"I was at work the whole day on November 21, 2004 - the day before the Orange Revolution presidential elections. I just came home to change clothes when the duty officer called me and said: “Mykhailo Ivanovych, students have gathered in the center, protesting, there's going to be a mass protest.” I went there and of course, everyone recognized me. Everyone expected that the police would use force because I was responsible for order in the city and everything was up to me... When I saw everything - the moods, the demands, the expressions - on Tuesday morning, November 23, I gathered all the heads of the territorial agencies because the district departments were subordinate to the city administration, as well as the deputies of the heads of departments and the deputy heads of the city administration, and clearly stated that people have the right to protest, defend their position, make any demands, but the main thing is that they do not break the law.” The police... should only ensure public order. And I said that as long as I am the leader, if there are no violations and people do not provoke the police, force will never be used against the protesters. There were already a lot of people in Kyiv on the Maidan then. My older son, who had just graduated from medical university, went there to help as a doctor, as much as he could. Mykola Tomenko was the speaker of parliament then... But how did it all come about? I gathered the leadership team and said what we would do: “We are only concerned with order, no movements are made without my command, we call on people to remain calm and orderly, and we will behave within the framework of the current legislation.” ＜…＞ “While I am the head of the city administration, we will not use force against peaceful protesters”. One of my subordinates - I know who it could have been today - when I said that I was ready to take off my uniform and lay down my badge if I were ordered to use force, sent a telegram and Tomenko read it out on Maidan. And my son called me: “Dad, have you heard? Tomenko announced that you are the first among chiefs of such a level in Ukraine declared that Lviv police [will not use force].” And this approach worked extremely positively at that time: we didn't break any windows, didn't damage any vehicles, and there were no serious breaches of public order. I went on television, was among the people, and every day was near the Shevchenko monument. I said: “I am here. As long as I am here, there will be no reservations for you to express your position.”
“In 2013, I retired. I'll even say why I retired, and I've come to terms with it. I understood that they didn’t forget 2004. In 2004, when residents of Lviv were leaving for the Maidan and were being hindered on the way, and spikes were being thrown at them, I personally came. Everything was coordinated near the Shevchenko district administration building. I specifically went there and told all the police officers and leaders: “We need to help. If people want to go, let them go. Period.” I know they were monitoring that and knew my position. That's why in 2013, I couldn't stay in my position, because I would definitely do the same thing. You saw what was happening - how they weren't letting people in or out, throwing spikes, and so on.”
“When they forced me to make a protocol... People came to Budzinskyi's place, and every Sunday he performed a religious service at home. There weren't many people there. There could be ten or fifteen people, people who were devoted to the Greek-Catholic canonical rites. And they told me: “Make a protocol.” I said: “Why should I make a protocol if those people are not violating public order, not disturbing the peace of others? They just came to pray.” In a closed premises, because he [Herman Budzinskyi] lived in a detached house. And then it started – “why don't you want to?” Why should I make it if I don't see any wrongdoing or signs of a violation of the law? No signs at all! <...> [This conversation was conducted by KGB representatives] I said: “If there is a violation of the law, then you should make it. My duty is to make a protocol if there is a violation of administrative or criminal legislation. As for moral and spiritual matters, I do not see any violations here.”
“Destiny threw me into the role of a police inspector in the district near the “Silmash” factory. At that time, Vyacheslav Maksymovych Chornovil and Herman Budzinskyi, a dissident from the Greek Catholic Church who was also serving a sentence in Soviet camps, lived in that district. Of course, as a police inspector, I visited them. In our conversations, it was always clear, already in the air, that the system could not continue to exist. The system was built on principles of fear, lawlessness, and contempt for human dignity. This had to change somehow. And those people - giants, pioneers - were the ones who began to push the idea that Ukraine should be independent and free.”
When you see a person who stands up for the just interests of the whole nation in front of you, it is cowardly to mock them
Mikhailo Ivanovych Kurochka was born in 1957 in the village of Darakhiv, Terebovlia district, Ternopil region. In 1972, he enrolled in the basic school of the Lviv Plant “Avtonavantazhuvach” and worked there after completing his studies. In 1976, he was drafted into the military service, which he served in Zhytomyr. After the army, he briefly returned to the “Avtonavantazhuvach” plant, and then moved to the Lviv Conveyor Plant. Recommended from the plant, he became a master of production training at the radio electronics college, where he trained locksmiths. However, Mykhailo saw his future in jurisprudence. Therefore, in 1980, he went into service in the internal affairs bodies. To become an officer, he enrolled in the Lviv Secondary Special School of the Militia (1984-1987). He also studied at the law faculty of the Ivan Franko Lviv State University. In 1984, he was appointed a district inspector in the district of the “Silmash” plant, where, among others, dissidents Vyacheslav Chornovil and Greek Catholic priest Herman Budzinskyi lived. Mykhailo refused to draw up a protocol against Budzinskyi for conducting home church services, which led to a conversation with the KGB. In October 1989, he witnessed the first use of riot police against protesters in Lviv. In 1995, he met Yurii Shukhevych and maintained friendly relations with him. Being the chief of the Lviv police, at the beginning of the Orange Revolution in 2004, he announced that he would resign if he received an order to use force against peaceful protesters. He urged local law enforcement officers not to obstruct people who wanted to go to Maidan in Kyiv. In 2010, he was reinstated as the chief of the Lviv police through a court decision and later became the deputy head of the Main Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine in the Lviv region for public safety issues. In July 2013, Mykhailo retired from the rank of colonel. Currently, in 2022, he is teaching at the Lviv University of Business and Law.