As known, during Olympics-80 the soviet authorities were forcefully bringing homeless, beggars, prostitutes, criminals and alcoholics somewhere far from the host cities. And while they were walking back home the sport event came and went, so foreign guests did not even see them. On the eve of the Euro-2012 everyone wondered whether the history would repeat itself.
At the beginning of the championship the capital authorities declared they were not going to touch homeless people, nor bringing them somewhere far away. However, Kyiv residents noted that the number of homeless people and beggars in pubic places reduced significantly. Hence, ForUm held investigation on where all the homeless were gone and who was involved.
First we went to Khreshchyatyk. Inside the fan-zone we found no homeless people, while on the surrounding territories there were just a few, checking garbage bins or catching a few rays.
One of the passing-by persons of interest, Eska, kindly agreed to tell us about his plans for Euro.
- I am from Kyiv. I live under the arc in the church. I am not just hanging around, I am working here, fixing color music on the main stage.
Obviously, we ask who offered him such a nice job and how much he is paid.
- Nobody offered. I was born with music. They pay $600 per day (no comments).
In response to the question if someone asked him to leave the city for the period of the championship, Eska backed off and ran away. Well, he seemed like a person, which knew exactly what to say and what to keep for himself.
Then we went to the security guards of the fan-zone.
- Do you have an order not to let in the homeless?
- We do not let in dirty and drunk people. The homeless know they are not welcome in the fan-one so they stay away, walking around and hoping to snag something.
So, to find out the plans of the homeless we had to go to their 'natural habitat' - railway station. And we found them there, half sleeping on parapets.
- I am from Donetsk and I don't drink, says one of them. - I just don't have money. I'd love to work for Euro, but nobody is offering. Soon I'll gather some money and will go back home. We also have a championship there, you know.
In turn, some sellers on the stations believe that the homeless were taken away.
- We see only newcomers, says a saleswoman Larysa. - The locals we know are gone. Earlier, every morning two police officers used to come and deal with the homeless. Now, neither police nor the homeless show up again.
Another saleswoman told us that Euro is a big festival for the homeless.
- There was a group of them one day. Some got clothes from Swedish fans, others were finishing fans' beers. That's why they are no longer here on the station, but somewhere near the stadium and Khreshchyatyk.
Then we went to the Kyiv police department, where the spokesman Ihor Mykhalkov told us the police did not take the homeless. According to the official, we have to ask the security guards of the fan-zone, UEFA and private security firms, which are responsible for the public order during the championship.
Former head of the state police department in Kyiv Vitaly Yarema agreed to tell us how the police forces cooperate with the homeless and beggars.
According to him, the law provides for administrative responsibility for mendicancy and prowling. Police officers take such people to the reception centre of the department, where the homeless can get medical assistance and food. The special state service even cleans and disinfects their clothes. After the cleaning procedure the homeless are delivered to the department for identification. The police officers also try to find out the plans for the future, but most probably such people have no intention to get employed. Hence the homeless are given a paper that they stayed in the reception center and then are released. Most probably they will pick up where they left.
If there is no crime there are no grounds to detain a person. When a police officer sees, and sometimes even smells, a homeless, he has a right to question this person. If it turns out that this person is beggar the police officer has a right to deliver the homeless to the reception center. There are no other legal grounds to detain a person.
Vitaly Yarema believes it should be the task of social services to follow the cases of the homeless. Unfortunately, ForUm was unable to get any comments from the social services. Every time we tried we merely hit the wall.
"I don't know where the homeless could have gone. May be they have been engaged into some useful activity, or may be security guards are just doing their jobs, preventing the homeless from entering public areas," Yarema said.
The former official reminded that in Soviet times the Criminal Code had an article "Vagrancy or mendicancy". If a person did not work for four months in a year he faced a two-year imprisonment term. In Soviet times there were less homeless people in the streets, but it does not mean that the problem was solved. At the same time, Yarema pointed out that the homeless are not criminals, but unfortunate people, who ended up like this due to various sad circumstances, hence the problem is social. And the best solution of the problem is to form a municipal police. "The current departments charged with this task have to focus on more pressing issue, like robberies or other crimes. The main forces are sent to fight serious crimes, while petty violations, like illegal parking, unauthorized sale or begging are left unattended," Yarema said.
In the end we decided to ask the very fans about the problem of homeless people in Kyiv.
- We've seen some homeless in Kyiv, but not so many. Personally, I did not have any problems with them. In Germany the homeless are not subjected to persecution. We have special places where the homeless can sleep. Such places are maintained by social organizations.
Christer , Sweden:
- We've seen some homeless and beggars in Kyiv, but not gypsies. The homeless we saw were sitting quietly with their bowls for donation. I've never come across aggressive or annoying homeless. In our country the police do not pursue the homeless, but we have a xenophobic political party, which wants to legally forbid the mendicancy. In general, the homeless live in big cities. The small town like mine does not have beggars.
Summing up the results of the investigation we can say that the practice of 'forceful removal' of the homeless and beggars does not prove to be efficient. Such people will simply keep a low profile for the time being, but will eventually return to their life style in the city streets. Ukraine needs a large-scaled program to deal with such people, otherwise the problem will remain.
Anastasia Pika, photo of Viktor Kovalchuk
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