Why Ukrainian Law Enforcement Doesn’t Allow Nationalists to Disrupt Yuliya Tymoshenko’s Rallies

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard

18:08:59
10/02/2019

strana.ua

The pre-election process in Ukraine is promptly being radicalised. This week [February 11th-17th – ed] there were some clashes between nationalists and the police. In both cases it involved Yuliya Tymoshenko’s rallies.

On February 9th, during her speech in the center of Kiev, the police detained 15 people. And the radicals who came to help them escape from the police station tried to storm the District Department of the Interior Ministry.

C14 – an ultra-right nationalist group that is connected to the SBU and Bankova Street – joined the conflict with the police over Tymoshenko. This gives another reason to talk about the “separate opinion” possessed by Arsen Avakov concerning the electoral campaign.

“Strana” has already mentioned that according to our sources, Avakov entered into negotiations with the leader of “Batkivshchyna” [Tymoshenko – ed], the essence of which boils down to the fact that the police mustn’t allow Poroshenko’s team to rig the results of voting (since it is precisely on Bankova Street that the main administrative resources are concentrated). And in return Tymoshenko will let him keep his post after elections.

We have collected all the information about the fighting during Tymoshenko’s rallies and the storming of a regional department in Kiev, and what it may mean in the pre-election scenario.

What happened at Podolsky

Yesterday, on February 9th, Yuliya Tymoshenko held a rally on Kontraktova Square. Activists, most of who were “C14” nationalists, came here.

They claim that they held posters saying “Who ordered to kill Katya Gandzyuk?”. However, the police refute this and say that other people had posters.

The question about the deceased activist was addressed to Tymoshenko, because her co-party member Vladislav Manger is said to be involved in this case. On February 9th “Batkivshchyna” excluded Manger from its ranks and recommended to him to leave his post as the head of the Kherson regional council.

According to nationalists, they behaved peacefully. “On Kontraktova Square cops detained and took away ten C14 activists to the District Department of the Interior Ministry. They had no lawful grounds,” wrote the head of ultra-right group Evgeny Karas on Facebook.

“About ten activists who came to Tymoshenko’s rally to ask her about Katya Gandzyuk were pushed into a police van. They were taken to the regional police department to check over documents. The cops say that they detained them because they received a call on ‘102’ [Ukraine’s version of 911 in America, or 999 in the UK – ed] about ‘suspicious people’, and that they detained them in order to ‘avoid provocations’,” wrote the journalist Stas Kozlyuk, who was at the scene and published some photos from the detention.

At the same time the police stated that the detained young people had a bladed weapon, gas sprays, and a gun. And also a lot of zelenka.

The police released all detainees later. And the chief of the Kiev police Andrey Krishchenko stated that the reason the activists of “C14” were detained isn’t connected with Gandzyuk – they didn’t have these posters.

At the same time, as Krishchenko affirms, the Gandzyuk protest took place – “nobody impeded them, nobody took their banners away, they stood to the end”.

“Maidan beast”: the storm of a regional police department

After detention the radicals were sent to the nearest Podolsk regional police department. But several dozen “C14” nationalists came to help them escape.

The police affirm that they [radicals – ed] tried to break down the doors of the office and sprayed gas at police officers. However, law enforcement bodies repelled the attack and detained 24 persons. Weapons were confiscated from them – a gun and knives. Three police officers were wounded and sent to hospital.

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Later all detainees were also released, Krishchenko declared.

However, three criminal cases were initiated against them – under part 2 of article 345 (Issuing threats or the use of violence against an employee of law enforcement), part 1 of article 341 (Occupation of state buildings), and part 4 of article 296 (hooliganism).

The police also showed the things that were confiscated from the “stormers” with the markings of “C14”.

Karas assures that no storm took place.

“It is the cops who sprayed gas. I nearly threw up, I stood directly in front of them. We didn’t storm the District Department of the Interior Ministry. When they opened the door, I approached there and shouted a hundred times ‘give us back our stolen things’.

They started to push us out. None of the administration came out and offered an explanation concerning our stolen things. After this Berkut [Karas is referring to today’s version of the special purpose police units, and not the actual “Berkut” units that were illegally attacked on Maidan and later disbanded by the junta – ed] arrived and beat everyone who was nearby… with the help of the cops from the District Department of the Interior Ministry,” said the head of “C14”.

