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12.12.2001 | Igor Stoliarov, Odessa

Pre-election troubles in Odessa

   

"We have all the grounds to reckon that the events that occur in Odessa are deliberate again", declared Natalya Chaychuk, a deputy of the city council, commenting the last events in the pre-election life of Odessa.

She told: "Odessa voters lost doubly. First, the city mayor violated the proper term, opening the work of the commission accepting all propositions and claims of candidates.

Secondly, when on 14 January it became known that the mayor lost his right to accept such claims without voting at the session, he passed the right to from the commission to the Odessa oblast rada.

The city council was pushed aside from the process of forming the election structures, the session of the oblast rada had only to confirm this decision. The composition of the commission, which was at last formed, raises astonishment and nothing else!"

Natalya Chaychuk said: "Not a single candidate suggested by such participants of the election process as People’s Rukh of Ukraine, Ukrainian Popular Rukh, political party "Reforms and order" and others was included into the commission. The propositions handed by these political parties included the well-known lawyers, academicians, professors and other popular citizens of Odessa.

The only lawyer, who was admitted to the newly formed city election commission, appeared to be a privately practicing notary.

In the commission we see a housewife not belonging to any party. We see that the age limit was also not obeyed, since the representatives of party of pensioners are rather old.

What is also surprising, only one public organization (the fund named after Semen Kislina) was nominated out of numerous Odessa public organizations. So, the foreign charity fund got the right to suggest their candidates to the election commission.

I think that this is a law violation. Why foreign funds have the right to hand their propositions about the election process?

Thus, the city mayor realized the actions that were obviously deliberate and planned beforehand. He concentrated all his actions to force Odessa, city dwellers, representatives of political parties and blocs and of public organizations to be put aside from forming the city election commission – the organ that would influence the course of the election campaign.

First of all, I think that we will publish in mass media the lists of those people, whose names we handed to the election commission. We shall do it to make Odessa dwellers able to understand whom the mayor did not want to see in the election commission, and they are people well-known and respected in the city.

Secondly, the juridical service will work. I hope that we will find the proper solution of this problem. I do not know how we can coexist with such a commission! Free city of Odessa is made an obscure province, ruled by housewives. One cannot agree with this choice".

***

On 24 January the three-days-long trial finished in Odessa. The court considered the claim of several public organizations and political parties against city mayor Ruslan Bodelian. The plaintiffs believe that, while forming the city election commission, the city authorities violated a number of the operating laws. The claimants were represented in the court by Fedor Nariychuk, the head of the oblast branch of Yulia Timoshenko’s bloc, by Leopold Mendelson, a deputy of the city council, and Valeriy Kochetov, the president of the Odessa Academy human rights protection. Along with the claims already given to the court two more documents were added later: from the political party "Batkivshchina" and from the Odessa Academy human rights protection. The authors declared that "the formed city election commission is not independent and it will endorse only one candidate to the mayor’s post – Ruslan Bodelian".

The demands of the claimants were as follows: to bring to court the representatives of the oblast rada, to acknowledge Ruslan Bodelian’s activities as illegal and contradicting the operating laws, to cancel the decision of the Odessa oblast rada about the creation of the Odessa city election commission, to prohibit the election commission to execute any procedural actions until the court decision. Valeriy Kochetov reminded the judge that all normative documents of the local self-rule organs must be issues in Ukrainian language. The documents published in the newspaper "Odesskiy Vestnik" is in Russian, and this "restricted the right of the native Ukrainian citizens, who live in Odessa, to understand this documents concerning the election process".

V. Kochetov declared that he demanded to regard the activities of the city mayor as illegal, and the normative act that regulates the terms and procedure of putting out candidates to the election commission, issued by the mayor, as disagreeing with the operating laws and contradicting the Constitution. One of the plaintiffs, Fedor Nariychuk, called the trial "a traditional perversion typical of Ukraine". "The political perverts, who belong to the so-called administrative resource, provoked this trial. This insolent behavior of the current power is based on the conviction that every sin will be pardoned. They believe that if the superior power may violate laws unpunished, then they, the local power, may do the same. This is not a new tactics. The Odessa mayor bred by the communist party preserved his old habits. The3 political parties, which remained outside the city election commission must demonstrate to the whole world that such phenomena, as occur in Odessa, must not exist in a society".

The claim of political parties and public organizations was not accepted, and the court decision "must be executed at once".

V. Kochetov believes that "the judge of the Zhovtnevy district of Odessa demonstrated that our city is ruled not by the force of law, but by the force of power". The decision is illegal in toto, and the qualifying commission of the Supreme Court and the Supreme Council of justice would have to learn this decision by heart. This decision shamelessly abused the rights stipulated by Constitution and the Universal Declaration of human rights.

If the judge is sure that the decision of the state official, which is obligatory for execution by the inhabitants of an almost one-million city, is not a normative act, but an administrative documents, the qualification of the judge is to bad to be true.

As during the previous election, they formed Odessa the obedient election commission, whose main task is not guaranteeing honest and independent election, but the achievement of the results needed by the people at the top. This commission may have only one motto: "It does not matter how they vote – it matters how we count".

But this is not the end of problems…

V. Kochetov told that "according to the Civil-Procedural Code, a court has three days for preparing the protocol after having taking a decision. The decision was announced on 24 January, and we have not seen the protocol yet. I and my colleagues came to the court to familiarize with the protocol and learned that the main document, in which they had to register our visit (the journal for registering documents given out to visitors) was absent. It did exist all recent years and now it disappeared as if in the thin air. Thus, our presence and activities in the court office could not be fixed in writing".

