#riots #police_violence #corruption #culture
Cultural organizations in Kyiv demand a stop to the cop-Safari towards its residents and guests
Shortly before midnight, on May 18th 2021 at the intersection of Kyrylivska Street and Mylny Lane, special forces beat and illegally detained Dmytro Bugaichuk, musician and member of the art cluster situated at Kyrylivska 47B.

The creative community of Podil, consisting of artists, members of cultural institutions and the entertainment industry, inform that pressure and attacks of the police, the "Municipal Guard", and special forces have become everyday routine and demand the attention of media and public support.

What happened on 18-19 of May?
Whilst exiting the art cluster on Kyrylivska 47B, Dmytro Bugaichuk was stopped by a battalion of special forces. He was told to enter the police vehicle. When Bugaichuk questioned the purpose of this demand, an armed special forces officer punched Dmytro in the nose, threw him face down on the ground, and was asphyxiating him, pressing him to the ground with their knees. This all was happening while he was lying in a puddle of his own blood pouring out of his broken nose. Dmytro lost consciousness. His acquaintances, who were filming the event and attempting to dissuade this unprovoked beating, were pushed away brutally and gassed. Among them was an NGO volunteer with German citizenship.

Law enforcement officers didn't voice any legal grounds for the detention or use of force, nor did they call for the investigative team. All in all, their actions were illegal. Their body cameras were either turned off or "their batteries died". Witnesses were forced to urgently call Podil communities for help, as a result, 50 to 60 locals started gathering at Kyrylivska str., 47.

When asked about the motive and rationale behind the detention and violence, law enforcement officers said that Bugaichuk had a "dangerous appearance", was under "alcohol intoxication", and was under suspicion of drug possession. However, they did not examine the contents of a package found on the ground next to the detainee, nor did they have evidence that the package belonged to the arrested and violated Dmytro.

"Concerned about their own safety," special forces called seven reinforcement cars. To counter the police brutality, about 50 people gathered for public control of their actions. Injured Dmytro was "guarded" or surrounded by roughly 20 law enforcement officers. Eyewitnesses streamed these events on Facebook and collected a database of photos and videos of the events of that night.
After three hours of Bugaichuk's unlawful detention, an investigative team was called, and a lawyer arrived. It was only then that a crime scene examination report was finally drawn up. Witness reports and visual evidence show that during those three hours, law enforcement officers had been trampling around the scene, including the pool of detainee's blood. The investigative team didn't have the necessary tools for gathering evidence – an activist who came to help the detainee gave them rubber gloves. However, they finally drew up a protocol, which allowed Dmytro and his lawyer to go to the police precinct and file a complaint against the special forces officers.

The Kyiv Police announced on their social media pages that they are starting criminal proceedings against Dmytro for illegal drug possession.

The policeman who beat Dmytro is a former Berkut Special Forces officer (shield number 36774) who has repeatedly attacked people in the past while on duty.

It is not the first time that the community of Podil has been forced to ring the alarm regarding the unlawful actions of law enforcement officers.

Just four days prior, on May 15, 2021, at 21:00, about 50 armed "law enforcement officers" broke into the territory of the art cluster on Nyzhneyurkivska 31 and disrupted two concerts - at Closer and Mezzanine. Both events were held according to quarantine policies and regulations, at legal hours. The "officers" beat and threw the employees of the venues to the ground, damaged the property, threw out the visitors of the outdoor 20ft Radio bar, and conducted an unauthorized search in the 2c1b venue, which was holding no event at all at the time. Direct questions about the legal basis for their actions were ignored by the officers.

● Previously, police officers and members of the "Municipal Guard" repeatedly broke into the quarantined club 2c1b and restrained the staff.

● On the night of December 5-6, 2020, members of the "Municipal Guard" broke down the doors of the closed Otel Club without reason, broke into the room, and began beating and humiliating two artists who were discussing their projects there.

● On the evening of November 27, 2020, 70 policemen broke the gates and doors of the Keller Bar club, pushed people facedown to the floor, some of them were beaten and stripped. Without drawing up a protocol, they searched all the visitors of the event. The body cameras were turned on only after the arrival of the lawyer, the officers left at 5 in the morning, without detaining anyone.

● Policemen come to the bar "HVLV" and disrupt events almost daily. The establishment already has several dozen protocols and won several court proceedings. The most high-profile disruption occurred on 25 June 2020, when the riot police disrupted a lecture about police brutality as part of an event by KyivPride.

Even though "law enforcement officers" have been raiding Nyzhneyurkivska 31 for six years, in the past year the frequency of such visits to Podil's establishments and clubs, as well as the brutality and unlawfulness of such actions have caused Podil locals to actively unite. Employees of cultural institutions who fell victim to uniformed services have repeatedly filed complaints with law enforcement agencies. However, the violence against the cultural community doesn't stop, and the events of May 18-19 show that it can happen even outside of entertainment facilities.

What's next?
On Friday, May 21 at 11:00 a.m. the community of Podil is holding a protest against police violence and pressure on the cultural life of Podil outside of the Podil police department (Khoryva str. 20). Residents of Podil argue that the renaming into "police" has not changed the "militia" nature of the force that rather violates than protects people's rights. The community calls for the participation of everyone who feels concerned by the issue, especially the media and opinion leaders. Illegal pressure, ignoring of legal protocols, and an armed hunt for people based on unfounded motivations such as "suspicious appearance" must stop.

The main demands of the action:

● Dismissal of the head of Podil National Police department Pavlo Vasylenko.

● Bringing to justice of the law enforcement officers involved in the illegal raid on May 15 in Nyzhneyurkivska 31.

● Bringing to justice of Vladyslav Ioanno who was involved in the beating and illegal detention of Dmytro Bugaichuk on the night of May 18 to 19.

● Stopping illegal raids on cultural institutions, unlawful searches and planting of controlled substances, groundless use of force, and damages to the property of cultural institutions of Podil.