In front of the Berkut military base in Kharkov
Internal Troops of Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs succeeded in defending the Regional Council building from the attack of ‘Russian separatists’. On the night of 8 April, unknown perpetrators broke into the office of the independent television channel ATN in Kharkov. They destroyed equipment. Currently, the TV channel is off air.
That same night, 64 men took over the building of the Kharkov Regional Council. Several windows on the ground floor beside the front door were smashed. A militia unit, consisting of 200 people, who guarded the building, withdrew without resistance. The attackers got drunk and fell asleep. The following morning, soldiers of the Interior Ministry troops were led out of the building.
On 9 April, 2014, at approx. 3.00 p.m., a tent was set up near the monument of Lenin at Liberty Square. Old ladies were collecting signatures for a referendum project. They demand the ‘federalisation’ of Ukraine. They want the Kharkov Province to obtain the status of an autonomous republic in the federal state. A crowd of supporters of the referendum quickly gathered around the tent. Approx. 30 minutes later, they went to the building of the Kharkov Regional Council.
The Berkut base is still operating in the city. A specialised police unit was officially disbanded by decision of the Supreme Council of Ukraine, after its officers had committed homicide in Kiev.
Meanwhile, in Kharkov, the so-called ‘Colorado people’ are standing in front of the gate of the Berkut base at 2a Derzhavinska Street. The young people are wearing orange and black ribbons. They do not agree to have their faces photographed, but they are not ashamed of their actions. On 18 February, 2014, they were in Kiev, in Marinski Park near Hrushevskoho Street. They were maintaining public order against the threat posed by bandits, and now they are supporting Berkut. They are intending to protect Berkut officers against the fascists. By fascists, they mean members of the Right Sector.
Young people observe the inaction of the police: Berkut was the only credible structure which could ensure the safety of the Kharkov residents.
The steel gate of the Berkut base is now closed. From time to time, the gate opens slightly.
Heavily-built men in civilian clothes emerge in pairs and immediately blend into the crowd.
In front of the building of the Security Service of Ukraine in Kharkov we meet the governor of Kharkov Province. Igor Mironovich Balut was appointed governor by the government of Arseniy Yatsenyuk. What powers does he have? Recent events have shown that he cannot count on the loyalty of the police.
Now, Kharkov has its second centre of power – ‘local government’. The head of the City – this is the official title - and the City Council. The head of the City Council is Gennadiy Kernes. He has been in the ranks of the Kharkov local government structures for a long time. Recently, he met with young people who stood outside the gates of the Berkut and who support officers of the disbanded unit. ‘Colorado’ people are bursting with pride – ‘Kernes is with us!’