Rostislav Ishchenko: When The “Human Rights Activist” Becomes a Sacral Victim

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


On New Year’s Eve the lawyer Irina Nozdrovskaya disappeared in Kiev. In the morning of January 2nd her body was found in the River Kiszka near the village of Demidov of the Vyshgorod district of Kiev region. Stab wounds in the neck and almost a total absence of clothes didn’t leave doubt that the woman had been killed.

And here it began. Near the building of the regional police department an excited crowd of unclear, but extremely aggressive-minded people gathered. They tried to beat up the chief of regional police. “People” expressed their lack of confidence in the regional police and demanded the transferral of the case to the Kiev municipal government.

It’s funny, but the “protestors” accused the police of dragging out the investigation. Meanwhile, less than three days passed between a statement about Nozdrovskaya’s disappearance being filed and her body being found. In this regard it is hardly possible to make a complaint about the police. Very often searches for missing persons can last years and even decades. After all, the murderer usually tries to hide the corpse, and not dump it where it can quickly be found and identified.

The US Embassy also became excited, immediately calling Nozdrovskaya a human rights activist, expressing concern about the slow legal investigation, and demanding more efficiency from the authorities.

Nozdrovskaya indeed not so long ago led in court the case of her deceased sister. She achieved a real prison term for the drunkard who ran her down, and, following the results of the scandal, the chairman of the Vyshgorod district court, who is also the uncle of the criminal, was also compelled to step down.

But if a person who protects their relative is a human rights activist, then all of us are human rights activists, and Buzina – killed nearly three years ago – is Mother Theresa, in this case. If Nozdrovskaya’s case, according to the US Embassy, is being so slowly investigated, then the case on the murder of Buzina isn’t being investigated in general.

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But the death of the unknown-to-all Nozdrovskaya for some reason worried the Americans. Although the tens of thousands of persons killed in recent years by the hands of bandits across all of Ukraine didn’t concern them. By the way, it’s not a coincidence that we remembered Buzina. He was a well-known writer, journalist, pacifist, a person who could geninunely be called a human rights activist. However, in three years there wasn’t even a peep from the US Embassy concerning his death and the course of the investigation into this crime. But here, three days have passed and not only the embassy, but also American public organisations are losing sleep: they so much want to see Nozdrovskaya’s murderers on the dock as soon as possible. And their desire is shared by the Kiev extras [those who came to “protest” the police’s inactivity in regards to her death – ed] who were quickly employed by someone.

Once upon a time the disappearance of the unknown-to-all (besides a narrow circle of friends) Georgy Gongadze excited the Ukrainian and American public exactly in the same way. After a while it was found out that the journalist was killed, and the criminals for some reason also “hid” his corpse so that it would be impossible to not find him. And then it is Kuchma who was accused of organising this crime, which led to his early resignation. When Kuchma’s reign nevertheless ended, the key witness – General Kravchenko, who at the time of the murder headed the Ministry of Internal Affairs – strangely committed suicide with two shots to the head. And that’s all — the case was forgotten and hushed up, having put in prison the chief of the police observation unit – charged with murder. The question who ordered the murder of Gongadze remained open. And for some reason it ceased to disturb the Americans and hasn’t interested them for already 13 years.

The search for Gongadze started literally two hours after he left the apartment of his mistress, although all his friends knew that he can quietly “hang out” somewhere for a couple of days. The authorities were immediately blamed for his disappearance, and the police — for conducting an insufficiently quick investigation.

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Now it is an analog case. A person was just killed, and the authorities and police are already blamed for looking for the guilty persons too slowly. The murder of the unknown-to-all lawyer draws the attention of all key media agencies, foreign embassies, and the excited “public”. Before this, in Kiev, better known lawyers who were involved in resonant cases were killed, but this didn’t disturb anybody.

There is also one more oddity. The lawyer Tatyana Montyan, who occupied a very active and extremely uncomfortable for Poroshenko position, literally on the eve of the murder publicly declared that she “retires” “at the request of her children” and that she won’t be involved in any human rights and public work any more. Montyan voluntarily refusing public activity is as plausible as Hillary voluntarily conceding the presidency to Trump.

Thus, Tatyana Montyan is a person who is well informed about the moods and plans of certain Ukrainian political circles – it is her daily bread. Plus, she has connections and contacts acquired over many years. Lastly, the success of a lawyer in Ukraine depends not only and not so much on talent, but also on the possibilities to address to the necessary people with the correct proposition.

But the lawyer Nozdrovskaya also isn’t just a lawyer. She is the assistant of the People’s Deputy Tatyana Chornovol. It isn’t excluded that it is exactly this that allowed her to win her sister’s case. The participant of all Maidans and well-known grant-eater Chornovol has more weight in Ukrainian politics than the law-enforcement and judicial systems of the Vyshgorod district of the Kiev region.

There is the impression that in order to further shake the regime of Poroshenko, who isn’t interested in leaving in an amicable way, a traditional sacral victim was necessary. It is obvious that this time it was decided to select the victim from among the “human rights activists”. Tatyana Montyan ideally suited this role. She was trampling Poroshenko in the mud wherever and whenever she could. If her well-wishers (and, of course, she has no fewer friends than enemies) advised her to temporarily go into hiding, then organising her kidnapping and murder would become not physically realisable — it would be impossible to correctly carry it out both technically and informationally.

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But, after all, competent people always prepare another plan. And not just one. Nozdrovskaya suited this – she was close to hand and her standoff with the Vyshgorod judicial system was well known to potential orderers of the crime. Of course, she’s not an ideal human rights activist and cannot easily be connected to Poroshenko [Montyan on the other hand… – ed], but beggars can’t be choosers. But if it wouldn’t be possible to do it to her — there would be a third option.

We will see how the situation will further develop, but the first steps of the “indignant public” is a repeat of the situation at the beginning of the second Maidan. After the “beating up” of students on Euromaidan, in the beginning the “public” also demanded the resignation of the head of Kiev “Berkut” and the Main Department of Internal Affairs of Kiev. If the authorities agreed to these resignations, any further orders on dispersal wouldn’t be executed any more. But since they didn’t agree to this, the dismissal of the Minister of Internal Affairs Zakharchenko became the next ultimatum, and then — of the entire government, and soon after — of Yanukovych.

The “public” already demanded the dismissal of the head of the Kiev regional leadership of the National Police. Now it is possible to go on the path of the second Maidan [2014 – ed], raising the level of demands, or it is also possible – like with the action “Ukraine without Kuchma”, which was inspired by Gongadze’s murder, but didn’t bear fruit, having turned out to be a false start – to suddenly “find” footage of Poroshenko ordering to kill Nozdrovskaya.

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