Where are the Ukrainian Special Tasks Police Gone?

Realgazeta.ua in Lugansk reports on the fate of officers of the Ukrainian “special tasks police” Berkut, who were used against the pro-EU Maidan demonstrators in Kiev.  According to the paper about 100 Berkut officers from the Lugansk area returned from Kiev on February 23, after the new Minister of the Interior Arsen Avakov disbanded the organization.  To get out of Kiev, they had to be escorted by Rada deputies past the Maidan demonstrators who had seized power.

In Lugansk, as in Donetsk and the Crimea, returning Berkut officers were greeted as heroes, presumably because they had defended the Russian-leaning Yanukovych government. In the west they have been treated as criminals.

Local and provincial Ukrainian governments in the east face two problems as a result of the disbanding of Berkut.  First, they have lost their most reliable bulwark against popular demonstrations/disorders and second, Berkut officers who fought the Maidan movement could well turn on them.


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