Ukrainian committee ‘Helsinki-90 wrote a list to the President of Ukraine
The Ukrainian committee ‘Helsinki-90, the oldest in Ukraine non-government organization devoted to human rights, and the National Committee of International Helsinki Federation for human rights turn to you with the request to do your best to save two people whose lives are endangered. On 15 March 1999 two citizens of Uzbekistan, Mukhammad Bekhchanov and Yusuf Ruzimuradov, well-known Uzbek politicians, members of the Central Council of the opposition party ‘Erk were arrested in Kyiv with rude violation of the legal juridical procedure. Since 1995 they have stayed in Ukraine actually as political refugees, because members of opposition groups in Uzbekistan suffer from cruel repressions, and their life is under permanent danger.
On 15 March 1999 Ukrainian and Uzbek militiamen, without a warrant, broke into the flat where Mukhammad Bekhchanov and Yusuf Ruzimuradov stayed and took them away to a place unknown. It is very probable that they will be extradited to Uzbekistan.
Without touching the question whether Mukhammad Bekhchanov and Yusuf Ruzimuradov are guilty or not guilty of the ‘subversive activities in Uzbekistan, we have to remind the following statements:
First, the detainment of Mukhammad Bekhchanov and Yusuf Ruzimuradov was done with the violation of the procedure stipulated by the Ukrainian laws. So, juridically, it can be qualified as illegal kidnapping, which is one of the most shameful crimes condemned by the world public as a kind of international terrorism. We believe that we must not explain to you to which political and juridical results it can lead: it is sufficient to recollect the recent events connected with Odzhallan (although Odzhallans extradition was incomparably better grounded than the kidnapping of Mukhammad Bekhchanov and Yusuf Ruzimuradov) — to call this procedure ‘arrest means to completely ignore the operating law of Ukraine.
Secondly, the extradition of Mukhammad Bekhchanov and Yusuf Ruzimuradov may be realized only by the court decision. There must be a request from Uzbekistan about their extradition after an open court session, according to the conventional procedure; they must be given the opportunity to use an advocate and, if need be, to protest the verdict in courts of all instances, including the Supreme Court of Ukraine and the European Court of human rights. Only a Ukrainian court must consider any accusations from law-enforcing agencies of Uzbekistan, it is the Ukrainian court which must decide whether the proofs are valid, since the international law stipulates extradition of criminals (and a criminal is determined as such only by court) and not some other persons which are wanted by law-enforcing agencies. To compare, let us recollect a prominent recent case about the extradition of Pinochet. This case was considered by all court instances of the United Kingdom during many months, although his participation in the incriminated activities is obvious. It must not be explained how will Ukraine look on this background. The world will see that in Ukraine similar problems are solved outside the court framework by mysterious agreements between special services.
Thirdly, here we have the extradition of political emigrants from the country, which is a member of the Council of Europe, to another country, whose authorities according to many international organizations regularly punish members of the opposition, where more then one thousand of the ‘Erk party activists (and Bekhchanov and Ruzimuradov belong to the administration of this party) are kept in prisons for their political activities, where they are tortured and refused to have advocates and to be tried fairly and in time. It is not difficult to predict how this act of extradition will tell on the reputation of Ukraine in the eyes of the civilized world community. We risk to enter the ranks of the notorious countries with fascist and communist dictatorships, and this is done just when Ukraine with great difficulty preserved her membership in the Council of Europe.
Last but not least, it is impossible to ignore the fact that after extradition Bekhchanov and Ruzimuradov may be executed, which is a wide practice in the present Uzbekistan. There is absolutely no hope that they will be able to defend their rights in an Uzbek court. The last supposition is confirmed by the lot of other ‘Erk party members: they all were condemned with brutal violations of not only international laws, but even imperfect Uzbek laws.
The illegal extradition of Bekhchanov and Ruzimuradov sets a very dangerous precedent. Nowadays thousands of political emigrants and refugees fled to Ukraine from Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Belorus, Russia, Georgia, Chechnya and so on. The extradition of Bekhchanov and Ruzimuradov would mean that all these people will be devoid of political asylum , that every moment everyone of them may be captured and passed to hangmen for torture. We believe that this is a brutal trampling of not only the letter, but also the spirit of international agreements on human rights. The extradition shall be stopped immediately. We beg you to understand how serious is the situation and interfere personally. We ask you to act at once, because every moment Bekhchanov and Ruzimuradov can be passed abroad, and then there would be no chances to save the life of the two people. We beg you to use your authority and pass the solution of Bekhchanov and Ruzimuradovs lot to court instances.
Remember that the life of two people and the lot of those who would have to be captured in future depend on your interference.
The fair solution of the Bekhchanov and Ruzimuradovs lot will determine the international prestige and authority of Ukraine as a law-abiding state, and thus it will noticeably strengthen the stability and security in Ukraine. To sacrifice this for the sake of doubtful ‘friendship and cooperation of Ukrainian and Uzbek security services is a too great price, both from the standpoint of morals and common sense.
Hoping for sympathy and support,
Yu.Murashov, Head of the Ukrainian Committee ‘Helsinki-90
E.Dikiy, Executive Director of the Committee
PL commentary.Unfortunately, the top administration of the country did not pay attention to the appeals of international and Ukrainian human rights protection organizations. The Uzbek dissidents were passed to Uzbekistan, and their families became the object of the brutal pressure from Ukrainian law-enforcing agencies. These shameful events convincingly demonstrate the real, not the declared attitude of the top power of Ukraine to the protection of human rights.