Why did the court acquit all the accused in the case of May 2, Odessa? [and then re-arrested some of them] (excerpts from an opinion piece)
On September 18, the city court of Chernomorsk put a semicolon in the case of activists of the Odessa “Anti-Maidan” detained on charges concerning the riots on May 2, 2014. All without exception, the defendants were found not guilty and released from custody – however, some of them were immediately arrested again on a different charge. (Read more.)
NOTE: Following this Action Alert issued by the OSC on March 6 is a new report we received from Odessan activists on March 17, which contains more detailed information about the case of Alexander Kushnarev and also Anatoly Slobodyanik, who also was arrested on Feb. 23. Following that is a news story on the case by the Odessan online publication Timer.
ACTION ALERT from the
ODESSA SOLIDARITY CAMPAIGN:
Stop Government Repression Against Anti-Fascists in Odessa!
Free Alexander Kushnarev!
March 6, 2017 — It’s been nearly three years since the brutal massacre of 46 mostly young progressives by a neo-Nazi-led mob in the Ukrainian city of Odessa. Government repression and right-wing attacks against Odessans demanding justice for that atrocity have been constant, but now have entered a new and much more dangerous stage.
On Feb. 23, Alexander Kushnarev, the father of one of the young people murdered on May 2, 2014, was arrested by agents of the federal Security Service of Ukraine (SBU). Oleg Zhuchenko, chief prosecutor for the Odessan region, claims Kushnarev had been planning to kidnap and torture a member of the country’s Rada, or parliament.
After Kushnarev was arrested, his home was searched and police claimed they found literature that “promotes national hatred between Ukrainians, Russians and Jews.” According to the online Odessan news site Timer, photos of the literature “show only copies of a memorial book for victims of the May 2 massacre and a pamphlet about the history of Ukrainian nationalism.”
The Rada deputy, Alexei Goncharenko, a member of a parliamentary bloc allied with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, was in fact missing for a short time. But he quickly reappeared and was interviewed on the Ukrainian television channel EspresoTV, stating that his abduction had been staged by law enforcement officers.
Kushnarev may have been selected for a government frame-up because Goncharenko had been at the scene of the 2014 massacre and was photographed standing over the dead body of Kushnarev’s son.
Kushnarev’s arrest may be the opening shot of a wider repression of Odessans who have been demanding an international investigation into the events of May 2, 2014. Since he was taken into custody, the homes of other relatives of the victims of May 2 have been searched by police, including that of Victoria Machulko, president of the Council of Mothers of May 2 and a frequent target of both SBU and Right Sector harassment.
Ominous reports are now surfacing of plans to arrest other relatives and supporters and extract “confessions” of plans to commit violent acts against the government.
Background to the current crisis
In the winter of 2014, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was promoting a trade deal with Russia, while the Rada wanted to orient politically and economically toward the European Union. The EU and the United States both had big stakes in the outcome.
Yanukovych, who was widely suspected of serious corruption, became the target of peaceful protests that were quickly joined by right-wing paramilitary groups, leading to his violent ouster. Some of the rightists, particularly the neo-Nazi Right Sector, maintain strong ties to the new government.
Suspicions of a U.S. role in the coup increased after a conversation between Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, became public. The two officials seemed to be discussing how to intervene in the crisis to ensure that their favored opposition figure became the new leader. (1) Nuland had previously bragged that the U.S. had spent some $5 billion supporting “democracy” in Ukraine – funding anti-government NGOs. (2) Nuland also made a big show of showing U.S. support for the protesters by handing out baked goods during the anti-government actions. (3)
The coup appealed to those who consider themselves Ukrainian “nationalists,” many of whom are the political descendants of World War II fighters who alternated between collaborating with and opposing the Nazi occupation of their country. Coup opponents, on the other hand, were largely ethnic Russians, who make up a large part of the population in eastern Ukraine and who remain fiercely anti-Nazi.
Opposition was especially strong in Crimea, the militarily strategic peninsula that had been part of Russia for hundreds of years until 1954, when it was administratively transferred from Soviet Russia to Soviet Ukraine. After the coup, Crimea held a referendum in which voters overwhelmingly decided to rejoin Russia. Unrest also developed in the eastern Dombass region, where anti-coup armed groups declared several independent “people’s republics.”
Odessa: The Pearl of the Black Sea
Odessa was a special situation. Ukraine’s third largest city is a major commercial seaport and transportation hub on the Black Sea. It’s also a multi-ethnic cultural center where Ukrainians, Russians and many other ethnic groups live in relative harmony. Although less than a third of the city’s population is ethnic Russian, more than three-quarters speak Russian as their first language and another 15 percent speak Ukrainian and Russian equally. Odessa also has a strong collective memory of the brutal occupation it suffered under Nazi-allied Romanian fascists during WWII.
All these factors resulted in strong anti-coup sentiments among many Odessans, some of whom began agitating for a change to a “federalist” form of government in which voters could choose their own local governor. At present, governors are appointed by the federal government, now in the hands of authoritarian anti-Russians in bed with neo-Nazis.
The massacre at Kulikovo Pole
In May of 2014, Odessa was hosting a big soccer match. Thousands of fans were pouring into the city. In Ukraine, as in many countries, many soccer fans are political. Some are overtly right-wing.
On May 2 – just three months after the coup – these right-wing fans held a militant nationalist march. They were joined by neo-Nazi activists who steered the crowd toward Kulikovo Pole (“field,” or square), where pro-federalist petitioners had set up a small tent city.
