A Kyiv court on June 14 handed down the first ever prison sentence to former members of the Berkut special riot police for brutality against peaceful protesters.
Viktor Eismont and Volodymyr Mokhonya, former Berkut commanding officers, were each sentenced to three years for abuse of power, accompanied by violence, during a demonstration on Nov. 30, 2013.
The now-disbanded Berkut force, whose name means “gold eagle” in English, became infamous for killing and injuring scores of protesters during the EuroMaidan Revolution that ousted former President Viktor Yanukovych.
“This is the first real sentence for Berkut in the cases of Maidan,” said lawyer Evgeniya Zakrevskaya, who represented the victims. “And the first conviction for the events of November 30.”
On Nov. 30, 2013, the special police violently dispersed a protest on Independence Square in central Kyiv. At least 79 people, mostly students, were injured.
Eismont and Mokhonya arrested one of the protesters, Maksym Fedyaya, and charged him with an administrative offense by falsifying information in their arrest report, according to an ensuing investigation.
Apart from receiving prison time, the former officers are also prohibited from working in the police force for three years after completing their sentence.
The court also found Eismont and Mokhonya guilty of forgery and obstructing a peaceful assembly but acquitted them on those charges because the statute of limitations has expired.
Fedyaya was awarded Hr 400,000 ($14,800) in damages from Eismont, Mokhonya, the Main Directorate of the National Police in Kyiv and the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
“Thank you to all the witnesses who did not break down and ‘forgot everything (since) seven years have passed’ and testified about the events of that night, thank you to the journalists who provided photos, video and testimony,” Zakrevskaya wrote on Facebook.
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