Verdict of Odessa Massacre Trial: Kiev’s Feigning of Justice

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


For the first time in three and a half years of peripeteia with the case of May 2nd, the authorities made an intelligent, although sneaky move.

Observing the course of the announcement of a verdict on the case of May 2nd, many were very surprised by how sharply and uncompromisingly the court castigates the State charges and investigation. Everything that lawyers, defendants, and independent observers said over three years was reflected in the verdict. The court additionally mentioned the ugly work regarding collecting proof, which, first of all, was collected with gross violations, and secondly, generally speaking, doesn’t prove anything; and also the fact that a key witness, seemingly, gave a testimony being a person in the pocket of the investigation; and that the investigation obviously sympathized with one of the parties of the conflict. Even mentioned was the fact that the State prosecution, for three years with some success, achieved the keeping of five of the accused under guard, which, according to the court, was done in order to break their will.

In general, the court turned into an exemplary flogging of the investigation and State prosecution, and the judges during this execution, as is said, didn’t hesitate in their expressions. Listening to the judge reading the decision, many didn’t believe their own ears. What is it? It is true that in Ukraine indeed an independent court appeared, which dared to contradict law enforcement authorities and will dare to release the defendants in such a resonant criminal case? As one would expect, the court declared the acquittal of all accused innocent persons, and ruled to release from custody the five of them who were in a pre-trial detention center. However, immediately after the announcement of the verdict, the representatives of the Prosecutor’s Office and SBU entered, who handed to two of them, Sergey Dolzhenkov and Evgeny Mefedov, charges according to Article 110 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. After this everything fell into place, and the events found sense and logic.

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The fact that the legal investigation into the case of May 2nd, even in the part that reached court (i.e. the events on Grecheskaya Square, and especially the actions of activists of Kulikovo field) was doomed is well-known. Much was written about it not only in Odessa (including the notorious “group of May 2nd”, conducting an independent investigation into the tragedy). Also, representatives of authoritative international organizations, including the UN and OSCE, also came to the same conclusions. And, nevertheless, this scandalous case – incompetently moulded together from improvised materials, frankly shameful for the Ukrainian law enforcement authorities – came to the sentencing stage. The authorities found themselves in front of a very unpleasant dilemma…

Of course, it is possible in the regime of “telephone justice” to compel the judges to close their eyes to the lack of proof and to give to “Kulikovo members” the necessary-for-them sentence. After all, these same judges who were indignant at the “attempts to break the will” of the accused until recently actively took part in this same “breaking of will”, obediently satisfying the claims of the Prosecutor’s Office for the extension of the terms of detention. And the same office of the UN commissioner for Human Rights mentioned in their reports that the Ukrainian judges complain about pressure from SBU employees, who “convince” them to make the “necessary” decisions on political cases.

Generally, in modern Ukraine it is possible to receive a conviction even for the most frankly “rotten” affairs – there are more than enough precedents. But not all such affairs are under such close attention of the international public! If the authorities forced the court to pronounce a conviction, the former not only wouldn’t be able to “save” the doomed-in-advance case of May 2nd, but they also would discredit Ukrainian justice, the reform of which the President Petro Poroshenko likes to report about with such pride to “western partners”. In a situation when it was no longer possible to rescue the investigation, the authorities decided to try to rescue at least the reputation of the court. And they almost managed it.

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The fact that exactly at the moment when the court stopped announcing the verdict, and in the courtroom representatives of the Prosecutor’s Office – accompanied by special forces – appeared with new charges, testifies that: law enforcement bodies knew very well what verdict the court will pronounce. I.e., there is no talk about “independence of justice” – in fact, the judges were simply allowed to imitate justice at the moment and in the boundaries in which it was necessary and desirable for the authorities.

May 2nd Tragedy in Odessa. Reconstruction. Part 1: Preparation

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