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27.07.2004 | Oleksandr Stepanenko, Chortkiv

Local “major Melnichenko” was found in Chortkiv

   

Since the first years of perestroika everybody talks about glasnost, openness and transparency of work of the organs of state power and local self-government. Since that time the neologism «glasnost» is interpreted by the world community as a symbol of irreversible democratic changes in the post-Soviet space. Glasnost is the fundamental principle of local self-government in Ukraine (Article 4 of the Law «On local self-government»). However, the modern Ukrainian reality demonstrates us more and more examples of «our glasnost»: from «temniks» concerning the elucidation of social and political events in mass media to obvious increase of the number of various «state secrets» and epidemic of spy mania in the attitude to the activities of non-governmental organizations. The neo-feudal psychology of state authorities and their intractable hunger for uncontrolled power, on the one side, and the infantile, especially in the provinces, state of our «society», on the other side, create the situation, where one can only dream about the transparency and glasnost in the activities of the authorities.

An unpleasant incident took place on 19 March 2004 at the sitting of the Chortkiv town council: deputy of the town council Oleg Borovoy, one of the leaders of the ecological NGO «Zeleny svit» was driven out from the session because… he tried to make the audio record of the plenary sitting of the council.

Here it should be noted that recently there are many problems in the practices of the Chortkiv town council, which are connected with glasnost and the documentation of decisions: drafts of the decisions are not published and are not distributed among deputies, voting is usually conducted from one’s words, audio recording of the sessions is not carried out, independent journalists and representatives of NGOs are not invited to the sessions, etc. As a result, the juridical collisions arise after almost each session, which collisions develop into the collection of signatures with the demand to cancel the decisions allegedly approved by the council, following recall of the signatures and petty scandals in the local press. Even the deputies can now familiarize with the protocols of sessions only after the permission of mayor Mykhaylo Verbitskiy. For some reasons the prosecutor’s office does not want to interfere in these conflicts (maybe because the top officers of this organ get their «service flats» from the municipal fund?)…

This situation made our colleague Oleg Borovoy to buy a dictaphone and to record the course of plenary sittings. During two sessions deputies of the town council tolerated this «insolence», but on 19 March the mayor, in fact, provoked his clique to drive the «spy» out. The mayor let everybody understand that his permission should be obtained for audio recording of the sessions. As a result, Borovoy had to leave the conference hall to the accompaniment of expressions of righteous indignation.

Soon after the incident, the author of this material handed the informational request to the mayor, in which he pointed out that the prohibition to make the audio record violated the operating norms of the domestic and international laws (Articles 4 and 46 of the Law of Ukraine «On local self-government», Article 30 of the Law «On the status of deputies of local councils», Articles 5, 6, 9, 10, 21, 28 and 29 of the Law «On information», Article 19 of the UNO Universal Declaration of human rights, items 1,2 of Article 10 of the European Convention for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms) and proposed to answer the following questions:

Did the session of the Chortkiv town council of 19 March 2004 adopt the decision about the conduction of closed plenary sitting?

If such decision was taken, then on which grounds this was done?

If such decision was not taken, then why deputy O. Borovoy was made to leave the plenary session? Is it admissible to restrict the right for collection and distribution of information about the activities of the Chortkiv town council by representatives of mass media and deputies, and if so, then on which grounds?

What sanctions were applied by the chairman of the session of 19 March against the deputies and officials of the Chortkiv town council, who had consciously impeded the realization of the legal right for collection and distribution of public information?

I got the response. It evidences that the staff of the Chortkiv town council had to familiarize with the texts of the mentioned normative documents and learn that audio recording of the sessions of the organs of self-government, as well as other public actions, is not prohibited in our country. The local adherents of confidentiality wrote that the main reason of their discontent was the fact that Borovoy had not made the audio record continuously, but periodically switched the dictaphone off and on, this irritating some deputies. The town council officials reckon that the complainer, that is me, interpreted the events in the biased way, since I had not been present at this ill-starred session.

Well, there is an unbiased witness – the dictaphone. It clearly fixed how the chairman used the following statements: «some menials», «they are making records, because they have gains for it», «Borovoy wants to betray us and he will do it», etc. And how, when the chairman asked: «So, what we will do?», somebody cried out: «Drive him out from the hall!!!» It is interesting that this verdict was worded not by some street bawler, but by Mykola Garber, the Head of the deputies’ commission in charge of lawfulness and human rights, the head of the municipal militia unit.

We have already got accustomed to the sad fact that many Ukrainian «demiurges» use the language of gangsters. It is also not surprising that our deputies believe that public order can be guaranteed and supported only with the documents like the Statute of the Soviet army or the Statute of penitentiary establishments. Moreover, it is in the order of things that our state officials have the information, which they want to conceal from their voters. Quo vadis?

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