Edicts “not for publishing” – laws “not for execution”
On 25 February the press conference of the Alliance “Maydan” was held in UNIAN. At the conference Andriy Ignatov, the coordinator of the projects of the site “Maydan”, Evhen Zakharov, a co-chairman of the Kharkiv group for human rights protection, the head of the board of the Ukrainian Helsinki Union of human rights, and Volodymir Martyniuk, the PR-coordinator of the Alliance “Maydan” told why the practice of issuing of edicts with classifications “not for printing” and “not for publishing” were illegitimate, why that interested the public and worried the human rights protectors, what actions were planned by human rights protectors and what were the prospects of victory and publication of the illegally classified edicts.
The information about this conference was published by TV and radio companies: “Inter”, “1+1” (night news of “TCH”), radio “Nart”, Deutche Welle, radio “Liberty” and “The Voice of America”. The information was also placed on many web-sites in the Internet.
The victory of people in the Orange revolution, in the result of which Viktor Yushchenko came to power, became the evidence of principal negation by the society of the old, Kuchmas system of organization and functioning of the power, the main features of which were clans, lobby taking of decisions, non-transparency and fear of the free informational flows. However, we want to point out that inheritance by President Yushchenko of the odious practice of issuing of “secret” edicts classified “not for publishing” contradicts both the above-stated principles and the declarations of the new power about the devotion to democracy, development of legal state and acknowledgement of the values of civil society.
After the victory over the Kuchmas regime and raising to the state posts of those, who are called “new power” now, the people expressed its will on depuration of the state of all features of Kuchmism – on creation of new, open and transparent system of organization of interrelations between the people-sovereign (Article 5 of the Constitution of Ukraine) and the state as the organization of public power, responsible to the people (Article 3 of the Constitution of Ukraine). This implies openness and transparency of power, publicity of its work as the guarantees of efficient public control. For realization of such control people should be completely versed in the activities and decisions of the power. In other words, democracy implies well-informed people, otherwise it is not democracy.
The unexpected behavior of the new power resulted in the appearance of the Open letter by Evhen Zakharov, a co-chairman of the Kharkiv group for human rights protection, the head of the board of the Ukrainian Helsinki Union of human rights, to the President. The letter contained the following demands: firstly, to stop the illegal classification of normative acts and, secondly, to make public the contents of all such acts, which had been issued before. On 21 February 2005 the Open letter was signed by 521 citizens: human rights protectors, scientists, journalists, public figures, businessmen, state servants, students, etc.
Unfortunately, we do not know yet about the reaction to this letter of Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, to whom the Open letter has been addressed. Yet, the reaction of Oleksandr Zinchenko, the head of his Secretariat (by the way, the organ, not envisaged by the Constitution), is known. Respected Mr. Zinchenko stated that it was impossible to resign the classification “not for printing”, allegedly because of the necessity of keeping state secrets. This reaction is disappointing, since it evidences either about ignorance of the fact that the classifications “not for printing” and “not for publishing” do not exist at all in Ukrainian legislation, or about incomprehension of the sense of the problem.
So, we have to explain again the following:
According to Articles 6 and 19 of the Constitution of Ukraine, organs of state power and their officials must act only on the basis and within the framework of the Constitution and laws of Ukraine. Use of classifications “not for printing”, “not for publishing” and “for service use only” is not stipulated by any law. Moreover, Article 34 of the Constitution of Ukraine envisages, for its turn, the possibility of restriction of the access to information only “in compliance with laws, in interests of national safety, territorial integrity or public order for prevention of disturbances or crimes, for protection of health of population, for protection of reputation or rights of other people, for prevention of unauthorized disclosure of confidential information, for maintenance of the authorities and impartiality of justice”. Now there is only one such law – the Law of Ukraine “On state secrets”, which recognizes only such classifications as “especially important”, “absolutely secret” and “secret”.
So, the practice of creation of “secret materials” not only does not agree with democratic demands, but also is illegal, except the acts, to which the Law “On state secrets” applies.
We, participants of the Alliance of public activists “Maydan” (Alliance “Maydan”), the voluntary public initiative, continuing the joint work for the achievement of our goal – consolidation of civil society in Ukraine, its influence on the development of Ukraine and construction of jural state, responsible to the society, declare:
1. We, citizens of Ukraine, who have the right for information, we, taxpayers, who have the right to know, for what our money are spent by our servants, denounce the practice of classification of normative acts, except the cases directly envisaged by operating laws.
2. We will fight for liquidation of this disreputable practice, for publication of the contents of all, without exception, normative acts, illegally classified by the former power.
3. We reserve our right to demand publicity in every case not envisaged by law, using the legal methods and the means of direct social action.
4. We declare: “Democracy gives the answer to the question, how to prevent the misuse of power by state authorities. This is done by giving to population of the right to regulate the activities of government with voting, but the very existence of this right does not means that you are living in a democratic state. For really efficient regulation of the activities of power the population must know, what the government does, people must be well-informed. This is a feedback mechanism, which can be broken, if the government would have the opportunity to control the access of population to information”.
5. We are sure that Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Timoshenko have nothing to conceal from the society.
6. We appeal to President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko to exterminate resolutely the greatest “gravitation center of corruption” in Ukraine – the practice of illegal classification of normative-legal acts, since the very existence of this practice caused the thrift of legal nihilism, “phone right” and the laws “not for execution” in the Ukrainian society.
The text of the Open letter to the President of Ukraine with the demand to stop the practice of illegal classification of normative-legal acts can be found on the site http://www2.maidan.org.ua/n/petit/1107202424. You can also sign this letter on the same site.