Who Is Ivan Bubenchik And Why Was He Detained?
5 April, 2018

On the morning of April 3, Ivan Bubenchik – a Maidan activist from the Lviv region – was detained at the Shehyni border crossing point between Ukraine and Poland. He was then taken to Kyiv to stand trial for allegedly killing two members of Ukraine’s riot police, the Berkut, during the 2014 Euromaidan Revolution.

The official investigation claims that on the morning of February 20, 2014 four riot force officers died on the Maidan in downtown Kyiv. At the time, Bubenchik was an activist belonging to the Maidan self-defense group.

Photo credit: Dmytro Rusanov/HROMADSKE

According to the investigation, two of officers were killed using weapons in Bubenchik’s possession – in particular, a Saiga semi-automatic rifle.

In a 2016 Hromadske film, Bubenchik said that on that day he was near the building of the Conservatorium on the Maidan, and fired on the security forces. “There was an observation point at the Conservatorium to the back of the Stella [The tall female sculpture on Maidan], where Berkut and internal troops were located. I have clearly seen their orders, and how they continually stormed our barricade,” he said.

Photo credit: HROMADSKE

Furthermore, he also told Hromadske that he had killed two Berkut commanders: “In order to let the rumour spread, it was necessary to kill two, three, five commanders. I decided to kill only two ... Why kill? Because if the commander cannot speak, he is not able to give orders in any way. There was no need to kill the rest of them, shooting them in the legs would suffice, just as I did when I got to the trade union’s building. I saw them fleeing, because nobody wanted to give life for Yanukovych.”

After the film was screened in February 2016, officers from the Prosecutor General’s Office (GPU) and the Ukrainian Security Services (SBU) conducted a search of Bubenchik’s apartment. Officials were looking for the hunting weapons that he allegedly fired during Euromaidan. He was then summoned as a witness in the case and called in for questioning – but he ignored the summons twice.

Photo credit: Dmytro Rusanov/HROMADSKE

On April 3, he became an official suspect in the case. Suspected of killing two Berkut officers and making an attempt on the life of another one.

Now, he is being held in pre-trial detention in Kyiv’s Pechersk court, but the direction of the case remains unclear.

Photo credit: Dmytro Rusanov/HROMADSKE

In December 2014 Ukraine’s parliament approved the so-called Amnesty Law, which relieves the participants of the events of 2013-2014 from liability. In the event that there is evidence, a person can be found guilty but released from punishment. However, the law doesn’t provide exemption from liability under article 115 – intentional murder.

This means that if there is evidence, Bubenchik can legally be found guilty and cannot get amnesty, because he committed murder.

Bubenchik does not recognize himself guilty, arguing that “as a defender of the people of Ukraine he destroyed the enemy.”

The court is set to make its decision on April 5.

/Text by Eilish Hart