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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Peaceful Protesters Beaten by ‘Cops for Construction’

Construction of the “anthrax house” has become a showcase for how virulent the profit motive can be in the weak immune system of Ukraine’s public interest.

Even if the prospect of digging up anthrax spores does not violate the construction company’s conscience, building a high-rise on a tiny, hilly and erosion-prone piece of land — right outside the hospital’s windows — certainly violates basic construction regulations. The pictures speak for themselves.

In Kyiv, if you protest against such violations peacefully, the violators will use violence against you. In episode after episode, police have acted as a proxy for the “powers that be,” something they obviously did at this March 16 anti-construction rally.

Narrator: Several people blocked traffic at Shovkovychna Street. Law enforcement construed it as a violation of civil rights.
Your conduct is now in violation of the law. Please vacate the lane!

To hold today’s rally, residents and employees of the Oleksandrivska Hospital have received a permit from the City Hall. But this document is being ignored by the police.

Police commanding officer:
Have two officers grab everyone of them by the arm and pull them away!

Get in!

Protesters: Look what the police are doing! Look how the police are behaving!

But all of a sudden, Police General Hennadiy Moskal appears at the scene. He is reserved in his comments.

General Moskal:
I have no idea what happened here. I was just passing by. They’re doing silly things on Sunday instead of work. I’ll find out right away. I told them to go back to the precinct. Let them file reports to Lutsenko tomorrow, detailing what they did here.

Police watcher Tetyana Montyan, speaking ironically:
We here cracked down on a peaceful rally, and then we realized what we had done. Moskal arrived to turn the situation around, but it was too late because everyone had already participated in the clashes.

Can you rise or should we get a stretcher?

Brutalized protester:
Let me try.

Just try moving your body a little bit first, OK? Then I’ll get you to the ambulance and we’ll see.

Brutalized protester: Everything works.

It does?

Protester: Everything works, but it hurts.

That’s the way Chernoco works. Here’s a video of police violence from a previous Shovkovychna St. sit-in.

Lev Malolitniy, anesthesiologist: They’re taking away the land, depriving our residents of sunshine and light. Here, take a look. Imagine a 17-storied high rise here. Down there are the departments of urology and ophthalmology. What will our residents be seeing? How will they be living there? How will they be recovering?

Man in civvies: Get your car out of there. Did I come here to play games with you?

Are you feeling sick?

Sit-in protester: Very sick.
Female protester:
Yes, he is.

Come here.

Male protester:
The man’s sick. Where are you taking him?

Sit-in protester: Look, my heart hurts! What are you doing? My heart hurts! My heart hurts!
Man in civvies: Yeah, it hurts! It’s your [censored] that’s gonna hurt, son of a bitch!

Sit-in protester, screaming in pain:
Oh, my ha-a-a-a-a-a-nd, damn it!
Man in civies: Yeah, your hand. Your hand’s gonna hurt, son of a bitch!

Prof. Vadym Berezovsky, local:
The 3-meter wall has already been carved out. We’re afraid that the same thing will happen to our house as it happened over at Zhylyanska St, where a construction site next to a pre-Revolution house completely destroyed the latter.

Volodymyr Mikunov, construction company production director:
People? What about them? This is unhealthy egoism. Don’t you remember that there were some 50 signatories petitioning against the erection of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, including Dumas, Maurois, and other great writers. And today the Eiffel tower is the pride and hallmark of all France. Likewise, the house that will be built here will become the pride of all Kyiv.
What a healthy sense of egoism this guy projects!

According to the Ukrayinska Pravda report, Prof. Vadym Berezovsky, 76, displayed below, has spent a few weeks in the hospital after the clashes.

Meanwhile, the Oleksandrivska Hospital has threatened a strike in the event construction continues, leaving only one department, emergency, in opereation. Andriy Manchuk, a journalist who attended the anti-construction rally, is undergoing treatment for head injury there.

One last thing. Did the "healthy ego" guy refer to André Maurois and Alexandre Dumas as the people who had a problem with the Eiffel Tower? That's very interesting! André Maurois, the French writer, was born in 1885. Alexandre Dumas, author of The Three Musketeers, died in 1870. The Eiffel Tower was built between 1887 and 1889.

You do the math.

Videos uploaded from:



DLW said...

More sadly from the armchair advice.

Grin and Bear it and flaunt the wounds endured before others.

This is how the Union Movement gained ground in the US in the early 20th ctry, it was by peaceful protests that led to violence being used against the protestors. This ended up changing popular opinion in a major way and demoralizing those who were working for the status quo.

It's the way of suffering and if you choose to strike against the oppressors, they'll use it very effectively as propaganda against you. The wealthy always have an edge in marketing or spinning stuff out of proportions.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I did not know that Montyan now has a blog on Ukrayinska Pravda.


Taras said...

So far, the blood these people have shed hasn’t turned the tide against the barbaric construction onslaught in Kyiv.

Which is why I think I’m falling in love with EU-style protests that involve more high-octane action. They seem to be so much more effective.

It feels so bad to be a whole century behind America.

The mess we’re in comes from the slave mentality of spending almost eight decades under inhuman communism and almost two decades under inhuman capitalism. Both systems took a heavy toll on the Ukrainian people via genocide and depopulation. We need something different.

Luida, Montyan often says the right things, but her clients, such as Tsushko and Kozha, make me sick.

In my mind, there’s quite a bit of cognitive dissonance between her image as a cop-buster and ambulance chaser, that is, Porsche Cayenne chaser.

DLW said...

Don't fool yourself that EU-style action has worked.

Where wd EU be if it were not for the US's generous aid after WWII?

