According to the draft bill, submitted by six opposition deputies, Ukrainian special police forces, internal troops and military students of Interior Ministry may be barred from maintaining public order during mass events. Only officers of police departments will follow rallies, meetings and protest actions. Moreover, the draft bill proposes to oblige police officers to carry badges for people to identify them.

Badges must contain full information about officers, including names, titles and departments they work in. It will be forbidden to hide badges or impede citizens to register information written on them. For attempts to hide the badge or impede citizens to register information police officers will be fined for 850 - 5100 hryvnias. For the same violations, as well as wearing masks during peaceful mass assemblies, the fine will be increased to 5100 - 13 600 hryvnias. 

ForUm spoke to experts to learn how justified such measures are and what Ukrainians should expect from this ban:

Oleh Martynenko, doctor of law, expert:

The idea of badges is excellent, but MPs lie when say no additional expenses are needed to realize it. Production of badges is a costly affair. We have about 400 thousand police officers in Ukraine, and a metal or plastic badge for everyone will cost the budget a fortune. Moreover, if officers change the position or department they will need new badges.

Secondly, banning special forces from maintaining public order during peaceful assemblies MPs proceed from the provision of the Constitution, which says internal troops do not have the right to restrict freedoms and rights of citizens. Following the same provision, patrolling the streets is also considered as restriction of rights and freedoms, thus internal troops can not involved as well. However, if we ban internal troops from maintaining public order and patrolling the streets, there will be no one to keep order: patrol service does not have enough officers and public formations are very weak in Ukraine. As a result, the state will have "to top up" the patrol services, which means more budget expenses.

Then there is question to the definition of peaceful assemblies. The draft bill stipulates for rallies, street marches, protest actions and other peaceful assemblies. "Other peaceful assemblies" disagrees with the rest of the list. There are some rallies and protest actions, which are not peaceful at all, never have been, never will be. If two fan clubs meet in the central square and start fighting, such meeting will never be a peaceful assembly, and without special forces or internal troops this 'meeting' can become a mass slaughter.

Summing up, the idea of the draft bill is indeed excellent, A+ I would say, but poor presentation and realization of the draft bill discredit this good idea, so I will give D -. 
Mykhailo Korniyenko, Police Colonel-General, doctor of law, professor, acting interior minister in 2007, chairman of the expert consulting council of the Interior Ministry:

- The clause of the draft bill on barring special force and internal troops from maintaining order during mass events was developed by an idiot. I am sorry, but I have no other name for this 'author'. Any reasonable person understands that this draft bill is nothing but a publicity, and MPs themselves know their proposition will never be adopted. Internal troops must be involved into maintaining of public order, it is a world practice. If something happens in the crowd, there must be someone to react adequately.

As for badges for police officers, it is also a world practice and we should adopt it. There are moments when a police officer does not have time or a possibility to show his ID, but with the badge people will see that this person is a representative of law enforcements. Traffic police officers already have similar badges, and I support the idea to introduce this norm for all law enforcement departments.

Ihor Mykhalko, spokesman of Interior Ministry department in Kyiv:

- It is too early to comment on this initiative, as it has not been considered and analyzed yet. If the draft bill is adopted, police forces will observe the requirements. However, before proposing such innovations as ID badges for officers, MPs should think first about the financial side of the question. In my personal opinion, the parliament should hurry with the adoption but consider the matter more deeply. For example, if during a mass event a fight happens, the question rises who will break up this fight. And if blood is spilled, only police forces will not be able to counter aggression.

Volodymyr Oliynyk, MP (Party of Regions), deputy chairman of parliamentary committee on legal provision of law enforcements activity:

- Interior Ministry has been created to maintain public order. If there is no conflict, we have two police officers patrolling the area, and no problems. But if there is a mass gathering and conflicts are expected, we do need special forces to protect people. "Berkut" has never attacked peaceful participants. "Berkut" is called only when there is a conflict. Such practice is common in U.S. and Europe, where officers with masks and shields participate in a rally. It is Armed Forces which cannot be involved into mass events, but internal troops can be and should be called in case of necessity.

Gennady Moscal, MP (BYuT), former deputy interior minister of Ukraine, author of the draft bill:

- Peaceful assemblies is a constitutional right of citizens to express their position. Special forces are used for capturing armed criminals or during mass unrest and disorders. Thus, why should we call "Berkut" to follow civilians? Internal troops have nothing to do with maintenance of public order, and 17th article of the Constitution clearly says that military formations cannot be used for restriction of rights and freedoms of citizens. For the record, internal troops are a military formation. 

The first requirement stipulated in the draft bill includes no masks - this is a peaceful meeting and officers should not hide their faces. Secondly, every police officer is a public figure and must have a badge with the name, position and department. These are European and world norms. And if we want to integrate into Europe, as our President  and government declare, why would not we introduce European standards regarding police activity? 

Thirdly, we do not need more people. There are regiments of patrol service in Kyiv, thus there are enough forces to maintain order and no "Berkut" is needed. If peaceful rally turns into mass disorder with fires and assaults, then yes, it becomes a criminal crime and "Berkut" has a full right to interfere.

Eduard Bagirov, human right activist:

- I support the idea of ID badges. The fact is that police officers often do not want to introduce themselves for various reasons, and the innovation with badges may solve the situation. As for special forces and internal troops, some ministers and governments use them to suppress protest actions, and I believe this practice will continue. The primary task of police forces is indeed to maintain order, but in different times and under different governments it means different things. Besides, the situation inside police forces and Interior Ministry is somewhat tense now, and it is hard to say whether the draft bill can help.


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