Ukraine: Case on Illegal Arrest of Belarusians Is Closed
In the end of September activists of Belarusian oppositions Zmitser Bandarenka, Zmitser Barodka, Uladzimer Kobets and Aliaksandr Atroshchankau received from the prosecutor’s office of Chernihiv region of Ukraine with information that a criminal case concerning their detention at the Belarusian-Ukrainian border in November 2004 was dismissed. An investigator for particularly important cases of the prosecutor’s office of Chernihiv region A.Letuta informed that ‘a criminal case #411020-05 brought up on 9 February 2005 by the prosecutor’s office of Chernihiv region on the fact of illegal detention and bringing to responsibility was dismissed on 21 August 2006 for absence of crime in the act.’
As we have informed, the criminal case was brought up for illegal detention of the coordinator of the civil initiative Charter’97 Zmitser Bandarenka, Zubr coordinator Uladzimer Kobets, one of the leaders of the European coalition Free Belarus Zmitser Barodka and the Zubr press secretary Aliaksandr Atroshchankau at the Ukrainian-Belarusian border on the night of 24-25 November by Ukrainian law-enforcing agencies. The Belarusians were on their way home from Kyiv, where they took part in the rallies in support of Viktor Yushchenko. Brute force was used against them during the apprehension. The law-enforcers didn’t say their names or reasons of detention. They said that it had been Belarusian’s mistake to come to Maidan to support Yushchenko. More than 20 law-enforcers, special services men, customs officers and border guards were taking part in the detention of four persons. The Belarusians were treated roughly and Zmitser Bandarenka’s arm was seriously injured. Later in Minsk he underwent operation, his arm plastered. Later the citizen of Belarus was charged with insubordination to policemen. Belarusian oppositionists spent a day and a night in the police department of Repki. After that they were released by the ruling of an administrative court, who found them not guilty.
The Charter’97 press center has asked opposition activists Zmitser Bandarenka and Zmitser Barodka to comment on the dismissal of the criminal case.
’Undeniably, I was shocked at the answer of the investigator of Chernihiv prosecutor’s office Letuta. First civil prosecutor’s office of Chernihiv region brought up a criminal action in our case, and we were going to give evidence to that investigator as persons affected. Then the case was submitted to the military prosecutor’s office of Chernihiv military reservation. Another investigator, Andrei Podosinov, carried out investigation, identification of law-enforcers who detained us, and line-ups. We identified several officers who detained us. Among them I spotted people who had injured me. And now we are getting an answer from a ‘civil’ prosecutor’s office. What about our evidence and identification in the military prosecutor’s office?
In fact, this answer means that in a democratic Ukraine kidnapping, illegal arrest, causing of injury by policemen to foreign citizens are not considered crimes. I would like to congratulate President Yushchenko on that. I would also like to underline that our case was dismissed in a few weeks after Yanukovich returned to power. And apparently people who in words ordered to arrest us, returned to power with him,” Zmitser Bandarenka said.
“What a shame that me and my friends were detained, beaten up, spent a day behind bars for nothing. I feel sorry for the wasted time, as we visited Chernihiv several times at our own expense, hoping that in a new democratic Ukraine justice would prevail. We explained all the events, we identified people who had arrested us, who wringed our hands and handcuffed us. Bringing this case to a logical end could have been a good example for special services workers, and not only in Ukraine. Not only our case, but other events in Ukraine demonstrate backsliding on ideals of “orange revolution”, a certain revenge of the old regime,” Zmitser Barodka believes.
To the question whether Belarusians are going to challenge the ruling of the prosecutor’s office in the court, Zmitser Bandarenka answered:
“The action had been brought up in an organization department of Ukrainian prosecutor’s office. We were not writing any complaints or appeals concerning us, and we do not want to do so now. Today we are hoping that Chernihiv prosecutor’s office would overturn its ruling, as to our mind, elements of a crime against us are obvious. I am still feeling complications of the trauma. Doctors say that it wouldn’t be possible to restore functions of the arm completely.
If our issue would be softened, it would mean that Ukraine hadn’t turned into a law-governed state, and it is ruled with the same criminal, corrupted forces as before the Orange revolution. “Repki’s case” is a test for the level of Ukrainian democracy’s development. But it is mostly the problem of Ukrainians, and we have enough problems in today’s Belarus. If the law-enforcing agencies still want to grapple with this case, we are ready to come”.
However, the Belarusian oppositionists do not regret that they went to Kyiv in 2004.
“Despite of all these events, I think it was really worth it. I have no regrets that I was in Kyiv, as in me and in thousands of other people Maidan has awakened a hope that a dream about freedom can come true,” Zmitser Barodka said.