How Automaidan was “Judged”
Statistical analysis of judicial practice (2013-2014)
At the end of 2013 public discontent with the usurpatory regime of Yanukovych has grown into self-organized public protests known as the “Euromaidan” or the “Revolution of dignity”. In the meantime, the civil society movement “Automaidan” was formed – protest on wheels. Activist drivers in cars marked with national and revolutionary symbols have been gathering in self-organized transport columns for rapid response to the dynamic situation of protests significantly expanding their geography, helping protesters and, more importantly, bringing protests to residences of key figures from Yanukovych’s circle.
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Soon afterwards, in the beginning of January 2014, traffic police officers started to visit participant car owners in order to draw up administrative offence protocols subject to the article 122-2 of the Administrative Offence Code of Ukraine – as though on December 29 they were ignoring traffic officers’ orders to stop and kept moving. The only evidence were the “reports” of officers, who were allegedly making attempts to stop cars. Quite notable that the list of “offenders” included some car owners, who did not take part in the event and at that day were out of Kyiv. These protocols (over 600) rather swiftly were sent to courts. The majority of judges, despite of the lack of any evidence of car owners’ guilt, completely ignoring all the exculpatory evidence and falsification of traffic police documents, were passing judgments convicting faultless car owners. Over 200 driving licenses were suspended for the term from 3 to 6 months. About a hundred of drivers were fined.
As soon as the Revolution of Dignity was over all such judgments were cancelled. The contested ones were dismissed by courts of appeal. The rest – subject to the law “On the liquidation of the adverse consequences and non-admission of prosecution and punishment of individuals in connection with the events that took place at the time of peaceful gatherings” (Law 743).
These episodes are being investigated within the framework of criminal proceedings. Public prosecution has established that all traffic officers’ “reports” were falsified. As for judges, they are reported to take decisions following the directions of the Presidental Administration.
When fabricating cases against Automaidan in the beginning of 2014 judges invocated the article 122-2 of the Administrative Offence Code of Ukraine – failure to stop a vehicle at policeman’s request. Therewith the fabricated protocols bear no records of pursuit of a car that presumably failed to stop, no references to application of strobe beacons and loudspeakers. There was also no mentioning of the article 130 – driving under the influence (quite frequent for real cases of failure to stop a vehicle at policeman’s request). We decided to analyze the data from the Unified State Register of Court Decisions, to find out the statistically significant anomalies.
Automaidan: case belongs to the category of Automaidan cases. Formed by the attributes of place of event (set of typical addresses, for instance village Novi Petrivtsi, 20th km of highway Kyiv-Ovruch, etc), date of the event (28, 29 December 2013, 16 February 2014), absence of pursuit in the text, and of article 130 of the Code.
Automaidan Judges: Includes all the cases, belonging to a judge who revoked the driver’s licence or imposed a fine in cases classified as “Automaidan”.
Data sources: Unified State Register of Court Decisions, materials provided by lawyers of Automaidan.
Interactive visualization enables the users to study the data independently. You may alternate the time period covering the displayed data, as well as turn on or off several filters. Clicking on a diagram column displays in the table below the list of cases matching the visualization area. Clicking on the table row opens in a new window the text of the respective decision in the Unified State Register of Court Decisions.
Total number of decisions in data set: 5680
Automaidan decisions: 702 (including appeals)
Driver’s licence revoked: 168 (without appeals)
Fines applied: 30
Number of “Automaidan judges”: 128
Charts 1-4. Distribution of court decisions in Automaidan cases and rest of the cases by article 122-2
Methodology: how did it
In order to find out if judges practiced the particular approach to Automaidan cases, we raised ourselves a question: whether court decisions regarding the trip of Automaidan members to Mezhyhiria diverge from the common court practice (including the same judges) based on the article 122-2 of AOCU? Whether such cases have a systematic character?
To answer these questions, we have downloaded from theUnified State Register of Court Decisions all the decisions (5699) adopted within 2013-2014 (from 1 January 2013 through 1 January 2015) featuring the article 122-2.
As far as the official court register regulations prohibit “automatic or automated search and duplexing inquiries” when working with the State Register of Court Decisions, we could not apply automated means of Internet data collection (scraping). Therefore we had to manually download all court decisions, one after another (which was extremely time consuming).
For further analysis, the following supplementary variables were distinguished in texts of decisions:
- Time attributes
- date of event
- date of decision
- Event attributes
- event location (address)
- whether a pursuit took place
- whether strobe beacons and loudspeakers were applied
- o whether article 130 (driving under the influence) appears in the case
- Decision attributes
- vehicle seizure
- suspension of driving licenses
- community service (public work)
- release of liability
- case closed(dismissal)
- case returned (remand of a case)
- Court and judge
The detailed list and description of dataset variables given is provided in the data vocabulary.
These attributes were distinguished from the array of saved texts of decisions by regular expressions using Python programming language.
