24.01.2012 | Yevhen Zakharov

Human Rights in Ukraine – 2011: More and More Violations



If between 2005 and 2009 we reported that government policy on human rights was ineffective, unsystematic and chaotic, today we are forced to state that during the last two years there has been no such government policy at all, and human rights are not a priority for the leaders of the country.  We have seen virtually no positive action by the authorities and administration aimed at enabling citizens to exercise their rights, while there are more and more infringements of human rights and fundamental freedoms

This overview briefly examines only some of the tendencies which emerged in 2011 and seem most dangerous for human rights – the drop in the standard of living of a major part of the population; political persecution of the opposition and civic movements with the use of the courts and law enforcement bodies; disregard for judicial independence and interference in court proceedings; and brutality of criminal law policy.

Increased poverty and social inequality

The situation with the government’s safeguarding of social and economic rights is catastrophic. The 36 billion UAH payment deficit as of the end of 2011 indicates the government’s inability to fulfil its economic commitments. And although the government declares a 2.3% fall in poverty in 2011 through a 25% increase in the subsistence minimum, an increase of over 12% in the average pension and 10% increase in the real wage, these are deceptive statistics. They are based on an increase in GNP per head of population, but do not take into account the average Ukrainian’s buying capacity, while the subsistence minimum does not envisage many necessary expenses, for example, the cost to the average Ukrainian of sending a child to kindergarten, of education, medical services etc. The subsistence minimum, which is the criterion for establishing the level of remuneration for work and social payments, is still established on the basis of a selection of food items, goods and services approved 11 years ago in a resolution from 14.04.2000 (No. 656). During the period which has elapsed since then the selection has not once been reviewed whereas according to Article 3 § 1 of the Law on the Subsistence Minimum, it should be reviewed at least every five years. Furthermore, against a background of increasing consumer prices in Ukraine over recent years, the subsistence minimum is excessively low. This in turn makes the size of pensions, wages and assistance for the poorer groups in society too low and reduces the population’s real income.[1]

Assessments from trade unions, sociological research from the Ukrainian Social Research Centre; the International Sociology Institute; the Razumkov Centre; the Democratic Initiatives Centre and others research establishments, on the contrary, indicate a rise in poverty. At present one quarter of Ukraine’s population are considered poor.[2]  85% of Ukrainians, in order to survive, were forced to economize on food, holidays, recreation and clothing. The average pay around the country is 2.5 thousand UAH which indicates an increase in the divide between rich and poor and assault on small and middle-level business, and a weakening of the middle class which should form the base and dynamic force of economic development.

The issue of poverty also concerns the public sector. Those classified as poor include the educated, qualified and full-time employed groups in society (people working in public sector institutions and organizations, education, cultural, scientific, medical, social workers, civil servants, engineers etc). Low salaries and pensions combined with rapidly increasing prices and tariffs make it impossible for them to provide the basic necessities for their families[3]

Yet even such a low, sometimes less than minimum wage is paid with delays, both to non-State workers and to people in the public sphere. For example, as of 1 October 2011 wage arrears came to 1, 180 UAH.[4] There is a steady trend towards increasing wage arrears.  

In these conditions the government has adopted a harsh policy on suspending or reducing social payments for former Chornobyl clean-up workers, Afghanistan War veterans, children and others, and in response to protests has effectively resorted to political persecution. Despite the Constitutional Court judgement in 2007 (in the case of citizens’ social guarantees[5]) which stated that rights cannot be suspended as opposed to privileges, the government demonstratively suspended implementation of social guarantees in the 2011 budget law.  Furthermore Item 4 of the Final Provisions of 2011 Law on the State Budget gives the Cabinet of Ministers the right to establish the procedure and amounts of social payments based on available financial possibilities. The Cabinet of Ministers immediately arranged that pensions should be calculated without taking into account court rulings. This elicited mass protests from former Chornobyl clean-up workers, Afghanistan War veterans, “children of the War” and other groups in society throughout the country, and is creating the threat of an intensification of confrontation between the protesting groups and the law enforcement agencies. One person has already died in Donetsk as a result of this confrontation – 74-year-old retired miner Gennady Konoplyov.

