KHPG Open Letter to the President

There have recently been a number of causes for public criticism of the management of the Ministry of Internal Affairs {MIA}. 

We hope that you are aware of the incomprehensible and inadequate instances involving harassment of writer Maria Matios, journalist Olena Bilozerska, writers Marina Bratsylo and Yury V. Nohy by police bodies, since the Deputy Head of the President’s Administration, H. Herman has already expressed displeasure over these police actions. The actions of the MIA leadership in a politically context are so generally damaging to Ukraine’s image that they have become the focus of constant attention from the world community and human rights organizations.


We wish, however, to bring to your attention yet another acute problem in the activities of the MIA, this being the death of people in police units.  During 2010 and the beginning of 2011, more than 50 people have died in police stations with this creating a bleak record over recent years.


It is in the Kharkiv region, at the Loziv Police Station, that events have taken place requiring proper assessment at national level, yet none of this is happening!


It is impossible not to react to a situation where over ten days (!) there have been two incidents in the Loziv Police Station with two people throwing themselves out of windows.


The first case involved a man from the Roma community who was accused of possessing and circulating drugs. He was summoned on Sunday to the police station, together with his wife and 8-year-old daughter. After a lengthy period with the investigator, the man threw himself out the window of the fourth floor of the police station, was taken to the Loziv Central Hospital where he died a few days later.


The police have put forward the strange explanation that he was high on drugs, in an excited state and therefore committed suicide.


Yet this version in no way absolves responsibility from the police since they should not have interrogated a person in a psychologically disturbed state, but needed on the contrary to take measures to preserve his life and health.

The mother of the deceased man alleges that her son was tortured in the police station and pushed from the window by the police officers.  We are also seeing strange behaviour from the Prosecutor who has initiated a criminal investigation over actions exceeding official powers by unidentified individuals.  It thus follows that some unidentified individuals somehow got into the police station and exceeded official powers (whose powers if they are unidentified?) causing a person’s death? The eight-year-old daughter of the deceased man, who was witness to his presence in the police station, has not since spoken at all.

The story in general is reminiscent of a horror film.


The Lozivsk Police Station is clearly in fear of nobody, neither the Prosecutor, nor its own management, since despite the criminal investigation initiated, such strange “falls” from the police station have continued.


Not even 10 days had passed when this time a woman fell from the third floor. She had spent more than five hours in the investigator’s office, confessed to stealing a sack of potatoes then asked to go to the toilet and jumped from the third floor window. She received serious injuries, fractured ribs and a lung injury.  She was taken to the Lozib Central Hospital where she was operated on.


These leaps from the windows of a police station reflect the total decline of the system. In 20 years since Ukraine’s independence we are perhaps for the first time encountering such flagrant disregard for the law, and not in the last months alone.

The previous case in Kharkiv was the beating of Yakov Strogan in the Kyivsky District Police Station in Kharkiv.  After the case received coverage in the press, he was arrested and again beaten, being brought to the Kyivsky District Court in such a state. Moreover the officers from the Kyivsky District Police Station knew that there would be journalists in the court which was to consider whether to remand Yakov Strogan in custody.


As a result the case has gained wide publicity not only in Ukraine, but abroad.


At the present time the MIA has become a factor threatening State security. How can one build a country with a law-abiding population respecting the law enforcement bodies, when the law enforcement officers themselves respect neither the law, nor ordinary citizens, nor their own profession?


While we were writing this letter, the young woman who jumped from the third floor of the Loziv Police Station also died.

Her mother also suspects, as in the first case, that this was not suicide.


We demand a swift, law-based and just investigation into this bestial actions by MIA officers and call on you, as guarantor of citizens’ constitutional rights, to take the investigation into these cases under your control.


We believe that human rights violations will stop if those who flagrantly violate them receive the punishment they deserve.

This needs to be done publicly so that both the police and the public know that in Ukraine one must not violate human rights.


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