Recent events that took place in a small Ukrainian village, Vradievka, draw public attention to the broader issue of police outrage in the country. I refer to the rape of a woman by a group of three men, two of whom were recognized to be officers of the police. Moreover, one of these policemen turned out to be a relative of Head of the Regional Department of the Ministry of Interior and the other was a nephew of District Attorney. Вeing connected to these powerful people on governmental positions, all assaulters managed to get away, and one of them was not even charged with the crime.
Police in Ukraine feels very confident as most of their actions, even the unlawful ones, remain unpunished. This problem is related to so called nepotism that strongly characterizes all spheres of Ukrainian society. That is to say, networking and having acquaintances with government officials often make a person immune to the rule of law.
Vradievka case is not the first one. But people were not quiet about the crime and its disproportionate punishment this time. This pitiful event led to social unrests in the countryside and even to the attempt of lynching the culprits by attacking the local police department. After the paucity of reaction from officials, the supporters of the victim, as well as many others tired of police arbitrariness in general, marched with their protest to Kyiv, gathering on their way more and more people. Until the end of August, the group was protesting in the capital’s centre, whereas the crime happened in late June. However, the Minister of Interior did not respond to the unrest and claimed the protests to be politically organized by the opposition forces. Some part of Ukrainian press also deemed the revolts to be fixed up by the USA, as one of their leaders had an American passport. Besides, there appeared publications that disproved the very fact of attack. Though this scandal was tried to be silenced in mentioned ways, the revolts did facilitate the dismissal of Head of the Regional Department of the Ministry of Interior, which evidences best about the nature of this silence.
Another eloquent case of police outrage happened in 2010. A student of one of Kyiv Universities was beaten to death by police back then. He was taken from his dormitory at night by an officer for, as was stated in the report, hooliganism. The parents were asked to pick up the body in a mortuary next morning. The official reason of death was articulated as a fracture of skulls. Police explained that the boy resisted and simply fell down a couple of times. Though, neither friends nor witnesses believed that, as the marks from hitting were discovered on the whole body. After some struggle, a minor punishment was given, as the policemen responsible for the student’s death were charged with mere negligence.
It seems quite reasonable for the citizens to mistrust Ukrainian police and courts. Relying on the rule of law in the country where judges make decisions based on the bribes and social position of a person under trial cannot be called rational. Under these circumstances, it is a positive tendency that people are ceasing taking this situation for granted, and that they are becoming ready to defend some of their rights. At least, the right to life.