Human Rights Blacklist? (updated)
More details have emerged of the baffling refusal on Sunday to allow Russian human rights activist Andrei Yurov into Ukraine. The member of the presidential Human Rights Council and chair of the Permanent Commission on Human Rights Issues Abroad was detained in Boryspil Airport on Sunday and then sent back to Russia on the same plane.
Yurov told Deutsche Welle that an SBU [Security Service] lieutenant with the surname Som handed him a paper which stated that an authorized body had declared him persona non grata in Ukraine. It said that he was entitled to appeal the decision. Verbally, he was told that the SBU had placed him on a blacklist, however his request for written confirmation of such a list was turned down
Yurov says that he was planning to meet local human rights workers and members of the Human Rights Ombudsperson. Valeria Lutkovska has promised to look into the situation. The SBU meanwhile has refused to comment.
Yurov calls this a violation of many of Ukraine’s international commitments and could be viewed as an unfriendly act.
Similar outrage was expressed on Sunday by Ludmila Alexeeva, head of the Moscow Helsinki Group has condemned the behavior of the Ukrainian authorities in banning entry to Andrei Yurov who called the ban outrageous, restricting both the work of human rights activists and freedom of movement in general. The Human Rights Council is reported by Radio Svoboda to have also issued a formal demand for an explanation.
A number of Ukrainian human rights organizations have endorsed a statement of protest over the shameful actions of the SBU and point out that this is not the first time, since the SBU has banned the Russian photographer Yury Barabash (details here: khpg.org ), the Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov and others.
In fairness, it should be noted that the Russian authorities have also banned entry to at least one Ukrainian human rights activist and former political prisoner, Vasyl Ovsiyenko
This does not, however, change the undoubted fact that such actions by the security services have no place in a democratic country and, as noted in the above-mentioned statement make one question whose interests the SBU is serving.