“You have to stand on your knees all your life!” shouted one man as someone threw shreds of a newspaper to his face. “What are you staring at? Eyes down to the ground!”
The assault on Pylypyshyn took place as he tried to register as a parliamentary candidate. An angry mob attacked him close to the Central Election Commission and threw him in a trash bin.
Member of parliament Viktor Pylypyshyn gets thrown in the trash on Sept. 25 as part of a new trend to punish lawmakers who supported ex-President Viktor Yanukovych’s draconian Jan. 16 “dictator laws” a month before fleeing power.
“The outraged public showed him that his place is in the trash bin of history, and doused him with red paint, so that he remembers that his vote in the Verkhovna Rada caused death of innocent people,” wrote a correspondent of Varta Kyeva, an online initiative that claims to seek and serve justice for the public, on Facebook. Varta Kyeva representatives did not respond to requests to comment for this story.
The vote in reference took place on Jan. 16, when a pro-presidential majority approved a whole array of the the so-called “dictator laws” in the waning days of President Viktor Yanukovych’s administration as the EuroMaidan Revolution gained steam.
The laws were adopted by a show of hands and with multiple violations of democratic procedures. The measures limited many civic freedoms and introduced criminal punishment for protests and libel, among other vaguely defined infractions. Instead of intimidating Ukrainians, however, the laws triggered an escalation of protests, which led to massive violence in the streets and eventually the deaths of more than 100 protesters.
According to Varta Kyeva, Pylypyshyn was basically punished by the mob for supporting the Jan. 16 dictatorship laws. The author of the site said that “corrupt falsifier Viktor Pylypyshyn” was shown that the revolution did not happen in vain.
Pylypyshyn is the second parliament member to be thrown into a trash can in the past 10 days. On Sept. 16, another lawmaker from ex-president’s camp, Vitaliy Zhuravsky, got the same treatment on his way to parliament. An angry crowd demanded lustration, or cleansing of the government, as several men dumped Zhuravsky in the trash and held him down for some time.
Zhuravsky is a member of the Party of Regions who gained notoriety with his initiative to criminalize libel in Ukraine, which would severely impede free speech. His attempt was thwarted by the public.
On Sept. 16, another lawmaker from ex-president’s camp, Vitaliy Zhuravsky, got the same treatment on his way to parliament. An angry crowd demanded lustration, or cleansing of the government, as several men dumped Zhuravsky in the trash and held him down for some time.
Another similar incident with binning of an official took place in Odesa earlier this month, and the latest one – in Rivne on Sept. 26. There is even a hash tag on Twitter now that describes the phenomenon, #TrashBucketChallenge.
Political observers say the binning of officials by angry crowds is turning into a worrying trend, and shows an underlying frustration in the society with the government’s lack of progress in cleaning up the judicial system and restoring justice in the country.
Opora, the country’s biggest election watchdog, issued a statement condemning the attack on Pylypyshyn and others, and warning that this was no way to deal with political opponents at election time. “Physical assault which resulted in bodily injuries cannot replace justice,” the watchdog said.
It said attack on Pylypyshyn was a criminal offense because it was an attempt to prevent him to run for parliament, which is a violation of a constitutional right. Andriy Magera, the deputy head of the Central Election Commission, said that Pylypyshyn nevertheless managed to file his documents at 22:30 that night.
“The Central Election Commission now has five day to decide on his registration,” he said.
At the same time, Opora added that it has plenty of evidence that Pylypyshyn attempted to buy votes in 2013 by-election to parliament. Pylypyshyn was also accused of attempting to fix vote at his constituency in Kyiv while running for parliament in 2012. As a result of multiple violations of law in his constituency the result of his election could not be determined, and a by-election was scheduled.
Previously, he had also been incriminated abuse of his office as head of a district administration in Kyiv and illegally privatizing assets. Pylypyshyn has not returned phone calls with requests for comment for this story.
The victim of this attack was the deputy head of the Rivne Oblast Council Alexander Danilchuk. He was elected deputy from Fatherland, but activists have accused him of collaboration with the former ruling Party of Regions .
Many analysts are worried that this type of abuse of officials by angry mobs is a manifestation of a problem basically created by the new administration in place: lack of progress in punishing those who committed crimes.
“This phenomenon undermines perception of the authorities as those who control the situation,” says Hlib Vyshlinsky, deputy director of GfK Ukraine, a market research group and pollster. “Something needs to be done to the problem that underlines this trend, the fact that nobody has been punished.”
In fact, it seems the opposite is happening. Despite many of corruption, none of close allies of former President Viktor Yanukovych has been convicted or stripped of assets in Ukraine since he ran out of the country at the end of February.
The General Prosecutor’s Office closed a number of high-profile criminal cases recently that involved high government officials and lucrative schemes.
Most recently, Justice Minister Pavlo Petrenko complained on Sept. 26 that the general prosecutor’s office close a case against a firm that was “skimming millions of dollars” by charging for every notarized operation. The elaborate scheme was tied to the Justice Ministry in the previous years, but lost the lucrative contract since the arrival of the new government.
The General Prosecutor’s Office also failed to react to a media report which alleged that deputy chief prosecutor illegally acquired 140 hectares of precious land, and allegations that a journalist was attacked while investigating this case.
General Prosecutor Vitaliy Yarema failed to react to public outrage to this case until President Petro Poroshenko condemned the attack on a journalist. In response to a question from the Kyiv Post at his Sept. 25 press conference, he said he would order an immediate investigation.
Kyiv Post deputy chief editor Katya Gorchinskaya can be reached at [email protected]
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