External contribution

Violent repression of the protest in Ukraine

This article was written by Maxim Goldarb, president of the Union of Left Forces (For a New Socialism) party. It bears witness to the violence of the repression in Ukraine since 2014. Far from the muffled speeches during the trips of Western politicians to Ukraine, or the tour of Zelensky in Europe. Behind the smoothed images: assassinations of opponents, arbitrary arrests, imprisonment, freedom of expression scorned. 

Ukraine has long been considered the freest country in the post-Soviet space. Until 10 years ago, political parties and public organizations of all directions, a variety of media operated freely in our state, and opposition politicians, journalists and activists openly and courageously criticized the authorities. Any attempt to prevent criticism of the authorities in their activities created a big scandal, and there were very few such attempts.

But everything has changed drastically since the Euromaidan of 2014. The right-wing oligarchic regime that came to power with a nationalist ideology began to severely persecute its opponents, using terrorist methods.

The most tragic example of not only persecution, but also murder by the ruling regime in Kiev of its ideological opponents took place in Odessa on May 2, 2014, when nationalist activists, with the full connivance and assistance of the authorities, blocked anti-fascist activists in the building of the House of Trade Unions and set fire to the building. And many jumped out of the windows of the burning people were already finished on the ground. In total, more than 40 people died at that time, including Vadim Papura, a member of the Komsomol (Communist Youth), as well as Andrei Brazhevsky, a member of the left-wing organization Borotba.

For this crime, no one was ever punished, although its participants were recorded in numerous photos and videos. Moreover, one of the organizers of this massacre later became the president of the Ukrainian parliament, and the second became a deputy on the lists of the party of former President Poroshenko.

Similarly, the killers of a number of well-known opposition politicians and journalists who have died since 2014 have not been punished: former Socialist Party of Ukraine MP Valentina Semenyuk-Samsonenko (murder disguised as suicide, August 27, 2014); former MP, organizer of opposition actions Oleg Kalashnikov (killed on April 15, 2015); popular writer and anti-fascist publicist Oles Buzina (killed on April 16, 2015) and many others.

The activities of the largest left-wing party in the country at that time, the Communist Party of Ukraine, were banned.

In addition, politicians, journalists and opposition activists, many of them leftists, have been beaten, arrested and imprisoned in recent years on trumped-up charges of « high treason » and other overtly political charges. This happened, in particular, with journalists Vasily Muravitsky, Dmitry Vasilets, Pavel Volkov, human rights activist Ruslan Kotsaba and others. It is characteristic that in the courts, even under pressure from the authorities, these charges, as a rule, collapsed and proved to be totally untenable.

Year by year the situation has worsened, especially after Vladimir Zelensky became president of Ukraine. The official reason for the complete elimination of the remnants of civil liberties and the beginning of open political repression was the military conflict in Ukraine that began in February 2022.

All opposition parties in Ukraine, most of which are left-wing parties, including the Union of Left Forces (For New Socialism), which I lead, have been banned on the basis of fabricated and carbon-copyed charges of being « pro-Russian.

At the same time, the only member of the Ukrainian parliament who openly went to work in the authorities created by Russia on the territory of Ukraine, Oleksiy Kovalyov, represented the party of President Zelensky, servant of the people. In addition, throughout the war, the ruling party has been rocked by high-profile corruption scandals that undermine the authority of the authorities in the eyes of the people and catastrophically destroy the vestiges of Ukraine’s authority in the eyes of the international community (Deputy Head of the Cabinet of President Kyrylo Timoshenko, Minister of Defense Oleksiy Reznikov and his deputy Vyacheslav Shapovalov, Deputy Minister of Communities, Territories and Infrastructure Development Vasily Lozinsky, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Naftogaz Ukrainy Andriy Kobolev, Head of the Dnepropetrovsk regional military administration Valentyn Reznichenko, and others). Although it is precisely this « activity » of the ruling party that poses a direct threat to the security and existence of the country, for some reason it has not yet been banned by the authorities.

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), with the charge of high treason, arrested a number of opinion leaders and journalists who spoke before the war in the media with comments and criticized the government. All were accused of promoting a pro-Russian position, high treason, espionage, propaganda, etc.

In February-March 2022, well-known bloggers and journalists were arrested for high treason and placed in pre-trial detention centers (SIZO), such as: Dmitry Dzhangirov (a supporter of left-wing views, collaborated with our party), Yan Taksyur (a supporter of left-wing views), Dmitry Marunich, Mikhail Pogrebinsky, Yuri Tkachev, and so on.

The reason for their detention was not at all a short-lived betrayal, but the fear of the authorities of their public position, which did not coincide with the official position.

In March 2022, historian Alexander Karevin, known for his active citizenship, disappeared without a trace after SBU agents visited his home. Karevin has repeatedly criticized the actions of the Ukrainian authorities in the field of humanities, language policy and historical memory policy.

In February 2023, Dmitry Skvortsov, an Orthodox publicist and blogger, was arrested in a monastery near Kiev and placed in a temporary detention center.

In March 2022 in Kiev, on suspicion in the sense of art. 111 of the Criminal Code (CC) (treason) was detained and placed in a temporary detention center lawyer, human rights activist, known for its anti-fascist position Olena Berezhnaya, who in December 2021 spoke at the UN Security Council, speaking about the anarchy that is happening in Ukraine.

