Monitoring the case of Alexander Shchegolev (session 07/03/2019)

On July 3, 2019, in the Shevchenkovsky District Court of Kiev, a regular court session was held in the case of the former head of the Main Directorate of the Security Service of Ukraine in Kiev and the Kiev Region Alexander Shchegolev, who is accused of leading the headquarters of the anti-terrorist operation against Maidan supporters (winter 2013-2014).

At the previous session on June 26, Alexander Shchegolev was changed the measure of restraint to round-the-clock house arrest.

Experts from the International Society for Human Rights continue to monitor this lawsuit.

The hearing began with examining, provided by the prosecutor’s office, of video evidence – Channel 5 broadcast from Maidan 2013-2014. In the video there is a blazing fire, and behind the scenes, a female voice reciting a prayer in Ukrainian with a strong American accent. The announcer speaks about the ongoing confrontation between the protesters and the security forces, and that the “titushki” (people opposing Maidan) in the uniform of “Maidan self-defense” throw grenades and shoot, and supporters of the “Maidan” build barricades. None of this is visible in the video.

Commenting on this passage, the prosecutor says that by organizing a fire the Maidan is being protected from law enforcement and does not violate public order. Lawyer V. Rybin said that the defense against the onset of law enforcement and a fire in the city center can hardly be called a peaceful protest. He also noted that the accused is not present on this video and the House of Trade Unions appearing in the prosecution is not even visible. Attorney K. Legkikh added that a video was watched at the last session where Maidan participants claimed to have used “Molotov cocktails” against law enforcement officers. General Shchegolev pointed out that words were heard on the video that the protesters could not overcome the police, and this is a violent act.

Continued to watch the video. In the frame of the assault on the “Maidan”, protesters go on the offensive, throw stones, beat law enforcement officers with sticks. Someone commands into the microphone the supporters of the “Maidan” to advance. They talk about the capture of one riot police officer. In the video, he is covered in blood, he is beaten, the fire continues.

Commenting on this passage, the prosecutor says that there are a lot of old people and children on the video (but almost nothing is visible there because of the fire and smoke), most of the protesters are peaceful protest, and the confrontation is solely due to the actions of law enforcement officers. He also added that no one beat the captured police officer and there is no offense in this. Lawyer V. Rybin expressed his indignation at the rally and beating of the police officer by the protesters and noted that what is shown on the screen has nothing to do with the indictment, General Shchegolev is not on the screen, and the indictment states that at that time he was generally in a different place.

The judge agreed with the lawyer, but noted that he could not prohibit the prosecution from providing the evidence that they wanted to investigate.

Lawyer K. Legkikh said that the captured police officer was beaten, and this can be seen in the video. Moreover, a voice similar to the voice of Alexander Turchinov (one of the major Ukrainian politicians who lead the Maidan) called “to transfer everything to the front lines,” and the lawyer believes that it was about explosives. He also reminded those present that in previous sessions the prosecutor said that all the protesters were peaceful, and now – most of them. General Shchegolev, as a person directly related to law enforcement agencies, said that everyone on video had just seen the taking of a hostage – a criminal offense.

Further, on air of Channel 5, the announcer talks about blocking part of the internal troops from the side of the protesters, broken gates, arson of the checkpoint and barracks, as well as the seizure of several more police officer. According to the channel, one of the captured hands was torn off. It was further reported that in Rovno, Maidan’s supporters stormed the riot police base and disarmed more than 50 law enforcement officers, in Lvov, Ivano-Frankovsk and Ternopol captured the Regional State Administration, the prosecutor’s office, set fire to the building of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the barracks.

Trying to explain something, the prosecutor says that at first everyone was peaceful and only after aggression by law enforcement they began to resist. Lawyer V. Rybin again called on the court to return to the framework of the indictment, since the video being viewed does not contain information about the crimes allegedly incriminated to General Shchegolev.

Then the commentator on the video announced the breakthrough of the riot police “Berkut” on the 6th floor of the House of Trade Unions(Shchegolev is accused of ordering to set it on fire). Someone yells into the microphone: “Unions are on fire! This is Berkut, not us!”

Attorney K. Legkikh drew attention to the fact that the video was interrupted for 20 seconds after reporting that Berkut had entered the 6th floor. According to him, in this cut out fragment supporters of the “Maidan” tell what they are doing in the House of Trade Unions. In addition, the defender noted that, according to the channel, the fire did not spread on the floors where the Berkut was. Lawyer Rybin protested because there was an official examination of the causes of the fire, which confirmed that the fire was due to the bottles of combustible mixture brought to the House of Trade Unions.

Meanwhile, on Channel 5 video, one of the Maidan organizers shouted into the microphone again: “Set fire to everything that burns! The fire subsides, you need to maintain it!”

At 10:35 am, about an hour and a half after the start of the session, the military entered the room and asked everyone to leave the courthouse, because it was reported that it was mined. The session was adjourned.

Experts from the International Society for Human Rights will continue to monitor this trial. The previous materials can be found here.