Mayors’ Limited Access
Gennady Kernes, Mayor of Kharkiv
Iryna Saliy from the Centre for Political Studies and Analysis reports that the Mayors and Deputy Mayors of Kharkiv, Kherson and Sumy are refusing to scan their declarations into digital form. They do, however, present bills in paper version.
The Centre sought information from all city councils and found that these three were wrongly interpreting legislation and not providing scanned documents by email.
The Kharkiv City Council claimed that there was no requirement to scan the documents even if these are requested. Kernes and his deputy’s declarations are now scanned and on the official website, however this apparently does not free them from the requirement to provide them if asked. Instead the Council suggested that the person come in to the Council offices and view paper versions.
Or they offered to send a paper version, charging 76 UAH 85 kopecks (enough to daunt most people seeking such information).
The law does indeed allow for a fee where the information sought is wanted in paper form and will require more than 10 pages. However other means of access are provided for within the law, with these including electronic post, at the choice of the person seeking the information.
The Centre has already taken the Council to court once over the refusal to provide scanned documents free of charge. The Kharkiv Court of Appeal found in the Council’s favour, saying that if the law does not stipulate whether a fee may be charged, then it is for the Executive Committee of the Kyiv Council to decide.
In fact, the Kharkiv, Kherson and Sumy Councils have simply begun using this ruling as justifying refusal to scan documents altogether/, and see such scans as up to the good will of the authorities. The ruling is thus, effectively, being used to restrict access to public information.