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Ex-Ukraine's president: Kiev worried trial may expose real perpetrators of Maidan crimes

Ukraine’s former president Viktor Yanukovich has asked Kiev’s district court to attach more evidence to Maidan events case
Ukraine's former president Viktor Yanukovych at the Rostov-on-Don region court Valery Matytsin/TASS
Ukraine's former president Viktor Yanukovych at the Rostov-on-Don region court
© Valery Matytsin/TASS

KIEV, November 25. /TASS/. Ukraine’s former president, Viktor Yanukovich, confirmed readiness to take part in court video conference with Kiev on November 28.

The court hearing had to be postponed since it had proved impossible to bring to court the Berkut police unit officers accused of shooting at protesters.

"Certainly, I have already said that I am interested in this and this is my personal decision in establishing the truth, I will surely take part in the session," Yanukovich said.

Yanukovich has asked Kiev’s district court to enter upon the record extra evidence about the Maidan events of winter 2013-2014 collected by him and his aides.

"I and my aides have collected a lot of materials - three big volumes, and you will see them," he said. "These are extra evidence of the crimes committed in Maidan. We will ask the Svyatoshinsky district court and Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office to study these material and enter them upon the record."

Yanukovich demands probe into the crimes committed against law enforcers during the Maidan rallies. "We think this case cannot be addressed without a probe into the deaths of law enforcement officers. These crimes have remained unpunished. It is a violation of the constitution. ‘Maidan’ laws are being used to cover the unobjective nature of this investigation," he said.

According to Yanukovich, shooting at the protesters and officers of the Berkut special police force was conducted "from the same buildings."

Trial may expose real perpetrators of Maidan crimes

The Ukrainian authorities deliberately upset the court session in Kiev over the Maidan case, Yanukovich said. 

"(Interior Minister Arsen) Avakov has just said that we (Kiev) will not provide a media resource for Yanukovich. What does this mean? This means that the Interior Minister defies court rulings. The court made a decision to question me in the capacity of a witness. This, of course, is evidence of the fear the "Maidan" crimes will be exposed," he said.

Yanukovich confirmed that he would appear at a news conference in Rostov-on-Don later on Friday.

"I will hold the news conference. I won’t be able to say everything that I will have to tell court on November 28, of course. I cannot afford to give them a chance to use my testimonies, but I will say something after all," he added.

Yanukovich’s lawyer, Vitaly Serdyuk, said the court session highlighted direct obstruction of justice in Ukraine.

"As early as yesterday there were reports the detention center might be cordoned off, but the police have taken no action to bring the defendants to the courtroom," Serdyuk said.

The lawyer interpreted that as violation of Ukraine’s Criminal Code, in particular, the articles on the individual’s right to protection and also on negligence.

"I’m asking (Prosecutor-General Yuri) Lutsenko to launch criminal proceedings over these two charges and order an investigation," he said.

Ukrainian prosecutors may be behind hearing disruption

A  lawyer of the Berkut riot police said that te disruption of hearing of the Maidan events case on Friday may have been plotted by Ukraine’s prosecutors.

"The disruption of the hearing is in the interests of Ukraine’s prosecutors," the lawyer said. Earlier in the day, social networks circulated a message calling to block the jail in order to obstruct the delivery of the defendants, he added. "I personally received this message."

"It fully depends on the Ukrainian authorities if the questioning is due to take place. If the authorities cannot ensure justice, then probably our guys should be let go," the lawyer said, stressing that this situation violates the rights of the defendants to protection.

Maidan events

Protests in Kiev’s central Maidan Nezaleznosti, or Independence, Square broke out in late 2013, when Yanukovich put off signing an association agreement with the European Union in order to examine the deal more thoroughly. This move sparked mass riots, known as Euromaidan, that eventually led to a coup in February 2014, ousting Yanukovich from the presidency and forcing him to flee from Ukraine.

During the standoff in Kiev, radicals placed a tent camp in the Independence Square, seized a number of administrative buildings in the center of the city and set up the so-called ‘self-defense forces,’ which plunged into open fighting with law enforcers. In a period from February 18 to 20, 2014, more than 80 people were killed in Kiev. Hundreds were wounded. Twenty died later in hospital. Among those killed and wounded were officers of the Berkut special police force who were accused of shooting at protesters.

In February 2016, the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office said it had identified all those responsible for the Maidan events. Several persons were arrested and about twenty Berkut officers were put on a wanted list.