Council of Europe unveils torture report focusing on 2014 unrest in Ukraine
MOSCOW, January 13 (RAPSI) - The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture uncovered violations of human rights and abuse of protesters detained by the Ukrainian police during the 2014 Maidan protests, says the committee’s own press release made public on Tuesday.
The 2014 Maidan protests initially began after then-President Viktor Yanukovich announced the decision to postpone the signing of the EU Association Agreement. Protest rallies broke out anew in central Kiev on January 19 after a series of laws to clamp down on protests had been adopted by Parliament earlier. The rally turned violent when protesters attacked the police.
The Committee’s report focuses on deliberate abuses of the protesters by police officials and unidentified private individuals. The more in-depth investigation was impeded by the absence of individual identification numbers on the uniforms of law-enforcement officials.
According to the press release, the Committee concluded that the Maidan protesters were deliberately abused by the police, and that was considered an accepted means of upholding the law and order during the unrest quelling operations. In a number of cases, the abuses were of such severity that they could be considered torture.
The report also notes that the police officials who allegedly abused the detained protesters were almost exclusively members of the now-disbanded “Berkut” special police unit.
After the shift in power that eventually took place in February 2015, the majority of Berkut personnel arrived in Crimea, a peninsular region in Southern Ukraine that merged with Russia. A lot of the unit’s members later were officially taken into the Russian Interior Ministry Troop units.
Berkut officials since then repeatedly denied accusations of abuse of protesters and using live ammo on the citizens during the unrest.