Open letter to President V. Yushchenko on the practice of illegal security classifying of normative-legal acts.


To President of Ukraine
V. Yushchenko

Respected President Yushchenko!

We have got the information that on 28 January you signed two Edicts: No. 116/2005 and No. 117/2005 classified “not for publishing”. Use of this classification violates Article 34 of the Constitution of Ukraine. We hope that this unfortunate misunderstanding is a consequence of inertness of the old Presidential administration. In our opinion, these edicts should be either made public or reversed.

Restriction of the access to information is an exception, but not a rule, especially if the matter concerns normative-legal acts. State organs may restrict the access to information disposed by them only on the basis of very forcible arguments: if disclosure of these data would inflict damage to the interests, which should be protected.

Article 34 of the Constitution of Ukraine guarantees to every person the right for the freedom of consciousness and speech, for free expression of views and convictions. Everybody has the right for free collection, storage, use and distribution of information orally, in writing or in any other way at his/her own option. The Constitution envisages the exclusive list of cases, in which the right for free collection, storage, use and distribution of information may be restricted: “in interests of national safety, territorial integrity or public order, for prevention of disorders or crimes, for protection of health of population, for prevention of divulgation of confidential information or for maintenance of prestige and impartiality of justice”. Thus, every concrete case of refusal to render some information must comply with at least one of the above-listed interests. Organs of state power have no right to set any restrictions concerning rendering of information, if this information cannot inflict damage to the interests envisaged by the Constitution of Ukraine. According to Article 34, these restrictions must be set by law. Yet, the law does not define the information, which is protected by state, except the data, which are regarded as state secret. That is why the classifications generously given by state organs to various normative acts (edicts and orders of the President, decrees, resolutions, directions, instructions and orders of the organs of executive power, etc.) – “not for publishing”, “not for printing”, “for service use only”, are arbitrary and illegal. Only the following classifications may be regarded as legal: “especially important”, “absolutely secretly” and “secretly”, which meet the degrees of secrecy envisaged by the law “On state secret”.

However, even if documents are classified as “not for publishing”, “not for printing” “for service use only”, etc., the corresponding procedures of conferment and removal of these classifications, as well as the grounds for such actions, must be determined by law. Besides, the regulations on organization of the access to these documents are necessary. Yet, we could not find such normative acts. It appeared that there were no normative acts, officially registered by the Ministry of Justice, concerning the order of work with the documents classified as “not for publishing” and “not for printing”.

As to the order of work with the documents “for service use only”, it was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine in Resolution No. 1813 of 27 November 1998 “On approval of the Instruction on the order of registration, storage and use of the documents, files, editions and other material carriers of information, which contain confidential information owned by the state”. According to part 2 of Article 30 of the Law of Ukraine “On information”, confidential information is “the data, which are owned, used and disposed by physical or juridical persons and are distributed by their will and in compliance with the conditions determined by them”. I want to point out that, although it is not said directly, confidential information can be owned not only by physical or non-governmental juridical persons, since, according to Article 19 of the Constitution, “the organs of state power and local self-government, aw well as their officials, must act only on the grounds, within the limits of the authorities and in the ways stipulated by the Constitution and laws of Ukraine”, that is they may not distribute information “by their will and in compliance with the conditions determined by them”. Thus, one should not reckon that the second part of Article 30 contains the definition of “confidential information owned by the state”. Nevertheless, the classification “for service use only” is given just to such information, and criminal responsibility is envisaged for its divulgation (Article 330 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine). So, what information owned by the state is regarded as confidential? It is not known, since the lists of such data, which had had to be compiled by the organs of state power and local self-government in compliance with the above-mentioned Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers No. 1813 of 27 November 1998, were not published, even if they had been compiled. Thus, the organs of state power have no right to restrict the access to information only on the basis of the right of owner of information and distribute it by their own will, as it is written in Article 30 of the Law of Ukraine “On information”.

In our opinion, your predecessors concealed behind the illegal restricting classifications their corruption activities, lobby agreements and unexampled level of welfare of the top nomenclature. This is confirmed by, for instance, President’s edicts No. 1180/2002 of 17 December 2002 “On Regulations on state administrative department” and No. 1213 of 14 December 2002 “On the additional measures for material security of workers of the Supreme council of justice”, which were classified as “not for publishing”. These edicts were made public by Yulia Timoshenko in the end of 2002. “The national program of development of energetics up to 2010” is still hidden under the classification “for service use only”, as well as the agreement of 29 October 2004 between the company “Naftogaz Ukrainy” and “Gazprom” on the creation of gas consortium. The latter agreement is closed even for the members of supervisory board of “Naftogaz Ukrainy”. There are many other examples.

Thus, the illegal practice of classification of information must be ceased, and numerous illegally classified normative-legal acts must be declassified and published.

We are turning to you with the civil demand to stop immediately the practice of use by the President, Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, ministries and state committees, other organs of state power and local self-government of illegal classifications restricting the access to information – “not for publishing”, “not for printing” and “for service use only”, to open and make public the normative-legal acts (resolutions, orders, etc.), to which these classifications were applied. We are appending to this letter the list of such acts for 2000-2004 and January 2005, found by us with the aid of computer legal system “Liga: Zakon”. We want to point out that it, probably, is only a top of iceberg, since, we believe, there exist other normative-legal acts with illegal restricting classifications, which were not handed for registration to the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine.

Taking into account the great social significance of this problem, we are sending this appeal in the form of open letter (which is a common form of interaction between human rights protecting organizations and state organs) and are proposing to all interested persons and organizations to join the appeal.

Sincerely yours,

Evhen Zakharov,

Co-chairman of the Kharkiv group for human rights protection, chairman of the board of the Ukrainian Helsinki union of human rights, member of the board of the international association “Memorial”

From “Prava ludyny” editorial board: The Kharkiv group for human rights protection monitored, during five years, the normative acts issued by the President of Ukraine and the organs of state power.

The Table contains the number of normative acts with classifications “not for printing”, “not for publishing” and “for service use only” issued by the organs, which use these classifications most frequently.



Cabinet of Ministers



Not for printing

For service use only

Not for publishing

For service use only

Not for printing

For service use only





































The recent Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of 19 January 2004 No. 15-p classified as “for service use only”, which has been signed by Mykola Azarov four days before his retirement, concerns the material provision of ex-President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma. For some reasons the privileges stipulated for Leonid Kuchma is much greater that the privileges for ex-President Leonid Kravchuk.

The collection of signatures under this letter is organized on the site

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