Automaidan cases, lawyers were working with, had a number of similar features, for instance: no established facts of pursuit and usage of sound-and-light alarms, no driving under the influence – article 130 did not appear in decision wordings; known dates and places of “incident”. Thus we were aware that on 29 December 2013 no Automaidan activists were stopped by traffic officers on Bohatyrska str., Stolychne and Naddniprianske highways, on Kyiv-Ovruch automobile road, in Novi Petrivtsi village and in some other locations. Automaidan cases were supplemented by resolutions pertinent to the events that took place on 28.12.2013 and 16.02.2014 (visits to the residence of former Prosecutor General V. Pshonka).
Based on these features the synthetic variable “Automaidan” was created, distinguishing Automaidan cases amongst the common cases in the two-year array. It enables to determine anomalies, analyze alterations of judicial practices applied by judges to public protest participants under formally “equal conditions” – no pursuit, no article 130.
Additionally, 45 cases, addressed by lawyers, appeared to be absent in the Unified Register. We included records on these cases to our working data set. Still, we have no idea how many cases were not entered into the Register.
Prior to the analysis we have filtered off all judgments and decisions under appeal, giving further consideration only to first-instance court decisions.
Analysis and anomalies
For visual data representation we have split the timeline by weeks, as division by days was too dense for two-year period. The following chart shows the distribution of cases by article 122-2 by weeks of 2013-2014, with distribution by type of decision.
Chart 5. Distribution of cases by article 122-2 by weeks of 2013-2014.
The first striking feature is rapid increase of cases in Maidan period, which also has two time peaks. It is apparent that the first peak basically includes penalty judgments, while the second – dismissal of cases and release from liability.
From this perspective it is essential to remember that on 21 February 2014 was adopted the Law of Ukraine “On the liquidation of the adverse consequences and nonadmission of prosecution and punishment of individuals in connection with the events that took place at the time of peaceful gatherings, and invalidation of certain laws of Ukraine” also known as the “Law 743”. Basically, the adoption this particular law was followed by multiple dismissal of cases by courts cancelling own antecedent decisions and “release from the liability” under Automaidan cases.
Taking closer look at the distribution of judgments, formally similar to Automaidan – no driving under the influence, lack of pursuit and sound-and-light alarm – we may clearly observe that under usual circumstances most common penalty for such infringement was a fine. Suspension of driving licenses as a penalty has been imposed in less than 6% of cases. Systematic changes in law enforcement practices are obvious in the beginning of repressions and at the moment of their scale-back. Similarly becomes visible the reversion of penalty distribution to the ordinary condition concurrent with the resuming of average quantity of cases under the article 122-2 of AOCU.
Chart 6. Distribution of cases by article 122-2, no article 130, no pursuit
Among other things, found during the analysis there are interesting cases unrelated to Automaidan, for instance the distribution of judgments solely for cases featuring the article 130 (driving under the influence).
Chart 7. Distribution of decisions for cases with both articles 122-2 and 130
Besides seasonal fluctuations we may observe the absolute lack of deviance throughout all winter period 2013–2014. However, the change of law enforcement practices becomes notable in the beginning of 2014: while in 2013 community service and (less frequently) fines were common to impose, in 2014 community service became rare and untypical verdict.
How different judges treated “Automaidan” cases?
Revocation of driving license
Before starting to work with the array we have received from Automaidan lawyer, Roman Maselko, the list of judges, who were revoking driving licenses “for Automaidan”. Therewith the list of judges revoking driving licenses in Automaidan cases compiled from decisions available in USR is substantially smaller.
According to Automaidan lawyers’ information 138 judges were revoking Automaidan activists’ driving licenses. In USR only 88 judges become mentioned as those, who were trying cases under the article 122-2 of AOCU, 75 of them appear in Automaidan cases available in USR.
There are judges, whose verdicts subject to the article 122-2 of AOCU and having no relation to “Automaidan” are on the register, while those pertinent to “Automaidan” are absent:
- ШShklianka M.P. (Darnytskyi district court, city of Kyiv),
- Martsynkevych V.A. (Dniprovskyi district court, city of Kyiv),
- Velykokhatska V.V. and Dyba O.V. (Obolonskyi district court, city of Kyiv),
- Stepanova O.S. (Obukhivskyi rayon court, Kyivska oblast),
- Synhaivskyi O.P. (Podilskyi district court, city of Kyiv).
It is remarkable that in accordance with the Law of Ukraine “On access to court decisions” and “On ensuring the right to fair trial” all these decisions should have been entered into the register. Failure to enter constitutes grounds for disciplinary liability of judges. However according to our knowledge no judges incurred any punishment. The lawyers consider the failure to enter these decisions into the register as the way to conceal information and to evade liability.
There is also a reverse situation – we detected judges, who have been revoking driving licenses “for Automaidan” with the respective decisions recorded in USR, while Automaidan lawyers had no knowledge thereof. For example:
- Antonova N.V., Holosiivskyi district court, city of Kyiv,
- Myroshnychenko O.V., Holosiivskyi district court, city of Kyiv,
- Yarovenko N.O., Dniprovskyi district court, city of Kyiv,
- Denysenko N.O., Zhurivskyi rayon court, Kyivska oblast,
- Petrenko N.O., Sviatoshynskyi district court, city of Kyiv.
