ECHR confirmed that activities of so called “thugs” against peaceful gatherings in Ukraine were unlawful

On June 18, 2019, European Court of Human Rights by its judgment confirmed the violation of the European Convention by Ukraine in the cases regarding 2010 events, where for the first time in Ukraine’s history the authorities involved so called “thugs” for chasing away activists.

On May 20, 2010 the authorities for the first time in Ukraine involved so called “thugs” – on that day aggressively behaving civilians were used for chasing away peaceful demonstration. There was no such term at that time but it appeared later. The destruction of trees started on that day in Kharkiv in Gorkogo park.

The woodcutters with the support of “sportsmen” in plain view of militia actively used violence against the protesters and after that the latter were detained by militia and were held administratively liable. A lot of them got prison term and served their sentences in penitentiary establishments in Kharkiv.

On June 18, 2019, UCHR passed the judgement where a number of violations of the European Convention by Ukraine were stressed:

  1. Violation of Article 3 of the Convention regarding absence of the relevant investigation of the cases on behalf of the law enforcement bodies;
  2. Violation of the Article 6 of the Convention (right to a fair trial) in the cases of the applicants, which were held administratively liable;
  3. Violation of the Article 11 of the Convention regarding holding administratively liable two applicants, who got the terms of administrative arrest.

It is important that in this case ECHR at the international level stressed unacceptability of use of private guards for chasing away peaceful gatherings.

  1. Violation of the Article 11 of the Convention (right to peaceful gatherings) because the state did not manage to:

(і) duly deal with the fact of applying force by the municipal guards;

(іі) duly share responsibilities for keeping the order between the municipal guards and militia, which would allow to identify the staff of involved security agencies;

(ііі) ensure compliance with the rules of the relevant identification of the persons, which are allowed to apply force;

(іv) explain militia’s decision regarding non-interference in any way, which would allow to control the clashes.

ECHR Judgement:

This court judgement became possible only due to the support and efforts of Kharkiv Human Rights Group (KHRG) and, at later stage, to UHHRU efforts.


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