[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website], in a letter [text] sent on Friday, called on Ukrainian authorities to end intimidation tactics against those allegedly the victim of police violence. The letter detailed concerns surrounding the treatment of two groups of protesters. The groups were protesting on November 30 at Independence Square and December 1 on Bankova Street to protest President Viktor Yanukovich’s [official website; BBC profile] decision to abandon the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement [EU backgrounder]. Both groups of protesters report mistreatment by riot police and subsequent intimidation tactics by prosecutor’s offices in attempts to keep the individuals from pursuing claims against the police. Prosecutors visited homes of the victims and offered them plea deals or threatened to bring heavier charges against them. In the letter, HRW wrote:
We are concerned that the pressure, intimidation, and failure to take timely action seriously undermines the credibility of the important public pledge you made on December 1 to investigate riot police using violence against protesters at Independence Square on November 30. We urge you to ensure that every complaint be thoroughly investigated in a timely manner, before evidence fades, and that all pressure and intimidation against complainants cease immediately.
HRW requested that Ukraine hold true to their pledge to investigate all of these complaints and bring those responsible to justice. According to reports Yanukovich felt pressure to abandon the trade pact from Russian President Vladimir Putin [official website, in Russian; JURIST news archive], who threatened trade sanctions should the Ukraine back the EU’s trade plan. Ukraine is currently facing a serious economic crisis.
Ukraine’s parliament has passed a measure [Anadolu Agency report] granting amnesty for these protesters after Yanukovich proposed the plan [JURIST report] earlier this month. Protests began earlier this month when demonstrators took to the streets of Kiev to protest [JURIST report] Yanukovych’s decision to abandon a proposed trade pact with the EU. In October, Yanukovich agreed to sign a law allowing former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko [personal website; JURIST news archive], who was jailed in 2011 on abuse of power and corruption charges and charged with murder [JURIST reports] in January, to travel abroad for medical treatment. Ukraine’s opposition parties clashed with Yanukovich in November 2012 when they demanded a recount [JURIST report] on parliamentary elections that maintained Yanukovich’s power.