Supporting Izyum’s police and prosecutors daily work as they seek for justice

September 11, 2023

Green is the relaxing colour of the fields in the Kharkiv Region of Ukraine early September.

But as one approaches Izyum, one of the cities of this Region liberated from the Russian aggressor, the landscape changes dramatically.

The destruction of houses, buildings and bridges reveals the scale of the unjustified and unprovoked military aggression, and the consequent erasing of human lives and heritage.

The signs of war are everywhere in Izyum. Here people suffered Russia’s occupation. A trauma adding to their forever “before” and “after”.

Restoring a normal life for the communities of this part of Ukraine is one of the main priorities of an Action Plan launched by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine in December 2022.  

Within this context, the EU Advisory Mission (EUAM) Ukraine supports the law enforcement agencies of the liberated territories in their efforts to re-establish policing, Rule of Law and community safety. Pilot projects are in place in Izyum and Snihurivka (Mykolayiv Region), and include the procurement of IT mobile items, the delivery of trainings, and emergency kits.

Dmytro Grynchak, is the Head of Izyum Police. He is one of EUAM Ukraine’s main partners. Last August he opened a training course on “Critical Stress Management” organised by the Mission for Izyum civil servants, including prosecutors and police officers. He also cooperates with EUAM Ukraine on training courses on Open-Source Intelligence, International Crimes and First Aid.

The Headquarters of the Izyum Police are destroyed.

Izyum police teams are now located in temporary accommodation. Dmytro shows the EUAM team around these premises. The working conditions of Dmytro and his team are less then precarious.

Yet, in these dire circumstances, they are called to perform demanding and unprecedented duties, including the investigation of war crimes.

IT mobile equipment is key to get on with the job, as the officer states.

Showing the EUAM Ukraine’s team the destroyed building in Izyum, the Head of Police focuses on one particular civilian target, a multi-store apartment block blown up by a Russian missile attack on 9 April.

This is being investigated by police and prosecutors as a possible war crime. Four or five bodies might still be under the rubble, adds Dmytro.

Prosecutors working in Izyum will also use the IT equipment handed over by EUAM Ukraine.

Mykola Dementyev, the Head of Prosecution in Izyum, is another close partner of the Mission.

He participated in the named “Stress Management” activity organized by the Mission in this part of Ukraine.

Echoing the word of his colleagues, the officer in charge of distributing the donated assets to the Izyum prosecutors, Zhanna Popova, says: “This technical support you are providing is extremely important, as these laptops will enable Izyum’s prosecutors to work in various duty stations, go to the crime scenes with their files, and to the courts”. Zhanna appears as energetic and positive as the yellow colour of the clothes she wears.

On the occasion of the signing for the donation, the Acting Head of the Main Directorate of the National Police in the Kharkiv region, which includes Izyum, Serhii Bolvinov, thanks EUAM Ukraine’s Criminal Investigations Adviser on Organised Crime, Chris Elliott.

“It is me thanking you and all Ukrainians for your outstanding work, which is an example to all of us” replies EUAM’s Adviser.

Serhii Bolvinov tells the EUAM team about his investigation of alleged war crimes following the discovery of a mass grave in Izyum with more than 440 bodies.

The hope is to restore safety and security in Izyum. And to get justice one day.

So that maybe one day, the unceremonious burials of souls covered by mature trees looking green on the outskirts of the city of Izyum in September, will bear the names of the victims of this tragic war, thanks to the work of brave and dedicated prosecutors and police officers EUAM Ukraine strives to support.