The Severodonetsk Septameron with six happy ends
A member of the Lugansk Branch of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine (LB CVU) took part in the court session as a representative of the defendant. The claim was directed by former head of Severodonetsk militia M. Frolov against pensioner O. Novokhatskiy. The militiaman handed the claim about the defense of honor and dignity damaged by the collective appeal organized by Novokhatskiy and handed through MP Yu. Ioffe to the Ministry of Interior. The appeal contained the negative assessment of Frolovs work and the demand to transfer him to another place in the framework of the conventional rotation. In his claim the militia officer demanded to refute the lies contained in the appeal and to recompense him the moral damage assessed as Hr 1000.
Comprehending that the court could not be unbiased, our representative based his defense on the impossibility to prove that Novokhatskiy took part in the compilation of the appeal and the fact that reading a letter without knowing its content beforehand may not be considered as spreading lies.
The consideration of the case took four court sessions totally lasting 10 hours. Outside the court the plaintiff and the defendants representative came to the agreement, after which the demands to Novokhatskiy were withdraw in toto. Yet, the plaintiff insisted that the information given in the appeal was not true, and the court agreed with his arguments. Novokhatskiys representative did not object, since this decision did not have any consequences for everybody except Frolov.
On 9 January 2001 the PR-department of the LB CVU ‘Luganskinform-KVU placed on the site ‘Political Ukraine the information about holding in Severodonetsk the meeting for disbanding the Supreme Rada and against launching the aggregate for the utilization and destruction of pesticides. The meeting was organized by the initiative of mayor V. Gritsishin. The meeting finished with clashes of some of its participants with militia. The CVU observers predicted that the consequences of these clashes would have to be considered by their public reception office.
On 18 January a militiaman tried to detain S. Dyakov, the secretary of the town committee of CPU in the building of the town executive committee. The militiaman intended to take Dyakov to the precinct for compiling a protocol on an administrative offence. Dyakov phoned to the CVU reception office, a member of which spoke by telephone with the militiaman and convinced him that there were no grounds to detain Dyakov and promised that the latter would come to the precinct by his own will with an advocate and written explanations.
From the explanations of the militiaman it became known that Dyakov was accused of holding a non-sanctioned meeting (lasting 2.5 minutes, to be exact from 14:30 to 14:33 on 9 January) after the termination of the official meeting organized by the executive committee. In this connection the CVU members worked out the plan of defense and wrote the explanations, from which it followed that Dyakov did not hold any meeting. According to the version of the CVU turned to Dyakov during the meeting asking him to explain what was going, why the floor was not given to people with differing views, who personally was elected to the committee for protecting constitutional rights, etc. That is why Dyakov continued to answer the question after the official meeting was closed. He even had to use a loudspeaker, since the people, who asked questions, were numerous. However, his speech may not be regarded as a meeting, since it has no generic features of a meeting.
Dyakov came to the precinct together with a representative of the CVU reception office, who tried to explain the matter to Chistokletov, the deputy head of the precinct. But the latter refused to listen to the representative and demanded from him to leave the precinct, or else... After this Dyakov together with our representative left the precinct, leaving there the signed explanations.
The protocol about the administrative offence was compiled in militia and passed to court. In February the protocol and the explanations were considered by judge Zmiyevskiy, and he refused to open the case because of absence of the offence.
By the way, it was the sixth attempt for two last years to bring Dyakov to responsibility allegedly for his behavior during meetings. Similar attempts concerned two more persons. In all such cases the CVU provided citizens with efficient aid: all the cases were won in the first of in the surveillance court instances.