A huge mob of these right-wingers descended on the camp, set fire to the tents and chased the petitioners into the nearby five-story House of Trade Unions, which they then pelted with Molotov cocktails, setting the building ablaze.
At least 46 people died that day in the massacre at Kulikovo square. Some were burned to death, some suffocated from the smoke, others were shot or fatally beaten after jumping from windows to escape the flames. Google “Odessa massacre” and you’ll find scores of cellphone videos of the siege, with the faces of the perpetrators clearly visible, while police officers stand idly by, watching the carnage.
And yet, 34 months after this tragedy, not a single person has ever stood trial for taking part in the massacre.
Almost immediately, relatives, friends and supporters of the murdered formed the Council of Mothers of May 2 and demanded an international investigation. Several bodies, including the prestigious European Council, tried to investigate, but each effort was blocked by the Ukrainian government’s refusal to cooperate.
Every week since the massacre, Council members and supporters gather in front of the House of Trade Unions to lay flowers, say prayers and remember their dead. And almost every week local members of Right Sector show up to harass the relatives, almost all of them women and old men, sometimes physically attacking them.
Continuing pressure on the Council of Mothers
The following are just some examples of what has been happening:
- In the spring of 2016, the Council of Mothers called for a large second anniversary commemoration of the massacre. The fascist organizations demanded the Odessan city government ban the memorial and threatened mass violence if it did not. Meanwhile, the SBU announced that a cache of explosives had been found in Odessa, supposedly linked to anti-coup activists. Mothers’ Council President Victoria Machulko, whose apartment had already been raided by the SBU, was ordered to report for questioning at 8 am the day of the planned memorial and was detained until 10 that evening, forcing her to miss the memorial. Odessa authorities also announced they had received information about a bomb threat at Kulikovo and had closed the square – until midnight on May 2. Despite the threats and repression, some 2,000 to 3,000 Odessans turned out for the May 2 memorial, joined by international observers from a dozen countries, including the United States. (4)
- June 7, 2016: Nationalists carried out a siege of the Odessa Court of Appeals, barricading the courtroom and threatening to set fire to the building and kill the judges hearing the case of Yevgeny Mefёdova, a progressive held in prison since the massacre of May 2. None of the nationalists were arrested.
- July 13: representatives of the Polish Senate, specialists in human rights, were in Odessa to meet with witnesses of the massacre. Nationalists physically blocked the representatives’ hotel entrance.
- Oct. 9: During the weekly memorial at Kulikovo square, nationalists tried to grab a flag of Odessa held by a 79-year-old woman, causing her to fall and break her arm.
- Oct. 22: Right-wing activists interrupted a film showing held in commemoration of those who died on May 2, causing it to be cancelled.
- Dec. 8: Neo-Nazis disrupted the concert of Russian actress, poet, well-known author and performer Svetlana Kopylova.
- Sergey Sternenko, leader of the Right Sector in Odessa (https://www.facebook.com/sternenko), has carried out a campaign demanding that Professor Elena Radzihovskaya be fired from her job at Odessa University, claiming she is guilty of “anti-Ukrainian” activities. The professor’s son Andrey Brazhevskiy was one of those murdered at the House of Trade Unions.
- Sternenko has led a similar campaign calling for the dismissal of Aleksander Butuk, a blind associate professor at Odessa Polytechnical University. Professor Butuk’s ”crime” was that he was inside the House of Trade Unions but managed to survive the fire and participate in the weekly commemorative vigils.
Despite this pressure from the government and neo-Nazis, the Council of Mothers of May 2 has continued to hold their memorials every week at Kulikovo square. As long as they are able to be active and public, Odessa remains a critical outpost of resistance to fascism in Ukraine.
That resistance is now under the most severe attack since 2014. An immediate response is needed!
The Odessa Solidarity Campaign is calling for:
(1) the immediate release of Alexander Kushnarev,
(2) the dropping of all charges against him and
(3) an immediate end to all government and right-wing harassment of members and supporters of the Council of Mothers of May 2.
You can help by contacting Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Valeriy Chaly and raising the above demands.
Phone: (202) 349 2963. (From outside the U.S.: + 1 (202) 349 2963)
Fax: (202) 333-0817. (From outside the US.: +1 (202) 333-0817)
This statement was issued March 6, 2017, by the Odessa Solidarity Campaign
PO Box 23202, Richmond, VA 23223 – Phone: 804 644 5834
The Odessa Solidarity Campaign was founded in May 2016 by the United National Antiwar Coalition after UNAC sponsored a delegation of U.S. human rights activists to attend the second memorial of the Odessa massacre held at Kulikovo square on May 2, 2016.
March 17, 2017:
REPORT ON THE CASE OF ALEXANDER KUSHNAREV
Alexander Kushnaryov, 65 years old, deputy of the Limansk District Council (an elected office in the local government). He is a businessman, an owner of the center for psychological assistance “Gracia” that specializes in helping those who want to lose weight.
His son, Gennady Kushnaryov, died at the age of 37 on May 2, 2014, in the House of Trade Unions, while defending civilians from being lynched by radical nationalists. According to the official version, Gennady died of poisoning with carbon monoxide. An analysis of this version raises doubts that are reflected in publications on the Internet.
After his death, Gennady’s wife gave birth to their daughter.
