Security services. Parliamentary oversight Sep.1999
II. Recent Developments
16 Have there been any major developments since the previous reports were prepared?
17 Specifically, have there been any new laws or major court decisions on any of these subjects since you wrote the reports? If no new law has been adopted, is the Parliament considering any new law on any of these subjects since the reports were prepared?
UPDATE TO RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
During April . September 1999 the situation in Ukraine is mainly determined by the Presidential election campaign, the election will be held on 31 October. The political struggle has become very acute between the executive power, which does the best to guarantee the victory of the acting President, and its opponents. various leftish and left-central political parties that control about 40% of MPs. The right opposition affects the political situation but weakly. The situation is somewhat paradoxical, since the executive power, which waves the banner of democracy and market reforms, uses forcible administrative methods in their campaign, while the leftish forces have to loudly cry for human rights protection and, mainly, the freedom of speech.
We shall regard events according to the topics of the Project.
Security services. Parliamentary oversight
The control of the executive power over mass-media has become almost total: electronic state-owned mass-media are packed with materials praising the current president in the former, Soviet spirit, while independent TV companies, which try to preserve some objectivity and inform about the real state of affairs in the country, thus contributing a discordant note in the praising chorus, are pestered by the authorities, and sometimes are even closed. Agencies of the Ministry of the Interior, the USS and the tax inspection are actively used in the process. For example, four radio and TV companies in the Crimea were closed under far-fetched pretexts; the TV company NOA was regularly reporting the parliamentary sittings after all state-owned TV companies stopped to do it; now the company. s bank account is arrested; Kharkov TV company . Simon. transmitted a feature about Kuchma. s rival Marchuk and got its TV transmitter confiscated. Several analytic telecasts were stopped. On 5 May the direct radio transmission of Parliamentary sittings was terminated. Several scores of cases are known when the offices of mass media and similar firms, which support Marchuk and Moroz, the main Kuchma. s rivals, were sealed by the tax inspection or the directorate for struggle with organized crime. These methods of suppression of the opposing press are used fairly often. As a just assessment, on 5 May the Committee of protecting pressmen (USA) listed Leonid Kuchma as number 6 out of ten enemies of the free press, side by side with Slobodan Miloshevich, Tzian Tzemin, Fidel Castro, Lorant Cabila, Alberto Fuhimori and Hosni Mubarak. In our opinion, this is an exaggeration , because the freedom of speech in Belarus, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan is violated much more brazenly, although Kuchma. s administration well deserved the title of an archenemy of the freedom of speech.
The main opponent of the executive power appeared to be the Parliamentary committee on the freedom of speech and information, headed by socialist Chizh. The Committee managed to cancel the Edict No. 1033 of 16 September 1998, which we described in the previous report. As a result, the monopolistic Ukrpoligrafizdat, which covered almost all publishing houses and printing facilities of the country, was disbanded. More than once the Committee defended the repressed mass-media, initiated parliamentary investigations of the freedom of speech abuses, organized the parliamentary hearing on the topic . The informative policy of Ukraine: present state and prospects. . This hearing was held on 11-12 May, and the conclusions were summed up in the resolution of the Verkhovna Rada. On 23 May the Verkhovna Rada directed the Appeal to the Council of Europe, OSCE, international parliamentary organizations and governments of the European countries concerning the alarming situation in the information space of Ukraine, with the description of numerous facts of brazen abuses of the freedom of speech by the executive power. The Verkhovna Rada declared that it . must act as the guarantor of the freedom of speech in Ukraine and the guarantor of fair election of the President. . It should be noted that the MPs and experts participating in this hearing expressed not only the protest against the abuses of the freedom of speech, but the alarm concerning . the absence of the adequate legal regulation of the information sovereignty and security in Ukraine, as well as preventing the use of achievements of scientific and technological progress by some juridical and natural persons. .
As Evgeniy Marchuk, the former USS head, declared in his interview to the UNIAN press agency on 8 April, . there are many cases, when the USS, General Prosecutor. s office, the Ministry of Interior and the State tax inspection interfere into political battles, thus discrediting the law-enforcing agencies. . Marchuk remarked that now there exists no efficient system of the parliamentary and public control over the law-enforcing agencies, which leads to the appearance of . the dangerous phenomenon that dissolves the lawful boundaries of the special service activities. . In the end of June Grigoriy Omelchenko, an MP and a former USS officer, exhibited a document classified . Top secret, personal. and addressed to Vladimir Litvin, the first assistant of the President. This document was signed by Leonid Derkach, the USS chairman, and titled . On the situation in the information sphere in Nikolaev region. . The document informs which mass-media in Nikolaev region may support the President, from the national channel . Inter. down to local newspapers, which local media must be paid by money or services to make them take the President. s side, which pressmen prefer Marchuk or Moroz, which mass-media manifest . a certain commercial interest to the elective headquarters of Marchuk. for extending their pre-elective agitation. Two days later the pro-presidential newspaper . Fakty. (printed in 1.5 million of copies and being sold very cheaply) published the interview with Yuriy Zemliansky, the first deputy head of the USS, who said that the USS is not involved in politics and will never be involved, that the USS never gathered compromising materials on the members of the opposition and is not going to. As to the mentioned document, he explained that in this case they checked the entire technological cycle of work with secret documents, wishing to find out possible channels of leakage of information; non-secret informative materials were used and classified as top secret, the document was given the ample situational attractiveness. The trap worked, the document leaked, and now the special investigation will show where it happened.
Omelchenko has publicly declared that he does not believe the explanation; moreover, if to believe the explanation. it follows that the USS deliberately carried out a large-scale political provocation, in which top state officials acted. Such actions are certainly illegal. Besides, Omelchenko has declared that an attempt at his assassination is planned, and that the USS takes part in gathering information about him. He passed all the related materials to the General Prosecutor. s office. The USS, in its turn, declared that all this is a pack of lies.