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08.04.2004

Claim of the special militia department of the Lugansk oblast against the head of the Lugansk oblast public organization “Postup” and the weekly “Vecherniy Lugansk”

   

On 6 August 2003 the preliminary trial talk was conducted in the connection with the case concerning the publication in the oblast weekly “Vecherniy Lugansk” (No. 14, 3 April 2003) of the article written by the head of the Lugansk oblast public organization “Postup”.

The claim was handed by the special militia department of the Lugansk oblast militia directorate against Konstantin Reutskiy, the head of the public organization “Postup”, and the weekly “Vecherniy Lugansk”, where the article by Reutskiy had been published. In the article Konstantin Reutskiy, being an independent journalist, described the conflict between him and the special militia department.

The prehistory of the conflict is the following. The NGO “Postup” rented a part of former kindergarten No. 110, where the public organization created the rehabilitation center for homeless children. Another part of this building was occupied by the special militia department (SMD). Since January 2003 the rehabilitation center is closed, so the homeless children cannot get the protection and aid there. Konstantin Reutskiy asserted in his article that the center had been closed because of the absence of electricity and the unwillingness of major Mishchenko, the head of the SMD, to help the public organization to solve the problem. The fact of the matter is that the panel, from which the electric power can be switched on, is situated on the territory of the SMD, but it is possible to make the autonomous connection of the rehabilitation center to the same panel without any financial losses of militia. In spite of this, the commandment of the SMD refused to connect the rehabilitation center to the electric panel.

According to Konstantin Reutskiy, the reason for the refusal was major Mishchenko’s wish to force K. Reutskiy to organize the meeting of the militia officer with the head of the fund “Bereginia”, the tenant of the third part of the building. The head of the fund, in his turn, did not want to meet the major. Besides, the head of “Postup” supposed in his article: “Either the children center became the hostage of the strained relations between the special militia department and the charity fund “Bereginia”, or militia is merely displeased with the vicinity of the establishment that patronize the homeless children”.

In the claim major Mishchenko explained that his refusal to connect the center to the electric network was caused by the necessity to agree the technical details of the connection in the “corresponding organizations” and to consider the possibility of connecting “Postup” to the energy power system of the SMD or “Bereginia”.

After several unsuccessful attempts to come to the agreement with the militia department Konstantin Reutskiy expressed his opinion about the situation in the article, after the publication of which he was summoned to court. The militiamen reckon that the opinion of K. Reutskiy on this problematic situation and the way of its description in the newspaper inflicted a serious damage to the honor, dignity and reputation of the SMD. Probably, the commandment of the militia department thinks that the best method to improve the reputation is to bring an action against a public organization that patronizes homeless children.

In the claim the head of the SMD demands: 1) to refute the information, which discredits militia; 2) to oblige Konstantin Reutskiy to apologize to the collective of the SMD.

However, it became obvious that the representative of militia could not explain what facts had to be refuted. The unconvincing arguments of the militia officer, which he adduced in judge’s office, were summed up by the phrase: “This article as a whole is unpleasant for militia”.

The judge appointed the court consideration on 12 September 2003.

Public keeps the eye on this case. The members of the organization “Total action for the support of human rights and democracy” and local journalists were present at the trial. During the preparation to the trial the head of “Postup” got the legal consultation from the public organization “For professional aid”.

The additional materials about this case can be found on the site of “Total action for the support of human rights and democracy”: http://totalaction.iatp.org.ua.

P. S. The peculiarities of the work of the judicial system are also interesting. Although the suit was brought both against Konstantin Reutskiy and the newspaper “Vecherniy Lugansk”, the subpoena was sent only to Reutskiy. And the editorial board of the newspaper knew nothing about the claim until Reutskiy informed them about that.

(“Prava ludyny” (English version), August 2003)

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