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ОГЛЯД ЗМІ: Голова Бородянського районного суду Київської області Геннадій Стасенко розповів як працівникам вдалося зберегти життєво важливі документи та знову почати працювати майже одразу після деокупації (англійською мовою)

Institute for war & peace reporting
Olga Golovina

Геннадій Стасенко, Голова Бородянського районного суду Київської області розповів, як працівникам вдалося зберегти життєво важливі документи та знову почати працювати майже одразу після деокупації.

«Я пам'ятаю момент у перші дні війни. Були обстріли та повітряні нальоти, відсутність офіційної інформації, інформаційний вакуум. Наприкінці місяця я отримав SMS-повідомлення - ваша заробітна була зарахована на ваш картковий рахунок. Такі були емоції, я хотів плакати. Мова йшла не про самі гроші, ніхто не думав про це в той момент. Це означало, що держава працює і піклується про людей. І це дало нам сили»

Текст інтерв'ю:

Reviving Wartime Justice
“Everyone wanted to go to work as soon as possible.”

Olga Golovina
Editorial coordinator

Tuesday, 23 April ‘24

In late February 2022, Russian troops repeatedly shelled the court building of Borodyanka, a town in the Kyiv oblast, destroying much of its contents. Judge Hennadiy Stasenko, head of the Borodyanka district court, told IWPR’s Olga Golovina how employees had managed to save vital documents and start work again just a few months later.

IWPR: How did the full-scale invasion begin for you?

Hennadiy Stasenko: For the Borodyanka district, the war began on February 24, 2022. In the evening of that day, the first columns of tanks arrived in the district. On February 25, the Russian military came closer to Borodyanka; on February 26, the enemy was already on the outskirts, and then the first shots began to be fired at the city. On the morning of February 27, I was near the court and saw a column of tanks, one of which fired at the court building. Then the war really began for us, because we realised that it was all very serious. Before that, we did not believe that the Russians could shoot at peaceful buildings just like that. The court is in the administrative centre of Borodyanka and we saw the first shot 50 metres away. It was a shock. The windows were blown out and the facade of the building was destroyed. It was obvious that everything was gutted inside. 

Air raids on Borodyanka began on March 1. On March 2, one of the rockets hit a place near the courthouse, and then everything burned down. A fire was smouldering there for several days. Most of our employees and their families were evacuated from the city. 

When the full-scale invasion began, my colleagues and I decided to hide important things and documents. We had metal cabinets where archival and personal files and seals were stored. We decided to hide them in the basement. In the end, the only things that survived were what we brought to the basement.  

Judge Hennadiy Stasenko in front of the destroyed court building in Borodyanka. Photo courtesy of H. Stasenko.Judge Hennadiy Stasenko in front of the destroyed court building in Borodyanka. Photo courtesy of H. Stasenko.
In what conditions does the court now operate?

We resumed work in another building that was not too badly damaged - a few rooms of the treasury building. The families of court employees and all our colleagues gathered every day and cleaned and repaired the premises bit by bit. We needed everything, we had nothing. We were given used robes, furniture, stationery and computers. We restored the server, and colleagues helped in any way they could. Immediately after the liberation of Borodyanka, at the beginning of April 2022, even getting to the city was problematic.  

In May 2022, we officially resumed the work of the court. Local people started coming for certificates and court decisions. Of course, the conditions are different, but we are already used to them. Two judges and three assistants sit in one small room. If we talk about performance indicators, I can honestly say that neither quantitative nor qualitative indicators have become worse. 

Is there a problem with professional staff?

The overwhelming majority of court employees stayed. Only three workers resigned after the deoccupation of Borodyanka, for personal reasons. The rest returned to work. Now we have 24 employees. In our team, seven employees had their homes completely destroyed as a result of aerial bombardment. A few more have badly damaged houses. One of our judges lives in a modular house built in her yard with UN funds. That's why when people come to us and start complaining - you don't understand us, we have problems, we have to go abroad - it's strange for us to hear it. Destroyed housing means that people have nothing. Not just apartments, but everything that was inside - furniture, appliances, things... People start from scratch.

Have criminal proceedings been opened over the destruction of the courthouse?

We submitted statements to law enforcement agencies about the destruction of the court premises immediately after returning to Borodyanka from the evacuation. I filed a report with the local police department. Experts conducted inspections and we were interviewed. Destruction of civilian infrastructure is a war crime – a violation of the laws and customs of war. Our case is included in a large proceeding. Initial actions have been the recording of the crime, then the SBU deals with the case, which is one of tens of thousands. 

What challenges do you currently have to overcome in your work?

Working conditions, lack of personnel, psychological difficulties due to constant rocket attacks and air raids. From the first days, we felt that we are in a state of terrible war, a fight for the statehood of Ukraine. When we saw our building destroyed, everyone cried. Our team includes people who have been working for 20 years. Everyone wanted to go to work as soon as possible. Therefore, it was a great joy for us that we were able to resume our work. 

When we resumed work after de-occupation, we had one computer for three employees. We worked on it in turn. USAID helped us - they provided us with new computers and office equipment. Before the full-scale invasion, we didn't have that much, and there were problems regarding lack of personnel even before the war.  

How do you see fair justice for committed war crimes?

More than 90 per cent of war crimes proceedings are conducted in absentia. Those persons against whom cases are being conducted and resources and time are being spent are absolutely indifferent to our proceedings. 

International experts also have questions about the effectiveness of absentee courts. In recent history, this is the first time that war crimes cases have been heard during active hostilities. 

There must be certainty that the accused has actually been informed of the proceedings and that he has the opportunity to attend the court session. 

Fair justice, as I see it, is a complete victory for Ukraine - the liberation of all territories and the destruction of the enemy. 

From a legal point of view, I cannot answer this question, because it is quite complicated. 

I remember a moment in the first days of the war. There were shelling and air raids, a lack of official information, an information vacuum. At the end of the month I received an SMS message - yoursalary has been credited to your card account. Such were the emotions that I wanted to cry. It was not about the money itself, no one thought about it at that moment. And this means that the state works and takes care of people. And that gave us strength. 

Institute for war & peace reporting