Spilna Sprava

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Spilna Sprava
Leader Oleksandr Danylyuk
Founded December 2010 (2010-12)
Ideology center/left
Political position radical
Website
http://www.spilnasprava.info/
Politics of Ukraine
Political parties
Elections

Spilna Sprava (Ukrainian: Спільна справа, English: Common Cause) is a Ukrainian radical opposition group, which came into existence in December 2010 during the 2010 Maidan protests (22 November - 2 December 2010) in Kiev against the fiscal policies of the Government of Ukraine.[1][2] It advocated honest parliamentary and local elections, people's control over parliament between elections and fiscal reform.[3] As a political pressure group, Spilna Sprava embraced non-parliamentary means of political mobilization, along with the Right Sector it formed a radical wing of the Euromaidan. The usage of upside-down national colors represents a political standpoint and symbolizes national emergency, protest and call for action.[4]

History[edit]

In December 2010, Spilna Sprava tried to implement a national referendum about discontinuing of the electoral mandates of the members of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and peaceful removal of President Yanukovich from power, whom Spilna Sprava accused in dictatorial ways of running the country.[5] After referendum was denied, an electronic signature-gathering started.[6] It was claimed by the Spilna Sprava that on 12 April 2011 nearly 250 000 signatures were collected. [7]

In Spring 2011, Spilna Sprava attempted on 14 May 2011 to stage a number of protests across cities in Ukraine culminating with the Indignation Day (Day of Anger) in Kiev - massive demonstrations and rallies at the Presidential Administration and Verkhovna Rada buildings.[8] The anti-government protest in Kiev failed as 300-400 protesters were confronted by nearly 1,500 riot police officers.

In Summer 2011, Spilna Sprava tried to jump-start a new anti-government Maidan in Kiev on 8 August 2011, however, without much effect.[9]

During the 2012 parliamentary elections in Ukraine Spilna Sprava organized an independent monitoring of the pre-election situation and vote casting. It claimed at a press conference on 31 October 2012 after the elections that significant vote fraud was uncovered in Vinnytsia, Khmelnytsky, Zhytomyr, Poltava, Kyiv, Kirovohrad, and Cherkasy regions of Ukraine.[10]

In 2013, Spilna Sprava along with the major Ukrainian opposition factions staged a number of rallies and demonstrations in Kiev and beyond, including, at Kyiv's Saint Sofia Square on May 18. The rally was dispersed by Berkut riot police.[11] Several Spilna Sprava activists were detained.[12]

The groups leader (coordinator) is Oleksandr Danylyuk,[13] a lawyer, rights activist and a poet, who was earlier involved in campaigns against former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and later Kiev Mayor Leonid Chernovetskyy, as well as in the 2004 Orange Revolution.[2][14] He describes Spilna Sprava as a "pro-democracy civil movement",[15] and at the same time advocates radical actions for demolishing the corrupted system of power in Ukraine.[16] On 3 February 2014, Danylyuk reportedly arrived in London fleeing from an alleged imminent arrest in Ukraine after an arrest warrant was issued.[17][18][19] He later returned to Kiev after the fall of Viktor Yanukovych 's administration on February 22, 2014.

Euromaidan[edit]

Spilna Sprava's tent at Euromaidan
A sentry at the Ministry of Justice after the capture
A masked Spilna Sprava activist

During the anti-government Euromaidan in Ukraine in 2014, the Spilna Sprava formed a radical faction of the Euromaidan protest movement, while acting independently from the Euromaidan leadership. It maintained several tents and recruitment booths at Euromaidan displaying group's distinctive political symbols.

As a direct action-oriented group, Spilna Sprava refused cooperation with the moderate oppositional political actors, accusing them in hidden collaboration with Viktor Yanukovych and secret plans to undermine Maidan.[20] It successfully mobilized across the political spectrum recruiting an unwieldy assortment of political radicals, including common people, rights activists, military veterans (the Afgantsy), soccer hooligans and street toughs, who were eager to spring to action instead of standing at rallies.[21]

Spilna Sprava militants dressed in fatigues, wore ski masks, and brandished bats, stun guns, knives and Molotov cocktails and willingly took part in street fights with the Ukrainian police.[22] The law enforcement was eager to return the favor, for example, on January 31, 2014, the office of public liaison of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry reported that two armed Spilna Sprava militants were arrested. One, "thirty-year-old Vitaliy came to Kyiv from Poltava region and hoped to make good money on the Maidan. According to him, he immediately joined one of the units on the condition of receiving UAH 200 per day of 'work.' A young man was responsible for guarding the tents and participating in mass events, rallies, etc. He got a 'flintlock' from one of his companions to shoot at police officers who are on duty on Hrushevskoho Street, but says that he has not yet used the weapons." The other, a "45-year-old fellow also actively participated in protests, and, on the side of the members of the Spilna Sprava movement, and even protected the Agriculture Ministry from Svoboda supporters. The man said that he saw many people on the Maidan have various weapons. He received the gun seized from law enforcement officers from the chief of his unit," - all according to the police report.[23]

