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The only achievement is that the shootings stopped

18.04.2021
Yevgeniy Zakharov

Yesterday morning I was surprised to read the notice in “Interfax”, that stated: “The Government prepares the procedure of deportation of three former citizens of Ukraine under the sanctions for smuggling that were approved by NSDC, stated the source in Ukrainian Government. „The sanctions for smuggling approved by NSDC provide the loss of Ukrainian citizenship by some citizens. According to the adopted decision, the procedure for the deportation of three former Ukrainian citizens provided by the legislation of Ukraine is currently being prepared“, – said the interlocutor to the agency „Interfax-Ukraina“ on Wednesday”. So that is what the President meant by saying that some of TOP-10 smugglers have two citizenships and some even more, and we will deal with it quickly!

The memories immediately flooded in: that had already happened! After Lenin’s proposition to deprive of citizenship and deport those who protested against the policy of the Soviet power, in autumn 1922 hundreds of the best people were deported from Ukraine, Russia, Georgia – philosophers, writers, doctors, engineers, письменників, economists, agronomists, cooperators, teachers – by steamers from Petrograd, Odesa, Sevastopil, by trains from Moscow and other cities. Later that phenomenon was named “Philosopher’s Steamer”. As told to an American journalist by Lev Trotsky who called this action “Bolshevik humanism”: “We have sent those people away because there was no reason to shoot them and it was impossible to tolerate them”.

The deprivation of citizenship as a measure of political criminal persecution was enshrined in law in 1924 in "Basic principles of criminal law in USSR and the union republics". Para. 13 of Chapter 3 of those Basic Principles “Social protection measures and their application by the courts” of 1924. The first such measure is “Declaring the person an enemy of workers with deprivation of citizenship of the USSR and expulsion from the USSR forever”. These Basic Principles were in force until the end of 1958.

The reasons for shooting were easy to find since the 1920s, and the deprivation of citizenship of USSR was rarely used. They returned to this practice in 70s and 80s of the last century. Most often the unwanted people were forced to migrate under the threat of arrest and many years’ stay in a camp, such as Joseph Brodsky. Some were deprived of citizenship while going abroad to give lectures or receive treatment: Petro Grygorenko, Volodymyr Voynovych, Lev Kopelev, Rayisa Orlova and others. Some prisoners were exchanged with automatic loss of citizenship: Volodymyr Bukovsky, Yuriy Orlov, Oleksandr Ginzburg, Mykola Rudenko and other members of Helsinki groups. And the only case of deportation due to deprivation of citizenship that I recall is the expulsion of Oleksandr Solzhenitsyn on 11 February 1974 after the publication of the book “Gulag Archipelago” in France.

And now a modern democratic and legal state of Ukraine resorts to this Soviet rudiment?! And, as it turns out, with pleasure! But is it not precisely the bad habits and superstitions of the Soviet past that Ukraine seeks to get rid of? It turns out that the Soviet thinking remains within us regardless of the age, deep in the marrow! Like some kind of curse! It seems that the only achievement in the sphere of persecution of the “wrong” citizens is that the shootings stopped.

A quote by the governmental information source “Interfax” indicates that the decision on the deportation is seemingly already adopted. Seemingly, since the Presidential decrees on the deprivation of citizenship are not published, and we do not know for sure whether it was signed. A well-known constitutionalist Vsevolod Rechytsky in his comment convincingly proves that such decrees should be published.

So what are the legal reasons for the deprivation of citizenship? Article 25 of the Constitution of Ukraine states affirmatively:

A citizen of Ukraine shall not be deprived of citizenship and of the right to change citizenship.

A citizen of Ukraine shall not be expelled from Ukraine or surrendered to another state”.

Under the Law of Ukraine “On Citizenship” citizenship can be terminated in case of its renunciation, loss or on the grounds provided by the international treaties of Ukraine. The joint analysis of the Articles 2, 4, 7, 17-19 of that Law shows that the deprivation of citizenship of those who received it by birth, is only possible at the initiative of the citizen, except for voluntary enlistment in the military service of another state. Obviously, the people who have been sanctioned by NSDC are not in that category. The mere proclamation of the “single citizenship” in Article 4 of the Constitution of Ukraine means only that Ukraine does not recognize the existence of citizenship of its administrative-territorial units or autonomous entities. It is possible for Ukrainian citizens to belong to another citizenship (citizenships) in parallel, but it should be no more than simply ignored by the Ukrainian authorities as long as the person remains a Ukrainian citizen.

Thus, the decision on the deprivation of citizenship of the citizens who were subjected to sanctions under the decision of NSDC, is arbitrary and unlawful.

It should be highlighted again, that the decision of NSDC of 2 April on sanctions against the citizens of Ukraine and Ukrainian legal entities based on the Law of Ukraine “On Sanctions” is unlawful. That Law does not contain any indications of the fact that the sanctions could be used in such cases. The only possibility for this is seen in the interpretation of the fragment “as well as entities engaged in terrorist activities”Meaning that it is possible that the citizens of Ukraine and Ukrainian business institutions are meant here. However, even if it is to be interpreted in such way, where is the evidence of involvement of those who were sanctioned in terrorist activities? It is not even mentioned.

Still, yesterday it was reported that NSDC imposes sanctions on 12 individuals and legal entities involved in smuggling, “and this is not the end”.

I want to emphasize once again that a political regime that demonstrates such contempt for the law and violates human rights more and more is facing a devastating fiasco.. It is impossible to cheat the reality by political means for long. Maybe the authorities will still recall the norm of direct action enshrined in Article 3 of the Constitution that “To affirm and ensure human rights and freedoms is the main duty of the State”?


On the main image: a “Philosopher’s Steamer”

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