A Regime that increasingly violates human rights is doomed
On 13 January I received an Interior Ministry Instruction which filled me with outrage. Here is the text:
Interior Ministry Instruction from 10.01.2011 No. 266
In Kyiv on 17 January at the initiative of political parties, movements, civic organizations a protest is planned demanding a termination of the criminal cases against activists of the Tax Code Maidan [i.e. the protest against the new Tax Code on Maidan Nezalezhnosti [Independence Square - translator] in Kyiv.
On 22 January the Day of Ukrainian Sobornist [Reunion] is celebrated. At the same time, at the initiative of Batkivshchyna and other political organizations alternative events are planned.
1. Control to be assumed of obtaining information regarding the departure of organized groups and individuals to the capital city;
2. Measures to be taken to prevent the departure of technically deficient vehicles intended for transporting participants in the events;
3. Based on reconnaissance of the places where the events are to take place, the territory around them, in cooperation with other law enforcement bodies, executive bodies and bodies of local self-government , that interested organizations draw up plans for safeguarding protection of public order and transport safety. Develop general plans as well as those for each place, calculating forces and measures. Particular attention should be paid to heightened law and order efforts in places where mass events are to take place;
4. To ensure immediate response to changes in the operational situation that investigative operational groups, groups for documenting and recording possible offences, and necessary personnel reserves be reinforced;
5. That personnel are carefully instructed, and engaged in protecting pubic order in the places of the events, that each member of staff receives specific tasks and that proper monitoring is ensured over their fulfilment of their work;
6. That information about the organized trips (indicating the names of those in charge, contact telephones, the time of departure and arrival, the type of transport, the number of people and mass events planned on the territory served to be provided to the Department of Public Security by 14.01.2011 and by 21.01.2011.
Deputy Minister V, Ratushniak
I consider this to have been an unlawful order since it flagrantly violates freedom of assembly (Items 1 and 2 of the Instruction) and the right to privacy (Item 6). Items 3, 4 and 5 are aimed at organizing the protection of public order during the events of 17 and 22 January. Items 1 and 6 demand unlawful actions since they are effectively instructing measures for preventing members of the public from coming to Kyiv and for gathering information about those who want to come – law-abiding citizens who are not involved in the committing or planning of offences. One can expect that, as we saw on many occasions in 2010, all vehicles will suddenly prove “technically deficient”, and the lists of those wishing to reach Kyiv will be handed to the Department of Public Security.
On 14 January I sent this Instruction to the information agency UNIAN and Internet publication Ukrainska Pravda which reported the content of this document. This material was reprinted by other Internet publications also.
On the same day the Minister of the Interior Anatoly Mohylyov passed to UNIAN a statement on this matter which was reported by numerous Internet and media outlets. The Minister explained that the instruction about heightening the safety of citizens during the protests announced by the opposition on 17 and 22 January was issued in order to avoid possible provocation and asserted that the police would not obstruct people trying to get to these events.
“The tasks and duties of the police are to concern themselves with maintaining public order during large-scale events and to avoid possible provocation. Due to the fact that the Ministry of the Interior received information about possible provocations during the civic protests planned for 17 and 22 January, our duty is to do everything to protect citizens’ safety”, the Minister maintained. It was for that purpose, he explained, the instruction was issued which has only one aim, that being to protect citizens’ safety.”
“Treating this instruction as though it was supposed to obstruct citizens from coming to any large-scale protest is provocation, deliberate twisting of the facts and efforts to artificially raise a stir around the topic of the protests planned by the opposition. I consider such statements irresponsible and against the public”, the Minister of the Interior stated.
In my view the Minister has yet again demonstrated his lack of understanding of human rights. However the reader can see it all for him or herself.
On the same day, addressing the Verkhovna Rada, Anatoly Mohylyov stated that on 22 January in Kyiv “bloodshed” is being planned by certain opposition groups. As far as I am concerned, this statement is irresponsible. To inform of possible violent confrontation means to provoke it. If the Ministry of the Interior has such information, it must take preventive measures to prevent excesses, and the police knows how to do that if necessary. Whereas such statements in parliament only stir up emotions still further and heighten conflict between the ruling political force and the opposition. Furthermore, such statements are clearly aimed at intimidating people – don’t go, people, don’t protest, there could be bloodshed.
How long will the use of the police as a means of exerting political pressure on opponents continue? When will the new Ukrainian Administration understand that total lack of respect for people, talking with the public in the language of force, intimidation only intensify antagonism to the State and its agents? That a regime which increasingly violates human rights is doomed?
P.S. Just after I finished this text, I received the following information issued by the MIA Public Liaison Department:
The MIA is considering the question of bringing to answer people who deliberately falsify departmental documents of the MIA.
Over recent days there have been statements on Internet publications which present a distorted image of the actions of the police in ensuring public order during large-scale events. False information is published with twisting of facts, while value judgements are added to the text of departmental documents which are quoted. Attempts are made to present the actions of the police in organizing protection of public order in connection with the planned mass events as something extraordinary thus artificially creating a stir over the planned law enforcement actions.
In order to prevent further provocations of this kind with the use of the media regarding the deliberate reporting to the public of false information, the MIA is forced to take adequate and lawful measures of response.
At present the MIA is considering the question of defending through the courts the professional reputation of the law enforcement ministry. It is important in the legal field to demonstrate the twisting of facts by certain individuals who call themselves human rights activists and mislead the public by deliberately falsifying MIA documents regarding police measures on maintaining public order. The MIA regards such actions as inadmissible.
The MIA once again calls on all citizens to be tolerant of one another, to respect the Law and observe its demands. Exercising their rights, including the right to peaceful assembly, do not forget that it is unacceptable to violate the rights of other citizens, and do not commit actions which carry administrative or criminal liability.
The MIA Public Liaison Department
Interesting to know which published information the Department considers false. I hope that this is not quotes from the instruction, yet if not, then which? And where do they see deliberate falsification? In the assertion that the requirement in Item 2 of the Instruction “active measures are used to prevent the departure of technically deficient vehicles intended for transporting participants in the events to Kyiv? Yet we saw this many times already in 2010, the last time being during the Tax Code Protest on Maidan.
If Instruction No. 266 is changed and the police really don’t prevent people from reaching Kyiv on 17 and 22 January, I will be only too delighted. There isn’t long to wait.