Spilna Sprava came to international prominence after its members seized in February 2014 several key governmental buildings in Kiev: the Ministry of Justice,[24] Ministry of Agriculture,[25] and Ministry of Energy (just for a few hours on 25 January, purportedly just to show that it could take control of any government office building if it wanted) during the Euromaidan protests.[2]

Activists from Spilna Sprava also stormed and seized the five storey international convention center in Kiev, the so-called «Ukrainian House», where a large detachment of the Ukrainian Interior Troops, mostly inexperienced conscripts, had been stationed. Spilna Sprava militants threatened them with Molotov cocktails: "The younger guys wanted to flood the floor with gasoline and burn [the troops] alive," - said Oleksiy Tsibko, who participated in the operation, in an interview. But after a tense standoff lasting several hours, the protesters formed a corridor and let the internal troops out. The whole building was afterwards turned into Euromaidan "fortress", with mess-hall, hospital, sleeping quarters, and a club house. Tsibko added that the Afgantsy were ready to use firearms as, "the battle is already underway. And if [police] fire so much as one live round into one of our guys, we have enough to respond in kind. Believe me, it won’t just be a couple of hundred who lay down dead when its over".[22]

The Interior Ministry of Ukraine stated that it had voluntarily removed its police force instead of risking a bloody confrontation with rioting members from the Spilna Sprava.[26] On several occasions, Spilna Sprava clashed with the Self-defense forces of the Euromaidan, which tried to rein them in and forcibly evicted from several locations.[2]

Criticism[edit]

Kiev City Hall on December 11, 2013

Spilna Sprava was accused by the Ukrainian opposition leaders of sowing and reaping the seeds of discord inside the protest movement, and in staging "provocations" that could have undermined the on-going talks with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and Azarov's Government. Indeed, attacks on government offices could have served as a pretext for imposing a martial law in Ukraine.[2] The Ukrainian Justice Minister Olena Lukash delivered a televised address, arguing for the introduction of martial law in the country after the Ministry of Justice seizure.[24] European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Štefan Füle warned about dangers of radicalization of the peaceful protest movement of Euromaidan, and Vitali Klitschko, the UDAR Party leader, personally came to the Justice Ministry and asked Spilna Sprava activists to retreat from the building but they instead called him names and turned him down.[22][27] On the other hand, Energy and Coal Industry Minister of Ukraine Eduard Stavytsky was able to negotiate an end to the seizure of the ministry's building by Spilna Sprava militants, arguing that its continuation may disrupt the work of the ministry, including the oversight of Ukraine's nuclear power stations.[28]

During the Euromaidan, relations between Spilna Sprava and Ukrainian nationalist Svoboda party were especially tense and mistrustful as Svoboda's activists threatened Spilna Sprava's militants with stun guns while forcing them out of the Ministry of Agriculture.[29] Reportedly six activists from Spilna Sprava were injured.[30] Tensions between two factions started at the beginning of the Euromaidan during the police siege of the seized by protesters Kiev City Hall on December 11, 2013. When Spilna Sprava activists left the building to confront the riot police in the street, they were locked out by Svoboda militants and later accused of running away from the fight. To add salt to the injury, both riot policemen and Spilna Sprava activists were sprayed in a chilling December wind from a fire hose out of the second-floor window.[31] The relationship did not improve much after the victory of Euromaidan and removal of Viktor Yanukovych from power, for example, on 29 April 2014, "Self-defense of the Maidan", which was mainly controlled by Svoboda, tried to disperse a torch rally procession in Kiev staged by the Spilna Sprava and the Patriot of Ukraine in commemoration of the Euromaidan fallen heroes;[32] a massive fist fight near Maidan Nezalezhnosti flared up.[33]

References[edit]

