On May 31, two off-duty police officers in the Kyiv Oblast town of Pereyaslav-Khmelnytsky were drinking and shooting at tin cans, when allegedly one of them accidentally shot a 5-year-old boy in the head. Initially, local law enforcement claimed that the boy, Kyrylo Tliavov, had fallen and hit his head on asphalt. Later, in the hospital, doctors discovered that he had been shot. On June 3, Tliavov died from his wounds, sparking outrage. People protested in front of the Interior Ministry in Kyiv and the local police station. Some called for Interior Minister Arsen Avakov to resign. To the angry citizens, Tliavov’s death was yet another of many signals that reform of law enforcement has failed.
As interior minister, Avakov is responsible.
In 2015, the country replaced its corrupt, Soviet-style militia with a modern police force. That change has shown to be mainly cosmetic. Too many old-guard police officers still have their jobs. The Security Service of Ukraine remains an out-of-control agency, while other law enforcement agencies are bloated and intrusively interfere with legitimate business activity to secure bribes. Meanwhile, serious crimes go uninvestigated or unsolved.
When the next Verkhovna Rada is seated after parliamentary elections on July 21, a major item of business needs to be replacement of Avakov, the interior minister since 2014, with someone more competent and committed to reform.