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A First-Hand Account from Ukraine



CEE Legal Matters has asked a number of Ukrainian lawyers who were personally involved in the events on Maidan Nezalezhnosti ("Independence Square") in Kiev to describe both their reasons for being there and the dramatic events they witnessed. This, the first such account, was sent to us by Dmytro Ivanusa, the Head of Legal at Donoway Assurance (Ukraine), a Member of Crowe Horwath International. We want to thank Dmytro for taking the time to write this exclusive account for our readers. 

Dmytro Ivanusa, Head of Legal, Donoway Assurance

Why was I on Independence Square (Maidan) during the most dramatic days and nights? The answer is very simple - I do not want either me or my family to be enslaved in my own country. 

True jurists cannot accept what Ukraine has been converted into the last three years. Someone who accepts this can not be a jurist, but just a person who for some reason graduated from a law school.  

I do ask you, what reaction would a normal person have, if the Chief of his State is a twice-convicted illiterate criminal with corresponding ideology and behavior, and the prime-minister differs from the Chief of the State only in the absence of convictions? How to relate to the fact that due to falsified elections the parliamentary majority is the party of oligarchs, criminals, ukrainophobes, and former communists; and that courts of justice, prosecutor offices, police, tax and customs services – almost all local authorities – are totally corrupt? Why are there no State finances to pay wages and pensions, and the State budget is plundered by the family of the President, by oligarchs and members of the ruling party, including through illegal tenders and tax evasion? Why do they destroy small and average businesses, while large businesses are taken away in favor of the family of the President, his minions, or members of the ruling party in illegal ways? Why it is forbidden to protest and censorship is actually introduced? 

As a jurist and advocate who has practiced law for 20 years I am especially disappointed at the absence of justice in Ukraine. The constitutional principle of the rule of law is not observed. Courts of law are not independent, and they judge not according to the law, but rather sell rulings or decide as requested by  State authorities. You can buy any office in any court and very often young judges are not even aware of the very principles of law. In a Ukrainian court of law you can build a legally irreproachable and confirmed position for a client, observing all necessary procedures, but nonetheless lose your case simply because your opponent is a corrupted official. Seek what country is found among the leaders for applying to the European Court of Human Rights and look through the statistics of this court regarding the cases against Ukraine. 

To apply for protection to the prosecutor’s office or police is not simply useless, but dangerous, because people join these forces not in order to protect the law, but to steal money from their fellow citizens. No one can investigate complex crimes, since all professionals retired a long time ago. The State, gathering taxes from taxpayers, spends this money to train divisions of police tasked not with investigation, but instead with dispersing demonstrations of taxpayers.

I do ask you, what would you name a social system where one group of people has no rights, and is in fact owned by another group of people; and this second group includes armed people. It is definitely not a democracy. And this is what Yanukovych and his mob wanted, and this is what I don’t, and this is what brought me to Maidan. 

What did I feel on Maidan? Fear that they can kill or mutilate me? At the beginning yes, certainly. I am indeed a normal person who wants to live and does not like pain. In front of my eyes they killed and wounded people who could have been my parents, brothers, or children. Try to imagine my feeling when you focus your attention on a young fellow with a home-made wooden shield unable to resist bullets who directs himself to the side of shooting, and in a couple of minutes later this guy is brought back killed by a shot in his head. And this is neither a computer game or a movie  you can stop and rewind. What stopped me from fleeing? The fury I felt towards Yanukovych and his mob ordered to murder us. And the thirst of justified retribution. And the possibility that some day my son would ask the question: “Dad, why did you run away?” Fear then disappeared because I was among thousands of unarmed people who, with open hearts, prayers, and the words from our anthem “we will give soul and body” fought under the bullets of sniper for my freedom. 

Now there is pain, pride, and hope in my heart. Pain for those who were murdered and wounded, pride for my people, and hope that this time we will be able to change everything and build a rule-of-law state. 

In 1991 Ukraine gained independence without a fight. In 2014 they tried to take it away. This is our war for independence. 

I am a jurist, and for me the words from the United States' Declaration of Independence have value. “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness”. I am confident that Yanukovych does not know about existence of this document, or know its author. But I believe that soon he will learn other words of Thomas Jefferson: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants”. The Heavenly Hundred has its blood shed. It is the tyrant’s turn.

(The thoughts, opinions, and assertions contained in this account are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of CEE Legal Matters).

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