In­te­rior Min­istry ac­cused of re­sist­ing changes

Kyiv Post - - News - BY OLEG SUKHOV [email protected] Kyiv Post staff writer Oleg Sukhov can be reached at [email protected]

The In­te­rior Min­istry is cur­rently un­der­go­ing top-to-bot­tom re­form that en­vis­ages in­tro­duc­ing a new Western­style po­lice force, staffed with fresh re­cruits. Kyiv’s new pa­trol units are al­ready on the streets and eight more cities have ei­ther started re­cruit­ing or train­ing new of­fi­cers, ac­cord­ing to the In­te­rior Min­istry.

Re­sis­tance to change per­sists in the old law en­force­ment sys­tem, crit­ics, in­clud­ing the Jus­tice Min­istry and law­mak­ers, say. Of­fi­cials flout Ukraine’s lus­tra­tion law, which is in­tended to cleanse the gov­ern­ment of those linked to ousted Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych.

A prime ex­am­ple is Deputy In­te­rior Min­is­ter Va­syl Paskal, who the Jus­tice Min­istry and Civic Lus­tra­tion Com­mit­tee say should be dis­missed be­cause he headed the min­istry’s crim­i­nal po­lice depart­ment and crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion depart­ment in 20112014 dur­ing the fugi­tive ex-pres­i­dent’s rule.

Un­der the cleans­ing law, heads and deputy heads of “in­de­pen­dent struc­tural units” of the In­te­rior Min­istry who worked for at least a year un­der Yanukovych and dur­ing the 2013-2014 Euro­Maidan Revo­lu­tion must be fired.

Paskal main­tains that the de­part­ments he headed were not “in­de­pen­dent” units, thus he should keep his post.

But ac­cord­ing to the min­istry’s web­site, the crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion depart­ment is sub­or­di­nated di­rectly to the min­istry’s lead­er­ship, and there is no other depart­ment above it, which means it is in­deed an “in­de­pen­dent struc­tural unit” – a con­clu­sion also reached by Ukraine’s Jus­tice Min­istry.

All the same, in May Kyiv’s Ad­min­is­tra­tive Dis­trict Court re­jected a mo­tion from the Civic Lus­tra­tion Com­mit­tee to fire Paskal. An ap­pel­late court started con­sid­er­ing the civic group’s ap­peal on the mat­ter on July 29.

In April, Ihor Lut­senko, a law­maker from the Batkivshch­yna Party, pub­lished an In­te­rior Min­istry doc­u­ment in­struct­ing Paskal to con­duct sur­veil­lance of Euro­Maidan ac­tivists dur­ing anti-Yanukovych protests in 2013-2014.

Lut­senko, who was kid­napped and badly beaten dur­ing the pop­u­lar upris­ing, said that he and mur­dered Euro­Maidan ac­tivist Yury Ver­byt­sky had been wire­tapped by po­lice at that time and then at­tacked by pro-gov­ern­ment thugs. The po­lice have de­tained the sus­pects ac­cused of kid­nap­ping Lut­senko and Ver­byt­sky, as well as mur­der­ing the lat­ter.

“Paskal was part of the In­te­rior Min­istry team that al­lowed the ti­tushki (hired thugs) to scare and at­tack Euro­Maidan ac­tivists, and kid­nap and kill them,” Lut­senko said. “He was in charge of the sys­tem that helped to phys­i­cally de­stroy us.”

In­te­rior Min­istry spokesman Artem Shevchenko told the Kyiv Post that Paskal had not been im­pli­cated in crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions against Euro­Maidan protesters.

Another In­te­rior Min­istry heavy- weight, Olek­sandr Tereshchuk, was sup­posed to be fired be­cause he headed the the Volyn Oblast po­lice depart­ment in 2012-2014. He also headed the min­istry’s anti-drug traf­fick­ing depart­ment in 2012.

He was ap­pointed head of Kyiv’s po­lice depart­ment in July 2014 and was fired in June 2015 un­der the lus­tra­tion law. How­ever, on July 3, Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko ex­empted Tereshchuk from the mea­sure, and he was re-in­stated as Kyiv’s po­lice chief.

His de­cree has caused much con­tro­versy be­cause, un­der Ukrainian law, of­fi­cials can be ex­empted from lus­tra­tion only if they are im­por­tant for na­tional se­cu­rity – for in­stance if they served in the war zone.

There is no ev­i­dence that Tereshchuk served in the war zone.

He served briefly in the Na­tional Guard’s depart­ment for main­tain­ing public or­der be­fore be­ing re-in­stated. This has been used by the In­te­rior Min­istry as jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for his ex­emp­tion. Some Na­tional Guard units are based near the front­line.

Both Dmytro Dy­mov, a deputy head of the Jus­tice Min­istry’s lus­tra­tion depart­ment, and Karl Volokh, an ac­tivist of the Civic Lus­tra­tion Com­mit­tee, told the Kyiv Post this was a du­bi­ous ap­point­ment.

“He was given a par­don, but he’s not a mil­i­tary ser­vice­man,” Dy­mov said.

Ye­gor Sobolev, head of the par­lia­men­tary anti-cor­rup­tion com­mit­tee, told Chan­nel 112 ear­lier this month that Tereshchuk’s po­lice units were used in a crack­down on Euro­Maidan protesters in Volyn Oblast in 20132014 dur­ing his stint as chief of its po­lice depart­ment.

“This proves that Petro Poroshenko wants to fol­low in Vik­tor Yanukovych’s foot­steps,” Sobolev said. “… I be­lieve it’s a kick in the teeth of Euro­Maidan, lus­tra­tion, and all of us.”

Tereshchuk’s prop­erty has also been a sub­ject of con­tro­versy.

The Civic Lus­tra­tion Com­mit­tee said in June that Tereshchuk could be sub­ject to prop­erty lus­tra­tion – dis­missal of of­fi­cials who can’t ac­count for their prop­erty hold­ings – be­cause he had not ex­plained where his fam­ily had got­ten money to buy a 350-square-me­ter house in Kyiv worth Hr 1.5 mil­lion.

Tereshchuk told Chan­nel 112 ear­lier this month that he would soon pub­lish a re­port ex­plain­ing the ori­gin of his fam­ily’s prop­erty. He said later that most of the ex­penses on the lux­ury house had been made by his brother, but that he had also con­trib­uted.

Public ex­pen­di­ture watchdog Nashi Hroshi re­ported in May that Tereshchuk’s mother and wife, who own the res­i­dence, had not re­ceived le­gal per­mits for the land un­der the house. More­over, the land on which the prop­erty is lo­cated was seized by the Se­cu­rity Ser­vice of Ukraine in 2010 as part of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the illegal al­lo­ca­tion of land plots in the neigh­bor­hood, ac­cord­ing to Nashi Hroshi. Shevchenko said he could not com­ment on the al­le­ga­tions about Tereshchuk’s prop­erty.

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