Call for measures against racism and xenophobia
President Yushchenko has sent letters to the Prosecutor General and the Ministry of Internal Affairs in which he stresses the need for effective steps aimed at countering xenophobia, racial and ethnic intolerance in Ukraine.
He points out the increasing number of reports in the media of an increase in manifestations of xenophobia and racism. He cites information from the Congress of National Communities of Ukraine which puts the number of victims of violence on racial, ethnic or religious grounds at 70.
The President also notes that concern has been expressed by UN experts over propaganda of racism in some media outlets functioning in Ukraine. He mentions also the Third Report on Ukraine of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance which speaks of foreign students becoming the target of attacks of a racist nature by groups of skinheads.
The President mentions that discrimination and brutal manifestations of aggression are observed also in relation to Ukrainian nationals, especially in the East of Ukraine. He speaks of an ongoing court suit brought by Yury Lytvyb against the management of his enterprise after he was first demoted, and then dismissed, for using Ukrainian as his working language.
He also cites the case, reported here, of Luhansk resident Serhiy Melnychuk, who after successfully asserting through the court his right to have his courses at the V. Dal East Ukrainian National University taught in Ukrainian, ended up in hospital with concussion after being hit during a live broadcast on local television by a deputy of the Luhansk City Council from the Party of the Regions Arcen Klinchayev.
He especially draws attention to the appearance in recent times of a specific form of xenophobia, namely the deliberate destruction of gravestones. He added that these and other issues had been raised during a meeting with the OSCE High Commissioner on Minority Issues Knut Vollebeck.
In his letter to the Prosecutor General, the President asks: “I would ask you within the framework of your competence to instruct the relevant bodies of the prosecutors office to analyze the developing trend towards such negative phenomena, including the influence of radical organizations from outside Ukraine, develop an effective programme to counter all forms of xenophobia, racial and ethnic intolerance in Ukraine and bring prosecutions against those guilty of crimes”.
The President asks the Minister of Internal Affairs to make a comprehensive assessment of the situation and draw up a clear plan of severe and urgent measures to uncover such crimes and bring those responsible to justice. He stresses the need for measures of a preventive nature, and educational and awareness-raising work among young people.