The representatives of the political parties turned to the clerks of the Zhovtnevy district court with the request to solve the raised problem. During two hours the clerks actively searched the office for the register. The superior clerks explained that "Ukraine suffers from the shortage of paper and cannot afford to keep registers". The strange detail is that this shortage exists only in the Zhovtnevy district court, where the city election commission works.

The request of the claimants’ representatives about compiling the protocol on the absence of the register was ignored for a long time. The chairman of the court refused to be present at compiling the protocol.

"I have suspects that the organs of the judicial power connive with Odessa mayor R. Bodelian, whose illegal activities we intend to denounce", said the president of the Odessa Academy human rights protection. Advocates V. Kochetov, V. Aseev and L. Mendelson wasted much time to meet with the head of the Zhovtnevy district court. His secretary tried not to admit them to chief’s office and said that the judge’s reception day is Monday, so any hope to see him before is unreal. The wrangle lasted about ten minutes.

When the judge appeared he demanded from the advocate to go away to the hall. "We have not and will not have the register. The Ministry of Justice does not supply us with enough stationery. We shall not compile any act with you present. And switch off your dictaphone!", head of the court Oleksandr Golovchenko said.

In the opinion of L. Mendelson, "in the Zhovtnevy district court they brutally abused the procedural norms of conducting civil affairs: they have no register of giving out the case materials. A great danger follows from the situation: it would be impossible to prove that somebody got familiarized with the case, that the case materials consisted of so many pages and that no changes were introduced later.

By today there are already several violations in the described case, which we cannot prove.

Moreover, the court decision has not been signed yet, the date of its compilation is not given. Thus, the neglecting the laws, which was observed during the trial, is continued.

***

Interesting TV features again disappear from the Odessa air. And again it happens before the election. The popular feature "Hotline" has become a consequent victim.

The disappearance of the feature "OKO" transmitted by the TV company "Odessa plus" with two showmen Igor Grinshteyn and Sergiy Kovalinski made a lot of noise in its time.

The journalists were refused in the further joint work after they took interviews from MPs Yuri Karmazin and Viktor Shishkin.

Now the TV company "Odessa plus" has another owner, who even created the fund and named it after Boris Derevianko, the murdered editor of the newspaper "Vechirnia Odessa". As it is known, the 26th TV channel is now controlled by Oleksiy Kostusev, the present head of the anti-monopoly committee of Ukraine.

This common participant of various elections in Odessa, while promising the better future and the best mayor in his own person to the city inhabitants, seems to treat in a rather queer way the freedom of the press concerning mass media he controls. A bright example is the3 lot of the authors’ collective of the popular TV feature "Hotline".

According to journalist Marina Kolmykova, "from the very beginning Oleksiy Kostusev actively endorsed the idea of the renaissance of the feature "Hotline", which once had been closed on the TV company "MOST". He certainly understood that in this way he could increase the rating of the TV company "Odessa plus" controlled by him.

We did not get any pay for our work. Producing the feature occurred for our expenses and on our equipment.

Yet, in a month Mr. Kostusev changed the policy of the TV company. We were told not to elucidate any positive events in the city, only crimes and drawbacks, to criticize all what was happening and to search negative aspects, and to tell how great and good is Oleksiy Kostusev and how lucky will Odessa be having his in the capacity of the mayor".

Marina Kolmykova informed that several meetings with Kostusev and his deputy were held, where the personnel was criticized for they did not do what they were told to.

"We formulated our position that we did not want to take part in this dirty policy, which was practiced on the 26th channel, in that flow of sewage that flooded the city. A Kostusev’s representative visited us without warning and informed that they did not want to cooperate with us any more. They even did not permit us to go to air for the last time to inform the audience about our closure", told Ms. Kolmykova.

It became known about the anonymous threats to Ms. Kolmykova. She was warned that, if the information about the "internal" conflict that appeared spread, then not only her own life, but the life of her family might be endangered. By the way, Marina Kolmykova is a mother with many children.

She told that she was ready to turn to court and to seek another city TV channel to adopt the feature "Hotline".

***

The first victim of the Odessa voters commission was Fedor Nariychuk, the head of the oblast organization of the political party "Sobor" and an assistant of MP Viktor Shishkin. He is refused the right to be elected as a deputy of local rada in the 27th electoral district, since he "does not work and does not reside in this electoral district".

Representatives of many political parties and public organization in Odessa demonstrated their worry about the composition of the city voters commission, formed, in their opinion, by mayor Ruslan Bodelian with violations of the Ukrainian Constitution and operating laws. The Zhovtnevy district court considered the claim of the political parties "Fatherland", "Reforms and Order", Popular Rukh of Ukraine", "Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists", Odessa Human Rights Protection Academy. The claim was rejected.

And here is a result.

As Odessa advocate Volodymir Pasichny said, "It is the violation of the operating laws that regulate the elections to local radas".

Fedor Nariychuk himself called arbitrary the actions of the territorial voters commission.

"The behavior of and activities of the "pocket" voters commission was not difficult to forecast. I can risk predicting that, more probably, all candidates to radas of various levels will be pressed upon, if they are not liked by city mayor R. Bodelian", Mr. Nariychuk believes.

He intends to appeal against the mentioned decision of the voters commission in court, although there is not much hope for justice.

By the way, Fedor Nariychuk represented in the Zhovtnevy district court of Odessa, the claimants who demanded to change the composition of the city voters commission "formed with violation of law".

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