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03.07.2010

New appeal to UEFA over lawless cynicism of Kharkiv authorities

   

Despite widespread condemnation, a letter of concern from UEFA, direct instructions from the Verkhovna Rada Committee on the Environment, the destruction of Gorky Park is continuing. So too is the peaceful protest against the destruction of a vital area of Kharkiv and clear violation of the most fundamental principles of democracy, including the right of peaceful assembly and the right to public participation as enshrined in the Aarhus Convention.
On 1 July, Zeleny Front [Green Front] sent another letter to Michael Platini, President of the Union of European Football Associations.
They thank the UEFA and him personally for their principled stand over the behaviour of the Kharkiv city authorities and stress that they share UEFA’s concern that their reputation should not be used as a cover for cutting down parks and woodland which belong to the entire community.
The unprecedented actions by the Kharkiv city officials suppressing the protests are now known worldwide. However, in spite of numerous remonstrations by Kharkiv residents, Ukrainian and foreign organizations, neither national nor local authorities have taken any action to improve the situation. According to the latest polls, over 70% of the community oppose the building of a road through Gorky Park yet their opinion has been ignored.”
They note that on the contrary, President Yanukovych’s stated on 22 June (http://www.president.gov.ua/en/news/17424.html ) show that the authorities still regard this as a legitimate part of the road building project for Euro 2012.
The appeal stresses that the destruction is continuing, and add, most worryingly that the company “Parking” have resorted to child labour since 13-14 year-olds taking part in the tree felling cannot be held liable.
”Reprisals against activists still continue. Legal action has been taken against many of those taking part in peaceful protests. Two men — D. Chernega and A. Yevarnitsky — were arrested. They were named prisoners of conscience by the Amnesty International. On the other hand, no criminal employed to attack and beat protesters has been prosecuted.”
They point out also that on 24 June Yury Sapronov, Deputy Governor of the Kharkiv region and the owner of the Superior Golf Club, made a statement (http://kharkivoda.gov.ua/ru/news/view/id/1018 ) which indicates the authorities’ disregard of UEFA concerns.
Mr Sapronov, they add, is planning to cut down six thousand trees on 27 hectares of Lesopark [the Forest Park] to gain more land for his golf course.
They point out to UEFA that the local and national authorities are disregarding UEFA’s opinion and stubbornly continuing to further their business plans.
They stress their eagerness “to see the Euro 2012 finals being held with great success in Kharkiv to bring joy to the community and to our guests. We would hate it to be used as a cover for misappropriation of common parks and greens”
The letter is available in full at http://community.livejournal.com/gorkiy_park_kh/125758.html#cutid1
They note also that Sapronov has alleged that organizations approaching UEFA have been paid by the “opposition”. This has become an absolutely standard response to criticism (as opposed to proving that they have permission or stopping unlawful action. It is pitifully unconvincing as we are sure the people of UEFA are aware. They, together with the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner were last week sent an appeal signed by a very large number of Ukrainian civic organizations and concerned individuals http://www.khpg.org.ua/en/index.php?id=1275908780 , as well as up-to-date information.

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