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07.03.2007

Corruption is Ukraine’s scourge

   

According to the US State Department Country Report on Human Rights Practices, corruption remains widespread in all branches of power in Ukraine. Other problems highlighted were an increase in racial intolerance; violations of the rights of women and of children; and law enforcement officers frequently resort to torture and extortion. At the same time, the Report points out that there were no politically motivated killings or arrests last year, and calls the last parliamentary elections the freest the country has seen.

The greatest concern is expressed by the lack of progress on fighting corruption at all levels of power. The report cites numerous cases of bribery in the judiciary and law enforcement agencies.

Education also ridden

The report speaks of corruption in higher education both when entering a higher institute and during studies.  

It also mentions that the Ukrainian education system does not recognize the principle of academic freedom and lecturers can be dismissed for their actions. Another point of concern is the unwarranted presence of officers of the SBU [Security Service] in academic institutions.

Further manifestations of anti-Semitism are also pointed out, with the majority of these being linked with MAUP [the Interregional Academy of Personnel Management] which is financed by states of the Middle East. There have also been attacks on students from African countries.

Women and children – Ukraine’s pain

A substantial part of the report is devoted to violations of the rights of women and children. The report suggests that 70% of Ukrainian women are victims of domestic violence and many experience sexual harassment from people they work with. Women in Ukraine also receive lower wages and seldom hold managerial positions.

A serious problem is sexual exploitation of children. The report suggests that a considerable amount of the child pornography on the Internet is of Ukrainian origin. It mentions too that law enforcement agencies have managed to launch more than 100 criminal investigations over this.

Not all negative

The report points to positive trends in 2006, specifically the lack of political persecution or pressure from the state authorities on the media, as well as an improvement in prisoners’ conditions.  It welcomes the convictions in the case of the killing of Ihor Aleksandrov, but mentions the lack of progress in identifying those who ordered the murder of Georgy Gongadze, as well as President Yushchenko’s failure to honour his promise to investigate past cases of corruption by the authorities.

The report also mentions the lack of an investigation into last year’s accusations against the managers of Naftohaz Ukrainy who are suspected of financial machinations.

Russia and Belarus – dangerous trends

The most worrying trends in human rights practices are in fact identified in the countries neighbouring Ukraine – Russian and Belarus. The authors believe that the continuing centralization of power in Russia has led to a weakening in control over the authorities by civic society and the mass media. In Belarus the leadership intensified its repressive policies against its own citizens.

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