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The Springtime of Totalitarism

Photo by Andriy Kyrchiv

The event that took place on March 1 in the morning in Kyiv has shocked the world democratic publicity. Several hundred militioners including troopers from “Berkut” special operation commando, diminished the encampment of the action “Ukraine without Kuchma” in extremely brutal form. The inhabitants of the “small architectural forms” were badly beaten and carried to the special trucks by legs, keeping their heads down to the pavement, and further distributed among different regional militia offices without any informing of their relatives. The tents, which belong in majority to the Ukrainian Parliament members and supposed to be inviolable property, were replaced to the European square under the Arch of Friendship monument, named “Moscow Yoke” by Kyivers. During the operation militia defiled state and national symbols protected by Ukrainian Constitution throwing to the ground and trampling down blue-and-yellow flags which formerly stood in the camp. Everything was well seen by Kyivers, guests and foreign journalists accredited in the Capital, which were at that moment on Khreshchatyk.

The formal reason of the encampment destroying was the decision of Starokyivskyj regional court dated to February 28, 2001. Certainly, there was no possibility neither to inform the inhabitants of the camp in advance about this decision, nor to appeal against it during next ten days, as it is mentioned in both cases in actual Ukrainian legislation. It is important to note, that the President of Ukraine being asked to comment this event had answered in Russian with the well-heard irritation in voice:” The power has shown finally that it remains power, and so-called opposition is now on the right place!” Taking into account that at the moment of this interview the majority of the arrested participants of the action remained in jail, the words of the “Constitution Guarantor” were the best and clearest illustration of how he is ready to negotiate with the opponents.

The Ukrainian Femide had shown the incredible mobility: until the end of that day more than forty arrested persons got their verdicts directly in the places of imprisoning. Only few of the “Kuchma-Free Zone” inhabitants were made to pay a fine - some 136 hryvnyas (equiv. to 25 USD), nevertheless the precedent of force-supported solution of the internal political conflict between the official authorities and society had been created.

The reaction of the West on the events in Kyiv was more than negative. The Presidential Office received a letter of indignation from the US Administration and the famous American financist and International Renaissance Foundation founder George Soros appealed to the Western leaders from the sites of “Financial Times” to stop any business “with Mr.Kuchma until an impartial investigation has been completed and those responsible are held to account” and to Mr. President himself - “to hand over his duties to the prime minister, the constitutionally designated successor, pending the results of investigation”. “The population needs to know that the West stands with them, opposing any attempt by Mr.Kuchma to evade responsibility and, ultimately, the law”.