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Human Rights Defenders: Zhovten Cinema May Be Not the Last Victim of Hate Crimes

Human rights defenders assert: numerous questions arise with respect to Zhovten Cinema arson investigation. In particular, there is a question why law enforcers are not willing to recognize the obvious: the crime has been committed on the basis of hatred. And, probably, not just the detainees, but also a specific organization which won’t stop at this arson, stand behind it.

Why aren’t hate crimes being investigated? Because law enforcement authorities are not interested in doing this, Mykhailo Tarahkalo, Director on Strategic Affairs of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, asserts, for investigation of such deeds entails studying motives. Is this a personal idea of people who have committed the crime, or is there an organization with relevant structure and ideology that has set a goal to humiliate and to exterminate a certain group of people? In such case, it is necessary to make accountable not only the executors, but the so-called ideologists as well, while law enforcement authorities currently lack actual experience of such crimes investigation. It is easier for them to qualify everything as disorderly conduct, and this leads to impunity of masterminds. Today, radical organizations can set a goal to exterminate one group of people, whereas tomorrow you may become their victim as well, because you attend wrong cinemas, restaurants, clubs or libraries.

Oleksandra Sverdlova, representative of No Borders Project from the Social Action Centre, agrees that hate crimes must be investigated with due regard for the motive, as this is done in Western countries. According to England and Wales governments’ data, in 2013-2014 about 45 000 crimes were committed in these countries on the basis of hatred. In Ukraine, such monitoring is carried out only by public organizations, based on mass media messages or appeals of parties aggrieved. And this is surely an incomplete picture. Oleksandra encourages victims of such crimes to communicate those either to the police, or at least to public initiatives and organizations carrying out relevant monitoring. For instance, this can be done via an online form give here: http://goo.gl/g2qmui.

Public activists and initiators of Save Zhovten Movement also have complaints about the efficiency of the cinema arson investigation. Thus, Serhyi Schelkunov, the Movement co-coordinator, says that the primary demand of Kyiv residents towards the authorities with respect to Zhovten case has been efficient and transparent investigation of the arson. However, the outcome of Podil Public Prosecutor's Office work on this case has unpleasantly surprised the Kyiv community. “The prosecutor’s office neglect of the case records, its non-logical position in interpretation of other materials, and partial deviation of the prosecutor’s office logic from common sense has forced public activists to examine the investigation records themselves. Consequently, we have numerous questions to law enforcement authorities, although the main and, possibly, rhetorical question is whether such prosecutor’s office conduct is a sign of its special motivation in this case”, Mr. Schelkunov has mentioned.

The criminal case is currently considered by Holosiyivskyi District Court of Kyiv City, and the next session will take place tomorrow, on February 24, at 14:30 (Judge M. V. Didyk, case No.752/1463/15-к, process No.1-кп/752/255/15). The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union representatives will join the case and try to persuade the prosecutor’s office that it is necessary to start investigating Zhovten Cinema arson as a hate crime.

“This event is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in the framework of the Human Rights in Action Program implemented by the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union.

The American people, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), have provided economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide for 50 years. In Ukraine, USAID’s assistance focuses on three areas: Health and Social Transition, Economic Growth and Democracy and Governance. USAID has provided 1.8 bln technical and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine since 1992.

For additional information about USAID programs in Ukraine, please visit our website: http://ukraine.usaid.gov or our Facebook page athttps://www.facebook.com/USAIDUkraine”.

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