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Who is responsible for the arson of informal settlements on the eve of the Eurovision Song Contest? The question remains open.
Advisor to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Ivan Varchenko: today, there are no statements from victims.Photo by UHHRU.
Advisor to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Ivan Varchenko: today, there are no statements from victims.

Human rights activists declared that the investigation on the arson of spontaneous settlements in Kyiv is not happening. The representative of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine said that law enforcement officers are waiting on a statement about the crime.

In late March and early April in Kyiv residents of two unplanned settlements, inhabited by Roma, Hungarians and Ukrainians were evicted. The tents, in which these people lived, were set on fire. The press conference that took place on 26 April in the Glavkom News Agency was the first case when law enforcement responded to the statement of human rights defenders on the events that have the character of ethnic cleansing.

A lawyer-analyst of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union Olena Sapozhnikova said that the remains of the burned settlements in Berezniaki district were set on fire again in the night from 10 to 11 April.

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Olena Sapozhnikova. Photo by UHHRU.

The victim, a resident of the settlement, Rita Pasturma said that before they had been contacted by a representative of some political party, who invited the residents to leave the district as soon Kyiv would host the Eurovision song contest and they could see the guests. The woman said that the villagers received threats of the arson, which can be done by people with right-wing views. According to her, the representative of the political party promised to buy train tickets for them, but after the threats they started to leave the settlement.

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Rita Pasturma. Photo by UHHRU.

Petro Hrihorychenko, President of the All-Ukrainian Union of NGOs the Roma Congress of Ukraine, told about a similar case of the arson on the eve of the UEFA Euro 2012. According to him, despite the publicity and his statement on the Humanitarian Council under the President of Ukraine, the investigation had not been carried out properly and now the case is in the European Court of Human Rights.

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Petro Hrihorychenko. Photo by UHHRU.

Petro Hrihorychenko noted that the media often irresponsibly treat the image of Roma, unreasonably accusing them in a criminal way of life and provoking hostility to the whole ethnic group. He urged journalists to be responsible and appealed to the representative of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine with a request to do everything possible to protect the rights of victims of the arson and to ensure their safety.

Advisor to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Ivan Varchenko said that according to his information, the leader of the political movement "The United Force" Volodymyr Netrebenko was engaged in the issues of eviction of Roma from the Berezniaki district. Netrebenko, according to him, said that social activists along with politicians had bought the residents of the settlements tickets and helped organize their departure for Transcarpathia.

Ivan Varchenko said that according to operative information and reports in the media, today there is no statement law enforcement agencies could work with, regarding available data. Also there are no statements from victims. According to Ivan Varchenko, this is the one reality. Another reality is created by a statement of human rights defenders. It creates a different image of Ukraine as a state, and a different way.

"I would like to see our law enforcement officers, in particular those in police – investigators, to have a reason for a specific response”, said Advisor to the Interior Minister.

To the question by Olena Sapozhnikova, if the public statement of human rights defenders and the victim regarding the arson and destruction of property is a sufficient basis for the start of the investigation, Ivan Varchenko said that firstly, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine will give an official reply to the statement of the NGOs, and second – the representatives of the victim who is afraid to contact the police for threats on the basis of specific materials, nevertheless, has to write a statement about the crime to the district police department. Then, according to the representative of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, there is a chance to seek justice.

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