  1. ^ (Ukrainian) Рух «Спільна справа» почав реєстрацію спостерігачів за референдумом про Митний союз (Spilna Sprava started to register election observers for Tariff Union referendum), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 8 September 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e Groups at the sharp end of Ukraine unrest, BBC News (1 February 2014)
  3. ^ (Ukrainian) Spilna Sprava: Our ideology, Official site. Accessed 5 May 2014.
  4. ^ EuroMaidan rallies in Ukraine - Dec. 17, Kyiv Post, 18 December 2014.
  5. ^ (Ukrainian) Олександр Данилюк: У нас є розуміння того, що вибори відбудуться 27 березня (Oleksandr Danylyuk: We have understanding that elections will take place on 27 March), 13 December 2010.
  6. ^ (Ukrainian) Громадянський рух «Спільна Справа» розпочав кампанію по збору підписів за дострокове припинення повноважень Верховної ради України та Президента України в електронному вигляді (Spilna Sprava started a signature-gathering campaign to discontinue the parliamentary mandates and remove the president from power), 10 April 2011.
  7. ^ (Russian) Организаторы Майдана собрали четверть миллиона подписей за отставку Януковича, (Maidan organizers collected 250 000 signatures in support of Yanukovich removal) Tsn.ua, 12 April 2011.
  8. ^ (Ukrainian) День гнiву призначено на 14 травня (Day of Anger is scheduled on 14 May), Прес-служба громадянського руху Спільна Справа (Spilna Sprava press-service), 12 April 2011.
  9. ^ (Ukrainian) Оголошується загальна мобілізація!!! (Mobilization is declared!!!), Прес-служба громадянського руху Спільна Справа (Spilna Sprava press-service), 5 August 2011.
  10. ^ Spilna Sprava: Elections falsified in dozens of majority constituencies, Kyiv Post, 1 November 2012.
  11. ^ Kostyantyn Chernichkin. Riot police detain NGO activists near opposition rally, Kyiv Post, 18 May 2013.
  12. ^ Police detain Spilna Sprava civic activists Human Rights in Ukraine: Information website of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (18 May 2013). Retrieved 4 May 2014.
  13. ^ John Robles, “The selling out of Ukraine: what the CIA does not want Ukrainians to know,” The Voice of Russia (3 May 2014, 00:48). Retrieved 4 May 2014.
  14. ^ A new generation emerges on national stage, Kyiv Post, November 25, 2010.
  15. ^ Daniel McLaughlin. Ministry occupation shows limited power of Klitschko over Kiev protesters, The Irish Times, 28 January 2014.
  16. ^ (Russian) Соня Кошкина. Данилюк: «Единственный вариант смены власти – революционный. Иначе пацаны власть не отдадут» (Danylyuk: «The only possible way to change power - is revolution. Since wiseguys would not part voluntarily with power»). Левый берег, 10 June 2011.
  17. ^ "Protesters in Kyiv show no sign of moving as Yanukovych returns to work," Euronews (3 February 2014). Retrieved 4 May 2014.
  18. ^ "Maidan has little to do with opposition - Danilyuk, leader of 'Spilna Sprava' movement", The Voice of Russia, 6 February 2014.
  19. ^ Militant Spilna Sprava leader Danylyuk in London; AutoMaidan leader Bulatov flies to Vilnius, Kyiv Post, 3 February 2014.
  20. ^ Yuras Karmanau, "Radicals a wild card in Ukraine’s protests," Associated Press (2 February 2014). Retrieved 4 May 2014.
  21. ^ Dominique Arel, "The Ukrainian Rebellion": Remarks delivered at the round-table "Ukraine on the rise", Chair of Ukrainian Studies, University of Ottawa (29 January 2014). Retrieved 4 May 2014.
  22. ^ a b c Simon Shuster. Right-Wing Thugs Are Hijacking Ukraine’s Liberal Uprising, Time Magazine, 28 January 2014.
  23. ^ Two armed Maidan activists detained in Kyiv on Friday – Interior Ministry, Interfax-Ukraine, 3 February 2014.
  24. ^ a b Christopher J. Miller, Katya Gorchinskaya. Danylyuk's group under fire for seizure of government buildings, Kyiv Post, 27 January 2014.
  25. ^ EuroMaidan, Spilna Sprava activists agree on release of Agriculture Ministry, Kyiv Post, 29 January 2014.
  26. ^ EuroMaidan militants take over Ukrainian House on Jan. 26, Kyiv Post, 26 January 2014.
  27. ^ Fuele: Opposition, Euromaidan must dissociate themselves from radical elements, Kyiv Post, 5 February 2014.
  28. ^ Reuters: Ukrainian protesters blockade Energy Ministry after overnight violence, Kyiv Post, 25 January 2014.
  29. ^ Oleg Shynkarenko. Ukraine Protesters Turn Stun Guns On Each Other, The Daily Beast, 30 January 2014.
  30. ^ Six Injured as Ukrainian Opposition Clears Out Radicals From Agriculture Ministry, The Moscow Times, 29 January 2014.
  31. ^ Andrew E. Kramer. Unease as an Opposition Party Stands Out in Ukraine’s Protests, The New York Times, 16 December 2013.
  32. ^ (Ukrainian) Смолоскипний марш на честь полеглих Героїв Небесної сотні (A torch rally procession in commemoration of the Euromaidan fallen heroes) Photos. Archived by WebCite
  33. ^ (Ukrainian) На київському Майдані сталася бійка (A fist fight at the Kiev's Maidan), Дзеркало тижня, 29 April 2014.

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