(Moscow) – Ukrainian authorities have tried to pressure and intimidate people who alleged being beaten by police during recent protests in Kiev, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to Ukraine’s prosecutor general. In some beating cases the authorities failed to move investigations forward.
On November 30 and December 1, 2013, riot police severely beat numerous peaceful protesters in Kiev, causing head injuries in several cases. Seven protesters Human Rights Watch interviewed credibly alleged that law enforcement officials investigating the incidents had pressured and intimidated them.
“Ukrainian authorities pledged to investigate police violence, but they are intimidating those coming forward with allegations of police abuse,” said Yulia Gorbunova, Ukraine researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The authorities are pressuring the very people whose trust is needed if they are going to conduct serious investigations.”
The prosecutor general should ensure a prompt and impartial investigation into the allegations of police abuse and immediately end improper pressure on people who filed complaints, Human Rights Watch said.
One man who alleged being beaten during the November 30 protest at Independence Square said he was questioned for four hours, including such questions as: “Why did you take part in mass riots and who organized them?” “Why did you resist the police?” and, “How much were you paid to be there?” The investigator asked only one question about the police beating. After the questioning ended, the man had to be hospitalized briefly for hypertension.
Some people who brought complaints said the investigators had not responded to their requests to be recognized as victims in the investigations or had refused, without explanation, to formally identify them as victims. Two alleged that investigators failed to provide a crucial referral for a forensic medical examination to document their injuries from police beatings.