Things are falling apart there and the high-octane protests against necessary changes to the status quo aren't helping too much.

You won't need a whole century to catch up, just keep in mind that who knows how long things wd have festered if Gorby hadn't been a closet Christian?

It takes faith to believe that nonviolent protests will overcome, when our natures scream out otherwise(as shown sadly in Tibet these days), but there is evidence that suggests this is true, though always hard to do.


Taras said...

David, EU-style protests often work like magic. Remember the 2006 labor protests in France?

In the EU, it’s up to the Europeans to decide how to protest. The same applies to other countries, including yours and mine.

I believe that the gap between America and Ukraine can be better expressed in terms of income distribution rather than in terms of intellectual capital. If Americans woke up in a country where they made $400 a month, instead of, say, $4,000, are you sure the protests would be peaceful, even among Christians?

You’re right to emphasize the breath-of-life role of the Marshall Plan. I think America realized perfectly well that her physical and financial security hinged on a strategic partnership with Europe. So, the question can be re-framed: Where would America be if it weren’t for her generous contribution to the post-WW II reconstruction of Europe?

There’s another question that can be re-framed: If things are falling apart in the EU, why would millions of people travel thousands of miles to reach that Promised Land? Perhaps the problems faced by the EU welfare state pale by comparison with the problems these people face in their newly industrializing home countries? (Keep in mind that Ukraine is an industrialized country.)

Gorby a closet Christian? You’re kidding, right? Just don’t tell this joke to the kids who died of cancer due to Chernobyl evacuation non-efforts. Don’t tell it to the folks who were sent to brave the radiation-ridden streets of Kyiv on May 1 Communist rallies, a mere week after the accident. Take the time to learn about the gory side of Gorby.

Don’t preach non-violence to Ihor Kinal, a 25-year old Ukrainian police officer who bled to death after being attacked with grenades by Serb militants in Kosova. (The use of firearms by police forces is prohibited by the UN in almost all circumstances.)

You can preach non-violence to the US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, who “mistakenly” bomb wedding ceremonies and shoot at innocent people from the hip. You and I and the Dalai Lama can preach it to the big shots in Washington who sent them there and keep them coming home in boxes.

Thankfully, Ukraine is not China. We have a more democratic regime here. We Ukrainians can make it even more democratic if we take to the streets more often.

That doesn’t using violence as the vehicle for change. That means taking regular concerted action to let our voices be heard.

DLW said...

If you read the Wiki article carefully, the French protests were "mostly peaceful, protests".

The issue is whether those who were violent and extremely polemic were in fact key for its success. Or did the protests succeed despite them?

We all choose our own paths, but that doesn't mean that all paths lead to "salvation" understood holistically. "Anti-Capitalism" in France has taken it in the rear with the decision to elect Sarkosy and the many divisions among Socialists in France. The serious problems that helped almost get the Contrat première embauche into law have not gone away. The protests won a battle, not the war.

Ukrainians have already demonstrated that they are capablle of protesting peacefully with the Orange Revolution. Their context of serious poverty does not determine how they act. The problem is with the extent of the problem and some serious failures of leadership that have tragically harmed many others. The problem does not lie with nonviolent protest.

I am not kidding of Gorby. It is not his fault that the wages of Soviet oppression paved the way for Chernobyl. And, yes, he may have been corrupted by power somewhat, but that doesn't change the fact that he helped make other changes possible and was apparently motivated to do so by his faith.

I hope you do build up habits of protesting more frequently in Ukraine, not unlike France w.out the violence.

State violence has it's place in establishing and protecting order, but it's not ever going to bring lasting changes in our fucked-up world and political outsiders like you and I, in our respective countries, are not going to facillitate changes by trying to outdo the experts in violence.

But hopefully, we can help motivate our country-people to take courageous stands against injustices more often.


DLW said...

I don't know what to say man, at this point, but Go with God.


Taras said...

It’s OK, David. We’re all human. We can’t always write when the moment feels right. (I’m saying this as a person who often experiences writer’s block.)

I lived in the USSR long enough to learn not to take Soviet officials’ statements at face value.

But, of course, it depends on how we define Christianity. If Chernovetsky is a Christian, then I see no problem with Gorbachev’s Christianity. In fact, in many respects, I liked the latter more than I do the former.

But if you want my opinion, I wouldn’t call Gorbachev a closet Christian. It’s because of his failure to act decisively following the Chernobyl disaster. He’s the guy who tried to keep it in the closet.

The Soviet policy of sweeping things under the carpet and evacuating people slowly cost too many lives. If you come to Kyiv again, please visit the Chernobyl Museum.

The video link to Marginalia relates to Gorbachev’s attempts to suppress the independence movement in the Baltics in January 1991. (A similar crackdown had taken place in the Republic of Georgia in April 1989.)

Gorbachev did many things. Many of them were good. But not all of them. So, while Gorbachev’s overall role may be positive, I’d rather refrain from portraying him as a closet Christian.

Now let’s get back to the issue of violence.

In democratic Western societies, the propensity to engage in political protests tends to correlate with economic conditions.

If, by some force, the American middle class found itself living by the Ukrainian social contract, I believe that violent protests would erupt. I also believe that participation in these protests would not be limited to self-identified atheists.

Still, I agree that violence is not the way.

I think the protests in France succeeded because of the protesters’ high intensity and involvement. That’s what I meant by "high-octane." The passion for burning things can either burn out or get someone burned. It’s the fire inside that we should keep alive to fire things up.

France and Ukraine face a different set of problems, but the idea behind protests remains the same: Don’t shut up about it; stand up for you rights.

If you stop caring, if you stop protesting, if you stop voting, you only make it worse for yourself and for future generations.