Prosecutor raises charges for illegal weapons – but where are the guns?January 24, 2016
The Prosecutor General’s Office has completed an investigation (almost exactly 2 years after the offence) relating to the illegal distribution – and thus illegal possession – of firearms from government depots.
The announcement is crude and cheap in its timing politically of course, made upon the second anniversary of murders at the “EuroMaidan”.
“To date, we have completed the investigation in the criminal proceedings which relate to the illegal issuance from mobilisation depots of the Interior Ministry of Ukraine in Kiev, of firearms and ammunition. Issued were around 600 Kalashnikov 5.45mm and about 190 thousand rounds of ammunition. Directly issued to the “titushky” were 40 firearms and 90,000 rounds” – Sergei Gorbatyuk, Head of the Office of Special Affairs Investigation Main Investigation Department of the PGO.
He went on to state that 12 people were officially wanted in connection with the illegal distribution of weapons and ammunition, of which 4 are in custody. Of note however, was the fact that of the approximately 600 “issued” weapons, the Prosecutor Gorbatyuk stated only about a dozen had been recovered. The whereabouts of hundreds of others unknown.
This announcement follows comments last week by Gennady Moskal, currently Governor of Transcarpathia, made after several Right Sector individuals where involved in a criminal incident at a tourist centre called “Dragobrat”. Weapons were used, including one stolen from the sacking/raiding of a police station in Ivano-Frankivsk in February 2014. Another 150 weapons were stolen with the storming of that police station almost 2 years ago.
Indeed, during 18th/19th February 2014 alone, some 1223 firearms and 60,000 rounds of ammunition were removed from raided/stormed police stations across Ukraine. Who, if anybody has been brought to account, and how many, if firearms any of those stolen firearms have been recovered is simply not being discussed.
There is then the small matter of The Kremlin flooding the occupied Donbas with weaponry, to only belatedly concern itself over their smuggling back into Russia – an inevitability seemingly overlooked for quite some time, before more administrative accountability was eventually installed – many thousands of firearms, RPGs, grenades, mines etc later.
In July 2015 this blog posed the questions as to how and when Ukraine was going to (begin to) deal with the issue.
The options, in a nutshell, are expanding the ability to legally hold certain types of firearms and allowing voluntary formal registration for illicit weapons held subject to suitable firearm security, or a firearms amnesty with cash payment for the value of the weapon surrendered (to be done several times over a period of years), and an acceptance that quality policing will be required tracing the many thousands of illicit weapons that will undoubtedly be retained by individuals, groups and their quartermaster arrangements, and organised crime. A mix and match/combination of some or all of those options awaits Ukraine.
Doing nothing however, is not an option.
The on-going daily use of firearms at the contact line in the occupied Donbas aside, the question has asked as to whether any efforts to remove illicit and unregistered/anonymous firearms from other regions around Ukraine should have already begun – discounting daily SBU raids as the only visible method?
Are the regional law enforcement agencies still too stretched to manage firearms amnesties? Is it perhaps there is simply no cash for a “buy back” scheme – for insentivising any limited duration, but repeated amnesties, will be necessary. As time passes the cash worth for many individuals will become more than the continued weapon possession worth (whatever the reason to hang on to it may be/have been). Is it that ad hoc regional amnesties are shunned in favour of a national amnesty, and circumstances prevent a national amnesty?
Is the national plan to disarm the illegal armed groups first, and then deal with individuals and individually held illicit firearms using the various options?
Perhaps it is more basic – Is there a national plan? If so what is it, and when does it begin to be rolled out?
If there is no national plan yet, why isn’t there one?
Illicit possession is a problem that will be with Ukraine for a decade or two. It won’t be dealt with overnight.
No doubt in Northern Ireland and Eire there are still weapons stored in cashes, with quartermasters and held by the “ideological” – “just in case” – discounting those that simply made their way into standard criminality.
However, Ukraine has to tackle the issue for it’s not one that will “sort itself out” – so when will it start?