So which particular judges and how many times had been revoking driving licenses for the presumable participation in Automaidan? Below is the table (in Ukrainian only) combining names of courts, names of judges and references to respective court decisions in the register (if available)..
Table 1. Judges revoking driver licences: list of cases (In Ukrainian)
For convenience we also made a separate table that includes the same judges with the number of decisions on revoking licenses for Automaidan. The table is interactive – the data may be sorted by judge’s name, name of the court, number of cases. Table data is filterable as well – query text (e.g. a name of a judge) should be entered into “Search/filter” box in the upper part of the table. (Table is in Ukrainian only)
Table 2. Judges revoking licences: number of cases (in Ukrainian)
Our analysis of these judges’ judicial practices in cases based on the article 122-2 of AOCU within two-year period has revealed some remarkable features.
Chart 8. Decisions of “Automaidan judges” by article 122-2 over 2 years.
At first, if rely on the register, these judges has tried a minor quantity of such cases both prior to and after the Revolution of dignity. In the time of Maidan the number of cases based on 122-2 of AOCU for such judges has increased tenfold. It evidences that for the engaged judges such cases were unusual.
At second, penal practices of these judges exercised in “pre-Maidan” and “post-Maidan” cases are a far cry from penal practices exercised in the time of the Revolution of dignity. In particular, if revocation of license has been more of an exception and fine was the common penalty, then trying “Automaidan” cases judges were common to apply revocation of driving license.
At third, after 21.02.2014 “Automaidan case” practices have drastically changed and the large number of cases has been dismissed due to the absence of the event of an offence.
It is also interesting to take a look how generally article 122-2 cases are being rules by other judges, who did not revoke licences and imposed fines “for Automaidan”. The contrast is striking indeed.
Chart 9. Decisions of “non-Automaidan judges” by article 122-2 over 2 years.
Dismissal and remand of cases
As evident from the above diagrams the notable share of “Automaidan” cases have been dismissed or remanded even before 21 February 2014. We decided to find out who are those conscientious judges who duly examined protocols/reports falsified by traffic officers.
The judges remanding cases or dismissing them due to the absence of the event of an offence, and therewith not imposing penalties in other Automaidan cases, number 49. However it should be noted that it remains uncertain if these judges have been delivering only this type of decisions. For example, the register contains decisions on remand of “Automaidan cases” by the judge of Obolonskyi court, Kambulova D.G. and by the judge of Solomianskyi court Horbatovska S.A. However, according to prosecutor’s information these judges have been adopting verdicts on revocation of licenses, that are absent in the register. Another remarkable fact – among judges not convicting a single Avtomaidan activist is the well-known Radion Kyrieiev (it was him, who some time ago sent Yulia Tymoshenko to jail). By his decisions (http://www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/55427420 and http://www.reyestr.court.gov.ua/Review/55427472) cases were remanded “for proper execution to the traffic police department of Pecherskyi district”.
Therewith some judges at the same time have been both dismissing or remanding cases before 21 February 2014 and still revoking licenses: there are 20 of them. In Roman Maselko’s opinion these judges were “holding balance” trying in some cases to deliver lawful judgments and at the same time adopt decisions favorable for the regime.
Below is the table including all judges, who have been dismissing or remanding Automaidan cases before 21.02.2014, but did not revoke activists’ driving licenses and did not impose fines “for automaidan” (in Ukrainian).
Table 3. Judges who were closing or returning cases
Besides revocation of licenses, as well as exculpation or closure of proceedings, judges in Automaidan cases were delivering other decisions – in particular, fines and even warnings. Also for comparison we have made up a summary table indicating the judge and the number of his closed/remanded cases before 21 February 2014 and after 21 February, together with those, who imposed fines and warnings etc.
Table 4. The number of decisions of different types per judges (in Ukrainian)
Thus the comprehensive analysis of judicial practices involving the article 122-2 of AOCU has statistically proven the occurrence within the period from the beginning of January 2014 and up to 21.02.2014 of a distinct anomaly in penal practices for the aforementioned cases. In contradiction to previously common practice where violation of the article 122-2 of AOCU was punished by a fine, in most Automaidan cases (from 52%) judges tended to revoke activists’ driving licenses.
It is worth mentioning that all such cases are lacking the instance of pursuit, and in particular the use of sound-and-light alarms. This anomaly can not be explained by any circumstances except for the deliberate pressure on judges delivering such decisions. Therefore the collected statistics confirms the investigative lead that adoption of these decisions was organized and influenced.
Keep in mind the absence of the large share of decisions in the court decisions register despite the explicit requirement of the law to enter all decision into the register. This situation may also evidence the attempts to conceal the facts of adopting such decisions in order to evade responsibility.
Parsing of decision texts with Python language and organization in database: Renat Nasridinov.
Interactive vizualization with Tableau service: Yevhen Shulha.
Analysis and visualization of data with electronic spreadsheets: Andriy Gorbal.
Text:Danylo Kubai and Andriy Gorbal.
English translation: Stanislav Riabokin.