminary report by Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), there are not enough facts at this stage to prove that crimes against humanity were committed during the Revolution of Dignity. Ukraine soon will be commemorating two years of the tragic events that happened on February 12-20, 2014 in Kyiv. “Between now and then Ukrainian law enforcement is to prove that our state is able to secure justice and fairness in the country,” said member of the Ukrainian parliament, member of the Committee of Foreign Affairs of the Verkhovna Rada Svitlana Zalishchuk at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

Zalishchuk said that twelve non-governmental organizations coordinated by the Center for Civil Liberties are collecting and organizing all the facts pertaining to the events at Maidan. This information was relayed to the Prosecutor’s Office of the International Criminal Court. Law enforcements provided the court with all the available documents. Despite this fact, the prosecutor arrived at a decision that there is not enough evidence to speak of the crimes against humanity at Maidan. In this regard, Zalishchuk urged to concentrate on the following aspects. First of all, evidence must be collected that ‘titushky’ (agents provocateurs) were led by the authorities, second, that the Ministry of Internal supplied them with weapons and third, that there were direct orders to attack journalists. The main point is proving that these actions were not spontaneous or reactionary, but on the opposite, these were systemic actions. “We are going to collect information on the scale of damages and injuries people suffered all over the country.” It will allow evaluating the crime of the large scale. These two characteristics, systematic approach and large scale, are the key factors to classify this offense as a crime against humanity.

Zalishchuk laid emphasis on the importance of cooperation between the civic society and authorities. She also called upon the public and journalists to exert pressure upon law enforcement agencies to ‘make this process efficient’.

Vitaliy Titych, lawyer representing interests of those who suffered at the protests, believes that ‘at present the national investigation is in a terrible state’. He also emphasized that the Ministry of Internal top officials are interfering with this process. The main requirement of the victims of Maidan was to incorporate the criminal proceedings on the grounds of the common plan and one leadership existing with regard to these offences. It resulted in creation of a special investigations department at the General Prosecutor’s Office dealing with all the cases on Maidan. “Following his incorporation, a phrase appeared in all the proceedings, including the criminal proceeding 228 on ‘Yanukovych’s group’ high officials: ‘existence of a criminal organization,” said Titych. It may involve the presence of ‘hierarchy, a certain plan and coordination’.

Nevertheless, a lawyer of Global Rights Compliance international group, Wayne Jordash stated that these were the very elements the ICC prosecutor failed to find, which had been reflected in her preliminary report. “Despite the fact the prosecutor speaks of the presence of the state politics in these actions, she sees no evidence of the high officials planning, organizing and implementing a certain plan, explained Jordash. According to Jordash, the report characterizes the law enforcements’ assault of the protesters as abuse of force; nevertheless, it is not treated as a part of a coordinated plan. Moreover, the prosecutor believes that the majority of the assaults were disorganized and ad hoc (they did not take place every day, but were committed on November 30, December 1, 10 and 11 in 2013, as well on January 19-2 and February 19-20 in 2014) on the territory within Kyiv city centre. Jordash believes civic society and the state must combine their efforts to prove existence of a plan the high officials conspired which approved beating up of protesters. It would also relate to the scope of private and state resources these people used to implement this plan and the hierarchy built for this purpose; the fact that the acts of violence were directed against a larger group of victims and/or covered bigger geographic area; the fact that these were grave acts of violence; and, finally, the fact that they resulted from a planned calculated system and not just a result of panicky, excessive or random response to the protests.

Jordash also emphasized that the ICC will not be able to hear cases of all the culprits, so it will concentrate on the high officials and organizers. The role of the Ukrainian judiciary is securing proper justice for all the others who are guilty of the crimes committed at Maidan. “It will provide a possibility to reform the judicial system of Ukraine, making it modern and conforming with the international standards and the best practices,” summarized Jordash .