Thursday, February 13, 2014

Legalised hostage-taking

On January 29th a law was passed in the Verkhovna Rada on providing an amnesty to protesters arrested during the current troubles. Several days later the new law was signed off by the president.

[In legal terms an amnesty is an official pardon for persons who have been convicted of an offence. An amnesty means any sentence passed by a court is quashed. ]

However, if by February 17th protesters do not vacate local authority buildings currently being occupied in many cities throughout the country and do not unblock streets in central Kyiv, this idiotic law will expire.

It means, for example, protesters in one city, who are currently being detained or are under house arrest but have not faced any legal procedure and are hence totally innocent, will continue to be detained unless protesters in another city, perhaps hundreds of kilometres away to which they are not connected in any way, vacate occupied buildings.

This law is legalised hostage-taking...there can be no other way to describe it.

This law is also totally unworkable - some demonstrators are still being arrested [e.g. four former Afgan vets from Maidan were arrested yesterday when they handed over a pickpocket to the police] whilst at the same time others are being released on bail, or are being placed under house arrest. There also continue to be many creditable reports of maltreatment of activists in isolation units.

For protesters release of their colleagues is number one priority. Everyone knows no buildings will be vacated until prisoners are all freed. Opposition party leaders have no power to influence protesters holding these buildings and manning barricades - Yanukovych and his PoR deputies are well aware of this too.

All of this provides further confirmation of the Kafkaesque nature of Ukraine's legal system and the arbitrary, almost random manner in which it is applied.

Lots of groups, many not really associated with one another, [see list below] are participating in protest actions, but Maidan Self-Defence have declared government buildings will be emptied if all detainees are released.

The wide range of groups present on the Maidan defies accurate description. Their number can be estimated at several dozen; many of them were created during the protests, many have no organisational structure, and it is difficult to determine the number of their members, the names of their leaders, or their socio-political programmes.
A list of the most influential organisations and groups present on the Maidan:
1. Activists from the UDARBatkivshchyna, and Svoboda opposition parties, both from Kyiv and other regions of Ukraine.
2. The Maidan Self-Defence, numbering up to 10,000 people (in 35 ‘hundreds’). They perform the functions of keeping order and maintaining defence, and are located at each of the 10 barricades set at the access points to the Maidan and at subway stations. Its members include veterans of both the special forces and of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (who mainly function as instructors), as well as students and young professionals from different regions of Ukraine. They take orders from Andriy Parubiy, the Maidan’s commandant, who is a parliamentary deputy forBatkivshchyna.
3. The Right Sector, a league of marginal nationalist organisations such as the Tryzub[Trident] paramilitary organisation, Ukrainian National Self-Defence, Ukrainian Patriot, White Hammer, et al. The group’s leader is Dmytro Yarosh, the leader ofTryzub. There are about 500 members of these organisations on the Maidan, and across Ukraine they may have mobilised around four to five thousand people. Some members of the Right Sector belong to the Maidan Self-Defence. They are extremely wary of the leaders of the opposition parties, and who have also been expressing their own political ambitions.
4. Common Cause, a little-known radical organisation, numbering up to several hundred members, and who can mobilise more supporters if necessary. Their initiatives have included the occupation of the ministries of agriculture, energy and justice. Like the Right Sector they are distrustful of politicians, and have called for their participation in negotiations between the leaders of the opposition and President Yanukovych. Their leader is Oleksandr Danyluk, who has left Ukraine and is now resident in London.
5. The Automaidan, a group of activists numbering up to 1000 people who protest by driving long columns of vehicles. They take part in protest actions, but do not have a permanent base on the Maidan. The vehicles block streets or picket the residences of Ukrainian officials; they have also organised raids on the so-called titushki. Their leader is Dmytro Bulatov, who was tortured by unknown assailants, and is now in Vilnius for health reasons. The Automaidan supports Vitaly Klitschko.

No comments: