Ukrainian Injured Protestor in Lithuania – January 29, 2014

Injured Ukrainian Protestor Sent to Lithuania:  The Injured Fear Being Sent from Hospitals to Isolation Cells

Author:  LETA, 29 January 2014, 16:16 (Translated from Latvian by William Risch)

Protestors wounded in clashes in Kyiv fear looking for help in hospitals, because they could wind up going directly from their hospital rooms to investigation cells, regardless of how serious their conditions are.  The first Ukrainian protestor sent to Lithuania to get medical help has described such a situation. 

Even 23 year-old Rostyslav Melnyk, injured by Berkut special forces soldiers, didn’t go to the hospital – some hospital personnel secretly gave him 300 dollars’ worth of needed medical treatment. 

As Paulus Gradausks, head of the Surgery Division of the University of Vilnius Hospital, admits, Rostyslav’s condition is serious, and he claims that he had been beaten up mercilessly –  his patient’s lungs had been injured.  Yet he received good enough care in Kyiv, since he already was able to travel after six days and nights.  

Rostyslav’s arm was broken, he suffered several injuries that have left scars on him, and he also was wounded in the head.  However, Gradausks indicated that there is no bad prognosis for him and that he will not need another operation in Lithuania. 

As Melnyk tells it, he and his friends, Automaidan activists, five in all, were going in a car not far from Kyiv’s Independence Square (Maidan Nezalezhnosti), and 10-15 masked Berkut soldiers stopped them, even though the car had no protest symbols on it. 

One girl was set free, but the guys were seriously beaten up in a short time.  One of them, who had been seriously hit in the face, hid under the car, two more were taken away, while Rostyslav managed to run away to a nearby park and later stop a car that took him to a more secure place. 

“They behave like beasts toward citizens of their own state,” he said.  “The system is suppressing everyone, there is no legal protection.” 

Maidan medics advised the Lithuanian Embassy to take Melnyk directly to Vilnius. 

The President of Lithuania, Dalia Gribauskaite, visited him in the hospital in the morning. 

According to her, Lithuania will treat and provide rehabilitation for ten injured protestors from Ukraine, at the total cost of 50,000 Lits (14,500 Euros). 

“Such injuries prove that brutal force is being used against people, and there is no justification for this,” claimed the President. 

It is expected that the other injured protestors from Kyiv will be sent to Lithuania at the end of this week or the beginning of next week. 

Melnyk, who is optimistic, admitted to journalists that he doesn’t know what he will do after he has received medical treatment in Vilnius.  When asked if he will seek political asylum in Lithuania, he half-jokingly replied that he may have to do it if he “says anything more.”  “We’ll see how the situation further develops in Ukraine,” added Melnyk.  “Everything there is changing very quickly right now.  Of course, I fear for my own life, and that’s also why I didn’t go to official hospitals in Kyiv.” 

As the Internet site indicates, the Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs for the time being does not foresee any plans to facilitate giving asylum to wounded people from Ukraine.  If Melnyk would indeed decide to ask for a chance to stay longer in Lithuania, he first has to be provided for by the Registry Center for Foreigners. 

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