Human Rights in Ukraine. Website of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group

Common sense has won. For the time being...


Public protests and the peaceful protest actions organized by the Sevastopol human rights protection group resulted in the refusal of the communist administration of the Sevastopol city council to include the question about erecting Stalin’s monument into the agenda of a consecutive session.

We want to express gratitude to everybody, who sent their protest letters to the Sevastopol city council.

We suggest the legal commentary of the Sevastopol human rights protection group.

In accordance with the protocol of the meeting of the permanent commission of the Sevastopol city council in charge of education, culture, religious, tourism, sport and youth of 21 August 2001, the commission decided to introduce a suggestion to the presidium of the city council: to include to the agenda of the session the question about the suggestion of veterans’ organization to erect Stalin’s monument.

The decision of the permanent commission contradicts the Constitution of Ukraine, the Law ‘On rehabilitation of victims of political repression in Ukraine’ and the Ukrainian Law ‘On local self-rule in Ukraine’.

1. The local self-rule is a right of a territorial community to solve by themselves questions of local importance in the framework of the Ukrainian Constitution and Ukrainian laws (Article 140 part 1 of the Constitution). The erection of Stalin’s monument in Sevastopol does not concern self-rule only because it concerns the interest of the entire Ukrainian people, which suffered most from Stalinism. Thus, the permanent commission overcame the limits of the power granted to it and to the city council.

2. The Law ‘On rehabilitation of victims of political repression in Ukraine’ is operable in our country. The purpose of the Law is presented in the preamble of the law: it is restoration of the rights of the repressed. It is pointed out that ‘mass repressions, which were carried out by Stalin’s regime and its representatives in the republic, are the especially grave inheritance of the past’. The Constitutional norms that must defend citizens’ rights and freedoms, as well as elementary norms of legality, were brutally trampled in court trials and out-of-court reprisals’. The Supreme Council of the Ukrainian SSR denounced the repressions. Thus, the supreme organ of judicial power of Ukraine gave an unambiguous assessment of I. Stalin, Stalin’s regime and the repressions. Not a single organ of the state power or self-rule has the right to assess Stalin and his activities otherwise (that is positively). In this case part 2 Article 19 of the Ukrainian Constitution will be brutally violated. This clause stipulates that the organs of state power or self-rule, as well as their officers have the duty to act only in the way (within the prescribed limits) envisaged by the Constitution and Ukrainian laws.

3. According to Article 47 item 4 of the Ukrainian Law ‘On local self-rule in Ukraine’, permanent commissions, on their own initiative or on the order of the council, preliminarily consider drafts of the programs of social, economic and cultural development and local budget, reports on the fulfillment of the programs and budget, study and prepare questions on state and development of the corresponding segments of social and cultural construction, as well as other questions that are proposed for the consideration of the council, develop projects of the council decisions, deliver reports on the council sessions. In the given case the permanent commission acts not on its own initiative and not by the order of the city council, but on the initiative of veterans’ organizations and on the question outside the competence of the city council.

4. Article 2 of the Ukrainian Law ‘On local self-rule in Ukraine’ determines the principles, basing on which the local self-rule is realized, in particular, the article dwells on the relations between local and state interests. Activities of local self-rule organs and their officers contradict legal norms (in this case the Law ‘On rehabilitation of victims of political repressions in Ukraine’) and thus violate the Law ‘On local self-rule in Ukraine’. Therefore, the discussion at the session of the city council of the question that obviously contradicts the Constitution and laws of Ukraine abuse the very principles of local self-rule in Ukraine.

5. Article 2 of the Basic Law on culture determines, in the capacity of main principles of cultural policy, assertion of humanistic ideas and lofty moral values in public life, orientation to national values and values common to all mankind, acknowledgement of their priority over political and class interests. In the given case the supporters of the communist ideology act to favor their political interests, preferring them to national values and values common to all mankind.

6. Article 8 of the Ukrainian Law ‘On service in local self-rule organs’ stipulates the duties of local self-rule officers. The duties include observance of the Constitution and laws of Ukraine, non-admission of activity (passivity) that may harm the interests of local self-rule and the state. Articles 23 and 76 of the same law determine the responsibility of local self-rule organs and officers for violating the Constitution and laws of Ukraine. Thus, the law obliges local self-rule officers not to violate the legal norms, but also to prevent possible violations of laws by local self-rule organs. Otherwise they become responsible in accordance with the operating administrative, civil and criminal legislation of Ukraine (Article 23 of the Ukrainian Law ‘On service in local self-rule organs’).

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