“Maidan beast, you should be shot” – this, according to Karas, is what members of the special forces said.

Later the participants of events stated that the police shouted “Lie down, Bandera!”. This phrase is also audible in the video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a365mYAL-FI
The police shout “Lie down Bandera”

After the events at the Podolsky District Department of the Interior Ministry, the activists went to Arsen Avakov’s house. They launched fireworks at the minister’s fence.

Later the Prosecutor-General’s Office initiated a case against police officers for excess of office powers. What is characteristic is that the department of Lutsenko didn’t have complaints about the nationalists storming the police department, despite the fact that some police officers were wounded.

Political context: what the participants of the conflict say

The leader of “Batkivshchyna” Yuliya Tymoshenko said that the incident on Kontraktova Square, and later – at the regional police department, is a SBU provocation.

“President Poroshenko doesn’t at all want to accept in any way that thousands of people come from all over the country to a rally with me. They come in order to hear the truth about what is happening in the country.

It is precisely for this reason that yesterday there was a provocation during my meeting with the inhabitants of Belaya Tserkov.

Today (on February 9th), with the help of the SBU, the authorities organised a new provocation during a similar event in Kiev….

Already at the end of the meeting I learned that before the meeting the police had detained several people. This was used by the provokers armed with weapons as an excuse to the radicalise the situation in the police department.

Now attempts are being made to artificially link our event – a meeting with the inhabitants of Kiev – with clashes between law enforcement bodies and activists.

I am sure that what is going on is another special operation of the SBU organised in accordance with the direct instructions of Petro Poroshenko. And the used methods testify that for preservation of the power he is ready to commit any criminal acts and make any radical steps.

I ask you to analyse the information and understand that the authorities create these scandals and provocations intentionally,” she wrote on Facebook.

In response, the leader of “C14” drew political conclusions – according to him, the Ministry of Internal Affairs started to openly support Tymoshenko.

“Avakov at last decided on a candidate and saves Yuliya from an inconvenient banner.

Instead of investigating who ordered the murder of Katya Gandzyuk, the minister of the Ministry of Internal Affairs now personally gives the order to disperse protesters who ask inconvenient questions,” wrote the nationalist on Facebook.

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Thus, as we can see, skirmishes between radicals and the police immediately become overgrown with political motives. Tymoshenko directly linked the events with the SBU and Poroshenko (the presence of “C14” in this story indeed speaks about this, as well as the fact that the Prosecutor-General’s Office under the control of the president intervened in their defence).

Karas himself said that the Ministry of Internal Affairs is now involved in defending Tymoshenko. This is what many say today, and which indeed a number of indirect factors point to, including this story.

Avakov’s reaction

The minister, who severely blamed radicals, also reacted to these events.

The minister wrote a big post on Facebook in which he made it clear that he won’t tolerate either zelenka, tear gas, or weapons at rallies.

“Krivoy Rog – on the way to the rally meetings of one of the candidates, a citizen with 10 (ponder upon it!) litres of zelenka was detained. Litres! In 4 cities in one day zelenka was confiscated from different kinds of activists … Have they gone completely crazy?

I was called by one friend, who told me that this is lawlessness – ‘why do the police take people away from a meeting of candidate X? After all, they just stand around and don’t attack anybody’. He was indignant. But the fact that in the pockets of ‘just standing around’ handlers of one HQ against another HQ there are Finnish knives and brass knuckles with a petard, tear gas and bottles of zelenka – in the middle of a meeting of 1,000 people – this is normal?” said an indignant Avakov.

He drew the conclusion that “it is not a political policy and not an electoral campaign – this is whoredom. We won’t receive an adequate government in this case, we will receive a whorish government, with a new wave of hatred, not capable of creating, but only capable of hatred”.

Further, the minister hinted that radicals will have more problems with the police.

“Dear candidates, let’s gather and reach an agreement on how to hold an honest competition and not lose the country and exchange everything for hatred and despicable provocations. After all, it is very pleasant to win elections honestly”

he wrote

The latter looks a hint towards Bankova Street. After all, the main contender who can count on a dishonest victory is the incumbent president, who doesn’t have the biggest approval rating, but he does have the most administrative resources and control over the Central Election Commission.

