Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
The head of the Institute of Legal Policy Elena Berezhnaya in an interview with Ukraina.ru spoke about the opposition of citizens and lawyers to violence, repression, and hatred in Ukraine.
Has Kiev listened to the requirements of international organizations to close “Peacemaker” [Myrotvorets – ed]?
At the end of May and the beginning of June, the assistant UN Secretary General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic spent a week in Kiev. He visited Donetsk and Lugansk, met with representatives of the OSCE mission – therefore, suspecting him of bias is impossible. I personally met him twice and in those meetings he promised to me that he will address the issue of social payments in Donbass. Simonovic promised me also that Ukraine will demand the closure of the “Peacemaker” site. In his report there were also accusations of UAF torture, persecution, and illegal detention. However, until now the Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman has not reacted to the arguments of the assistant Secretary General of the UN, and ignores the requests of the Institute of legal policy, and Western diplomats.
After the international organizations demanded the closure of “Peacemaker”, so-called “activists” insisted on the resumption of the website. And we received a response from the SBU and the Interior Ministry, which said that, supposedly, they have “no legal mechanism to block the website”.
We also received an official response from the Ombudsman Viktoria Lutkovska, who also referred to the fact that she can’t do anything with the site. It is working, even though it’s officially closed. But someone works for it? Why doesn’t this matter concern anyone? Why doesn’t the President of the country intervene in the situation?
Of course, it was not a shock for us, as such actions, at minimum, do not conform to law. A criminal case was opened regarding the fact of the work of this website, which is located in Pechersky district management of the national police of the city of Kiev. But, Deputy Anton Gerashchenko claims that this criminal case should be closed as soon as possible.
Your daughter, People’s Deputy Irina Berezhnaya, also got the attention of “Peacemaker”. How did it affect her life?
Irina Berezhnaya, as the person whose details were on the website, opened a criminal case on illegal distribution of personal data, as well as many other citizens of our long-suffering country. Today, Irina is considered to be the victim in this case, she was subject to systematic threats of physical violence. After we made our principled position on the “Peacemaker”, the number of threats to daughter rose significantly.
What was the threat?
A fighter from volunteer battalions, not for the first time on his Facebook page, published negative information about Irina illegally accusing her of the crimes listed on the Peacemaker website! His friends on social networks actively responded to his accusations. So, one called to douse her with sulfuric acid, the other to hang her on a tree.
It is known that he is actively engaged in generating lists of journalists, media people, public figures, and politicians, whose data is then put on the website. He does this not without the help of social networking and an extensive network of media “activists” who monitor the positions of citizens of Ukraine. “Patriots” very zealously responded to Savchuk, the number of threats is growing precisely like an avalanche. And Irina promised to “liquidate” it — as did Oles Buzina and Oleg Kalashnikov.
We sent the emails with threats to Irina to all the embassies of European countries, having made screenshots of the appropriate addresses.
We are not going to hide ourselves, to leave Ukraine, as did those who were on the list of “enemies of Ukraine”. Moreover, we insist that the “Peacemaker” site was created by a criminal group that doesn’t stop its activities. I promise that we will achieve, in the framework of the pretrial investigation, the full block of the site. I confess that the situation is fully owned by Dunja Mijatovic, to which we also ask to question Anton Gerashchenko as the ideological mastermind of the site. However, this is still difficult, because he has parliamentary immunity.But if his actions are found to be corpus delicti, it is quite possible he will be brought to justice.
People came to their senses
It is very difficult to achieve justice until now. Fighters of volunteer battalions that sullied themselves with frankly criminal liability and looting are liberated from criminal responsibility in Ukraine.
It can’t continue like this for a long time. Legal and social protest in society has been brewing for a long time, that’s why we will achieve justice. People are morally very tired, but there is less and less fear in society. And an indicator of this became the passage of the “Immortal regiment” in Kiev on 9th May. And this protest today is growing. The new driving force of society, a real resistance to the war and lawlessness, became the all-Ukrainian cross procession.
The Minister of internal Affairs Avakov and speaker of the Parliament Parubiy announced the preparation of provocations in the procession.
Our “Facebook” Minister and the speaker of the Verkhovna Rada are renowned for their delusional statements, but this time they did not succeed to push all the machinations on the back of the Kremlin. Our jurists and human rights defenders filed a request to Parubiy and Avakov with the requirement to prevent provacations and attempts to destabilize the Procession.
But evil is afraid of such a number of believers that went to Kiev. Yet the radicals were not possible to arrange pogroms anywhere over the route. The real Ukraine, real, spiritual, is praying for peace.
The procession of people went with infants, pushchairs, there were many elderly people, despite the hellish heat. All the pilgrims went under God’s grace. How does this relate to the Kremlin? However, realizing the inadequacy of our government, we sent letters and asked Parubiy personally to call those whom he “suspects of provocation.” And we understand very well that radicals are subordinate to the speaker, his “fighting force” since the times of Maidan and Odessa.