The government says that there is no money in the budget to cover social payments at such a level, and an analogous norm for management of social payments by the Cabinet of Ministers has been added to the 2012 budget. Yet such actions by the government look particularly indecent given the incredible amounts spent on maintaining the President, parliament, Cabinet of Ministers, as well as other parts of the State apparatus which overall exceeds the budget allocations for social payments in 2011 by 3 billion UAH. Procurement of expensive cars, pearl baths, gold toilets, travel around the country on chartered flights, etc – all of this strengthens public opinion that those in power are corrupt, that there is money in the public coffers, only it won’t be given, but will be channelled to meet the needs of high-ranking officials, not citizens. We would note that there are almost no attempts to curb professionally-linked concessions with these in the main remaining.

The government’s policy on social payments was backed by the Constitutional Court which in its judgement of 26 December 2011 found Item 4 § 4 of the Final Provisions to the 2011 Law on the State Budget constitutional. This CCU judgement effectively prevents Ukrainians from upholding their social guarantees in the amounts set down in the relevant laws through the courts. It would be interesting to know whether the Constitutional Court judges would agree that the Ukrainian state cannot be called law-based or social.

The Constitutional Court based its judgement on the principle of proportionality between the need for social protection and the financial capacity of the State. Of course the amounts of payments on the basis of social factors to over 13 million people, and professionally linked payments to 3.2 million people are an impossible burden for the budget. Yet to pass such a judgement it was necessary to first get rid of the relict of socialism in the Constitution of declarative promises of social guarantees for all, to introduce a principle of proportionality into it, and then one could seriously consider this judgement. The main issue in this had been effectively discarded that being differentiation of benefits and privileges and social and economic rights, while the narrowing of the content and scope of rights is prohibited by Article 22 of the Constitution. For example, the payments to former Chornobyl clean-up workers are in implementation of their right to social protection. When young solders and servicemen were sent in 1986-1987 to clean up the aftermath of the Chornobyl Nuclear Disaster, nobody asked for their consent, while they returned with serious health problems. The state must under all circumstances provide them assistance as compensation for their damaged health, and, often, shattered lives. Payments to rehabilitated victims of political repression are not concessions, but compensation which the state is obliged to pay for the years of imprisonment in terrible conditions on the basis of unlawful sentences. Such payments cannot be cancelled or reduced “on the basis of the government’s financial capacity”.

In this context one must mention the discriminatory pension reform passed in 2011 which resulted in a reduction in current pensions.

Political persecution of the opposition and civic movements

The 26 December Constitutional Court judgement supposedly put an end to the legal argument. However the flagrant injustice of a decrease in the scope of social rights in spite of current laws for former Chornobyl clean-up workers and some other layers of society determines and will continue to arouse their wide-scale protests. Instead of reconsidering its policy, avoiding methods of force against the protesters and moving towards dialogue, the government is trying to intimidate protesters, using the law enforcement bodies – the MIA, SBU [Security Service], and Prosecutor’s Office. This tendency – of using the law enforcement bodies as instruments for political repression of political opponents and civic movements – is highly dangerous for human rights since it can set a wheel of repression in motion which will later be very hard to stop. And then political repression against imagined enemies can turn into repression against everybody.

            We would cite one example with those same former Chornobyl clean-up workers.

Dissatisfied with the behaviour of the President of the nationwide civic organization “Chornobyl Union of Ukraine”, Yury Andreyev, who was not, in their opinion, conscientiously representing their interests[6], some former Chornobyl clean-up workers wanted to vote him out at the reporting and election conference on 16 December outside Kyiv. However, in terms of the number of Special Force Berkut officers, the gathering looked more like military exercises. The Berkut officers let those deemed needed into the conference, prevented those who weren’t, and when Anatoly Mokry, a deputy from Kremenchug tried to protest from the tribune against such a manner of running of the conference, they effectively threw him out of the conference hall, telling him that he had been stripped of his status as conference delegate[7].

Elected delegates of the conference from the Kharkiv former Chornobyl clean-up workers, Volodymyr Proskurin and Petro Prokopenko could not get to the conference at all. Proskurin was summoned as a witness in a criminal case over alleged forgery of documents confirming Chornobyl clean-up worker status. At 6.00 on 16 December he was detained near his flat and taken to the investigation department where he waited for the 11.00 appointment and was then questioned for 8 hours. Petro Prokopenko had been called to the investigators on 18 December. He was nonetheless detained outside Kyiv on 16 December in the morning as he was about to enter the conference hall and taken by car to Kharkiv and was in all detained for around 9 hours.

