Although Berkut has been recently disbanded, I am certain that many of its men in one way or another will take part in what is happening in Ukraine. When observing the situation on Ukraine, you might say the Berkut stood guard over the ruling elites rather than over social security.

Of course, we have to remember that Berkut was only a tool in the hands of politicians. However, shouldn’t that kind of tool in the 21st century be at least a bit intelligent? On the streets of Kiev, the name is identified with violence, brutality and death. Having said that, from today’s perspective, its motto “The Safety of People – The Highest Law” seems sadly ironic.

So who exactly hides behind the name Berkut? In a straight line, Berkut was a successor of the special Soviet militia unit OMON (Отряд милиции особого назначения), which was set up in 1985 within the Ministry of Internal Affairs in USRR. In 1991, after Ukraine had gained independence, OMON was transformed into Berkut. Its main aim was to fight organized crime, crowd control and protective custody of certain individuals.

At the very beginning, the scope of task of Berkut was concentrating mainly on fighting crime that was and still is a very serious problem in a new Ukraine, specifically:  maintaining public order in areas where crime levels were high; enforcement during mass events and emergency situations; riot and illegal demonstration control; arresting dangerous criminals, hostage rescue; helping in police operations. Personal protection and witness protection were relatively new tasks.