Level of openness in the Secretariat of President Yushchenko is the same as in the Administration of President Kuchma
This is confirmed by 11 edicts with classification “not for publishing” out of 148 edicts signed by Viktor Yushchenko. Similar number of edicts with this classification was signed by Leonid Kuchma every month.
It should be noted that classification appears already after the signing, that is the question about openness of an edict is solved by the corresponding clerk of Administra…, oh, sorry! Secretariat of the President. Well, on what this decision is based?
Article 57 of the Constitution of Ukraine establishes that “laws and other normative-legal acts, stipulating the rights and freedoms of citizens, must be made known to population according to the order envisaged by law” and that the documents of that type that have not made known to population according to the order envisaged by law are invalid”. The corresponding law was adopted, but Kuchma used his veto right, which was not overridden. There is Presidents Edict No. 503 of 10 June 1997 “On the order of official publication of normative-legal acts and their coming into force”. The Edict reads that resolutions and decrees, which do not concern rights and freedoms of citizens, are spread by direct informing of interested citizens, organs of state power and local self-government.
We did not find any normative acts regulating the application of this classification, as well as classification “not for printing” (used mainly by the Cabinet of Ministers), which had been registered by the Ministry of Justice. We made the attempt to clear up the grounds and order of application of these classifications by sending informational requests to Presidents Administration and the Cabinet of Ministers, and came to the conclusion that these classifications are used by officials on their own understanding (details of the correspondence see in the quarterly “Svoboda vyslovluvan i pryvatnist” No. 1, 2003).
So, what are the contents of the documents with these classifications? Once one of the officials of Presidents Administration said, in a private talk, that they concerned the questions of personnel and awards, which was not, in his opinion, interesting for public. It is difficult to believe this simple explanation. Moreover, the contents of such documents became known sometimes, and it turned out that they concerned either decorating of top officials and their servants, both by money and by some other material comforts: villas, health-centers, transport, etc., or the lobby political agreements. One of the latest examples: on 11 February Valentina Semeniuk communicated that the Edicts of President Kuchma classified “not for publishing” made possible the sale of 10 sanatoriums, which were especially valuable because of mineral springs and could not be privatized.
So, what are the contents of 11 secret edicts of President Yushchenko? Several competent sources informed, independently of one another, that one of the edicts, adopted on 28 February, approved the distribution of spheres of activities between the Prime Minister and the SNBO secretary, in particular, the informational sphere abs force structures were given to the SNBO. If it is truth, then this truth is very bitter: nobody may distribute the competence of executive power by secret edicts – it is an anti-Constitutional action! By the way, something like that happened in 1994, when Kuchma, Moroz and Marchuk concluded the secret agreement on distribution of the spheres of influence. At the same time, in the beginning of the first Presidential term of Leonid Kuchma, Edict No. 709/94 was issued with classification “not for printing”, and one year later it became known (in indirect way) that it was called “On informational-analytical provision of the President of Ukraine”. And who can guarantee that one of 11 last Yushchenkos edicts does not concern the same problem, and another one does not contain, for instance, the Resolution on the Cabinet of Ministers?
According to the message of “Ukrainska pravda”, on 15 February, at the press conference, Aleksandr Zinchenko stated that it was impossible to stop the practice of signing the secret Presidents Edicts with classification “not for printing” (I was not point out that all these edicts have classification “not for publishing”, but it seems that even the officials do not understand the difference), since “their absence meant the absence of state secrets”. By Zinchenkos words, “if the state secrets would not be protected, than the interests of Ukrainian citizens and some very important persons would be damaged”. Thus, the state secretary demonstrated the total absence of culture of openness and misunderstanding of the problem of restriction of the access to information.
We hope that President Yushchenko, who has declared more than once that the power would be transparent, will put an end to anti-Constitutional actions of his apparatus. These 11 edicts must be declassified and published! Otherwise, it would become obvious that new administration begins its work from illegal classifying of information on its activities.