Foundation Inostrannyi Agent – Human Rights Initiative for the former USSR

Project in Ukraine

The Foundation "Inostrannyi Agent" actively supports the Euromaidan in Kyiv and other cities of Ukraine and focuses its attention in particular on the medical services that are provided to people who fall victim to state agression and violence.

 

Supporting medical care to victims of State violence in Ukraine

For more than three months now Ukraine is rocked by massive protests against the Yanukovich government. Although the protests take place all over the country, the main focus is on Kyiv, where a central part of the city is barricaded off by demonstrators. The first barricades were erected after riot police violently dispersed a first group of mostly young demonstrators, and the perimeter was further reinforced after an attempt to disperse the protesters on December 11, 2013.

At the end of January, the situation further escalated and several days of pitched street fighting ensued. During these days, the nature of the conflict changed radically. During several riot police attacks on demonstrators two demonstrators were shot dead, while a third died a few weeks later from gunshot wounds. The authorities moved in large groups of paid provocators, “titushki”, who sometimes alone sometimes jointly with riot police attacked demonstrators and beat the up. During these days the conflict enveloped the whole country.

At the beginning of February 2014, the score is that six people are dead, some three dozen people have disappeared and for their safety and lives is feared, more than one hundred people are under arrest and some 2,000 demonstrators were wounded. What is worse, the conflict has been “Latin-Americanized” with people disappearing, being tortured by unknown persons (“death squadrons”) and government forces deliberately targeting journalists and medical personnel, both through beatings, arrests and abductions.

 Our work focuses in particular on the position of medical personnel and has two objectives.

The first objective is to support medical services that are provided to demonstrators and victims of State violence. These services include “regular” medical support, e.g. treatment of somatic conditions. Some of these services are provided by the Maidan hospital, which is a crucial issue as demonstrators who wind up in regular hospitals are often threatened by arrest by security forces. Some of the wounded have been evacuated from Ukraine and are treated in other countries, e.g. Lithuania.

However, these services also include psychological support, as many of the demonstrators have either witnessed violence or have been victims of it, and the events have left a considerable number in need of psychotraumatological support.

The second objective is to provide moral support to the emergency services such as the Maidan hospital, and to use their work as an example to medical professionals in Ukraine. In a country where Soviet medicine is still widespread, the concept of professional responsibility and the sacredness of the obligations of the Hippocratic Oath and its consequences is still very fresh and in general medicine is usually not a profession that makes a stand against government interference, the fact that a group of medical personnel has decided to risk their own safety and lives in carrying out their professional duty is nothing less but exemplary.

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