13.07.2006 | Olga Goncharova

The first actions of the Party of the Regions – are they really so harmless?


On 19 May the Mykolaiv City Council began the parade of decisions adopted to declare their “Territory NATO-free”.  Then on 26 May an identical decision was taken by the Donetsk City Council, followed by the Kharkiv Regional Council.  The events in Feodosiya following, and yes a “NATO-free territory” also appeared in the Crimea.  Then the geographic scale became smaller – even the Dvorichansky District of the Kharkiv region became a “NATO-free territory”.

At first people were surprised – haven’t they got any other problems?  Like dirty cities, municipal housing and services on the brink of collapse, bad roads, an ailing health care system, the low level of education, the list is almost endless … And add too being on the threshold of the move to so-called economically viable prices for energy.

Meanwhile the “Regionals” [i.e. from the Party of the Regions] whose main slogan at the elections had been: “Power to the Regions, prosperity for the people!” (in its essence the slogan has an anti-constitutional element, since the main source of power in Ukraine is the people) , having gained power, stopped thinking about prosperity, concerned themselves with dividing up property .. and the problem of NATO!

At first people just laughed since the Dvorichansky District makes up all of 3.5% of the overall area of the Kharkiv region and as an agricultural area have no military objects – no testing zones, no bases for the Russian Fleet on the streams of the district – Oskopa, Verkhnya Dvorichnya, Nizhnya Dvorichnya, Vishantsa, Tavilzhanka.

Although we were all ready and waiting to see a NATO inspector coming to check out the pig farm or the unsown fields in the Dvorichansky District.

The explanations of those deputies who voted for such decisions were most often similar to that of Dmytro Nikonov, Deputy of the Mykolaiv City Council – “We won’t agree to the presence in our region of NATO forces, instructors, inspectors or other NATO representatives”. They won’t hear any objections or explanations to the effect that issues of foreign policy are not within the jurisdiction of city counties, and even not of regional councils, because it’s all pure political capital and a way of winding up the marginal elements among the public.

Some politicians have called on us to not pay attention to such activities since one can’t take away the right of deputies to take the decisions they consider important. Nobody has paid attention to the fact that for decisions adopted during the sessions, deputies receive a salary from the state budget which deductions from our income form a part of. Or asked themselves why we should pay for the idiocy of our elected representatives. Maybe this is our just deserts for letting such deputies near power?

Later both journalists and members of the public lost interest in such rulings, while human rights activists considered anyway that the decisions were not within their range of concerns. And then it turned out that precisely human rights activists should have paid attention to these documents.

Since on 7 July an analogous decision was adopted by the district council of the Petrovsky District in Donetsk, and as a deputy of the Petrovsky District Council explained on TV5, such a decision had been taken to prevent meetings taking place in public places in the district, schools, clubs, housing and communal services offices, if at the said meetings information was going to be disseminated about the North Atlantic Alliance, or if there was any campaigning for NATO planned. That is, the deputy believes it necessary to ban the holding of peaceful gatherings, as well as infringing their civil right to receive information of public significance.

And in my opinion he is convinced in advance that information disseminated about NATO would be only of a positive nature, and could influence the results of a future referendum on whether Ukraine joined the North Atlantic Alliance in a way unlike that ordered by a neighbouring state.

So, human rights activists, become vigilant since we have already lived through bans on information, and even freedom of opinion, and know very well how “yesterday’s” people who came from under the “communist cloak” cannot part with such prohibitions, and know how to achieve them.

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