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Roman Bakhovskyi: My primary support is the public

Author: Тарас Щепаняк
This is the true story of a former HR worker for the police in L’viv region, a member of Plast Roman Bakhovskyi, who had left his job after the students were beaten on November 30th and joined the Euromaidan protest in Kyiv.

One of Roman’s hobbies was crew; he participated in both European and World Crew Championships. Please read this interesting interview to learn about the roles that Plast, sports, police work and the police reform ideas, as well as the events on Maidan played in Roman Bakhovskyi life.

You were active at Euromaidan. In fact, it changed not just your career, but your entire life, didn’t it?

After the students were beaten on November 30th, I decided to quit my job. I wrote a resignation letter, in which I asked to review it and make a decision in my absence, because by that time I already went to join Maidan. Previously, when it was still just a student protest, I visited Kyiv with my wife and helped the students, joining them in the human chain – “Eurochain for Eurointegration”. After the students were beaten, I was joining a completely different Maidan protest. And I found my purpose there. Since the very beginning, I joined a self-defense unit. By the way, my police training and skills were extremely helpful in that situation. We developed strategies, taught other protesters the techniques and maneuvers that could help fight the “titushky” and “Berkut” thugs. 

What do you remember about the events that took place at Maidan in February?

As far as I’m concerned, the most horrible events transpired in the Mariyinskyi Park on February 18th, when the riot police “Berkut” and hired “titushki” thugs beat up protesters in a really savage manner. Our unit was also there. Honestly, I don’t even know how we managed to escape.  Still, a lot of my friends and brethren were severely injured that day.

It was difficult to leave Maidan and Kyiv during the night between 18th and 19th of February, to transport the injured people out of danger and to get more “means of protection”, knowing that my brother was on approach to Kyiv that night. 

Do you think that the Maidan protest achieved its goals? 

You know, recently I visited the Ministry (of Internal Affairs – ed.) and saw how everybody was panicking there, running around, grabbing their heads, saying “it’s a war, it’s a war”. They have many ideas for future improvements and development – many people of initiative, intelligent people have gathered there. If not for this external enemy… Their full attention is glued to that problem right now. If there were no Russian aggression, everything could be different, I’m sure of it.

Please tell us how you came to Plast and what are your best memories from the past activities?

Plast started for me when I became a cub-scout. Mom’s friend Sofia Nahirna (Smyk by marriage) organized a cub-scout group. I joined it in the distant 1994. Then there was the exciting youth-scouting life as part of troop 23. My scout-master was a good friend Andriy Horak. However, only now do I understand that it was Plast that truly gave me good upbringing, educated me, made my body and spirit stronger, taught me how to love nature and life itself. This may sound banal, but Plast made me into a real person. I remembered everything from my youth-scouting years: camping, bonfires, the romance of nature.

What came next? How did you life develop, you being a plastun?

Unfortunately, I can`t remember the exact year, but sometime around 2000 I had to stop being an active plastun, because I took up sports more seriously. I started training for crew professionally, participating in various championships… I had less and less time for scouting. I had always been an athlete. I swam when I was a child, and then took up crew when I became a teenager. It was crew that made my career in sports successful. I met the Master of Sports requirements and became a member of the Ukrainian National Crew Team, taking part in the European and World Championships. I was training all the time. 

What made you join police after your scouting, swimming and rowing careers? Where’s the connection?

The connection was through my crew training. Some of the guys I was training with were policemen. They were on another team, the police crew team. And I thought to myself that I would not mind doing the same thing. And in 2005 I even join their team for a while. Then, after I served my time in the Army, I joined the police. However, I wasn’t able to combine sports and service for much longer. Training was taking up a lot of my time, and my supervisors disliked that. So, later I was given a hint that I had to make a choice between the sports and my job. Crew gradually became less important to me and I started to study at university. Then I became an officer and obtained a position as an investigator of a district police unit.

Did you like your job? What were your duties? And why did you become disappointed? 

My duty was to investigate the facts. It wasn’t hard for me, but, to be honest, I disliked the job very much. Moreover, with the job, I started forgetting my crew skills. Lately, I only joined the trainings twice, and that became my last sports season. And my job – it was so monotonous, sedentary, boring. I was already prepared to quit, which I communicated to my supervisors. They asked me to stay and promised to find a better job for me – in the division of professional training. After having worked in the HR department for a long time, I again started to become disappointed. Perhaps even distrustful. The first time some outside stranger was appointed to the job I was supposed to get, I accepted it as a fact. Then I decided to try myself as the Head of the HR department in one of the police districts in L’viv, but this time nepotism prevailed – a friend of one of the supervisors got that job. So I became completely disappointed and understood that I couldn’t change anything, given that all job positions were habitually bought and sold… 

How can we change that? Could we try to engage Plast, other NGOs or volunteers with the police work? In other words – this is public safety and security, many people would like to join the effort, many people are interested in it.

Well, actually, police is a law enforcement agency. It’s authoritarian, authoritative and many people think that a 27-year-old guy like me cannot defeat the system. So that’s why my primary support is the public. It is within the civil society that I am looking for experts and professionals needed to introduce effective reforms to the police. And I feel stronger in such a position, because I see that there is support. When the community supports you, no official will be able to do anything illegal. 

Roman Bakhovskyi was born March 7th, 1987 in the city of L’viv. He became a member of Plast in 1995. He was a member of a cub-scout group and, later, the scout troop 23 until 2000. 

He studied at L’viv Commerce Academy and L’viv State Univesity for Physical Education. He is married to Yaryna Bakhovska (nee Ostrovska) who was also a scout from troop 22 (the group named “Pearls of Spring”).

In 2005, he participated in the European and World Crew Championships. From 2007 to December 1 2013, he worked within the police forces of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine. Since Euromaidan protests, he is actively working with the issue of reforming the Ukrainian police forces. 

Interview: Petro Zadorozhnyi / Plast Media Service 
Editing: Natalia Kotskovych / Plast Media Service

This interview is part of the series “Contemporary plastuny, who are successful in their professional lives”

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