Colonel Sergei Kusyuk was an integral villain in Ukraine’s trend of 2013-2014; in reality, he might have set it off through his ham-handed actions. Now, he shows up in Moscow, once again cracking down on protesters with a vastly disproportionate use of force – but the town is not rising up as Kiev did six years ago.
On the night of Nov. 29, 2013, Kusyuk was deputy commander of the special makes device of the Ukrainian law enforcement, the Berkut. There have been protests that day in Kiev’s Independence Square against President Viktor Yanukovych’s refusal to sign a trade and association offer with the European Union. But by nightfall, only a small number of young people continued to be.
They likely could have soon left, too – a group of 300 people clearly wasn’t enough to make Yanukovych reconsider. But then, according to Ukrainian prosecutors, the leader purchased the rest of the protesters dispersed, ostensibly so a sizable artificial Christmas tree could be setup in the square. Kusyuk completed the order with needless cruelty: the students got a severe beating. There were bloodied skulls and damaged limbs. The show was the starting point of much bigger protests, which finished in Yanukovych’s overthrow and get away to Russia.
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I am at Kiev when it seemed the whole city – perhaps as much as 1 million people – had taken to the roads in anger. Protesters even seized the Kiev mayor’s office. It had been clear to everyone, including Yanukovych and Russian President Vladimir Putin — who called the Kiev occasions a “pogrom” – that bigger things were afoot than the spurned-EU deal.
The protests escalated, and in February, firearms were distributed to the overtaxed Berkut officials more and more. Dozens of protesters were shot in the revolution’s final days, and Kusyuk is now wanted for his alleged role. But it’s improbable that Ukrainian law enforcement is certain to get its practical Colonel Kusyuk. Along with a true quantity of his Berkut co-workers, he fled to Moscow, where he now serves in a particular police device of Russia’s National Guard called the OMON. He obtained Russian citizenship and even got his old rank back.
On Saturday, he again was out, commanding an enormous riot police ordered to disperse an unsanctioned protest in central Moscow against the exclusion of opposition applicants from an upcoming city council election. The previous week’s unrest arranged a record with an increase of than 1,300 detentions, as the Kremlin shown it won’t tolerate any spontaneous road activity from the so-called “non-system,” anti-Putin opposition. Over the weekend Fewer people turned out, and it made an appearance at times they were outnumbered by riot police, many wearing balaclavas under their helmets to avoid identification.
The brutal beatings of non-resisting teenagers by officers in full riot gear appeared like a replay of Kiev, 2013 – no wonder, given that Kusyuk was in charge. Around 1,000 people were detained, at least 81 of them minors. And yet Muscovites didn’t rise up in response to the beatings as Kievans got done.
Just as the crackdown was taking place, thousands went to two music celebrations (one of these hastily organized by the town authorities to distract the public) and a big soccer game between two hometown teams. As an emigre who wasn’t at the protests, I have no moral to condemn my native city’s residents for indifference. The reason for the difference are complex.