“Police under scrutiny”: Kharkiv police and Euro 2012

On 28 May the Interior Ministry stated that 1400 electronic translators were to be handed out to police departments in cities hosting the Euro 2012 Championship.

On 17 June volunteers from the nationwide campaign “Police under scrutiny” went out into the city to see how the Kharkiv police were getting on and what they were doing during the Euro 2012 match.


They asked two police officers outside the Universitytet metro station whether they had the electronic translators purchased by the Interior Ministry. The bemused officers said that they were hearing of such translators for the first time, but they did have a printout with a collection of the simplest phrases.

2 officers from a Special Force Berkut unit, posing near the main fan zone on Independence Square for colleagues from Portugal said that they had not heard of either the electronic translators or any phrasebooks. They stressed with pride that they were from a special forces unit, not people with a knowledge of English.

5 patrol officers were found to be similarly unarmed with a knowledge of English.

A police colonel on patrol by himself said that none of them had set eyes on the electronic translators, but that he did have a Ukrainian-English phrasebook which he could use if necessary.

The questions were put to a larger number of officers – not one, including from those seconded from other cities, knew anything about the promised devices.

A police lieutenant informed Oleh Martynenko from the Association of Ukrainian Human Rights Monitors in Law Enforcement that they didn’t need any translators or phrasebooks since virtually everyone can speak English. At this point Oleh Martynenko asked him in English if he would be able to help if were the need to arise. The officer was clearly phased and fell silent.

 A traffic police officer and young police cadet had less difficulty since the young student had a good knowledge of English. However the traffic police officer politely but categorically refused to answer any questions, referring them to the traffic police press service.

Some of the police officers were seen smoking, one major swiftly moving into the tree shade to avoid being photographed. 

In total 115 police officers of various ranks assured the Police under scrutiny team that they knew nothing about the electronic translators, while some didn’t even have the most basic phrasebooks.

The questions are clear:

How are police officers to communicate with guests to the country?

So what happened to the electronic translators purchased by the Interior Ministry?


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