Such unprecedentedly flagrant interference by Internal Affairs officers in the internal matters of a civic organization is undoubtedly political persecution. It is typical that the criminal investigation over forgery of documents was initiated by the MIA regional investigation department by the Minister of Internal Affairs, Zakharchenko. Proskurin had already been detained and he was saved only by the fact that National Deputy Mykhailo Volynets had by chance received on that same day from the MIA a document long asked for certifying that as a 21-year-old policeman Volodymyr Proskurin had in 1986 gone to Chornobyl and Prypyat where he took part in the clean-up operation. Volynets flew to Kharkiv with the document.

Volodymyr Proskurin is registering a new nationwide organization “Union of Chornobyl Veterans”. Perhaps strong leaders who demand unyielding enforcement of the Law on the Status and Social Protection of Citizens who suffered as the result of the Chornobyl Disaster and consistently uphold the interests of former Chornobyl clean-up workers are clearly inconvenient to those in power. They therefore unleashed an unprecedented campaign to discredit them, public statements about “fake” Chornobyl clean-up workers who supposedly paid for court rulings, get unwarrantedly high pensions, etc. On top of that they treat former Chornobyl clean-up workers like criminals, with surveillance, unlawful detentions, attempts under any condition to initiate criminal proceedings. From 3 January for several evenings Proskurin was observed by two cars with police officers near his apartment block.  He believes that they want to detain him and force him to undergo a medical examination in order to take away his second group disability status which he received indefinitely in 2010, and that such actions are planned also against other leaders of the Chornobyl clean-up workers movement.

Such flagrant interference in the matters of a civic association and humiliating contempt for ones own citizens had not been seen in all the 20 years of independence. Yet the former Chornobyl clean-up workers are not the only social group that has been persecuted by the authorities with the help of the law enforcement bodies. In general 2011 saw intensified political harassment of members of civic movements and organizations within civil society. Based on our observations around 60 civic activists, journalists and human rights activists, as well as 11 civic organizations suffered harassment, with such cases seen in 17 regions of the country. Criminal investigations were initiated against 30 people, 3 cases involving administrative proceedings and 2 civil cases were launched.  A decision to undertake forced measures of a medical nature was taken against one person. Around 25 people had their liberty restricted (through detention, remand in custody in a temporary holding facility or SIZO [pre-trial remand unit]) for varying lengths of time. 16 activists were subjected to physical violence. Two people emigrated. All of them encountered violations of legislation or disproportionate interference from the state.

The following criminal investigations are politically motivated: those initiated against members of the Tax Code protests on Maidan Nezalezhnosti [Independence Square]; members of the party VO Svoboda; the nationalist organization Tryzub who daubed paint over a monument to Felix Dzerzhynsky and beheaded the bust of Joseph Stalin; against people for scrambling eggs on the Eternal Flame in Glory Park in Kyiv. There were undoubtedly political motives in the cutting from air of three television channels: ATN, “Fora” and ATVK in Kharkiv which were critical of the local authorities and Mayor. There were widespread violations of freedom of peaceful assembly. Besides unwarranted bans on such gatherings by courts and even local authorities, there were also absolutely anecdotal cases, for example, in Simferopol. Serhiy Veselovsky was charged with administrative liability for “organization of an unauthorized anti-government rally on Lenin Square”. This “rally” consisted of a silent sit-down by several young people on the steps of the Crimean Parliament building with their back to the main entrance for 15 minutes after the end of protests against the felling of trees on Gorky St in a totally different place.

There were also actions by various authorities aimed at deterring young people from civic activity, at cooling them down so to speak. There were also examples of political persecution of young people. For example, police officers in August 2011 turned up at the Youth Nationalist Congress youth camp in the Sumy region. They copied out the passport and registration details of all participants (around 50 people) in training seminars on tourism and civic activism and videoed them. The “prophylactic conversations” which were held in 2010 in various regions by the SBU and police with activists from the Regional Initiatives Foundation, the Democratic Alliance, the independent student union “Direct Action”, and the women’s organization Femen, did not stop. In various forms from advice to threats the young people were advised to not take part in protests, were asked about the leadership of the organizations, the source of their funding, etc.

There was also considerable pressure from the Ministry of Education, Science, Youth and Sport and the administrations of higher educational institutes on particular students and bodies of student self-government which don’t support the Ministry’s policy, for example, by protesting against the new draft Law on Higher Education. The situation became widespread where the Ministry phoned institutes demanding that they carry out an instructional conversation with students and the heads of such student self-government bodies that publicly express their opposition to the draft law or who have been seen at protest actions.

Political persecution is a very serious human rights violation and has a significant impact on political freedom which vanishes rapidly, with the repression aimed at intimidating the public. However it has the opposite effect since they arouse even more protest. The regime gets more worried and takes preventive measures like passing jurisdiction for Article 294 of the Criminal Code (mass disturbances) from the MIA to the SBU.

