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Why classify city plans?



The authorities in Kharkiv and seven other urban areas in the region found various pretexts for refusing to divulge what would hardly seem top secret information – their city plans. The East Ukrainian Centre for Public Initiatives has reported on three stages of correspondence with the authorities and results – or lack of them.

According to Volodymyr Shcherbachenko, Head of the Centre, officials from the cities - Kharkiv, Balakleja, Chuhuyev, Izium, Kuliansk, Loziv, Pechenihy and Pervomajsk – first claimed that the information was a “state secret”.  When this didn’t wash, and after the SBU [Security Service] intervened, presumably perplexed as to State secrets they knew nothing about, the story changed. Now the Centre was told that the city plans were “for official use only”.

Volodymyr Shcherbachenko says that the plans are often kept from public view in order to conceal officials’ mistakes and miscalculations. He stresses that such reticence can harm the public in general and potential investors who reasonably enough wish to know about plans for a particular area or site before investing their money.  The secrecy can however be required for those involved in corrupt dealings, making it possible to trade in information, providing it on a selective basis where they get a cut.  

Not even Prosecutor’s Office investigators may have access to the plans, however most absurd is that members of these councils are prepared to allow the plans to be classified meaning that they themselves will not have access to them.

Information from the Centre and from the Ukrainian Service of Deutsche Welle

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