The Sviatoshyn District Court in Kyiv has handed down prison sentences to five former Berkut members, three in absentia, in the case of the shootings on Instytutska Street on Feb. 20, 2014, when 48 people were killed. The Berkut was a special police (anti-riot) unit that was part of the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs.
The name Berkut became synonymous with the police brutality suffered by many protesters in the capital, Kyiv during the Euromaidan protests.
The court stripped the deputy commander of the Berkut special forces unit, Oleh Yanishevsky of his rank and sentenced him to life imprisonment.
Pavel Abroskin and Serhiy Zinchenko were found guilty of murder and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment, the removal of all rank and were barred from public office for 3 years.
Yanishevsky, Abroskin and Zinchenko were sentenced in absentia as they had been released from custody in December 2019 as part of a prisoner exchange with Russia, and then fled the country – they are still on the run.
According to reports by Suspilne media, only two defendants were present in the court - Oleksandr Marynchenko and Serhiy Tamtura.
Marynchenko was found guilty of abuse of power and sentenced to 5 years in prison and barred from holding a law enforcement related position for 2 years. However, he had already served 5 years in a pre-trial detention center.
Tamtura, was acquitted by the court.
Relatives of the fallen participants of the Revolution of Dignity (Revolutsia Gidnosti) attended the announcement of the verdict, including Yuriy Aksenin, the son of Vasyl Aksenin, who was one of those shot on Feb 20, 2014 who later died in a Polish hospital.
Yuriy Aksenin said that he would appeal the court's decision and seek life imprisonment for all the defendants.
Svitlana Chaplinska, the wife of the Heavenly Hundred Hero Volodymyr Chaplinsky, who died on the Feb. 20 incident also expressed dissatisfaction with the court's decision and said she plans to appeal it.
“Only one of them was given life imprisonment, although all of them should have been sentenced to life, because those Berkut officers were shooting at them [the protestors]. A bullet went through my husband, but it was just not proven that he has been shot. They all fired, and they all deserve life,” she said.
On Feb. 20, 2014, according to the Office of the Prosecutor General, 48 people were killed on Instytutska Street. Hundreds more were injured and wounded. According to the Suspilne media, the case against these 5 Berkut officers has been pending since 2016.
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