In Digest, Ukraine

Introduction by New Cold, July 7, 2015

Recent news brings further evidence of the erosion of Ukrainian sovereignty.

Training of the country’s armed forces and extremist militias by the U.S., UK and Canada is increasing following formal agreements earlier this year. Likewise for the country’s police forces, as AFP reports below. The financing and training of police in Ukraine are undergoing significant increases from foreign powers.

Meanwhile in Odessa, the administration of the appointed governor, the Georgian fugitive from law Mikhail Saakashvili, will henceforth be funded by the U.S. government. Odessa is a multinational region in southern Ukraine where opposition remains high to the government which came to power following the overthrow of YUkraine’s elected president in February 2014. On May 2, 2014, extreme-right vigilantes carried out a massacre of pro-democracy, pro-autonomy protesters, killing at least 48. The perpetrators of the killings remain free.

The countries providing police training in Ukraine, including the U.S. and Canada, are home to a significant erosion in public trust and confidence in policing. As Reuters reports from a police induction ceremony in Kyiv on July 4 for 2,000 police trained by the U.S. and Canada, “Reports about excessive police violence and racism have put U.S. police in the headlines in recent months.”

U.S.-trained police to be “rolled out” across Ukraine

AFP, July 6, 2015
U.S. trained Ukrainian police graduates welcomed by President Poroshenko in Kyiv on July 4, 2015 (Sergie Supinsky, AFP)

U.S. trained Ukrainian police graduates welcomed by President Poroshenko in Kyiv on July 4, 2015 (Sergie Supinsky, AFP)

Some 2,000 young, athletic, U.S.-trained Ukrainians on Saturday swore oaths to enforce the law — and resist the temptation to take bribes — at the launch of a new police service in Kiev to replace a notoriously corrupt force.*

Hands on their hearts, the new recruits assembled on a central square and  sang the national anthem, watched by President Petro Poroshenko, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Kiev mayor Vitali Klitschko and the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt. Stamping out graft among the police has been a key priority of Ukraine’s new pro-Western government.

“Believe me, your job will be no easier than that of soldiers in the Donbass,” Poroshenko told the recruits, referring to the eastern region where government forces are locked in a 17-month conflict with pro-Russian insurgents, in which over 6,500 people have died.

“The main danger zone,” Poroshenko told the officers, who will patrol the streets and monitor traffic, was “not where the bullets are whizzing but where the banknotes are rustling” — a reference to the backhanders often sought by traffic police particularly to turn a blind eye to transgressions.

The head of the new force is a 28-year-old former commander of a pro-government volunteer battalion [sic], who spent time on the frontline in the east.

The successful candidates were selected from over 33,000 applicants and received training from U.S. police. Around one in five are women.

Members of the previous force will be required to undergo tests to determine whether they have the fitness level necessary for patrols.

Deputy interior minister, Eka Zguladze, a Georgia native among several officials from Georgia and Baltic states to be given senior posts in Ukraine’s new administration, spearheaded the shake-up of the force. The U.S. contributed $15 million to the effort, with Japan, Australia, Canada and other countries also chipping in funds.

Zguladze, who carried out similar reforms in Georgia under that country’s former pro-Western president Mikhail Saakashvili, told AFP she had “the utmost faith” in the new officers. “They are strong, they will succeed,” she said.

The new service is to be progressively rolled out to other cities, including the southern city of Odessa, Kharkiv in the east and Lviv in the west.

* AFP does not mention what is reported in other news outlets–the new U.S. et altrained police force is to replace the existing traffic police force.

Reuters video report on U.S.-trained police induction ceremony in Kyiv, July 4, 2015

“Reports about excessive police violence and racism have put U.S. police in the headlines in recent months.”

Read also:
In the first five days of July, American police killed 20 people, by Shaun King, Daily Kos, July 6, 2015

The U.S. government has no comprehensive record of the number of people killed by law enforcement. This lack of basic data has been glaring amid the protests, riots and worldwide debate set in motion by the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old, in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014.

The Counted: People killed by police in the United States in 2015, a special project of The Guardian (killed year to date, July 7, 2015: 577)

U.S. to pay salaries of Governor Saakashvili’s team in Odessa,, July 6, 2015

‘Saakashvili Go Home!’: Odessa activists demand dismissal of appointed ‘governor’, Sputnik News, July 6, 2015


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