During the early years of independence when the ex-party nomenklatura and the newly rich were accumulating primary capital, the powerful — who had long scorned the law and elementary morals — produced an entire class of offspring which today go by the name "mazhor". The word means both a way of life and an incurable disease. The infected despise the law enforcement system, because it is working for them, and they do not care one bit for other people, because they are merely their servants. They beat and shoot ordinary people and run them over in the streets, but when faced with a wave of public outrage, they flee as far as their eyes can see with their tails tucked in.
Landik’s “Heroic Exploit”
On the night of July 4, Party of Regions MP Volodymyr Landik’s son Roman, 37, beat photo model Maria Korshunova, 20, in public in the Bakkara restaurant in Luhansk. Eyewitnesses say it was because she had had not responded to his advances. This particular situation stands out among others because the younger Landik is married to a Party of Regions member of the local city council. After this encounter with the drunken mazhor, Korshunova ended up in hospital with a broken nose, injured spine and a concussion. Landik claims it was her fault, because she “smashed dishes in the restaurant.”
All doubt was dispelled when a video recorded by a surveillance camera found its way to the Internet. This incident would hardly attract so much attention if Landik's father's relationships with top officers in the Luhansk police force were not so poor. This is why ensuing events followed differed from the norm. A criminal case on charges of hooliganism was immediately opened against the roman Landik. Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka assured that he was taking the investigation under his personal control and the president promised a “speedy case.”
“Immediately after the incident in Bakkara, two statements were received by the police – one from the beaten girl and the other one from Landik Jr. himself in which he complained that she had beaten him,” Tetiana Pohukai, spokesperson for the Luhansk police, told The Ukrainian Week. “The younger Landik received medical aid but refused to be hospitalized. Now he is not returning the calls to the investigator and is ignoring a summons to appear for testimony. Charges have not presented to him, because he is in hiding. The injured girl is still in hospital. Doctors say her condition is satisfactory. She is being guarded by the Gryphon special unit (tasked with protecting participants in trials. – Ed.).”
Roman Landik fled to Russia, but the long arm of the law has found him even there, and now he is awaiting extradition to Ukraine in a pretrial detention unit in Rostov.
Representatives of Luhansk high society who have come across Roman Landik in public call him “a drug addict” and “psycho” behind his back. Off the record, the police admit that he is a major headache for them. The Luhansk press reported that he and his accomplices had set up a veritable den of thieves complete with brawls and rape in the local Garage club. Photos of wild orgies that took place in that seedy hole can still be found on the Internet. Sources in the Interior Ministry say that numerous complaints against Roman Landik alleging beating people have been received since 2004, but his influential father cleared him every time. According to open sources, several years ago, Landik Jr. ran over a pedestrian, who later died, and that he fled the scene. A certain man allegedly came to the police later and claimed that he was the killer driver and was convicted instead of the real culprit.
Korshunova writes in the social media that she has a part-time job as a photo editor and is fond of the fashion model business. She is now reluctant to comment on the incident. While she is still in hospital, an entire campaign has been launched on the Internet to smear her name – some sites published photos of her posing naked and supplied them with dirty comments. Volodymyr Landik is a regional media tycoon – he owns a local newspaper, two radio stations and a television and radio broadcasting company. His initial reaction to the incident was to label the mass media “mercenary and mendacious” and call his son “holy.” Later, he changed his line and acknowledged that he “did a poor job of raising” his son.
Roman Landik did him a disservice: a scandal surrounding his father, who is not gifted with refined manners either, had just abated. On March 12, Oleksiy Kosiakov, a traffic inspector in Luhansk, dared to stop Volodymyr Landik’s speeding car. Outraged by this “impudence” from a mere inspector, the MP allegedly ordered his guard, spouting vulgarities, to remove the policeman from the road. The big fellow hit the inspector several times. After this incident, audio recordings were published online in which voices resembling those of the Luhansk road police chief and MP Volodymyr Landik discuss the event and the latter says referring to road inspectors: “I will drive with a police escort and will beat them and simply run them over.” Kosiakov spent a long while in hospital and was nearly fired from the police.
Semen Hluzman, well-known psychiatrist and human rights advocate, believes that the phenomenon of mazhors is a consequence of exceptionally poor upbringing. “The conduct of rich men’s children in the street and behind the wheel replicates primarily that which was instilled in the family,” he says. “Father and mother may be quite normal but excessively soft toward their children. If the child is allowed to curse or hit a housemaid or a guard serving the family when he is very young, the same aggressive conduct will show up when he is older. Incidentally, classic cases of mazhors are far and few between in Europe and the USA. A totally different tradition of raising children prevails in these countries. Even in a billionaire’s family, the child graduates from school and goes to university but does not live in his father’s mansion but in a common student dorm and, of course, earns a living himself.”
