Statement on the appointment of a top Yanukovych-era Interior Ministry official to the Office of the President Zelensky

Читати українською

We, the representatives of human rights and other civil society organizations, express our deep concern about the appointment of individuals to top positions in the government, in particular to positions that allow to shape law enforcement policy and to reform the law enforcement system. These individuals discredited themselves during the Revolution of Dignity and while holding top positions in the law enforcement bodies were directly or indirectly involved in mass-scale human rights violations.

The statement is a reaction to the appointment of former Deputy Head of the Main Investigative Department of the Ministry of Interior Mr Oleh Tatarov to the position of the Deputy Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine. According to the information published on the President’s official website: “Oleh Tatarov’s mandate will include shaping of the state policy in the area of law enforcement activity, providing expert analytical support of the work of the Office of the President of Ukraine, safeguarding national security interests in the area of the law enforcement, fighting corruption and protecting human rights.” We want to remind that during the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych and the EuroMaidan, Oleh Tatarov worked as the Deputy Head of the Main Investigative Department of the Ministry of Interior.

In 2014, Oleh Tatarov directly lied to journalists on the events that happened at night on January 23rd, 2014 at Kriposnyi Lane and Konovaltsia street in Kyiv. That night, representatives of the riot police unit Berkut had beaten activists of AutoMaidan and smashed their cars. According to Tatarov’s version, it was the activists of AutoMaidan who “chased four buses of Berkut” and “attempted to injure them” that night. 

The lawyer of families of the Heavenly Hundred, Yevheniya Zakrevska said that the lies spread by Tatarov legitimize “inhuman beating up, tortures and destruction of vehicles of activists during a special operation (i.e. organized crime) which was planned by and executed by Berkut the unit, Drug Enforcement Unit of Ministry of Interior, Criminal Police, contracted thugs (aka titushky), top management of the Kyiv Department of Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Interior.” Beaten activists were then arrested, and most of them later were detained, accused of “hooliganism and mass riots” according to Tatarov’s words.

On top of that, during the presidency of Yanukovych, Tatarov, in the role of the Deputy Head of the Main Investigative Department of the Ministry of Interior, on many occasions publicly stated that police were not involved in violence and killings that happened during EuroMaidan. In particular, he made statements that police were not using firearms against protestors and that the nature of the wounds of the killed protesters may indicate they could have been shot at by fellow protestors. Following the Revolution of Dignity, there were attempts to appoint Tatarov to the position of the Deputy Head of Kherson Regional Administration. 

However, after the resonance in the media the Head of the Kherson Regional Administration refused the idea of Tatarov’s appointment. Katya Handziuk, who later was assaulted and killed, criticized and opposed the idea of Tatarov's appointment too. 

Given above-said, we call on the President of Ukraine to dismiss Oleh Tatarov from the position of the Deputy Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine and in future, prevent the appointment of individuals who took top seats in law enforcement, who
justified and covered mass crimes and human rights violations, and who themselves epitomize the Yanukovych regime.