Severodonetsk public reception office has been helping pensioner Vodnev already for two years in restoring his rights. The privatization department of the executive committee refused Vodnevs request for privatization of the flat, where he resides, on the grounds that he has not yet exchanged his Soviet passport for the Ukrainian one. In November 1999 handed his complaint against the illegal actions of a state official; in December of the same year the claim was rejected by judge Medvedev. In doing this the judge made some procedural mistakes, which were used by our representative as the basis of the cassation. Yet, the cassation was also rejected. Then we handed the complaint to the oblast prosecutors office and the head of the oblast court. The oblast court head refused to reverse the court decision and the resolution of the cassation collegium, the oblast prosecutor entered a protest. The protest was rejected by the presidium of the oblast court. By the way, the prosecutor used good arguments, quoting the laws, according to which all people, who lived in Ukraine at the date of declaring the independence, are her citizens. Using these arguments the reception office helped Vodnev to compile the complaints to the Supreme Court and the General Prosecutor of Ukraine. The Supreme Court refused to satisfy the complaint and the General Prosecutor handed the protest the protest was rejected by the Supreme Court. Unfortunately Vodnev reviewed the answer from the Supreme Court only three months after the consideration of the General Prosecutors protest, when the reception office requested about the state of the case. Thus, the term to turn to the Strasbourg court already expired.
In order to meet the conditions of the term we decided to turn again to the first instance court, but now not with a complaint, but with a claim. It enabled us, if the claim were rejected in courts of first and second instances, to turn to Strasbourg. The claim for restoring the violated right for privatization was handed. The claim was considered by the same judge Medvedev. He refused to consider the claim since the matter had been considered before and a valid court decision had been taken. The cassation was handed. It was considered on 8 March and unexpectedly was satisfied. The case again returned to Severodonetsk. During the trial the representative of the reception office used an unexpected stratagem: he asked the court to concord the juridical state of Vodnev with his real state. Since, if Vodnev has no right for privatization as a non-citizen, then how he may have a propiska, why he may participate in elections and has some other rights typical for a citizen. The trial continues and we think that it may be very resonant.
In March Severodonetsk town court took an unbelievable decision. Two years ago Severodonetsk dweller S. sold his car, Audi of 1978 year of production, having agreed with the buyer for the price of $2500. Actually, he was given $100 in cash and the IOU for $1500. Then the buyer decided not to pay any more and warned S. not to insist on the payment, of he does not want himself to pay even more. In the end of 2000 a claim was handed to Severodonetsk court against S. the plaintiff demanded Hr 36 thousand to recompense the losses. The claim was appended with the act of assessment of the worth of repairs of the car, which, according to the assessment of a special firm, demanded Hr 16 thousand. The sum is not very surprising, if to repair such an expensive and worn out car. Besides the claimant appended a list of spare parts, which he allegedly bought, for the sum of Hr 7 thousand, as well as the demand to recompense his moral damage. In spite of the absence of any documents confirming the purchase of the spare parts (the plaintiff said that he bought them on a market), the judge found valid the claim for 7 thousand, referring to the law on the protection of consumer rights. The judge confirmed her decision that, according to the general principles of trade, if the contract of sale does not contain any obligations about the quality, then the purchased article must be suitable for use. The judge disregarded some argument on the side of the defendant: that the claimant did not deny that he actually used and intended to use the car, and that, according to trade rules, any pretensions at the quality of goods are accepted up to the expiration date of the guarantee, which is long over for a car of 1978 year make.
We think that the decision of the judge was obviously biased. Even if the fact of the dishonesty of the seller were proved, then the judge would be able only to annul the deal, making the seller to return the money and the buyer to return the car. Besides, the mentioned decision has created a very dangerous precedent by making the seller to give his goods gratis and even paying additional sum to the buyer. As to the IOU, the court even did not consider it. The plaintiff, in his turn, insisted that the IOU was not already valid, since the term of payment had expired.
S. turned to the CVU reception office with the request to ‘press on the oblast court. We refused to do it, but we gave him some advise how to behave at the cassation. On 19 April 2001 the cassation instance of the Lugansk oblast court reversed the decision of Severodonetsk town court and sent the case for reconsideration.
The torments of Igor Orel started in April 1998. Mr. Orel is a businessman from the town of Stakhanov, the owner and manager of an enterprise with the same name; he is also the founder and publisher of the oppositional newspaper ‘Kadievka. As the result of checking financial documents the tax police regarded the transport expenditures of the firm (Hr 30 thousand for 2 years) as a concealed profit: they came to this conclusion because some running schedules were not available. The Rules on using running schedules does not concern private transport, but tax police disregarded this fact. On 16 June 1998 a criminal case was started according to Article 148 part 2, and an enormous fine was imposed on the enterprise. As a result, the work of the enterprise stopped and 15 workers lost their jobs.