Even before this a similar post was written by the head of the National Police Sergey Knyazev, who also noted that the clashes had intensified. He remembered the recent attempt to attack Tymoshenko’s meeting in Belaya Tserkov.

“One more electoral week and one more accusation of the police lobbying ƒor the interests of certain political forces, and, as regrettable as it is, more standoffs. The intensity increases.

Thursday. The first blood in Zhytomyr. As always – police officers. The intensity of emotions increases.

Friday. Lvov, Belaya Tserkov. The first detainees for the commission of a criminal act.

Saturday. Kiev. We detained youth on Podolsky. We repeat: the radicalisation of voters and supporters is not a democratic principle.

Attempting to storm the police department – who does it benefit? Who benefits from such a picture?! We recognise lawyers, human rights activists, and all civilised means of defence, but not such pre-election methods”.

What the skirmish between Avakov and nationalists means

The proximity of “C14” to the Ukrainian authorities is not news. The leadership of this organisation itself admitted that it cooperates with the SBU, which in turn is under the control of the president Petro Poroshenko.

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“C14” is known for its numerous provocations, among which there are pogroms and attacks on oppositional journalists. But they escaped punishment.

Evgeny Karas recently miraculously was present at a prayer in honor of Tomos – directly in the VIP-zone, where he stood near the Prosecutor-General Lutsenko, who is the godfather of Petro Poroshenko’s children.

That’s why the visit of Karas’ minions at a rally of Tymoshenko can only be interpreted as presidential forces attempting to disrupt the electoral campaign of a competitor.

In this sense the actions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs acquire an interesting political colour. In essence, the National Police neutralises Bankova Street’s pocket nationalists – and, as it turns out, defends Yuliya Tymoshenko, and already not for the first time, if to consider the case in Belaya Tserkov.

This gives extra food for thought concerning the role in the election race of Arsen Avakov, who also himself, as well as via the lips of his subordinates, stated that attempts to disrupt meetings will continue to be stopped in their tracks.

It is in general clear who this hint is aimed at. Only the authorities have the resources to disrupt large political rallies. Avakov is also the government – but it is unlikely that he would start to threaten himself. The only siloviki wing that remains is Poroshenko’s one, which controls a number of ultra-right organisations.

However, it isn’t excluded that what happened isn’t the victory of the Interior Minister, but a provocation against him. After all, now the National Police is forced to justify its violence against nationalists, which in theory can unite a part of the ultra-right organisations against Avakov.

In any case, the events of Saturday for the first time showed a notable gap between the police and the radicals who are close to Bankova Street, and showed the first contours of the state of affairs concerning which side police resources will be loyal to.

Reaction on social networks

The journalist Vyacheslav Belenky considers that the essence of events lies in Poroshenko’s attempt to divert the negative attention on the Gandzyuk case away from him and use it to dirty Tymoshenko. And this is what Avakov prevented.

“C14 (SBU-Poroshenko) came to the pre-election meeting of Tymoshenko for the purpose of staging a provocation using as an excuse the co-participation of the person [Vladislav Manger – ed] of Tymoshenko (‘Batkivshchyna’) in the attack on Ekaterina Gandzyuk, who, in turn, distinguished herself by her attacks on the National Police in Kherson.

The National Police (Avakov) suddenly prevented C14 from carrying out their usual scenario of attack because of the obvious desire of Avakov to gain favour with the possible next president (Tymoshenko)

The Prosecutor-General’s Office (Lutsenko-Poroshenko) immediately initiated a case against the police officers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (Avakov) because the latter prevented C14 (SBU-Poroshenko) from carrying out a provocation against the possible future president (Tymoshenko)”.

The journalist Andrey Manchuk also pointed to the interests of Bankova Street in this case via the Prosecutor-General’s Office.

“The Prosecutor-General’s Office of Ukraine immediately initiated a case. However, not against the ultra-right, but against the police. The PGO never paid attention to the crimes of Nazis, who systematically beat up, cut, and kidnap defenceless citizens. But the authorities immediately stood in defence of their paramilitaries – because their services will be very useful for the president during elections.

‘We will consider any attack on pro-Ukrainian public activists as an attack on the Ukrainian state. Even if these activists aren’t always right’ – declared the Prosecutor-General Lutsenko publicly”.

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