“Narcopunishers” – is a movement of people’s avengers in Ukraine who claimed themselves to be fighters against drug trafficking. They encourage everyone to take part in a “drug dealers hunt” and turn narcos in by filing a report on the website. The information provided is not even verified and taken as the truth, which means that innocent people might get involved.
When drug dealers (or the ones “believed” to be drug dealers) are found, narcopunishers humiliate them, use physical force and scorch dwelling, in order to make narcos confess and glue a sticker with the store’s name on drug dealer’s forehead. No exceptions are made as both street and DNM narcos fall into their hands. Police condemn such actions and consider that “Robin Hoods” can be imprisoned as well as the ones against whom they declared war.
How do they function?
“I am everywhere. I am here to clear the streets of narcos and other scums. I declare “hunt”. Narcopunisher. You can participate in this “hunt”. Visit the website and forward an application.” – these words are said in a video published in social networks. Judging by the content of the community this movement belongs to the range of right radicals and its members are called “Nazi friends”. In order to file data about a drug dealer one should fill in a form on the gang’s website stating location and other information about a dealer. Also there is a video instruction on how to make a “Nazi friend” mask – a wolf head made of paper with slits for the eyes and abbreviation “ND”.
Narcopunishers operate in large groups. Their main task is to make and leak a video on how they mock narcos (push, beat, make to confess, etc). According to these videos drug dealers are usually teenagers.
However it is not clear what “fighters” do with seized drugs and there are no guarantees that the supposed “narco” is not a respectful citizen slandered by a foe.
Society expresses mixed feelings about narcopunishers. Members of radical group’s community divided into three camps. Some support punishers: “if police can’t cope with drug dealers, then there is no other alternative and citizens should take action.” While the others vigorously oppose lynching, emphasizing that only courts have the right to judge. Also, there are people who think that narcopunishers should struggle against police itself which, as everyone knows, supervises drug trafficking.
Criminal proceedings instituted
Police do not approve the gang’s actions and say that punishers are outlaws. Speaker of Kiev’s region National Police Nikolay Zhukovich told the “Vesti” newspaper: “No matter how they call themselves – “catchers”, “hunters”, “punishers”, these people commit a crime when causing bodily harm. A few years ago there appeared similar “Robin Hoods” who sought out drug dealers in the Chernigov region and then beat them on a camera. As a result, criminal proceedings were instituted, they were arrested and judged. Judicial processing is the only punitive system we have.”
Earlier this year the same local “punishers” in Poltava (Ukraine) appeared in court. The two of them were sentenced to eight years in prison and their property was confiscated. The two other associates were on probation. Investigations revealed that men assaulted citizens covering their crimes under the guise of “war against criminals” (drug trafficking, prostitution, gambling). But these “avengers’” real aim turned out to be a personal beneficiation.
It is not the first time when radicals try to fulfill police duties in Ukraine. In 2013-2014 another criminal group acting in Russia (with the leader in Moscow Maxim Martsinkevich aka “Tesak”) and Ukraine caused a lot of agitation. Its members hunted potential pedophiles over the social networks, communicating disguised as a young boy asking for a meeting. They trapped, humiliated and beat victims filming it and then leaking videos on YouTube. In Kiev (Ukraine) these “fighters” even took money for the “show” – 35 UAH (about $1).
Police came into action and arrests were made, including teenagers performing the role of a bait. They were accused of extortion with serious assaults. The trials of the gang’s members and followers still continue today. It is very important to mention that many victims of the “righteous fury against pedophiles” turned out to be random people.