Yet, this case never came to a court, since nobody was accused. I. Orel refused from a consecutive amnesty, and in September 1999 the case was closed because of the absence of corpus delicti. On May 2000 the Lugansk oblast tax inspection annulled the fine and sanctions imposed by Stakhanov inspection. After this I. Orel supported by Stakhanov public reception office of the CVU handed a claim against Stakhanov tax inspection. He demanded to recompense his moral damage with Hr 100 thousand. In May 2001 Stakhanov town court satisfies the suit partly, ordering the town tax inspection to pay Hr 10 thousand to Igor Orel. Such a verdict is, perhaps, unique in Ukraine.
Town markets are typical objects that are controlled by oligarchic clans. But this seductive object in Severodonetsk was a rented enterprise from the beginning of the 90s. This means that the property was owned by the oblast consumers union, but was rented by another group. This group invested much of the income to the development of the enterprise.
Some time ago representatives of the local establishment decided to grab the market. Having agreed with (or enforced?) Valentina Maluta, the former manager of the enterprise, the protocol of the common meeting of the collective was faked (Protocol No. 12 of 14 January 1998). This protocol read that the collective agreed to reregister their rental enterprise as an associated company.
The cheated leasers learned about the fake in summer of 2000, when the new boss appointed a new director and started to sack old members or persecute those, who were not yet sacked. At the same time the property gained by the collective during several years was wasted fast. In summer the enterprise had almost Hr 100 thousand on its bank account, whereas in December they had a debt of Hr 250 thousand. The attempts of the collective to defend their rights by pickets and civil disobedience were suppressed with traditional Severodonetsk liberalism: militiamen armed with Kalashnikovs came to the enterprise, pushed out some of the protesters and took the most energetic to the precinct.
In summer Lugansk arbitrage rule to cancel the reregistering of the enterprise, but Severodonetsk executive committee circumvented the resolution. The decision about the registration of the associated company ‘Severodonetsk central market was canceled, and another associated company, ‘Central market of Severodonetsk, was registered.
The CVU reception office deals with this case since September 2000. We sent the complaint to the Zhovtnevy district court of Lugansk (the decision of this court about the annulling the reregistering and the dismissal of the former director was not obeyed by Severodonetsk executive committee). We also sent the collective members complaints to Severodonetsk town court about the illegal activities of the authorities, which violated their rights.
On 9 December the court took the decision that satisfied the demands of the leasers and ruled immediately (during 5 days) to restore the autonomous registration of the rental enterprise.
On 8 September Vadim Lebedev turned to the reception office asking to help him at the court session, where his cassation would have to be regarded. Earlier (without any participation of the CVU) he turned to the town court with the claim against Severodonetsk heat-electric generating plant, demanding to write off a part of his debt for heating, and to pay him a compensation for moral and material damage explaining his demands by the fact that the temperature in his flat was lower that required by sanitary norms (lower than 18 C). The court partly satisfied the demand to write off some of the debt, but refused the item about compensation. The court also ruled that the plaintiff must pay the court expenses. The cassation was compiled by a professional advocate. After this the complainer turned to the CVU reception office.
We advised the complainer not to insist on the compensation of material damage (it, according to the rules, may be demanded only if the corresponding clause figures in the contract), but to focus on the illegal decision of the first instance court about the court expenses. This is a legal request since, according to the decree ‘On court expenses, the expenses shall not be taken from a consumer, who turns to court for protecting his consumers rights. Along with it we advised the client to insist on the moral damage compensation, referring to part 3 item 3 of the Resolution No. 4 of the Supreme Court of Ukraine of 31 March 1995.
On 14 September the cassation instance reversed the decision of Severodonetsk town court and directed the case to the court of the town of Rubezhnoe.