On the Internet, there were also published pictures of Alexei Goncharenko, People’s Deputy of Ukraine, bent over Gennady Kushnaryov’s body in the House of Trade Unions. According to witnesses, Goncharenko searched Kushnaryov’s corpse looking for “Russian traces” – documents, contact details, etc. – and treated the body of the deceased in a disrespectful manner.
Alexei Goncharenko is a type of politician-opportunist. Under the government of Yanukovych, he was a very active member of the Party of Regions and advocated for the Russian language to become the second official language of Ukraine.
However, when the new President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko came to power, Goncharenko became an activist of the “Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc” (BPP). It was Goncharenko who announced the victory of the “patriotic” forces on May 2. 2014, on the air of the main political talk show of the country, doing this in a big emotional upsurge.
On February 23, 2017, the Ukrainian media announced Goncharenko’s disappearance.
On the same day, in Odessa, a press conference was held by the prosecutor Zhuchenko. In the course of the press conference, it became known that Goncharenko’s disappearance was part of a special operation of the SBU. According to the prosecutor, there was an order for Goncharenko’s kidnapping. Alexander Kushnarev, the father of the deceased Gennady Kushnarev, and Anatoly Slobodyanik, 68 years, the head of the Odessa Organization of Veterans of Armed Forces, were named as the individuals who ordered the abduction.
They were also accused of publishing literature that fosters incitement of ethnic hatred. Both accused were arrested and placed in custody.
In subsequent court hearings, it became known that an experienced provocateur, named Pavel Serebryanik, participated in the “special operation” of the SBU. He is a former policeman, had several convictions and was the initiator of a number of resonant court cases concerning charges of corruption of various officials. Almost all these cases ended in acquittal.
Even the media outlets that are loyal to the Ukrainian authorities note that this operation was a provocation. A typical quote: “… MP Alexei Goncharenko declared that he had known in advance about the planned abduction. He stated that the operation for his kidnapping had been in preparation for several weeks, but the SBU officers “had been leading” the individuals who had ordered the kidnapping.
The law enforcement agency spread disinformation. First, the operatives detained Kushnaryov’s accomplices and, having contacted on their behalf the organizer himself, they invited him to take part in the reprisal against the politician who had been allegedly captured. Publications in the media were supposed to lull Kushnaryov’s vigilance.
Later, the following details became known: “During the session [of the court on March 15, 2017], the parties to the process discussed the protocols of covert investigative actions that were attached to the case materials: these are audio and video recordings made by the witness Pavel Serebrenik, who appears in the materials of the case under the pseudonym “Zhukov.” In particular, the lawyer of the suspect pointed out to the judges that “Zhukov,” aka Serebrenik, actually instigated Slobodyanik and the second suspect, the father of Gennady Kushnaryov who died on May 2, 2014, to commit crimes. So, it was Zhukov who ordered the production of printed materials, which, according to the investigation, incite interethnic discord (this is also a part of the accusations against Kushnaryov and Slobodyanik), he repeatedly urged Kushnaryov to take revenge on the people’s deputy Goncharenko for the mockery of the corpse of Kushnaryov’s son in the House of Trade Unions. “Zhukov”-Serebrenik carefully recorded all of this on the video that today constitutes the main evidentiary basis of the prosecution.”
As for the literature that was ordered by the accused, the prosecutor’s office demonstrated two books. One of them, titled “Odessa Bells of Khatyn,” is dedicated to the memory of the victims of May 2. The book was published as early as 2014 by the means of relatives and friends of the victims. It contains biographies of those who died in the House of Trade Unions, as well as poems dedicated to the tragedy of May 2. The second book is devoted entirely to the problems of Ukrainian nationalism.
All these circumstances raised doubts about the reality of the accusations. Authors of many commentaries on the case, who represent various points on the political spectrum of Ukraine, also note the fact that the personal rating of People’s Deputy Goncharenko has been falling rapidly, which happened before and always led to activation of PR companies by this active man.
It remains to add that both Kushnarev and Slobodyanik are elderly people, whose health has been undermined. Both have repeatedly suffered heart attacks. The media has published data on the health status of Slobodyanik, who is in a serious condition at the moment. Despite this, both the court of first instance and the Court of Appeal refused to change the measure of restraint for the accused and to release the veterans under house arrest.
March 20, 2017: From the online Odessa news site Timer
On March 20, the Odessa Region Court of Appeals examined the complaint made by Alexander Kushnaryov, suspected in connection with kidnapping the People’s Deputy Alexei Goncharenko, made after Kushnaryov had familiarized himself with the protocols of the investigative actions.
In their appeal, Kushnaryov’s lawyers asked the court to change the pre-trial measure of restraint from custody to a round-the-clock house arrest wearing an electronic tracking device (bracelet). According to the defense, such a measure would be sufficient to fulfill obligations imposed on the suspect.
To recall, Alexander Kushnaryov is also accused of inciting ethnic hatred and of making war propaganda. According to the records of interrogations of another suspect. Zadorozhny, who owns the printing house, on February 16 of this year certain individuals asked him to make 250 copies of the brochure “Servants of Evil, or What Ukrainian Nationalism Looks Like.”
According to the expert’s report from February 17, as the prosecutor stated, this brochure contains information “aimed at inciting hatred.” The defense said that the charge against Kushnaryov was unfounded and could not withstand any criticism and that the scenario of his case “was prescribed well in advance.”
The basis for his case was the tragedy of May 2, 2014, where Kushnaryov’s son Gennady, a Kulikovo Field activist, tragically died. The People’s Deputy Goncharenko took pictures with the corpse of the man, after having searched him.
