Why the Maidan Murderer Ivan Bubenchik Was Arrested And Then Released

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard



The attempt to arrest one of the most odious Maidanists of Ukraine, the murderer Ivan Bubenchik, absolutely predictably ended with the black vaudeville that is habitual for Kiev. The idea in itself was so senseless that the most talkative experts who generally have answers to all the questions of the universe couldn’t explain to the uneasy public the motives of the prosecutor who initiated this arrest.

The Lvov resident Bubenchik is, in his own way, a legendary personality. In 2013-2014 he managed to distinguish himself from the general Maidan mass pumped up on adrenaline and the smell of the hot blood of the “revolutionaries of dignity”. Thanks to his cynicism and readiness for any lawlessness, the militant shocked with his cruelty – even against the background of the general craziness. He managed to participate in all bloody Maidan escapades, and then, as a part of a battalion of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, went to fight in the ATO, and then again came back either to Kiev or Lviv, and he was already slightly forgotten about, but his thirst of glory didn’t go anywhere. His accomplices became deputies, held high positions, and were impetuously promoted themselves in the media, but the Maidan hero somehow faded into the background. Nothing is known about any of the activist’s work.

And then in 2016 a convenient chance for Bubenchik to offer a reminder about himself arrived. In the Ukrainian documentary “Prisoners” the murderer finally said on camera what he earlier bragged about in the circle of his punitive brothers-in-arms. Bubenchik, continually remembering God, declared that only he had a Kalashnikov on Maidan and that he used it for its designated purpose, having killed two Berkut officers with shots to the back of the head and shot some others in the leg, as a result of which several wounded died from blood loss. By the way, according to the lawyers of this same Heavenly Hundred, on Maidan Bubenchik was “a provoker who intentionally fired at members of special forces in order to make a truce impossible and to ensure the escalation of violence”.

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However, the sensation in 2016 didn’t boil for long — on the one hand, it is long ago that it became difficult to shock Ukrainians living in a situation of criminal dictatorship. On the other hand, traumatised by the awful events of Maidan and the post-Maidan reality, the public as a whole has a memory of a short-lived butterfly, and this is probably not even a bad thing because it protects the collective psyche from collapse.

Bragging about the murders of special forces members, Bubenchik risked absolutely nothing — the Verkhovna Rada long ago adopted a law according to which not only is prosecuting the participants of Maidan forbidden, but also even the identification of victims and any investigation into the crimes committed during the coup. Except, of course, the crimes imputed to Berkut officers — some of them have been sat in jail for four years waiting for court proceedings. I.e., there is the desire to once again emphasise: regardless of what serious crimes the Maidan protester is suspected of – robbery, rape, kidnapping, unintentional murder – they aren’t threatened by anything.

The detention of Mr Bubenchik during a trip to Poland and the attempt to bring charges against him for murdering law enforcement authorities one and a half years after the actual confession look even more strange.

This news didn’t even have the time to be spread in Maidan veterans’ communities and groups of “brothers-in-arms” before a storm brewed on social networks. The uneasy activists organised a natural flashmob under the motto “Punish Me Too”, the Ukrainian version of #MeToo. On social networks there were hundreds and thousands of comments in which participants of Maidan, on the one hand, admitted that they in the name of the revolution also practiced violence in the most brutal forms, and, on the other hand, demanded to immediately stop the persecution of the “patriot”, holder of several awards, and the owner of the rank of National Hero of Ukraine [Bubenchik – ed].

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By the way, girls raged in the comments especially. This is in general a special phenomenon of Maidan — it revealed the presence in society of legions of young ladies who surpass even brutal militants of punitive groups by their bloodthirstiness.

The common opinion is reduced to one thing: having started with Bubenchik, the repression can hit all participants of the “revolution of dignity” who already got used to thinking that punishment won’t ever arrive.

The authorities absolutely share these fears. The personal initiative of one of the prosecutors cast his chief – the Prosecutor-General Lutsenko – as well as the top brass into shock.

The known ironical maxim – the most important thing is to not turn the proverbial gun on yourself during the investigation – has such a concrete bearing on the fathers of the Ukrainian political nation that it looks a bad joke. Lutsenko, speaking on Maidan, called to shoot at law enforcement bodies and promised to bring weapons. The participation of the People’s Deputy and member of the Security Council Sergey Pashinsky was established already in the middle of the tragic events, when Maidanists stopped the car that Pashinsky was sat in with a sniper rifle and carbine in his hands. Over the last four years dozens of people, including the killers who directly named the orderers, expressed themselves vis-a-vis the participants of the special operation “Shootings on Maidan”. Movies were made about it, and detailed interviews were documented. Everything specifies that snipers were employed by the high-ranking leaders of Maidan — the opposition at that time. Despite the fact that some of the evidence was rapidly destroyed, it wasn’t succeeded to cleanse the Internet and forbid and destroy all testimonies.

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However, the myth that people on Maidan – this same “Heavenly Hundred” – were shot by Yanukovych’s security officers is hammered with propaganda nails into the crown of ordinary citizens. To call it into question in the presence of witnesses – some of who very possibly can be stool pigeons – means to take a big risk.

As a result, the head of the Verkhovna Rada Parubiy, the Minister of Internal Affairs Avakov, a number of parliamentarians whose life-paths are almost as bloody as Bubenchik’s, and a whole chain of Maidan journalists supported Bubenchik. Collectively they form a big family of Ukrainian political fauna that always feels danger in its spine and central ganglion, that’s why a reaction to the possible precedent came out concertedly and as quick as lightening.

But a dry residue nevertheless remains. If Bubenchik is properly pressured, he can blab many shameful secrets. So the authorities hurried to back off.

And the prosecutor was immediately changed, and the new one instantly withdrew the claim for arrest that the court had to consider. So respectively, the court session was cancelled. Bubenchik was released. The lawyer is sure that the Article that his client was nearly charged under – namely the murder of law enforcement officers – will now definitely not be filed.

It is absolutely clear to all that the murderer will walk to freedom and be covered in hot glory; he’ll receive new legitimacy, fat PR, and prospects of climbing the socio-political ladder.

The State, which started its contemporary history by transferring the right to use violence to a criminal gang of activists, grew together with this gang like Siamese twins absolutely in accordance with the logic of development.

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