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Cultural organizations can’t compete

13.06.2008

The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union has expressed concerned over the increasing trend by bodies of local self-government to take premises away from organizations working in human rights defence and the cultural sphere, these including libraries, houses cultural centres, bookshops, galleries and civic organizations.

The trend is particularly noticeable in Kyiv where most bookshops, art studios and a network of institutions where children could learn to draw, do sculpture, dance, play chess etc have disappeared to be replaced by countless shops selling expensive goods.

While sometimes the authorities want to get higher rent for the premises, sometimes the latter have been let out for the same money but to commercial structures.

UHHRU points out that the requirement in the Law “On the Budget” that premises be let out only on a competitive basis deprive organizations working in the cultural sphere, as well as civic organizations,  of any chance of receiving such accommodation since they can’t compete with business structures.

Civic organizations have already suffered. The All-Ukrainian Society for Former Political Prisoners and Victims of Repression was flung out of their office in Kyiv, but the “Respublica” Institute is presently threatened with the same fate.

The Kyiv City State Administration (KCSA) has decided to hand the premises which “Respublica” have rented for the past eleven (!) years to the National Deputy Vasyl Hrytsak supposedly for his public reception office. KCSA is, furthermore, intending to hand it to Hrytsak without a tender on the same conditions as “Respublica” was renting under. This is a flagrant violation of the Civil Code and the Law “On lease”. Both civic organizations mentioned have filed suits with the court against KCSA. The court proceedings are still in progress. UHHRU says that such examples are many in Kyiv and other cities.

It points out that such cavalier treatment of premises of cultural importance and civic organizations gives the lie to fine-sounding declarations about supporting the development of civic society.

Premises are often taken away to be allocated for favours provided or loyalty and those who occupied them on legitimate grounds are thrown out.

UHHRU stresses that the principles for leasing premises need to be reviewed, and as a minimum there should be a moratorium on handing over premises presently occupied by organizations working in the cultural sphere and civic organizations.

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