13.12.2001 | Mykola Korobko, Kryvoy Rog

Judge’s sack of tricks appeared empty


The Krivoy Rog authorities headed by mayor Yuri Lubonenko did not feel enthusiasm when they got acquainted with the decision of the meeting of the town inhabitants held on 24 May. The decision of the meeting was to hold the all-Ukrainian referendum about the voluntary dismissal of Leonid Kuchma. Later V. Gaevskiy, who chaired the meeting, got a letter signed by mayor’s first deputy V. Zadorozhny. The letter contained the refusal to pass the documents of the meeting to the Central Commission in charge of all-Ukrainian referendums. The pretext was that the documents ‘did not satisfy Articles 7 and 16 of the Ukrainian Law ‘On all-Ukrainian and local referendums’’.

Having analyzed a lengthy list of the demands contained in these articles, the members of the initiative group felt doubts whether the local authorities really found so many violations. The members of the initiative group, taking into account Article 3 of the European Charter on local self-rule, Article 17 of the law on referendums and Article 5 of the Constitution, turned with the request to review the documents for the second time, since the first decision contradicted Article 40 of the Constitution and laws ‘On complaints of citizens’ and ‘On local self-rule’.

The reaction of the local authorities was categorical and unexpected. A. Shtilenko, the secretary of the town council, answered: ‘The Ukrainian Law ‘On all-Ukrainian and local referendums’ does not envisage the opportunity to review the documents concerning the initiative group of referendum, if the documents were not accepted at the first time because of not meeting to the demands of this Law’.

The members of the initiative group were convinced that the essence of the defects found by the authorities was unnamed and that it was impossible to learn anything concrete. They knew that, according to the operating laws, a secretary of the town council has no right to take such decisions instead of the mayor. So, they concluded that the authorities abused their right to participate in preparing and conducting the referendum. They complained to the Dzerzhinskiy town court against the actions of mayor’s first deputy V. Zadorozhny.

On 1 August 2001 the court chaired by judge O. Ognianyk considered the case. In the beginning of the session Valeriy Makarchuk, a mayor’s representative and the head of the juridical department of the town council, unexpectedly requested to refuse to consider the case, because the claim was handed more then one month after the event. He counted the time, in contrast to the plaintiffs, from the reception of the first and not of the second response that obviously contradicted the law. The judge ignored the question of terms and started to consider the case. In the process the validity of mayor’s decision was discussed. V. Makarchuk found incorrect details in the data about 15 participants of the meeting. On this basis he proposed to consider the documents incorrect as a whole. He also affirmed that some participants were registered after the beginning of the meeting, and thus the organizers got a needed quantity of 200 participants. The debate did not prove the viewpoint of the mayor.

Judge Ognianik took the resolution that astonished even the claimants: the claim was rejected because of the violation of the month term.

Then it is not clear, why the process was held, if the reason of refusing the claim was formulated from the very beginning? As a local journalist remarked, the judge, perhaps, hoped to find more plausible reasons during the debate. The expectations were not fulfilled. So the judge had to use the first mentioned doubtful argument.

The claimants intend to hand the complaint to the appeal court.

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