It is even customary for heirs to the British monarch to serve in the army, live in the barracks and fight in hot spots in the interests of the United Kingdom.
Social psychologist Oleh Pokalchuk is convinced that the special features of the phenomenon in question lie in mazhors’ desire to show to others what they can do. “The younger the person, the more primitive this show is,” he explains. “Mazhors do not have youthful maximalism, because it is characteristic of people with moral principles. In contrast, they don’t have principles and live in their closed environment. The reasons they explode outside their milieu are drugs or alcohol. A person goes off and begins doing wild things in a restaurant or behind the wheel.”
“When the children of the powerful get themselves in trouble, the investigator, prosecutors and judge approach their cases in a special way,” says Yuriy Vasylenko, attorney and ex-judge of the Kyiv Court of Appeals. “Law enforcement officers will not even open a criminal case against a mazhor without the go-ahead from the higher-ups. However, they never tire of repeating at every opportunity that the investigator is an independent figure.”
According to Vasylenko, in the best-case scenario the guilty party pays off the relatives of the victim to keep them silent and the case is quietly steered in the desirable direction. In the worst-case scenario the victims are charged with committing the crime. Vasylenko had this kind of case in his practice when he defended tractor driver Oleksandr Kucha, a resident of the Kaniv district. Yevhen Vovk, a judge of the Darnytsia District Court, fired a pistol at him several times. “Despite the clear marks of corpus delicti in his [the judge’s] actions, the case was opened against my client who still carries a bullet in his pelvis,” says Vasylenko. “Then Kucha was quickly found guilty and given a conditional sentence. Moreover, Vovk was accompanied to every court session by guards and the district prosecutor personally.”
When a mazhor is responsible for a traffic accident, there are even more opportunities to get off scot-free. “Using falsified technical examination reports and false witnesses, the case is twisted in such a way that the deceased turns out to be guilty,” Vasylenko says. “When crimes are committed due to hooliganism, the victim may be charged with provoking the conflict. For example, in the most recent case with MP Landik’s son the video shows the girl as she hits him on the head with a glass. This circumstance will, no doubt, be turned against her to show that she was the first to injure him.”
Vasylenko is convinced that the situation will change only when there will be one law for everyone and punishment for crime will be inevitable regardless of who commits it.
The Blood-hungry Young of the “Elites”
Dmytro Chernushenko, son of the head of the Kyiv Court of Appeals
On July 7, he allegedly picked a fight with the guards in the Ibiza club in Odesa. A video posted online showed him hitting bodyguards with his handbag, while his wife Olha, judge of the Desniansky District Court in Kyiv, kicked one of them in the belly. However, unlike the Landik case, there were no injured people in the fight.
Dmytro Rud, son of a district prosecutor in Dnipropetrovsk
On October 20, 2010, driving a Toyota Prado, he ran over three women who died. He absconded from the scene but was soon arrested by the Interior Ministry men. On July 13, he was released on UAH 17,000 bail.
Feliks Petrosian, son of a member of the Odesa Region Council
On January 13, 2008, driving a Toyota Prado, he caused a major car incident involving 11 cars. One of the drivers was killed, and several more were injured. The investigation continued for several years. On June 7, 2010, the case was closed. The judges ruled that Petrosian’s actions involved no violation of traffic rules.
Serhiy Demishkan, son of a Party of Regions member who heads Ukravtodor
On November 21, 2007, according to the investigator, he, his close friend Serhiy Levchenko and their common acquaintance, Oleksandr Kurdin, kidnapped and killed Vasyl Kryvozub, director of a small airline company, Krunk. They were detained and confessed. But Demishkan’s attorneys succeeded in persuading the court that he was not to blame for Kryvozub’s death. Now Demishkan Jr. is at large.
On May 16, Ukrainian filmmaker currently jailed in Russia as a political prisoner went on a hunger strike. In a public letter he wrote that he would only stop the strike if all 64 Ukrainian prisoners jailed in Russia for politically-motivated grounds are released
The opposition in Ukraine is mostly reactive and it chooses actions that will be most useful for criticizing the current Administration or gaining the attention of a specific part of the electorate. What Ukraine needs most right now is a consolidating program and a party that could present its own alternative for the country