Seizure of human rights organizations premises
During the night from 14-15 October several dozen members of a private security firm (its name remains unknown) battered down the door and burst into the address on Gorky St in Kyiv which the human rights organization Institute “Respublica” has occupied since 1997. They were accompanied by assistants to National Deputy (Party of the Regions) Vasyl Hrytsak and state bailiffs who infringed the law by not warning that they were coming.. Mr Hrytsak is a lobbyist for the contentious private concern SSAPS [Single State Automated Passport System] and “laureate” of the anti-award “Thistle of the Year – 2007”, awarded by the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union for systematic violations of human rights. Around twenty police officers observed what was happening and did not intervene. The members of Institute “Respublica” present did not (and indeed could not) show any resistance to the intruders. The Institute will be lodging a complaint against the unlawful actions of the bailiffs and Hrytsak.
This is already the fifth attempt by raiders to seize the Institute “Respublica”s premises carried out by Hrytsak. The previous four did not succeed since members of various civic organizations, including the UHHRU, the initiative “Preserve Old Kyiv” and others came to their defence. This time the raiders took the building through treachery and force.
The building in 2000-2001 was the headquarters for the movement “Ukraine without Kuchma” and has become something of a centre for civic society. Last year the Kyiv City Council in breach of the Law “On leasing State and communal property” handed the premises over to National Deputy Hrytsak. The Institute “Respublica” is appealing about this decision in the courts, however without awaiting the outcome, Hrytsak and certain members of the enforcement structures whom he has “motivated” have throughout 2008 been trying to seize the premises. It is clear that if Hrytsaks plans succeed, then instead of the present building, a high-rise can be expected at this address.
There have been similar seizures of bookshops, art studios, and hospitals since the present Mayor Chernovetsky took office.
Member of the Institute “Respublica” Board