13.12.2002 | Bogdana Kostiuk

Another national disgrace


The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine demands to present the proofs that it was a Ukrainian rocket that shot down the airplane TU-154 of the Russian airline company „Sibir“ over the Black Sea last October. This information was given by representatives of the Ministry of Defense During the court session on the claim of the relatives of the perished crew of the airplane vs. the government, Ministry of Defense and the State Treasury of Ukraine. The court session was held on 10 September in the Pecherskiy district court of Kyiv.

In the beginning of the session representatives of the defendants, the Cabinet of Ministers, Ministry of Defense and the State Treasury, appealed to the court with the demand to prohibit mass media to elucidate the process. Judge Svetlana Smyk satisfied the appeal partly: she prohibited audio and video records of the representatives of the defendants. After this the accordance of opinions of the representatives of different institutes of the executive power somewhat diminished. For example, the representative of the Cabinet of Ministers demanded to exclude the Ukrainian government from the defendants, since the proper defendant in this case was the Ministry of Defense. The representative of the State Treasury also tried to dodge the guilt. The representatives of the defendants reminded the judge and the representatives of the claimants (Sergey Platonov, the manager of the attorney firm „Atlant“, and his deputy Vitaliy Vakulenko) that the General Prosecutor’s office of Ukraine started the criminal case against the Ministry of Defense concerning shooting down a passenger plane. The court rejected the petition of the Cabinet of Ministers and State Treasury.

After this the representatives of the Ministry of Defense pointed out that allegedly there were no proofs of the guilt of their agency, the information sources affirming that it was namely a Ukrainian rocket are doubtful, and that there was no sense to put all the blame upon the Ministry. According to the words of Andrey Muzyka, the Ministry of Defense confirms only its connection with the affair and the final decision of the General Prosecutor’s office must be awaited.

We want to remind our readers that soon after the accident the international Ukrainian-Russian-Israeli commission confirmed the fact of shooting down the plane with a Ukrainian rocket, and the President of Ukraine acknowledged the guilt of Ukraine. Besides, as early as 12 October 2001 Ukraine created the interagency commission for investigating this accident. The preliminary conclusions were made public in the end of the year: it was a Ukrainian rocket that caused the destruction of the airplane and the death of 12 crew members and 66 passengers.

The statements of the representatives of the Ministry of Defense rather shocked the judge and journalists, but they did not surprise Sergey Platonov. „Such reaction could be expected“, said Mr. Platonov, „since Andrey Muzyka again pronounced the same arguments he used last year in the Brovary case. Then, as well as now, the court rejected these arguments and acknowledged that the Ministry of Defense was guilty of hitting a block of flats in Brovary with a military rocket.

Judge Smyk decided to demand from the General Prosecutor’s office to issue the Resolution on starting the criminal case connected the destruction of the passenger plane, and send the request to the interagency commission about the conclusions already made in the so-called case of TU-154. The case that could cost to Ukraine not only her international image, but also respect and trust of her own citizens.

Our commentary:After the accidents in Brovary, over the Black Sea and on the Sknylivske airfield the behavior of the Ministry of Defense is astonishing. Now it became quite clear what kind of defense the Ministry prefers: defense of generals’ villas and other privileges, as well as the most important militia secrets – about dedovshchina, corruption, using soldiers as free workers, escalation of irresponsibility and the like. The defense against such dreadful enemies as public opinion, human respectability and the duty to pay for the death of innocent people.

These „defenders“ are paid from Ukrainian taxpayers; they are resolute to be economical. But nobody knows, how many billions would be paid in future to wash away this disgrace are restore the international prestige of Ukraine. That is a pity that the claimants did not include the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine into the list of the defendants.

This situation for the umpteenth time illustrates the professional level of the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office, which, by the way, is also kept by taxpayers. Soon a year will pass since TU-154 was shot down. The prosecutor’s office had a lot of time to confirm or to refute that the rocket was Ukrainian just to make the Ministry of Defense not to make a public fool in court. If the General Prosecutor’s office could not do achieve that until now, then the prosecutor’s office and the international commission worked for the wastepaper basked.

The legal role of such commissions, which are created by the executive power organs after each tragic accident, is incomprehensive. There is no law about such commissions, and each of them acts as it considers properly.

This is an obvious rudiment of the Stalin’s time, when investigations and trials were conducted by commissions in accordance with „revolutionary aims“. Such commissions must not exist in a law-abiding state, since they may not belong either to legislative or executive or court branches of the power.

The last accident in the Zasiadko mine was investigated by the commission headed by vice-Prime-Minister Oleg Dubina. Being an ecologist, I know that he also heads the interagency commission on the problem of the climatic changes (ICPCC) and the National commission on the steady development (NCSD). Because the accidents in Ukrainian miners happen frequently, Mr. Dubina must waste the bulk of his work-time for investigations. He lacks time to pay much attention to the ICPCC and NCSD. His predecessors had the same trouble.

As a result of the weakness of the ICPCC the opportunities of billion investments into the energy-saving are not realized. A result of the weakness of the NCSD was that Ukraine could not report about the fulfillment of „The agenda for the 21 stcentury“ at the global summit in Iohanesburg, although Ukraine was represented there by President Kuchma himself.

Maybe, the General Prosecutor’s office of Ukraine will be able to work better if it is disbanded and formed anew. In any case investigations must be conducted by professionals, not by accidental people, who happened to be included into a commission created that time.

Certainly, sometimes there is a need in some more specific knowledge. But a good professional in crime investigation knows well who and how must be attracted as an expert, a witness, and who must be on the opposite side of the bars.

Unfortunately, the old definition of the USSR as the „country of non-professionals“ still remains actual for the state rule in the modern Ukraine. The matter is not in the exact record in diplomas, but in the absence of the responsibility, which otherwise would keep the unprepared pretenders to responsible positions.

The well-known phrase „do not turn it into a tragedy“ said after the accident with TU-154 could hardly develop such responsibility. That could be one of the reasons why the militia lawyers from the Ministry of Defense make public fools of themselves.

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