One can also consider the new Law on the Election of National Deputies, passed on 17 November 2011 by a constitutional majority as such a preventive measure aimed at the ruling majority’s holding onto power. Its adoption was determined by objective need and addressed solely the political needs of those in power. A proportional – majority system, raising the election threshold for a party entering parliament to 5%, and a ban on participation by blocs of parties in the elections remained in the version proposed by those in power. Despite their promises they did not hold widespread public discussion of changes to electoral legislation and the results of those public discussions which were run by the public were ignored.

We would also note that the elections for the Verkhovna Rada should have been held in the last week of March in the fourth year of when they actually carried out their functions. That is, the next parliamentary elections should have taken place on 27 March 2011.  If one analyzes Article 77 § 1 and Article 103 § 5 of the Constitution, it is clear that the President and MPs may not hold office longer than the designated terms. Yet the parliamentary elections were put back to autumn 2012.  This alone is sufficient to conclude that the government in Ukraine has been illegitimate for almost a year.

Pressure on the judiciary and interference in court proceedings

A strong, independent and just judiciary is the main prerequisite for human rights. Yet who is not laying siege to the justice system’s authority!  The actions of the Cabinet of Ministers in banning the Pension Fund form allocating money in enforcement of court rulings on social payments clearly demonstrate the lack of respect for the justice system and supercilious attitude by the executive branch of power to the judiciary. In 2010 and 2011 disregard intensified for judicial independence and rule of law as a whole. Selective criminal prosecutions were more and more dominant, with the courts coming more and more under the control of the Prosecutor’s office, executive and bodies of local self-government   In cases of a political nature, in anti-corruption cases and many other types of cases the principle of adversarial proceedings can be forgotten about, and the courts totally lost their independence being turned into obedient implementers of others’ wishes. The court trials of former government officials are a parody of justice.  For example, the restraint measure against Yulia Tymoshenko and Yury Lutsenko was changed from a signed undertaking not to abscond to remand in custody without any lawful grounds. The holding of a court hearing to determine restraint measures against Yulia Tymoshenko over the United Energy Systems of Ukraine prosecution in the medical unit of the SIZO [remand unit] is a mockery of judicial procedure, and of the accused who is confined to her bed.  In general everything in the criminal prosecution of the former Prime Minister is in keeping not with the law but with the wishes of those in high places who interfere, ignoring all rules and established practice, unceasingly trying to humiliate the imprisoned and ill woman.

So that judges cannot show resistance to such pressure, a Damocles sword has been suspended over them in the form of threat of dismissal for infringement of their oath. This threat can be carried out at any moment through a submission to the High Council of Justice. According to the Law on the High Council of Justice, its members are authorized, in considering such submissions, to even interfere in court cases which have not ended. In a judgement from 11 March 2011, No. 2/2001, the Constitutional Court prohibited requests to see the material of court cases where proceedings have not ended because this could lead to interference in the course of justice[8], and the Verkhovna Rada was supposed to change the law taking this Constitutional Court judgement into account. However the amendments to this law passed on 4 October and signed by the President on 25 November 2011[9], on the contrary, only increased the possibilities for interference by the High Council of Justice as a whole, and its members in the consideration of court cases.  For example, Article 40 § 1 of this Law states:

            “Verification of information about disciplinary misdemeanours is carried out on the instruction of the High Council of Justice or the Head of the High Council of Justice to one of the members of the High Council of Justice through receiving written explanation from the judge and other individuals; demanding to see the court cases (copies) the examination of which has ended, and viewing court cases the examination of which has not ended; receiving other information from state authorities and bodies of local self-government  , their officials, heads of enterprises, institutions, organizations regardless of their form of property and subordination, of citizens and their associations”.

Article 25 § 4 of the Law envisages that the High Council of Justice or its members can demand copies of court case material which has been returned for a new examination, or which has been handed over to another judge, i.e. in those cases where the examination has not been fully concluded and the court ruling has not come into force.

In the opinion of the Verkhovna Rada Central Legal Department such provisions of the law are not in keeping with the Constitutional Court judgements from 19 May 1999, No. 4/99; from 11 April 2000, No. 4/2000; from 20 March 2002, No. 4/2002 and from 11 March 2011, No. 2/2011 which state that the Constitution and laws of Ukraine guarantee the independence and inviolability of judges, as well as prohibiting influence on judges in any force (Article 126 of the Constitution). Yet the parliamentary majority which is under the control of the regime did not pay any attention to this and adopted the amendments to the Law in breach of the Constitution and Constitutional Court judgements.

