On observance of human rights, connected with the election process, in the Chernigiv oblast
(an excerpt from the report on the observance of human rights, connected with the election process, in the Chernigiv oblast in September and October 2004)
Human rights, election, organs of state power
According to the information of the press-service of the Chernigiv oblast state administration, the oblast coordinating headquarters for preparation and conduction of the election of the President of Ukraine was created by order of the Central election commission. The goal of this headquarters is the promotion of preparation and conduction of Presidential election in Ukraine and guaranteeing of the fulfillment of the demands of the Law of Ukraine “On election of the President of Ukraine” in the framework of given authorities.
The oblast headquarters are headed by M. Strilets, the first deputy head of the oblast state administration. The plan of work of the oblast coordinating headquarters was elaborated, as well as the plan of measures of the oblast administration for guaranteeing the fulfillment of the Law of Ukraine “On election of the President of Ukraine”. The persons were appointed in every territorial electoral circuit, who would be responsible for study of the activities of the organs of executive power and local self-government concerning the material and technical provision of territorial and district election commissions.
The organs of local self-government permanently work in contact with corresponding territorial and district election commissions. Yet, the Chernigiv Public Committee of human rights protection evidences that, during the training conducted for the members of district commission in the Desnianskiy district of Chenrigiv, representatives of the organs of local self-government, who were invited to the training, somewhat one-sidedly interpreted the provisions of the Law of Ukraine “On election of the President of Ukraine” trying to extenuate the level of responsibility of the state organs for compilation of lists of voters. The cases of presence of representatives of town and district executive committees at the sittings of the commissions without invitation are not rare, which confirms the wish of local power to influence the work of territorial election commissions.
Unfortunately, there are examples of pressure on the members of district commissions. By the information, which was received by the ChPCHRP from one of districts of the oblast, representatives of district commissions were intimidated: law-enforcing organs conducted searches in dwellings of the members of the commissions, who represented the opposition candidates, with the aim to find the proofs of illegal trade with home-brew. The fact of brutal persecution for political views is described in the newspaper “Sivershchina” (8 October 2004): “Several days ago, by the personal order of Viktor Ovdak, the head of the Kozeletskiy district state administration, director of the district library Anatoliy Penskiy has been dismissed for his political views: he is a member of the territorial election commission from candidate Viktor Yushchenko. Anatoliy Penskiy is accused of forcing three village librarians to represent this very candidate in district commissions. A. Penskiy is a highly qualified specialist in librarianship, well-known student of local lore, and the power even did not try to represent his dismissal as consequence of his unprofessionalism. He was made to retire “by mutual consent of the sides”.”
Maybe, the threat of dismissal made the people, present on 18 October at the meeting in support of V. Yanukovich, to come to the heads of their establishments in order to attest their presence.
Another glaring example of application of forcible methods was observed in Chernigiv. A major and lieutenant of militia, who did not introduce themselves, visited the hostel of the Chernigiv pedagogical university after the students action in Kyiv. The law-enforcers tried to learn, who had participated in this action. The officers conducted the “explanatory talk” with students. They turned special attention to the students-participants of the action-appeal to territorial election commissions: Oleg Nazarenko, Oleksandr Batiuk and Alina Fesiun. The militia officers promised to the politically active students the “accelerated” graduation from university and many other problems in the case, if they would continue to act in “impermissible” (in the opinion of the militiamen) way: to realize their constitutional right for the freedom of speech and opinion and to take the active part in election processes. The attempt to use the law-enforcing organs for exerting pressure on the politically active part of the population was vividly demonstrated, when militia stopped the vehicles, by which citizens tried to get to Kyiv for taking part in the action near the CEC on 24 October.
The adduced examples evidence that, on the eve of the election, the representatives of power use administrative and forcible methods as the tools for political struggle. The committee reckons that the cases of use of administrative resource in the Chernigiv oblast are systematic and endanger the conduction of transparent, democratic and free election.
Freedom of speech and the press in the oblast editions
Our committee carried out the monitoring of all social-political printed mass media of the Chernigiv oblast, which were published during last month; were published regularly; were published for more than 12 months and were distributed through “Ukrposhta”. So, we studied the editions, which had permanent readers and were distributed on the commercial basis.
Not all mass media pay the proper attention to pre-election agitation and the events that occur around this or that candidate to Presidents post. For instance, the newspaper “Desnianskaya Pravda” devotes the majority of its materials, which concern the election, to the activities of pro-power candidate Viktor Yanukovich. The topics of these articles are different: some of them describe the visit of the Prime Minister to the Chernigiv oblast, others – the “protest meeting against extremism”. One can easily notice the pro-power views of the authors of articles and their negative attitude to representatives of opposition headed by Viktor Yushchenko. This is proved by the article titled “Nationalism is a disease”, which elucidates the events in Ivano-Frankivsk on 24 September. This article quotes the indignant words of Volodymir Koloniari, an MP from the fraction “Regions of Ukraine”: “You, members of “Our Ukraine”, brought up a gang of scoundrels!” Below the newspaper quotes the statements by Viktor Yanukovich on this topic.
The opposition newspaper “Sivershchina” is a counterforce to the above-mentioned edition. The articles published by this newspaper criticize the operating government. This is confirmed by a number of articles with such titles as: “Pensions and deposits for two months” (No. 39 of 24 September 2004), “The power violates law again” (No. 40 of 1 October 2004), “Poisonous regime” (No. 39 of 24 September 2004) and many others. There are very many publications – appeals of Viktor Yushchenko to Ukrainian people, in which he urges the citizens to active deeds. The article “Is Moroz honest?” was published in the October issue of the newspaper. The author writes: “Many persons erroneously think that O. Moroz is an honest, decent and democratic man, who cares about people”. The article tells that Moroz headed “group 239” – the majority, which worked against people, in interests of power. So, one can draw the conclusion that the weekly “Sivershchina”, as it is typical for opposition editions, devoted most of its materials to V. Yushchenko and his activities, as well as drawbacks in the work of operating government headed by V. Yanukovich.
As to the newspaper “Gart”, it, in our opinion, adheres to most neutral political position. So, recently this newspaper has published the materials about Oleksandr Moroz, Viktor Yushchenko, Anatoliy Kinakh, not to mention the candidate from power. Two interesting articles were printed in one of issues: “Prosecutors are also prosecuted” and “Moroz demands apologies from Yushchenko for false accusations”. In the first article O. Moroz stated that he would protect V. Yushchenko “in spite of the unfair and unrestrained statement of the leader of “Our Ukraine””. In another one the leader of socialists demanded public apologies for his accusation of participation in poisoning of V. Yushchenko.
In many editions of the Chernigiv oblast the drafts of V. Yushchenkos edicts were published, which, by his words, would come into force at once after his probable victory at the election. The candidate plans to increase pensions, to hasten the return of deposits, to create 5 millions of job vacancies, etc.
There was also interesting information that musicians of six popular Chernigiv rock groups agitated the informal youth of our town to come on 31 October to the election stations and to make their choice. “We will not agitate for some concrete candidate”, explained Stanislav Tavluy, representative of the Center of progressive youth “Apelsin”, to the journalists of “Gart”.
On the whole, practically all printed editions, as before, published the materials in support of only one candidate and did not give the alternative viewpoints. Besides, any of the monitored newspapers almost did not pay attention to the problems of enlightenment of the potential voters on their civil and political rights. So, the goals of the newspapers were purely political.