Ukraine Craves Yanukovych Catharsis

KIEV, Ukraine -- On February 18-20 Ukraine remembers the three bloodiest days of the Maidan protests in 2014.


Serhiy Horbatuyk, head of the department for special investigations at the Prosecutor General's Office - the unit investigating the Maidan case - gave an exclusive interview to the Ukrainian TVi channel. 

Justice sought: background 

Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych was elected as president of Ukraine on 7 February 2010 and served from then until his removal from power in February 2014 as a result of the Ukrainian revolution.

He is currently in exile in Russia and wanted by Ukraine for high treason.

Anti-government demonstrations in Kiev ended abruptly on 18 February 2014, when protesters and police clashed and at least 82 people were killed, including 13 policemen, with over 1,100 people injured.

A warrant for Yanukovych's arrest was issued on 24 February 2014 by the interim government, accusing him of mass murder of protesters.

Yanukovych was placed on Ukraine’s most wanted list and a criminal case on mass killings of civilians was opened against him.

On 28 February 2014, the General Prosecutor of Ukraine formally asked Russia to extradite Yanukovych.

To date, Russia has declined to extradite him.

Did Yanukovych give the order to shoot? 

One of the questions that is crucial to Ukrainian society and Ukraine’s international partners is whether the order to shoot at the protestors was issued by Yanukovych.

Recently the trial of Yanukovych came to a close – he was found guilty of treason and sentenced in absentia to 13 years in prison.

The case featured no evidence of his personal involvement in the Maidan killings," Horbatyuk says.

At a recent press-conference in Moscow Yanukovych repeated again that all the buildings with snipers on the roof had been controlled by what he called “the opposition.”

He has the status of the main suspect to have organized the killings.

That should make us skeptical enough about his testimony.

Had he proof of his innocence, he would have come to Ukraine and defended himself,” Horbatyuk said.

Back in November 2016 he was interrogated by the Svyatoshynskyi district court (of Kiev) as a prosecution witness in the case of five Berkut riot policemen charged with the shooting of activists on February 20, 2014.

After he testified in court, he stated at a press conference that the charges were not based on real circumstances and had been falsified,” Horbatyuk said.

Yanukovych has not provided this evidence to anyone so far.

Moreover the mechanism for finding someone guilty is complex, as those who were implementing Yanukovych’s orders are in Russia as well, Horbatyuk said.

It is not possible to interrogate them.

However there are a number of indirect pieces of evidence including reports, phone calls during these events (by both state and mobile communication system) and him not reacting in the least.

A large number of those who killed protestors on February 18-20, 2014, have been in Russia for a long time.

Can they be held liable? 

A search warrant has been issued for 106 persons.

We are getting the information on the whereabouts in the Russian Federation of those who were charged.

But this information is unofficial, as the Office of the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation where we keep sending the extradition requests, is refusing us in issuing them,” Horbatyuk says.

We are sending them requests saying that if they are reluctant to extradite them, at least do present them the charges and interrogate them so that they testify about the crimes they are incriminated with.

Russia refuses, we resend the requests again writing that we do it to secure the rights of the suspects.

The person must be aware that there is an ongoing investigation into them based on certain articles.

We sent the requests three times, each time we were refused with the explanation: ‘it damages the national security’.”

According to Horbatyuk, about three dozen law enforcement staff members charged with the Maidan crimes are still working in the law enforcement system and about ten of them in leadership posts. 

Source: Forbes

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