Practice in using submissions to the High Council of Justice confirms the wish to control judges. Even if it does not dismiss judges, submissions and their review remind judges that they need to be obedient. In 2011 there were submissions to the High Council of Justice with allegations of infringement by judges of their oath for handing down rulings which were not to the Prosecutor’s liking. For example, on 7 June 2011 the Deputy Prosecutor General Mykhailo Havrylyuk, who is at the same time a member of the High Council of Justice, wrote to the High Council of Justice suggesting that it dismiss three judges of the Kyiv Court of Appeal – Ihor Moroz, Valery. Pashkevych and Ludmila Bartashchuk, alleging breach of their oath.  In fact, Mr Havrylyuk wanted to punish the judges for their observance of the Constitution and European Convention on Human Rights. The judges had passed a ruling to free the accused from custody in view of the lack of grounds for extending remand in custody.  This ruling is fully in line with Article 29 of Ukraine’s Constitution and with Article 5 of the European Convention which establishes the right to liberty as an inalienable human right meaning that nobody has to prove that he is justified in being at liberty. This is also confirmed by the case law of the European Court of Human Rights which has on a number of occasions reiterated that there must be a presumption in favour of release, and that under a verdict is issued, a person must be deemed innocent, and that the person should be released as soon as remand in custody becomes unwarranted. The Deputy Prosecutor General is effectively blaming the panel of judges for releasing the accused since the prosecution failed to provide the court with specific facts which could justify continued detention. In court the Prosecutor did not provide any specific fact in favour of such a ruling. Yet the attempt by the Prosecutor’s office to exert pressure on the judges merely because they did not support the Prosecutor’s position is absolutely unacceptable.

The Prosecutor’s Office which is allocated enormous funding for “defence of human rights” should direct its energies towards eradicating those violations, including in the work of the courts, which have already been identified by the European Court of Human Rights, and not try to punish judges for endeavouring to break the pernicious practice of obliging the Prosecutor’s Office and for making demands on State bodies representing the prosecution.

Another highly publicized example was the interference by the Prosecutor General’s Office in the activities of the Supreme Court. On 7 November 2011 Mykhailo Havrylyuk gave a briefing[10] at which he accused Supreme Court judges of illegally changing the sentences of 15 dangerous criminals from life imprisonment to 15 years. He said that the initiative was taken by some National Deputies [MPs] who provided information about the alleged breach of oath by the judges.   “It is unclear on what grounds the Supreme Court Criminal Chamber, as exceptional proceedings, reviewed all these sentences with flagrant violation of the requirements of criminal legislation and changed the sentences. After examination by the High Council of Justice all the names of the judges will be revealed”.

He also stated that some of the judges suspected of unlawful behaviour had already resigned of their own accord.  However the problem of changing the death penalty to life imprisonment or 15 years is a difficult one and there have been constant discussions since 2000 on the subject, with the view of lawyers being divided. To assert now that the Supreme Court judges who reconsidered the death sentences and changed them to 15 years imprisonment in this way infringed their oat is, in my opinion, incorrect.

There have also been submissions alleging breach of oath by judges who handed down rules in cases with a pronounced political nature. For example, on 3 August 2011 a submission was received by the High Council of Justice from the President of the Kyiv Court of Appeal, Anton Chernushenko alleging breach of legislation by judges of that court Valentina Lyaskovska, Anatoly Kuzmin and Oleksandr Zhuravel during consideration of whether to change the restraint measure about Anatoly Makarenko and Taras Shepitko. Those judges had, on 5 July, released Makarenko and Shepitko from custody justifying this as due to positive character references, applications from respected people for their release, Makarenko’s ill health and the fact that Shepitko has children under 16.  The court prohibited them from leaving the country.[11]

While such an instrument of pressure on judges is retained, it is not possible to speak seriously of court protection for human rights.

