Appeal of the Ukrainian Helsinki Union of human rights
To: UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances
UN Committee against Torture
European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT)
International Human Rights Organizations
The Presidential election campaign, which is under way in Ukraine, is mired with grave violations of the fundamental human rights and basic freedoms. The recent events demonstrate that the Ukrainian authorities have resumed persecution of independently minded people, using law-enforcement agencies as a tool of the political struggle.
Significant resources of the law-enforcement agencies are used for harassment of the opposition-leaning citizens and forgery of criminal cases against activists of the opposition movements.
On 16, 17, and 18 October 2004, militia officers carried out unauthorized searches on the premises used by youth civic information campaign “Pora!” (“Its time!”), “Studentska Khvylya” (“Students Wave”), “Studentske Bratstvo Lvivshiny” (“Fraternity of the Lviv Region”), and the National University “Kyiv-Mohilevska Academy.” Earlier, there were searches in several regional headquarters of the opposition Presidential Candidates. The searches were conducted under far-fetched pretexts, such as search for explosive devices or examination of anonymous information claiming that those organizations were involved in terrorist activities. Several activists of those organizations were detained throughout Ukraine. The most of the detainees were released in a few hours. According to them, during the interrogations, they were questioned about the contents of the distributed publications, critical to the current authorities.
During the search of a Kyiv office of the All-Ukrainian youth civic information campaign “Pora!” militia officers allegedly found an explosive device. That finding became a basis for taking Yaroslav Godunok, the premises tenant and a member of the opposition Ukrainian Peoples Party, into custody. It is very doubtful, whether that explosive device ever existed or belonged to the organization, because it had not been found during an earlier close search with the use of a militia dog and at the presence of Members of the Parliament. The device was found only when the militia officers remained alone in the room, where the previous search had failed to discover anything. It demonstrates a high probability of the deliberate provocation committed by the law-enforcement agencies. In the room, there were also 3 tons of the opposition literature, which was left sealed after the search. Although only that rather questionable evidence had been found, the All-Ukrainian organization was publicly proclaimed a paramilitary formation, charged with terrorism. On these grounds, a great number of oppositionists are being persecuted.
The next day there was held a press conference at the General Prosecutors Office, where conclusions as to the possible connection of the political opposition to the terrorist acts were made public. This way the General Prosecutors Office does more than breaches a presumption of innocence of those, who are being charged. The reckless disclosure of the “confidentiality of investigation,” disclosure of which is a criminal act, demonstrates that the activities carried out by the law-enforcement agencies in this instance aim not at the maintaining of law and order, but at the supply of compromising information for the benefit of certain political forces.
Most Ukrainian TV channels produce their news programs following press releases issued by the state authorities (so called “temniks”). The published “temniks” demonstrate that the authorities try to create in the society an impression of terrorist nature of activities carried out by youth opposition organizations “Pora!” and “Chista Ukrayina” (“Clean Ukraine”).
We receive information from all regions of Ukraine that the Security Service of Ukraine calls for questioning activists of those organizations, predominantly young people, who have never been noticed in illegal activities.
It is becoming a routine practice of the law-enforcement agencies to detain scores of public activists during visits by Viktor Yanukovich, Presidential Candidate and Prime Minister, to various regions of Ukraine. According to our information, just for the last two days, October 18 and 19, during his visits to Chernigiv and Poltava, 17 people, who took part in disseminating of printed materials critical to the Prime Minister, were detained.
In most cases, during the detention, no detention reports are compiled. The detained activists are advised to stay aside of politics. In some incidents, they are threatened to face criminal prosecution. For instance, in Chernigiv, Oleksandr Kovalenko, the detained member of “Pora!” was accused in distributing false money. Others were threatened to face accusation in stealing mobile phones and rapes.
Outrageous violations of the Code of Criminal Procedure do take place during the militia searches and detentions. Relatives are not informed about the detention and lawyers are not allowed to meet with their clients right after the detention. For instance, a lawyer of Oleksandr Kovalenko was allowed to meet with his client only 6 hours after the detention of the latter.
On October 19, a Chernigiv office of “Pora!” was searched. Tetyana Pekur, a representative of “Pora!” was beaten up by militia officers when she tried to phone and tell about the search. As a result of the search, false money and explosives were found. The activist of the aforementioned organization, Oleksandr Lomak, was detained. Similarly to the discovery of explosives in the Kyiv office of “Pora!” it is obvious that these explosives were a result of another provocation carried out by law-enforcement agencies. Everybody knows that the Ukrainian militia has a vast expertise in forging criminal cases based on “finding” of drugs, weapons, and false money.
We believe that these simultaneous, systematic, and mass actions carried out by the law-enforcement agencies would have not been possible, unless they were sanctioned by the leadership of the Ministry of Interior, General Prosecutors Office and Security Service.
We believe that the practice of these mass and simultaneous short-term arrests of oppositionists, which last up to 72 hours (until a deadline for bringing a formal accusation), has nothing to do with a free election campaign, has nothing in common with the principles of democracy, and has to be terminated immediately.
The above facts, in our opinion, unequivocally demonstrate that the activities carried out by the Ukrainian law-enforcement-agencies clearly constitute the political persecution of the civic activists, violate the law, contradict the premises of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR) and European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR).
We appeal to international organizations to officially warn the government of Ukraine that it is inadmissible to violate the human rights in order to reach ones political aims.
We appeal to international and foreign non-governmental organizations to support the actions carried out by the Ukrainian human rights organizations as to the protecting rights of persons, who fell victims to the arbitrary detentions, arrests, and other forms of political persecution carried out by the Ukrainian law-enforcement agencies.
Ukrainian Association of Public Organizations
“Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union”
Short information about “Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union”
The purpose of creating and functioning of the Association is provision and protection of the rights and fundamental freedoms through ensuring of practical execution of the humanitarian articles of the Helsinki Final Act (1975) of the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OCSE), other documents adopted as its follow-up, and all other obligations taken by Ukraine in the field of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Members of the Association:
Vinnitsa City Public Organization “Vinnitsa Human Rights Group”
Ukrainian Community of Political Prisoners and Repressed, including Committee “Helsinki-90”.
Public Committee for Protection Citizens Rights and Freedoms (Lugansk)
Ecological Club “EOL” (Odessa region)
Economic and Social Problems Institute “Respublika” (Kyiv)
Congress of National Communities of Ukraine
Youth Public Organization Legal and Political Research Center “ SIM” (Lviv)
City Public Organization “For Professional Help” (Poltava Region)
Sevastopol Human Rights Group
Kharkov Regional Union of Soldiers Mothers
Kharkov Human Rights protection Group
Kherson City Reporters Association “Pivden”
Kherson Regional Organization of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine
Center of Regional Politics Research
Chernigiv Public Committee of Human Rights Protection
Well-known participants of the Helsinki movement in Ukrainian were elected to the Supervisory board of the Association: Josyp Zisels, Vasyl Ovsienko, Vasyl Lisovy, Mykola Gorbal, Evhen Sverstiuk, Zinoviy Antoniuk and Evhen Proniuk.