In this case there is only the victim and one witness – a certain “Zhukov,” who also is a former deputy of the Odessa City Council, Pavel Serebrenik. The accusations against Kushnaryov are completely based on the testimony of this citizen. At the same time, it becomes clear from the records of secret investigative actions that Zhukov first met with Slobodyanik and then repeatedly asked the latter to be introduced to Kushnaryov.
After their acquaintance, according to the defense, Zhukov constantly provoked Kushnaryov to unlawful acts against Goncharenko, playing on the emotions of the father who lost his son, as well as inclined Kushnaryov to the idea of revenge.
From the records of Zadorozhny’s interrogations it also follows that he received an order to publish the literature in question from a certain Viktor Mikhailovich [no last name indicated] and Slobodyanik. The printed copies were seized in the printing house and not in the office of Kushnaryov, and after that, it turned out to have been seized, in some strange way, from the office of the latter.
Moreover, the expert’s conclusion does not contain information that the brochure contains “war propaganda,” which raises the question as to by what exactly was the prosecutor’s office guided when putting forward its suspicions. Alexander Kushnaryov declared that he had nothing to do with the preparation of the pamphlet or its production, nor did he read it or hold it in his hands.
In addition, the defense drew the court’s attention to the state of health of the suspect. Kushnaryov suffered a massive heart attack, he was diagnosed with “coronary heart disease” (the man twice underwent heart surgery and the area of damage of the heart muscle is 40 percent.)
Alexander Kushnaryov stated in court that “I have nowhere to run and no reason, here I have a family, relatives, friends, the grave of my son … I am a citizen of Ukraine, I have never had nor want to have other citizenships or passports. As a man raised in the spirit of internationalism and anti-fascism, having a higher military education, I cannot be an instigator of national hostility and a propagandist of war. I perfectly understand what war is … I ask the high court to show mercy and set a measure of restraint in the form of a round-the-clock house arrest. I pledge to perform strictly the duties imposed on me by the court.”
We will add that the lawyers submitted to the court appeals signed by more than 10 of Kushnaryov’s colleagues, as well as the people’s deputies from the “Opposition Bloc” Nikolai Skorik and Yuri Boyko. (Appeals contain a request to change the preventive measure to non-custodial measures.)
After 15 minutes spent in the advisory room, the judges decided to refuse to satisfy the appeal, leaving the decision of the investigative judge of the Primorsky Court of Odessa in force. Thus, Alexander Kushnaryov will remain in jail until April 26.
Dec. 27, 2016:
UN Report: Ukrainian government troops rape, federal SBU kidnaps
On Dec. 8, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) presented in Ukraine’s capital city of Kiev another report on the situation in the country.
The head of the High Commissioner’s mission in Ukraine, Fiona Frazer, reported that the U.N. staff found many instances of human rights violations on both sides of the frontline of fighting in eastern Ukraine.
According to Frazer, the staff was able to trace several reports about sexual violence against young women by government troops at checkpoint crossings. “This is a very serious question,” she stated.
In addition, the U.N. representatives expressed concern that the federal Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) continues to kidnap people and detain them without any contact with the outside world. In particular, they examined several cases when kidnapped people were illegally detained at the SBU headquarters in the eastern city of Mariupol.
Poroshenko’s lawyers threaten Western journalists because of corruption claims
Several journalists with European mass media outlets have received threats from the London-based law firm of Atkins Thomson threatening them with lawsuits if they write about accusations against Ukrainian President Petro Poroschenko made by a former ally and now fugitive Ukrainian MP [Member of Parliament], Alexander Onischenko.
Maxim Tucker, a journalist for The Times, reported such threats. “Just got letter from Poroshenko lawyers threatening to sue UK media repeating Onischenko claim he bribed MPs. That Poroshenko bribed MPs,” Tucker said in a tweet.
Later Tucker added that, according to his sources, other journalists have received similar threats. Moreover, he noted that he does not plan to stop working on the material about disclosures made by Onischenko. Apparently this material is supposed to come out in the near future in The Times.
The Ukrainian publication “Correspondent” asked President Poroshenko’s administration for comments on Tucker’s statements. They neither confirmed nor denied them.
It should be remembered that the MP Onischenko, who is currently in the USA, declared that he possesses audio recordings that prove the fact of Poroshenko’s political corruption. In particular, Onischenko claims that in 2014-2015 he bribed MPs at Poroshenko’s directions so they would vote “as they were supposed to” for presidential and governmental bills.
Odessan political prisoners are being prepared for an exchange
There seems to be a light of hope in the protracted issue of the exchange of political prisoners for prisoners of war detained by the unrecognized DPR [Donetsk People’s Republic] and LPR [Luhansk People’s Republic].
In recent days, SBU officials started an active preparation of documents necessary for the exchange. In particular, they are collecting statements of consent to the exchange from detainees held in the Odessan jail.
According to known information, at least one significant exchange is planned to take place before the end of 2016. However, it is not known for certain how many detainees will be exchanged and who exactly will be included on the list of the lucky ones.
Ukraine’s representative on the humanitarian working group on settlement of the situation in Donbass, First Deputy Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) Irina Gerashchenko, speaks of an exchange of 228 political prisoners for 42 Ukrainian hostages.
However there is a different formula – 600 for 108 – which of course better corresponds to the principle of “all for all” prisoners established in the Minsk agreements.
