Slovyansk police department was seized two years ago and soon the town was occupied by militants.
In April 2014, there appeared a lot of patrols consisting of Russian diversionists and local militants in Slovyansk. There were militants and police officers who were now under occupants control. Witnesses of these events, which happened two years ago, say that they had a strong feeling that they were in the theatre of the absurd. However, it was a bloody theatre where people got killed.
Peace in Slovyansk is dubious now, still, it is peace. Part 1
After Volodymyr Rybak, deputy of Horlivka Town Council was kidnapped, Oleh Zontov decided to leave the Donetsk region. (Volodymyr Rybak was kidnapped from a separatist rally on April 17. He tried to prevent separatists from hoisting the “flag” of the “Donetsk people’s republic” on the police building seized by militants. The man was tortured, then militants cut his stomach open, put salt inside and threw Volodymyr Rybak into a river in the vicinity of Slovyansk where he was found several days later).
Oleh Zontov found out that his name was on separatists’ “black lists” which they had at each checkpoint. Residents who had exposed their pro-Ukrainian position, town councils deputies, local business people, heads of those enterprises which terrorists were going to run themselves — all those people were on the lists. Such a person could be detained at a checkpoint or kidnapped from his or her home.
Oleh had to disguise to be able to follow the events in occupied Slovyansk and neighbouring Kramatorsk for some more time. Still, he did not feel safe any more even when he was at home. He did not go to extraordinary sessions which took place in the seized town administration building. During those sessions, which were scheduled for April 28 and 30, all the deputies voted for legalizing the rule of “people’s mayor”: a corresponding position was invented for Vyacheslav Ponomaryov and Nelya Shtepa (Slovyansk head at that time) had to resign from the position of the mayor under separatists’ pressure.
“All forty-two deputies who were present there voted unanimously for giving the premises of the Town Council building to the illegal armed formation “Slovyansk people’s squat”, says Oleh Zontov, “That “squat” united militants. So, the fact that the building had been seized by a gang consisting of separatists and traitors was legalized on the local level. The decision on preparing Slovyansk for the so-called “referendum for proclaiming the “Donetsk people’s republic” which took place in the Donetsk region on May 11” was taken and the process started.
My interlocutor does not agree with the fact that Nelya Shtepa (ex-mayor of Slovyansk) is the only authorities representative who is to be sued for separatism. According to Oleh Zontov’s words, he telephoned a lot of civil servants of high rank on the first days of the town occupation, but none of them could give him any instructions what to do.
“I telephoned myself, I got some phone calls as a journalist and the Town Council deputy. Still, whoever we called, said: “Be brave” and that was that, they did not give us a single piece of advice, a single instruction as for what we had to do and how to behave”.
After Slovyansk had been liberated, Oleh Zontov came back and was an acting mayor for more than a year, up to the local election.
“First, I did not communicate with those who supported separatists two years ago, I did not even say “Hello” to them. However, later, my professional duties forced us to solve some issues together and thus to communicate”, confesses Oleh Zontov. “Now, when I look at those cities and towns where the war still goes on, I think that peace is dubious in Slovyansk now, still, it is peace. We will be able to bring those territories which are occupied now under Ukrainian control only if we manage to prove that life under the rule of Ukraine is really better. We must constantly remind them that occupied territories are an indispensable part of Ukraine and we remember about those people who are now held hostage by the occupants”.
As “FAKTY” journalists managed to find out, only one Slovyansk police officer who violated the oath in April 2014, was sentenced to eight years in prison. He has appealed against the decision of the court. As for ex-head of Slovyansk police and his deputy, they managed to run away. The case of Oleksandr Davydenko, who is accused of negligence and creating a terrorist organization has been sent to court but the hearing has not started yet. It is practically impossible to find out if any cases against the rest of the police officers who collaborated with the occupants have been opened and how many cases there are altogether. The General Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine sent them for investigation to other regions of the country to remain objective.
It took nearly three months to liberate Slovyansk from the occupants.
Vira Zhychko, “Facty” (Donetsk)
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