"We hear about new offenses every week. The only difference is that this time, there was a video."
Yaroslav Minkin is the coordinator of the human rights center “Postup” and the founder of the Facebook group “Fight against possessed mazhors
” (mazhor is a Russian slang word for gilded youth).
“I think Landik’s swift arrest and expulsion from the Regional Party was probably just for show. He most likely won’t get a real sentence. There hasn’t been a single case in Ukraine where an active official – or the close relative of an active official – has been punished for a misdemeanour in accordance with the law. So this case is very important for Ukraine. If Landik is appropriately punished, then a top official may think twice in the future before committing a serious offence. That’s why it’s so important to us that Landik receive the sentence that is statutory under Ukrainian law. We’re pushing for the investigation to be made transparent, we will try to attend every court hearing and inform the public and press of everything that is going on. We really hope that, as a result, this case won’t be hushed up.
'The people who witnessed the beating in the café just ignore the scene or walk away'
After the Landik case made headlines, we began receiving letters and calls from people who had had very similar problems with Ukrainian officials. Some of them felt it was unfair that their situations hadn’t been equally reported in the media. We find out about new offenses nearly every week – committed not just by government officials but also by rich businessmen with good connections within the government. The only difference in this case is that this time, there was a video. It’s impossible, after watching the video, to ignore the fact that this man has committed a crime. If there were videos containing such undeniable evidence in every other case, it would be much easier to punish unruly officials.
Today, people are afraid of such offenders. You see in the video that people who witness the beating in the café don’t try to intervene, they just ignore the scene or walk away. That’s because most people in Lugansk know who Landik is, and fear him. People are afraid to participate in demonstrations denouncing the problem, or to openly talk about abuse they may have been victims of. They tell us 'I work for a company owned by Landik’s father', or 'I’m just young, I don’t want any problems.' Another factor is the deep-running misogyny in Ukrainian society. Gender violence, especially violence against women, is considered somehow ‘normal’ by many people. But I think that factor played a less important role than sheer fear of Landik’s power.
We have created an activist group based in Lugansk, to fight against the unlawful behaviour of activists and their children. We have branches in many Ukrainian cities. Journalists, human rights activists, men of law – everyone is sick of this situation and wants such men to be punished.”
In a separate incident, also caught on security camera, the son of a high-ranking Ukrainian judge beat up a security guard who tried to escort him out of a nightclub on July 7. This time, no one was arrested. Video posted on YouTube by Gazetaua