THE president of Ukraine has promised that he will not stand for people in privileged positions escaping justice in an attempt to quell furious public anger over the alleged rape of a woman by two policemen that has led to the storming of one police station.
Irina Krashova said she was raped by two police officers in the southern town of Vradiyevka as she made her way home on the night of 26 June. The assault left the 29-year-old mother with a fractured skull and multiple cuts and bruises.
The Krashova case has provoked a furious reaction in Ukraine. Ukrainians have become deeply frustrated with official corruption and an apparent immunity to prosecution that puts the police and state
officials far above the law.
Successive governments have come and gone since the country regained its independence in 1991 and despite protestations that they will improve the rule of law many Ukrainians believe justice is still too often dictated by the whims of the ruling elite.
“I will not tolerate impunity, especially when it comes to those who should protect people and not violate any laws,” said president Viktor Yanukovych. “Those who are guilty have no place in law enforcement. They should be punished with all the rigour of the law.”
Ukrainians believe justice is still too often dictated by the whim of ruling elite and who you know.
Despite a clear statement from the victim identifying her attackers, it took police four days to make the first arrest while one of the accused officers
remained at liberty for longer because he claimed he was on duty at the time of the attack.
Infuriated by what they regarded as official complicity in the crime, earlier this week protestors stormed the local police station, setting part of it alight with petrol bombs while riot police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.
Public anger was compounded by allegations that senior police officers had tried to brush the attack under the official carpet by hiding key evidence.
Adding more spice to the scandal have been stories carried in the Ukrainian press that senior medical officials at the hospital where Ms Krashova was treated pressured doctors and nurses into falsifying her medical records in order to play down her injuries and raise questions about her lifestyle.
Responding to the mounting fury Vitaly Zakharchenko, Ukraine’s under-fire interior minister, sacked a public prosecutor and two senior regional police officers, although to the anger of the victim’s family he offered no apology.
Mr Zakharchenko also dismissed calls for his resignation.
“Most people who work for the police are honest and decent people,” he said when questioned about his future by the press. The minister added that reforms of police and prosecutors were under way but at that moment it would be “inappropriate to make political statements”.
However, the case could shed light on a number of unsolved crimes in the Vradiyevka district.
Goaded by public anger investigators arrested the deputy head of the regional police in connection with not only the Krashova case but four murders over the past three years, including the unsolved killing of a 15-year-old girl.