The situation is complicated by the fact that there are a lot of inaccuracies in the lists of people to be exchanged. They often include people who have already been released and hence do not need to be exchanged. On the other hand, the names of some political prisoners apparently are not included in the lists at all.
Petition on the website of Kirovograd City Council: Residents demand to re-establish ties with the Russian Federation
Residents of the regional center Kropivnitskiy (named Kirovograd before the decommunization) supported a petition to restore economic relations with the Russian Federation.
This document, authored by Oleg Dudaev and posted on Nov. 25 on the city council’s website, was signed by 2,072 people. A minimum of 450 signatures was necessary. Residents demanded the municipal authorities “bring to the attention of Ukrainian authorities our urgent demand, one of the vital demands for our country.”
As the signatories note, crises continue to grow in the Ukrainian economy: the utilities tariffs grow, various welfare programs get cut and unemployment rates increase.
According to the petition, “Ukraine has lost 10 basic points in the competitiveness index of national business. The purchasing power of the population has greatly decreased. Assistance of international creditors is delayed every time, which causes significant fluctuations of the hryvnia [Ukraine’s national currency]. The conditions of the foreign aid, such as increase of the retirement age, removal of the moratorium on land sale and round timber exports, become more and more difficult for the people.”
Referring to data announced earlier by Ukraine’s president, the petitioners also note that losses from economic sanctions from the Russian Federation have already amounted to $15 billion.
“We have lost from 90,000 to 120,000 jobs and export currency earnings have decreased six times. At the same time, economic advantages of the agreement about the association with the EU [European Union] are minimal because of paltry quotas that are given to Ukrainian producers; the trade with the countries of CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) Belarus, Kazakhstan, Moldova, has greatly diminished,” states the petition.
The residents demand that Kiev immediately start the “re-establishment of traditional export markets for our goods,” offering to create an intergovernmental Ukrainian-Russian working group that would develop a corresponding road map.
The City Council is supposed to give its answer to the petition no later than Dec. 20.
Odessa region is facing the collapse of its court system
The situation with the number of judges in the Odessa region is critical: soon there won’t be anyone left to hear cases.
This was declared at a Dec. 13 press conference by the Chief Justice of the Economic Court of Appeal of the Odessa region, Natalya Morschagina.
“The number of judges is decreasing, the number of cases is not, hence judges’ workload is growing,” she declared. “This could entail the increase of time that it takes to hear cases, and the decrease of decisions rendered. If no measures are taken, some quick actions, then the collapse is imminent.”
In particular, she said, out of 27 judges of the Economic Court of Appeals of the Odessa region, seven already have signed their resignation letters, which are supposed to be confirmed before the end of the year. Thus, in the nearest future the number of judges in this court will decrease by a quarter. Moreover, five more judges have the right to retire due to their seniority and, according to Morschagina, are considering leaving their posts.
The leader of Odessa Pravoseki (Right Sector) suggested to return Savchenko back to captivity
The leader of the Odessa region branch of the Right Sector party, Sergey Sternenko, suggested returning Nadezhda Savchenko, who was released from Russian jail, “back to captivity.”
This was Sternenko’s reaction to a provocative experiment conducted by journalists of the project Groshi (Ukrainian TV channel “1+1”), who called Nadezhda Savchenko (MP, hero of Ukraine) on behalf of representatives of the LPR/DPR, suggesting she open a representation of these self-proclaimed republics in Kiev.
“So maybe we should return her back to captivity, huh?” wrote the leader of Odessan right-wingers.
A Groshi staff member introduced himself to Savchenko as “a person from Zacharchenko” (the head of DPR) during the phone call and tried to persuade her to come to a meeting, as well as to cooperate with the DPR leadership.
“I’ve been saying this for a long time, that I am ready for a normal dialogue, ready to take risks,” replied the MP. “I think I proved that. No problem. I am ready.”
On June 7, Savchenko declared that the Donbass problem has to be solved through direct negotiations with leaders of the self-proclaimed republics.
She also demonstrated willingness to personally lead negotiations with the leaders of the republics Zacharchenko and Plotnitsky.
DPR opened its Representative Center in Italy
On Dec. 14, in Turin, Italy, there was a second opening in the EU Representative Center of the unrecognized DPR.
As the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of DPR announced, interests of the republic were represented at the opening of the center by a member of the regional parliament from the party “Brothers of Italy” (Fratelli d’Italia), Maurizio Marrone.
“I visited Donbass twice, in September and October 2016. And I have seen all the problems and sufferings the people of Donbass face daily. My aim is to tell Italy about what is going on in your region,” he said.
Consideration of the question of visa-free status for Ukraine postponed till April
The European Parliament will consider the question of granting Ukraine visa-free status no earlier than April 3, 2017.
This is the third recent postponement of the date for considering the issue. First, it was planned that the question would be decided by the Ukraine-EU summit in November. Then it was postponed till January. After that it became known that the European Parliament plans to review the issue on Feb. 1. Now it is put off to an even later date.
Neo-Nazis were not able to frustrate a premiere in Odessa of a song with lyrics by a poet who died in the House of Trade Unions
On Dec. 8, Ukrainian neo-Nazis disrupted the concert of Russian actress, poet, well-known author and performer Svetlana Kopylova. Her performance was supposed to take place in the Ukrainian Music and Drama Theater of Odessa. However, “after patriots’ visit to the theatre, her concert was canceled.” Seeing how many people came to the concert and taking into consideration the fact that it was impossible to get into the theater, Kopylova performed a song with lyrics written by Vadim Negaturov on a street near the theater: “I am here at work, on a business trip, my homeland is at heaven …”
Dec. 6, 2016:
Lawlessness in the courts
[OSC Staff note: The following is from a report read at a recent weekly memorial held at the site of the massacre at the House of Trade Unions in Kulikovo pole (square) in Odessa, Ukraine.]
