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15.02.2007 | Hryhory Prykhodko

Open letter to the Authorised Human Rights Representative of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Nina Karpachova

   

The mass media reported that you had announced you were moving to the opposition. My concern, elicited by your appointment to the post of Human Rights Ombudsperson, was not without foundation. In appointing you, parliament showed disregard for the principle that the holder of this office must be outside politics. According to the Constitution, the opposition is a part – the smaller part – of representative power and it is concentrated in the representative bodies. The Human Rights Ombudsperson is, on the other hand, an intermediary between the authorities, including the opposition, and the individual. His or her function lies not in doubling up on the role of defence lawyers, nor in carrying out political orders, but in exercising influence on legislation in order to introduce European norms of human rights and in creating real opportunities for every person, even the poorest, to defend their rights, including to the help of a lawyer. The Human Rights Ombudsperson should exert influence on functionaries of the executive, encouraging them to respect human rights and dignity.
Human rights defence is not the product of the Nomenklatura. The idea was initiated and upheld by dissidents who paid for this with their own freedom, and at times – with their life. The Nomenklatura countered human rights defence with the force of their repressive machine. The Nomenklatura began introducing it – or more accurately pretending to introduce it after Ukraine took on the commitments which follow from membership of the Council of Europe. However, remaining true to their Soviet traditions, the Nomenklatura monopolized the position of Human Rights Ombudsperson. And in the role of Trojan Horse of human rights defence, Nina Ivanivna, they chose you.
Since the immanent function of the State in human rights defence is politicized by the Nomenklatura, this noble cause has again, as under the Soviet regime, fallen on the shoulders of civic human rights defenders. Now we are not only without the support of the State, but in overcoming the incredible resistance of the Nomenklatura, we are forced to undertake the work for which taxpayers pay you enormous amounts of money.
I won’t speak about morality. I ask only one thing: that you sincerely and publicly explain your behaviour. You have moved over to the opposition, because there will soon be early elections, at which you hope to get into parliament on the candidate list of Nasha Ukraina or BYuT? And if so, why don’t you resign?
Hryhory Prykhodko
12 February 2007

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