We should note the amendments passed in 2011 to the Law on Access to Court Rulings which seriously reduce the Register of Court Rulings. From now on, in accordance with Article 3 § 3: “The list of court rulings of general jurisdiction courts which are to be added to the Register is approved by the Council of Judges, after agreement with the State Judicial Administration”

Brutality of Criminal Law Policy

The situation with torture and ill-treatment became more acute in 2011 as against the previous year. . Despite a number of large-scale protests, brutal treatment of detainees is continuing, regardless of the MIA’s declared zero tolerance position with regard to violations of the law by police officers. According to sociological research at national level (including a survey of 3000 respondents in Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv, Poltava and the Crimea, carried out as part of a Kharkiv Human Rights Group project with the support of the European Commission, the estimated number of victims of unlawful violence at the hands of the police came to more than 790 thousand in 2010 (this means that there was an act of unlawful violence by the police every 40 seconds)  there was an act of unlawful violence by the police. In 2011 the figure had reached 980 thousand. In 2010 51 people died in police institutions (against 23 in 2009), while by the end of June 2011 news had become public of 27 deaths.

Even the Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka at an extended meeting on 21 June on the results of Prosecutor Office work during the first 6 months of 2011 stated: “The problem of human rights in criminal proceedings is particularly acute for Ukraine.  There are not isolated cases of torture at the detective inquiry and criminal investigation stages”.

The assessments cited here of the number of victims is in stark contrast to the number of cases of unlawful violence by law enforcement officers which reached the public sphere: victims are scared to complain. We see only the tip of the iceberg. Torture and ill-treatment most often go unpunished or, what is worse, are seen as the norm.  This leads to an increase in lawlessness and impunity in the law enforcement bodies on the one hand, and in everybody having an increased feeling of being unprotected on the other.

The number of people imprisoned is on the increase, with the issue of their being provided with proper medical assistance remaining acute. Mortality in institutions under the State Penitentiary Service rose by 45% during the first half of 2011 (601 deaths against 808 for the whole of 2010); the number of suicides by 22%[12]  The issue of overcrowding in some SIZO again became acute with prisoners in some cells having to take turns to sleep on the bed. There was no implementation of the requirements of the European Court of Human Rights in the Kharchenko v. Ukraine case regarding changes to legislation on pre-trial detention during the investigation, when reading the file material and during the trial.  This is despite the fact that the courts sent approximately one in eleven criminal cases back for further investigation, there are frequent cases where the accused can spend years In a SIZO, although innocent since no verdict has been handed down in their case, and the judge does not dare to acquit them or change the restraint measure. The worst record was 12 years! The already pitiful number of acquittals has over the last two years fallen even further, with the Prosecutor’s office also seeking to have these revoked at appeal stage.  These problems should have been resolved by a new Criminal Procedure Code which they promised to adopt in 2011 however the Code was not tabled in parliament.

2011 saw the adoption of a number of laws which violate human rights, for example the Law on the Legal Status of Foreigners and Stateless Persons and others. All changes without exception are concentrated on broadening the powers of state bodies in exercising control over foreign nationals and functions of coercion and punishment.

At the same time as amendments to legislation aimed at strengthening legal pressure on foreign nationals, in 2011 an additional State body was finally formed for carrying out such immigration policy – the State Migration Service. Unfortunately, instead of a civilian and transparent body independent of the MIA, another gendarme-like body for supervision of foreign nationals has been created, as a kind of daughter firm of the MIA.

The Public’s reaction

2011 was characterized by an increase in public protests by various groups in society. Who didn’t protest against the actions of the authorities! There were protests by workers, teachers, students, environmental activists, members of various political parties, people on benefits, farmers, vets … According to MIA statistics, during 2011 there were 160 thousand protests[13].. How effective were they?  Examination of the authorities’ reaction gives grounds for concluding that they may at best make partial concessions only to later push what they want. One saw no willingness to engage in honest dialogue with the public. One can therefore expect protests against the policy of those in power to increase. According to a public opinion survey by the Razumkov Centre [14], the number of those who believe that where there is a significant deterioration in living conditions, you need to go out into the street and protest (52%) was in December 2011 significantly higher than the number who believe that it’s better to endure financial difficulties so as to retain order in the country (23.3%)

We are once again forced to recall the historical experience of the twentieth century that a political regime which violates human rights is more and more doomed to failure. The human rights situation will improve only when there are radical changes in attitude of those in power to their main constitutional duty, that being the affirmation and protection of human rights. What remains in question is whether the country’s leaders are capable of understanding this at least for the sake of their own selfish interests and a sense of self-preservation.

[1] The Accounting Chamber: Ukraine has not been fighting poverty for 10 years now

[2] The poverty line in Ukraine is 1025 UAH

[3] The Committee on Social Policy and Employment has found the work of the Cabinet of Ministers in ensuring implementation of the President’s Decree “On urgent measures to overcome poverty” unsatisfactory

[4] Wage arrears increase by 2.2%, 2-90232.html






[10]  High Council of Justice “investigates” Supreme Court judges






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