Over the last three years, Odessa has seen more than a few examples of judicial misconduct. Odessans have experienced a wave of indignation caused by the judicial process concerning the massacre of May 2, 2014, and the violations of law that accompanied it, of which lawyers have counted dozens. No less severe offenses against the system of law and justice have also taken place during numerous trials of “separatists,” even though those who are put on trial are far from being separatists.
On Dec. 6, 2016, there was another hearing in the case of Sergey B., who is accused of attempted murder against the notorious Euro-Maidan activist Sergey Gutsalyuk. When the detainee was brought to court he looked simply terrible. He looked exhausted and his face was a sickly color. He has been in detention for more than a year-and-a-half, but the prosecution still has not presented any coherent evidence of his guilt.
When asked if there were any witnesses, the prosecutor declared that the main witness – Gutsalyuk himself – was absent; that is, is in the ATO zone [Anti-Terrorist Operation Zone – a term used by the government to refer to territory where the war in Donbass takes place].
Allegedly, there are other witnesses ready to testify in the case. But when the defense attorney asked how many of these witnesses there were, the prosecutor calmly answered, “Either five or four, I don’t know exactly.” Neither the defense attorney nor the defendant have not been given an opportunity to familiarize themselves fully with the material of the case.
Finally, without any substantial consideration of the case, the court decided to extend the defendant’s detention period for another two months. Thus, once again, the law was grossly violated. The judges made a decision without any interrogation either of the defendant or his lawyer.
Pity for the young man. Pity for his relatives.
And with respect to the impotent court and the government that has been brought to a state of irrelevance and that obeys every command of the Banderovites [followers of the Ukrainian fascist Stepan Bandera], one feels pitiful contempt.
Whom do you defend from justice? The murderers of May 2 and their accomplices?
Take, for example, Sergey Gutsalyuk, who was active throughout the entire day of May 2. In this photo, taken near the House of Trade Unions, he gives a gun to his helper to recharge [reload] it.
This episode is captured in the video, placed online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ntMY22y7Us
One can hear clearly the voice of Gutsalyuk saying, “Slavik! Charge the holder!” Why isn’t the court able to notice that there were armed people who besieged the House of Trade Unions on May 2, 2014, and at least express interest as to what kind of weapon this was? What happened to it? Were shots fired from it? Where are the bullets? Together with useful idiots from the “group of May 2,” the official investigators have been claiming for three years that there were no gunshot wounds on the corpses in the House of Trade Unions. And, of course, the old excuse, “They did it to themselves.”
And here is another photo, one that characterizes Gutsalyuk very well. Here a moment is captured when the dead were being brought out from the rear of the building. Even many of Gutsalyuk’s followers were in shock, grabbing their heads, calling for emergency help. But this insane man, gone mad from the chaos and the sight of blood, jumped on one man, whom for some reason he blamed for the deaths that happened that day.
Meanwhile, the police were not getting involved. You can find this story online as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQAdqBNAqfI
No policeman in the world would leave such aggressiveness unpunished in a place of mass unrest – other than Ukrainian policemen, of course, but this has been clear for a long time.
One thing we know for sure: history will put everything in its place. The time of scoundrels will pass!
Nov. 15, 2016:
Right-wing attacks continue in Odessa; Ukraine opposes anti-Nazi UN resolution
[OSC Staff note: The following is from a report read at a recent weekly memorial held at the site of the massacre at the House of Trade Unions in Kulikovo pole (square) in Odessa, Ukraine. It offers important insights into what life today is like in Odessa, where right-wing organizations have made it their mission to harass the relatives of those murdered by a fascist-led mob on May 2, 2014. It’s important to keep providing this information to the world in order to build support for an international investigation into the massacre and to expose the realities of life in Ukraine.]
Sergey Sternenko, Odessa Right Sector leader
On Nov. 15, in the Suvorovsky Regional Court of Odessa, a hearing took place regarding the legal claim filed by Sergey Sternenko, head of the Odessa branch of the Right Sector organization, against Elena Radzihovskaya, mother of Andrey Brazhevskiy, one of the victims of May 2, 2014.
The legal suit filed this summer claims that Radzihovskaya encroached on Sternenko’s “honor and dignity” by insulting him. Sternenko, Odessa’s main rightist, demanded that Radzihovskaya apologize. The court, having taken the claim under consideration, partially satisfied his claim and recognized as defamatory the following statements made against him: “bull” and “moron.”
Following the hearing, the court awarded moral damages to the rightist in the amount of 1 Hryvnya [$0.39 USD].
Radzihovskaya does not have to publicly apologize to Sternenko; the court refused to satisfy this demand of the Pravosek [member of Right Sector]. Also, the judge did not find Radzihovskaya’s statement “Odessa is a Russian city” defamatory in respect to Sternenko.
We should add that the court ordered Radzihovskaya to pay legal costs in the amount of 680 Hryvnya [$26.28 USD] accrued in connection with the legal claim.
Social networks rightfully reacted to the court decision. This is what one Internet user wrote:
“Ice has moved, dear jurors. A few months ago, Elena Radzihovskaya, mother of Andrey Brazhevskiy, who died on May 2, mildly characterized the main member of Right Sector of Odessa stervenko [a play on words: “sterva” means ‘damned wretch’], calling him ‘bull’ and ‘moron.’