The release of Ruslan Kotsaba is great progress. How is the situation with other political prisoners?
I expected this decision. The fight for Ruslan was conducted for two years and it was successful. According to our data, in Ukraine, 311 political prisoners, whose fate we were devoted time to. We also received many letters of appreciation for the case of Elena Glischinskaya, where the main contributor in this complex exchange was, of course, Viktor Medvedchuk. Currently we are busy with the case of Evgeny Mefedov, who is still illegally detained in prison.
All the accusation in these political cases are false. It is under Akavov’s cover that they were cooked. In the case of Mefedov, we don’t expect a just solution, and understand that he can be freed only with an exchange.
He even wasn’t on Grecheskaya Square, Odessa, but the court considers exclusively the events on Grecheskaya Square on May 2nd! Everybody knows the pressure that was put on the judges. I wish to note that Ivan Simonovic keeps the case with Mefedov under control, and at a meeting of the UN security Council this issue will be considered in the near future.
How has this flywheel of repression, promoted by the government, affected the morale of the citizens?
During the first phase, the authorities, through repression, succeeded to intimidate the people. Especially after the murder of Oles Buzina, Oleg Kalashnikov, suicided politicians, people were very afraid. But today, this chilling fear in society has finally subsided. People begin to think, to analyze what happened. Ukrainians see that there is no democracy in the country, but there is impunity for some and complete absence of rights of the other, and a large part of society is deprived of basic human rights.
To sew Ukraine with Donbass
Why, in your opinion, has the situation in Donbass been exacerbated? Why are Donetsk, Gorlovka, and Druzhkovka being shelled?
Ukraine wants at all costs to show that Russia “does not fulfil” the Minsk agreements, and creates provocation by all means. Today the Minsk agreement is elevated to the rank international covenant, i.e, it became a legally-binding document for fulfilment. However, Ukraine doesn’t want to hold elections in Donbass, and therefore, everything is being done to specifically disrupt “Minsk” in any way, to show that their people are not able to realise their right to choose their government. The situation is blown up deliberately, and this despite the fact that the soldiers of the UAF, in fact, are demoralized, and every second Ukrainian soldier does not want to shoot.
Elena Petrovna, how do you see the fate of Donbass after two and a half years?
I am constantly in touch with Lugansk people and they say that the mood of the people there is not simple, but now the city is, as ever, well-groomed and clean. Everywhere there is a lot of flowers. Lugansk planted roses, cleaned, repaired houses and roads, and restored production. I asked people about their attitude and desire to be with Ukraine. And I also, in turn, was asked a question: “And what if your child was tormented in such a way, would you sit at the same table with his torturers?”
People in Lugansk remember the UAF shooting from aircraft on 02.06.2014 in the center of Lugansk and the village of Novo-Kondrashovka on 02.07.2014, when the peaceful citizens were killed, including children. Our institute, in particular, defends the rights of victims of these attacks in national and international courts.
Also people in Lugansk remember well Poroshenko’s words about children of Donbass for whom he promised the basement instead of studying at school. And for these words ,the majority of Lugansk residents don’t forgive him.
Will they forgive? If there is no repentance in front of the killed children and old people of Donbass, there will not be a unified Ukraine. Over Donbass the souls of the innocent murdered children still hover.
In your opinion, why did Ukraine so rapidly slide into rabid Russophobia?
In fact, for a long time hard information technology was put to work, in which Ukrainian media blamed Russia for all their troubles. Despite the fact there wasn’t any document from the point of view of international law which prove the fact of “occupation” of Russia of Donetsk and Lugansk, the cliche about notion of “occupation” was introduced into their brains. If not for the help of Russia, Donbass would not have survived.
Besides the massive “artillery strikes of Ukrainian media on the brains of Ukrainians”, people did not received any reliable information about the conflict. They do not have it today either.
At the same time, today, for citizens who sincerely went out to Maidan, it is difficult today to reconstruct their matrix, and to plead guilty for the current flawed system of values.
Of course it’s hard to admit that the new government came to power not by ballots, and that the people became just the cogs of the coup in the country. As you know, it is always easier to find the culprit of your troubles outside of yourself. It turned out that Russia was ideal for this. And when such a culprit exists, suddenly everything becomes very simple. But did someone stop the grandmothers who poured gasoline in bottles in order for the radicals to burn “Berkut”? Or if there was someone on Maidan who was against the fact that the students with Russophobic chants “Who does not jump is a Moskal” were jumping on Maidan?
Is there an exit from this dead-end?
It is inevitable. For war criminals there must be a real tribunal. As for the people, until people recognize their own guilt, we will not have a future in common Ukraine. I paid attention to this religious procession. People relied on it as a manifestation of collective intelligence, genetic folk wisdom that we are all Slavs and fraternal peoples.
I see that our society starts to slowly regain its sight. I wish our politicians would really want to “sew” our country, not in words, not in populist appeals.
Copyright © 2022. All Rights Reserved.