Fire, stones and detentions: How people in Novi Sanzhary protested against settlement of evacuees from Wuhan

Source : 112 Ukraine

Police detained over 20 people in the result of the clashes
20:10, 21 February 2020

112 Agency

On February 20, the protests against the settlement of the Ukrainians and foreigners evacuated from Chinese city Wuhan in the sanatorium of the National Guard took place in Novi Sanzhary, Poltava region. In the morning the protesters blocked the roads, while in the evening they set a fire and started to throw stones at the buses with evacuated people.

Moreover, the clashes with the police took place. As a result of the protests, the police detained 24 people; 10 people sought medical treatment. Besides, Healthcare Minister of Ukraine Zoriana Skaletska stated that she would stay 14 days in observation with evacuated people to calm down the protesters in Sanzhary. As of morning, February 21, the situation in Novi Sanzhary is calm. But first things first.

How it all started  

In the morning on February 20, it was reported that after the landing of the plane in Kharkiv the Ukrainians evacuated from China would be transferred to the Interior Ministry sanatorium in Novi Sanzhary, Poltava region.

Due to this, the mass protests were held in Novi Sanzhary since the night. According to Spokesperson of Poltava region police Yury Sulayev, the citizens of Novi Sanzhary blocked the roadways to the village almost the whole night.

“In the morning, when the police officers asked people to stop the offenses and unblock the roads, some citizens displayed particular belligerency and refused to fulfill legal demands of police; the clashes with police officers started,” he added.

Due to this fact, the police ‘held preventive measures’ with the ten most active people.

According to Telegram channel PavlovskyNews, the police along with the National Guard, using the hardware, tried to remove the cars of the protesters from the roadways.

Later it was reported that law enforcers shut down all entrances to Novi Sanzhary, exit road from the surrounding villages. A lot of heavy equipment, including armored personnel carriers, a lot of busses with special forces employees were spotted near the village.

Interior Minister of Ukraine Arsen Avakov, who also arrived in Novi Sanzhary, urged people not to panic and not to get hysterical.

“I appeal to people specifically: you do not have to panic, get hysterical and believe unwanted rumors. We did everything to make our people protected from potential threats. The change and possibility of some consequences are extremely low. That is why you do not have to panic, resist the police officers,” Avakov noted.

He added that people who resist police will be detained.

Protests in Novi Sanzhary

The village council of Novi Sanzhary reported that there are no conditions and means in the sanatorium for the treatment of people infected with coronavirus or provision of quarantine. Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry stated that medical center Novi Sanzhary is ready to provide quarantine measures for people evacuated from China: the establishment is provided with material means and has developed infrastructure.

New wave of conflict

Late in the afternoon, a new wave of clashes between protesters and police started in Novi Sanzhary. Law enforcers pushed people away from the bridge, which leads to the sanatorium and tried to create a corridor for buses with evacuated.

Besides, the locals set fire on the road. Law enforcers and firemen were massed to the incident site. Law enforcers started the clean-up operation. They used smoke pellets and plastic shields.

New wave of protests in Novi Sanzhary

When the buses with evacuees from China arrived in Novi Sanzhary, people started to throw stones in them. It took place right after the bus passed the lines of law enforcers and got into ‘the fire zone’. Nobody suffered in the buses. The police made a corridor and tried to push people away. As a result of it, the buses entered the territory of the medical center.

Bus with broken windows in Novi Sanzhary

Later, the National Police reported that nine law enforcers and a civilian requested medical assistance.

Besides, the law enforcers detained 24 people, including a person who threw stones in the buses.

The information about the protests in Sanzhary was put in the United register of pretrial investigations due to the mass unrest and threat or violence toward a worker of law enforcement body.

Later, it turned out that the majority of detainees are not local citizens. All of the detainees were identified and 23 of them were released. Only one citizen is under arrest.

Protests in Novi Sanzhary

Reaction of authorities

Healthcare Minister Zoriana Skaletska decided to spend 14 days of quarantine in the medical center along with the evacuees. She expects to calm down both, people under quarantine and protesters.

According to Skaletska, she will govern the ministry by phone and Skype during her stay under quarantine.

In his turn, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov stated that political and business circles might be involved in the protests in Novi Sanzhary.

Prime Minister of Oleksiy Honcharuk flew to Poltava region, where the HQ of the government will work. He was asked why citizens of Novi Sanzhary were not reported about the settlement of people evacuated from China in the medical center of the village. The PM answered:

“For safety reasons, we limited information because we did not want the emergence of provocation and use of it in the prejudice of our citizens. We know that the country is still in a state of war; in fact, there are a lot of forces inside and outside the country, which want to harm our citizens and use, possibly, such complex operation to create some provocation; that is why such decision was made for safety reasons”.

Honcharuk also stated that all serviced worked well during the evacuation of the Ukrainians from China.

“The operation is unprecedented in the history of Ukraine, because, in fact, such measures were organized for the first time. Of course, it's impossible to foresee all the options, but I'm sure that under current circumstances, all services did a good job", Honcharuk said.

The premier stated that all people are secure and work tied with quarantine will continue.

Things happening in Novi Sanzhary now

As of morning, February 21, the situation in Novi Sanzhary is calm, no protests observed. The police officers patrol all over the medical center; they stay near all entrances and exits. There are no locals near the center. Jars and other tableware lie near the medical center. The bridge, where the unrest took place yesterday, is empty; everything cleaned up.

The local citizens stated that they protested because they thought that ill people are transferred to the village. The representatives of authority did not contact the locals and did not explain the situation.

Poltavshchyna online media, referring to Deputy Healthcare Minister Viktor Lyashko, reported that the decision to settle evacuees from China in Novi Sanzhary sanatorium was made with the consideration of the protests of communities of western Ukraine.

About 400 children did not come to the only school of the village on February 21; however, there are only 900 registered pupils.

“Today, almost 400 pupils out of 900 did not come to school. Yesterday’s situation in Novi Sanzhary influenced the attendance. But we work as usually. I obliged the teachers to inform parents by phone that nothing threatens the security of children,” the director of the school reported.

On February 24, the parent-teacher meetings will be held in the school to convince once more that the situation is controlled and nothing threatens the security of children.

Concerning the evacuees from China, who stay in the medical center, the volunteers brought them food. Moreover, the volunteers come to locals and calm them down, telling them that there are no risks of infection. Head of the medical center Oleksandr Blinov noted that sewage of the sanatorium proceed to the special sewerage pump station. The disinfecting means will be thrown to this sewerage pump station each day in particular time. Blinov also noted that the nutritious food is provided for evacuated people: the contract concluded with Poltava firm, which brings special boxes with first and second courses. Besides, people under quarantine live in two-man rooms with toilet, shower, TV, fridge.

The evacuees stated that the shower in the medical center electrocutes and the doors cannot be locked.

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