“The gentle soul of the Pravosek could not endure such injustice, so he sued Elena, alleging that his honor and dignity had been fatally insulted. The Suvorovsky Court has looked for the honor and dignity of Stervenko for a long time, and in the end couldn’t find it. Not to make the infantile cry too much, the moral damages were estimated in 1 Hryvnya. With all this, the court refused to demand from Elena public apologies before stervenko. Betrayal [the Ukrainian word used here], ain’t it?”
On the same day the verdict was reached, the “victor,” Sternenko, demonstrated that he is after all not such an stern Pravosek. Trying to provoke tears, he complained that he had to spend around 2,000 Hryvnya to pay utility bills.
“There is not a thing in the fridge, the car has run out of gas, and on top of that I have to give away 1,800 for the utilities,” wrote Sternenko on his Facebook page.
You should jump around more, Pravoseks, and “riches” will flow into your open mouths, just as the Cossack Patsyuk arranged for himself in Gogol’s Dikanka [an allusion to Nikolia Gogol’s book “Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka.”)
THE TIMES OF SCOUNDRELS
But Sternenko is not the only one who distinguishes himself in terms of provocations, small and large delinquencies and different criminally punishable actions. We are happy to continue introducing to you his true companions, members of the “patriotic” crowd, whose ardent desire to earn a couple of coins by hounding mothers and relatives of the victims of May 2, aged women and pensioners, outweighs all moral norms and principles of behavior accepted in a civilized society.
Alena Solomatina, journalist
Take, for example, Alena Solomatina, who presents herself as a journalist for an online publication “Information Center.” Reports quite often appear on this website under this signature about our demonstrations, reports loyal to the rightists of the Kulikovo pole (square). But this does not prevent Olenushka [the Ukrainian diminutive for “Alena”] to be in a friendly relationship with the Odessa “patriotic” organized criminal group, including Sternenko.
Solomatina demonstrates this in every way during the hearings of the case of May 2. The highpoint of her “friendship” with Pravoseks has been the fact that she was the “informer” on the day of the showing of the movie “Burning Hearts,” which led to the disruption and cancellation of the showing and an additional anguish for the relatives of the Odessans who died on May 2.
Igor Rezun, at right.
And the photo above captures a moment when a medal of the Kiev Patriarchate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is being awarded to Igor Rezun, Sternenko’s aide in the business of turning the lives of Odessans into a nightmare. Rezin also has distinguished himself with an entire series of offenses. Previously such “eagles” would face a colony for juvenile offenders, but today delinquents and criminals are awarded in temples – where Sternenko, by the way, also received his pendant.
UKRAINE OPPOSES ANTI-NAZI U.N. RESOLUTION
Meanwhile, the United Nations has adopted a resolution for the struggle against the glorification of Nazism. The document emphasizes that all states must forbid any celebration in honor of the Nazi regime, its allies and organizations connected to it (including Waffen-SS units, one of which was Galichina), whether officially or not. According to the resolution, the absence of effective opposition on the part of states to such practices is incompatible with obligations of the U.N. member-states, according to the U.N. charter.
“The General Assembly also expresses concern in regard to continuous attempts of desecration and destruction of memorials, erected in the memory of those who fought against Nazism during WWII, as well as of illegal exhumation and transfer of these people’s remains,” states the adopted document.
A total of 131 countries voted in favor of the resolution. Forty-eight abstained. Only three states voted against it: the United States, Ukraine and Palau.
Well, given the presence of such “nestlings” as described above, there is nothing surprising about Ukraine’s position.
Nov. 4, 2016: Report by the Council of Mothers of May 2:
May 2 tragedy commemorated in Odessa and other cities, countries
From Oct. 30 to Nov. 2 in Odessa, we honored the memory of our compatriots who were killed on May 2, 2014, in the Odessa House of Trade Unions. Actions of solidarity also took place in other cities and countries.
At the Ukrainian embassy in Moscow, activists of the “Odessa Expatriates Community in Russia” laid flowers and lit 48 candles in commemoration of those who died. The executive director of the Expatriates’ Community, Alexander Vetrov, noted that Odessans in Moscow will provide support to the families of the victims.
“We will never abandon our compatriots, who, to our common chagrin and misery, lost their close ones in this horrific tragedy,” reassured Vetrov, a native of Odessa and the organizer of the action.
They honored Odessans who died on that fatal day with a minute of silence and the 48 lit candles “… to remind the entire world and the Ukrainian authorities that not one Odessan, wherever he or she was, has a right to forget this terrible day and let it be forgotten, nor any person of common sense!
“To leave this crime against humanity unpunished does not seem to be possible at any levels of justice system of any state anywhere in the world!” declared members of the Expatriates’ Community. “Time does not heal such wounds, despite the efforts of those who are trying to efface them in the information industry!”
Vetrov emphasized that “Two-and-half years since that horrific day, when those punishers, thugs from Maidan and simply outright beasts carried out an act of violence on the peaceful and once smiling Odessa, we do not forget about our guys!”
Flowers also were laid at the Odessa stele [an inscribed stone slab], which is part of a memorial complex of Hero Cities and cities of military glory located in Moscow’s Alexander Garden.
