16.11.2006 | Viktor Marholin

Democracy the Zachepylivka way


The small Zachepylivka district is one of the most outreaching of the Kharkiv region. It has all the necessary state bodies. So where does a person turn when problems strike? There are law enforcement agencies for this, and therefore a large part of all problems are resolved specifically there, and first of all in the prosecutor’s office and the local court.

My five-year-long forced contact with the employees of these organizations with their rather important functional duties, has led me to the conclusion that they have long become virtually “privatized” bureaux, the heads of which are governed by laws far removed from those we are accustomed to call current Ukrainian legislation.  Information about extraordinarily flagrant violations of civil, criminal and procedural legislation suggest that these are of a systematic nature, as a result of which residents of the district have lost fail in just legal proceedings and the possibility of using legal means for standing up for their basic constitutional rights. Due to the lawlessness and passing of unjust rulings by the prosecutor’s office and courts, people from the district are losing the last vestiges of faith in the authorities of our country altogether.

To not flourish unsubstantiated accusations, I can give a specific example from life in the district. It concerns the beating up of two women – V.M. Spetsova from the village of Skalonivka and O.L. Katunina, from the village Nahirne. These two women who are not young,  of retirement age, over the last year and a half have been storming the  Zachepylivka prosecutor’s office and court in the hope of proving that they were assaulted by police officers in the city of Novomoskovska in the Dnipropetrovsk region. Their proof is in a formal report from a forensic medical examination: V.M. Spetsova had an acute closed head injury with concussion, and also many injuries over her entire body.

These women after the night of the assault from 24-25 May 2005, were at 8 in the morning at the office of the head of the court, from where they were sent to the prosecutor’s office, i.e. straight away. .At the prosecutor’s office they made reports of the assault on them and, in accordance with Article 97 of the Criminal Procedure Code the prosecutor had to decide within a ten-day period whether to begin a criminal investigation, or give grounds for refusing to do this. In violation of these norms, the staff of the prosecutor’s office were able only after half a year, on 10.11.05, to issue a decision refusing to launch a criminal investigation. This decision was reversed by the prosecutor.  The next decision refusing to launch an investigation was dated 24.11.05, according to which witness K.B. Harnah gives testimony on 14.12.05. How is this possible and what is going on? It is entirely incomprehensible why the decision passed on 24.11.05 was issued to the two victims only 2 months later, on 24.01.06.

The investigator paid no heed to such questions as the lawfulness of night searches in citizens’ homes, whether physical or psychological violation had been applied, or whether polices officers had exceeded their duties, or a lot  more.
I consider it necessary to note, perhaps as a “gem” of world experience, the issuing by the investigator of summons without the name, patronymic or last name to the residents of the village of Skalonivka.

Having received the refusal to launch a criminal investigation, these two women lodged a complaint with the court against the actions of employees of the prosecutor’s office. On 6.03.06 the court overturned the decision of the prosecutor’s office investigator and the material was sent back for an additional check.

The case was now dealt with by aide to the prosecutor H.Y. Herman who on 17.03.06 for the third time refused to launch a criminal investigation. The given decision was on 11.04.06 quashed by the prosecutor of the district. The fourth decision from 20.04.06 confirms the refusal to launch a criminal investigation, however it should be noted that the investigators did not provide clear answers to any of the questions posed from the very outset.

This is the kind of formal, irresponsible work under criminal lack of control.

As the head of the district branch of “Partiya i pravozakyst” [“Party and human rights defence”, I sent a letter to the Prosecutor General, the regional prosecutor’s office with a request to deal with this case and to do all possible to defend the victims, however I received no real reaction or answer. Again the decision from 20.04.06 was only handed over in the prosecutor’s office on 10.05.06

On 15.05.06 the victims again lodged a complaint with the Zachepylivka district court against the actions of the district prosecutor’s office. On 24.05.06 the court again quashed the decision of the prosecutor’s office. On 16.06.06 the next prosecutor’s decision emerged. A complaint to the court followed, and on 18.08.06 the court again reviewed the case and quashed the fifth decision of the prosecutor. As a result it remains unclear how many more circles the women will have to pass through to get real legal defence and to not fear spending the nights in their own homes. Their case is  being dealt with by the fourth employee of the prosecutor’s office, two of whom are already not working in Zachepylivka, having been transferred to another place. Perhaps such staff policy is the basis in the actions of such “defenders”.

I understand that the prosecutor’s office and the court are hoping the people will get sick of standing up for justice and will give up on their own accord. The question of whom that is good for remains open, and perhaps rhetorical.  The aide to the prosecutor A.V. Mandych, according to the women, instead of carrying out specific investigation activities, has resorted to trying to intimidate them and persuade them to not approach the court anymore, claiming that there’s no point.

The judge of the district court, Y..I. Yatsenko, has viewed the review of this case from a formal point of view, managing to pass rulings which clearly suit nobody. He has ignored the demands set out in the complaint. The court ruling is virtually legitimizing the artificially creative procrastination over reviewing the applications on their merits. The very ruling contains mistakes since the events of last year are under review, not this year. This suggests that the judge signed the ruling, maybe not even reading it.

On 3.10.06 the Kharkiv Regional Appeal Court reviewed the complaint against the ruling of the district court. The court’s judgment passes the case to another prosecutor’s office.

This is only one example from the district, but indicates that our law enforcement agencies have gained unlimited rights over citizens and have not passed the test of power. In such a situation public control over the activities of these structures is seriously behind the needs of the times. Over the last few years there have been many changes in prosecutor in the district, however their methods are all the same. All of them are hostages and executors of a flawed system, of legislation not working and departmental interests. At the tip of this criminal pyramid we have the court. For me as a lawyer it is quite hard to understand or imagine what the future legal reform must be in order that innocent citizens can be guaranteed protection from the court.

Merely this one case gives me grounds for asserting that such activities by the Zachepylivka court and prosecutor’s office is a total system of criminality, charlatanism, and a mockery of human rights. This chaos, I believe, can only be stopped by expressing lack of confidence in the crooks in power, proving how they have infringed their oath. Yet who in our country can prove that?

I approached the new authorities in the district requesting that they give an adequate response to the above-mentioned events yet they just shrug their shoulders and say that that it’s not in their competence. The Deputy legal commission of the district council twice attempted to discuss this issue, but didn’t succeed because the deputies didn’t appear. Fear of the omnipotence of the court and the prosecutor’s office takes precedence over commonsense, and innocent citizens suffer as a result.

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