On March 3, 2022, the SBU was arrested in Kiev for violation of art. 109 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (« actions aimed at forcibly changing the constitutional order or seizing state power ») and placed in a pre-trial detention center until the end of 2022, leftist activists and antifascist brothers Alexander and Mikhail Kononovichi. There they were beaten and tortured, denied timely medical assistance.

In May 2022, in Dnipro, the SBU arrested the brother of former presidential candidate Oleg Tsarev, Ukrainian citizen Mikhail Tsarev, for « destabilizing the socio-political situation in the region. » As a result, in December 2022, he was sentenced for terrorism to 5 years in prison.

On March 7, 2022, six activists of the opposition organization Patriots for Life disappeared without a trace in Severodonetsk, and in May 2022, one of the leaders of the Azov group, Maxim Zhorin, published a photo of their bodies on the Internet, claiming that they « were executed, » and that their murder is related to their position and perpetrated by paramilitary structures.

On January 12, 2023, Sergei Titov, a resident of Belaya Tserkov, a half-blind disabled person with a mental illness, was arrested and placed in a pre-trial detention center, he was declared a « saboteur. » On March 2, 2023, it was reported that he had died in the remand center.

Since November 2022, Dmitry Shymko from Khmelnytsky has been in the dungeons for his political beliefs.

Hundreds of ordinary citizens have already been prosecuted in today’s Ukraine for posting political content on the Internet that the authorities considered forbidden.

The authorities have taken tight control over Ukraine’s information space, including the Internet. All personal publications of citizens about the mistakes made at the front, about the corruption among the authorities and the army, about the lies of officials are declared crimes. These people, as well as the bloggers, administrators of TG channels, are victims of harassment from the police and the Security Service.

In the spring of this year, according to the SBU, 26 telegram channels were blocked, in which people informed each other about the current locations of distribution of mobilization summons. Six public administrators were searched and the suspicions were passed on to them. Thus, the public pages that were operating in the regions of Ivano-Frankivsk, Cherkassy, Vinnitsa, Chernivtsi, Kiev, Lviv and Odessa were blocked, to which more than 400 10 users were subscribed. Public administrators face years in prison.

In March 2022, Article 436–2 « Justification, recognition of legality, denial of armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, glorification of its participants » was introduced into the Criminal Code of Ukraine, which is actually directed against any Ukrainian citizen who has something different from the official political position.

This norm is formulated in such a way that, in essence, it provides for punishment for « thought crimes » — words, phrases spoken not only in public, but also in private conversation, written in a private messenger or SMS message said on the phone. In fact, we are talking about an invasion of the privacy of citizens, of their thoughts. This, in fact, was confirmed by his law enforcement practice — conviction for likes, private phone calls, etc. For simple conversations on the street and likes on the Internet under posts, as of March 2023, there were 380 convictions in the court docket, including those with actual jail time.

Thus, in June 2022, in Dnipro, a resident of Mariupol was sentenced to 5 years in prison, with a trial period of 2 years, who in March 2022 claimed that the shelling of the civilian population and civilian infrastructure in Mariupol was carried out by servicemen of the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UPA).

Another sentence, based on the results of a telephone conversation in March 2023, was handed down to an Odessa resident, sentenced to two years’ probation for « unpatriotic and anti-state » conversations on a cell phone.

A resident of the village of Maly Bobrik in the Sumy region, who in April 2022, near her court in the presence of 3 people, approved the actions of the Russian authorities in connection with Ukraine, which did not recognize his guilt, was sentenced under part 1 of Art. 436–2 of the Penal Code in June 2022 for an actual sentence of six months in prison.

At least 25 Ukrainians were convicted of « anti-Ukrainian activities » on social networks. 19 people were found by law enforcement officers in Odnoklassniki blocked in the country. According to the survey, these residents of Ukraine distributed « Z » symbols, Russian flags on their pages and called the invasion « liberation ».

Convictions were also issued against those who did not distribute such publications, but only « liked » them (expressed approval on social networks) — at least the texts of two sentences say that the so-called « likes » were intended to « spread the idea to a wide range of people by changing the borders of the territory of Ukraine » and « justifying the armed aggression of the Russian Federation. » The rationale for the survey was that personal pages have free access and liked posts can be seen by many people.

Thus, in May 2022, in Uman, a pensioner was sentenced to 2 years in prison with a probationary period of one year for the fact that she « due to the rejection of the current Ukrainian authorities … on the Internet network Odnoklassniki have assigned the so-called « likes » (marks « class ») to a number of publications that justify the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine.

In Kremenchug in May 2022, according to art. 436–2 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, a Ukrainian citizen was convicted who, under a nickname (network name, pseudonym), spoke in Odnoklassniki about the Nazis in Ukraine and the development of biological weapons funded by the Pentagon.

The repressions used by the current government against those who disagree have turned Ukraine into the least free state in Europe, a state where anyone who dares to oppose the authorities, the oligarchy, nationalism and neo-Nazism risks their freedom, and often their lives.

We ask you to disseminate this information as much as possible, because in the current situation only wide international publicity of the facts presented in this article can help to save thousands of people whose freedom and lives are now in Ukraine really threatened.

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