On Nov. 3 in Berlin, at the walls of the US embassy, there was an action in commemoration of the victims of the Odessa tragedy. The organizers of the action placed placards with photos of the Odessans who tragically died on Kulikovo Field.
Eyewitnesses and activists threw light on the monstrous truth of what happened on that tragic day. They gave out flyers to passers-by reminding them about those terrible events. Berliners honored the memory of the victims with a minute of silence in front of a stand with photos of the victims.
There also was a commemorative action in Luhansk. Those present noted that two-and-half years ago the Ukrainian authorities organized a mass killing of Odessan residents. People were killed by nationalists, members of various ultra-right paramilitary formations. That day Odessa lost dozens of her best citizens, whose death became an irreparable loss for everyone.
Participants of the commemorative action in Luhansk placed flowers at the memorial “To victims of OUN-UPA” [Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists – Ukrainian Insurgent Army], since the murderers of the 48 Odessans are direct descendents of the latter.
We will never forget and never forgive! Murderers will pay for their deeds!
In all the cities where memorial actions in commemoration of the Odessa tragedy took place, people laid down flowers and lit icon lamps. And even though everywhere there are sympathizers as well as opponents of the mourners, nobody touched or destroy the mourning symbols.
Only in Odessa, right after the demonstration, in the presence of the all-too-familiar indifferent police, all the flowers and icon lamps were removed by representatives of a shameful community that calls itself “patriotic.”
Rightists disrupt movie showing in Odessa held in commemoration of 2014 massacre in Kulikovo Pole
ODESSA, Oct. 22, 2016 – Members of the Right Sector organization today interrupted a showing of the movie “Burning Hearts: Two years since,” dedicated to the tragic events of May 2, 2014.
According to an Infocenter reporter, relatives of the victims and activists of Kulikovo Pole were present when uninvited guests showed up, namely Odesan radicals, who started causing obstructions and engaging in verbal fights with those present.
The head of the Odesan cell of Right Sector, Sergey Sternenko, made a statement that the movie had been made by German journalists and was sponsored by a local communist party, for which the party which was receiving money from Moscow.
Based on this statement, the Right Sector members threatened to call the SBU (Security Service of Ukraine) to stop the showing of what they called an anti-Ukrainian propaganda movie.
For their safety, activists of the Kulikovo Pole and organizers of the movie showing called police. It was decided to cancel the event in order to prevent any provocations and arguments. Both activists of the Kulikovo Pole and the Right Sector radicals left the venue.
It should be remembered that earlier one of the members of the Azov organization broke an arm of an elderly woman who was participating in one of the weekly demonstrations in commemoration of Odesans burnt alive in the House of Trade Unions, as he was trying to take the flag of Odessa away from her. (See Alert of Oct. 9.)
Fascists attack mourners in Odessa
ODESSA, Oct.9, 2016 – The mass media has been receiving reports about multiple attacks on peaceful demonstrations organized by the Odessan people on a weekly basis in commemoration of those who died on May 2nd. Recently, these attacks have been carried out by certain individuals under the direction of the leader of the Odessa Right Sector, Sergey Sternenko.
A fight took place also on Sunday, Oct. 9. Many pro-government media outlets rushed to reassure the public that no one among the Odessans who gathered at the demonstration was injured, however this is not so.
During a fierce fight for the flag of Odessa, which aggressively minded “patriots” tried to take away for reasons that are still not clear, a 79-year-old resident of Odessa, V. I. Yacenko, was forcefully pushed aside and the elderly woman fell down. She started feeling sharp pain in her arm and had to go to the emergency room. An X-ray exam revealed a closed bone fracture with a displacement. The woman is facing a difficult treatment.
At the moment, a police report has been filed. The incident is under the control of the regional office in Odessa of the U.N. Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine.
Media Release: June 10, 2016, from the Council of Mothers of May 2
Council of Mothers calls for release of Maxim Sakauov & all House of Trade Union detainees since May 2, 2014
On May 2, 2014, Maxim Sakauov was arrested in Odessa’s city center and is currently in custody in the Odessa Detention Center. Along with other several other Odessians, Mr. Sakauov, a Russian citizen, is accused of “organizing mass disorder, causing human casualties” during the terrible events of May 2 in Odessa in which 46 people were murdered by a fascist-led mob. Mr. Sakauov has lived in Odessa for several years. His family, including a young child, live here. This has been a difficult time for them, as Mr. Sakauov has been the family breadwinner, but has not been able to support his family while in custody.
Over the course of 25 months, the investigators have sought evidence of Mr. Sakauov’s guilt. In the end, no evidence was found of any involvement in the deaths of Odessians during the events of May 2. No evidence could be found because Maxim is an ordinary man who happens to be a Russian citizen and inadvertently stumbled into the midst of the events. Like all his fellow May 2 detainees, Maxim is not Russophobic, nor does he adhere to the ideas of Ukrainian nationalism. In the eyes of Ukrainian nationalists, this is inexcusable and they put unprecedented pressure on the judges in order to keep this innocent man behind bars.
Four weeks ago, desperate to get justice in court, Maxim Sakauov undertook a protest hunger strike. Today he is in critical condition. We risk losing a very young man who has been the object of continuous humiliation and hatred from people who have a savage ideology and sadistic instincts.
Meanwhile, the real killers from May 2nd, S. Hodiyak and V. Goncharevskiy, exposed by numerous testimonies and evidence, are free as if nothing had happened.
We urge all concerned people of the world to demand the immediate release of the Ukrainian Maxim Sakauov and all his associates, who are still in custody!