Legal community and affected activists provide an update on the course of investigation of Maidan dispersal case, emphasize the role of civil society as well as explain how it relates to the overall justice system.
Three years after the dispersal of the “student Maidan” on November 30 no person who was directly carrying out the action has been identified, no respective court decision has been made. “Investigation of the case by the Office of the Prosecutor General has been actually stopped. The case is handled by one investigator of the Office. Taking into account the scale of the case it actually means it’s been frozen. Sixteen people have been charged, however charges that relate only to five persons have been passed to the court,” said Vitaliy Kuzmenko, representative of the initiative “Punish the guilty” (in Ukrainian “Pokaraty vynnykh”), victim in the “November 30” case. In the two cases that are being considered by the court testimony is still being collected from the victims. The full crime chain that goes from the persons who ordered it to the ones who directly accomplished it has not been uncovered.
Lawyer Artem Yasenovsky noted that should the cases be united in one it may considerably speed up the investigation. Part of the judges of Kyiv’s Shevchenkivsky court welcomed the initiative while the head of the court did not agree to it.
Activists and lawyers emphasized that it all depends on the results of the case whether Ukrainian law enforcement staff and officials will take up the responsibility over their actions. “Nothing corrupts one as much as impunity, and nothing works better against lawlessness, than irreversibility of punishment,” emphasized Roman Maselko, lawyer of the “Automaidan” civic initiative, representative of the Public Integrity Council (newly established civic body that is to evaluate whether a particular judge or candidate to the post matches the integrity criteria – UCMC note). “The case is topical because these people enjoy impunity, and this impunity gives grounds to other officials who are in power today to act in the same way. Courts demonstrate excessive loyalty to the persons charged in this case,” emphasized lawyer Olena Nozhovnik. She also noted that decisions in recent cases that regard volunteer fighters are made much quicker.
Activists said that about half of “Berkut” (riot police force unit) officers that took part in the mop-up of November 30 are still working at the Interior Ministry. “These people have no right to remain policemen. We appeal to the Interior Minister with clear-cut demands to hold a quality internal investigation, apply disciplinary liability and fire everyone involved in the dispersal,” Kuzmenko said. He reminded that thanks to the massive public attention that the case gained deputy head of Berkut riot police of Kyiv Andriy Dydyuk, who after the revolution became head of the Special Forces regiment for public security of Kyiv, was fired.
One of the biggest controversies is that the “November 30 case” is being considered by judge Olena Meleshak who at the time of the Revolution of Dignity was head of Kyiv’s Shevchenkivsky court and was adopting unjust decisions against the Maidan activists. “As to Mrs. Meleshak there is testimony showing that she was not only adopting such decisions as to Automaidan participants but was also convincing other judges to do so. There is information that the Presidential Administration was sending out orders through court heads as to which decisions have to be made,” noted Maselko. As to the judge Maleshak a claim was submitted stating that she has committed a crime, however she still remains in office. “Prosecutor General’s Office needs to make each and every effort so that the investigation intensifies and that actual investigation that relates to Meleshak and other judges involved is in place,” Maselko emphasized. He said it concerns about 330 judges.
The President needs to also sign the law “On Higher Court of Justice” that would allow to renew disciplinary cases on judges. “Over the next two months the Higher Court of Justice needs to consider these cases. There are only two months left till the deadline, afterwards it will not be possible to fire the judges,” the lawyer explained.
Vitaliy Kuzmenko said that the group of affected activists is trying to establish cooperation with the department for special investigation of the Office of the Prosecutor General in order to help the investigation. “For the time being the Prosecutor General has received our claim where we presented a clear algorithm how we can help the investigation. We are about to meet the Prosecutor General in the upcoming days. After the meeting we hope to get clear results on how to proceed,” he said. Kuzmenko added that the activists are in possession of the information that more investigators are to join the case, so that there’s a hope that the work will speed up.
Activists and lawyers called upon the wide public not to lose the investigation out of sight as well as upon the victims who have not yet presented themselves to join the process. According to Kuzmenko, the case officially numbers 87 victims however the activists’ database has 150 activists listed who fell victims to the dispersal of November 30. Each testimony is crucial so that the investigation results in justice. “We are ready to provide legal aid so that these people feel themselves protected,” Nozhovnik said.