11.12.2000 | E. Zakharov, Kharkov

Political repressions in Ukraine


It seems, that few people recollected about the 26th anniversary of the political prisoners Day that is marked on 30 October. Not a single information agency, newspaper did not mention it, to say nothing about electronic mass media; not a single public action was carried. Although, as is well known, it was n, it was Ukrainian prisoners of consciousness, who were the most active fighter for political prisoners’ status.

Maybe, this is a consequence of the general post-totalitarian tiredness, maybe people began to treat the political repressions in the USSR as to distant history that occurred in a foreign state that sank into oblivion and interesting only to a narrow circle of specialists. It is obvious that the interest to dissidents has fallen down.

That is a pity, in my opinion, because the Ukrainian reality grants many reasons for talking that political repressions in Ukraine become more and more observable. Law-enforcing bodies are used for suppressing political opponents, the publication of the opposition newspapers ’Svoboda’ and ’Informatsiyny bulleten’ is rudely suppressed. The runs of the two recent issues of the latter were taken from the printing shop without ceremony (by USS officers, as the editor-in-chief affirms), and now the newspaper is printed without mentioning the printing shop. Journalist Lesia Voronina, the presenter of the program ’Ukrainian culture yesterday and today’, was removed from work for the interview with Evhen Sverstiuk given without the previous concordance with her bosses, in which Sverstiuk dared to criticize Viktor Medvedchuk, Vasyl Stus’ advocate (appointed by the KGB) at the poet’s last trial in 1981. Now Medvedchuk is a well-known politician, the first vice-speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament. We could also add the trial over the Donetsk advocate Sergey Salov.

That is why the Kharkov Group for human rights protection carried out some actions devoted to the Day of political prisoner. We wanted to remind the public to pay more attention to political repressions, which now have assumed a quite different form. One of such actions is just the publication of the above article ’The everlasting script’ and the article ’Twenty years later’ presented below. The interview of E. Zakharov in the Kharkov TV transmission ’Den za dniom’ (’Day in, day out’) was also dedicated to this topic.

It is worth to dwell on Sergey Salov’s case especially (see A. Bukalov’s note below). Before the election of 31 Ocotber Salov found in his mailbox a parliament newspaper ’Golos Ukrainy’, which announced President Kuchma’s death. The newspaper was a fake, and Salov had no relation to its production. He showed this newspaper to a few people and was arrested. Salov was accused of violating Article 127 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine ’Hindering election’. For this ’crime’ Salov was condemned (in July!) to five years of incarceration with the postponement of two years; before this he was kept in a preliminary prison. Salov’s advocate handed in several petitions to release Salov from prison on bail, the prosecutor agreed, but the judge was adamant.

In my opinion, the actions of the authorities concerning Salov can be qualified only as political repression.

And how many criminal processes caused by political reasons we have recently had in Ukraine! It seems that they are governed by the principle: ’We shall not punish our political opponents, we shall punish their sponsors’. Under our conditions any sponsor, i.e. a rich business may be put to prison for some reason or another. Our legislation seems to be constructed on purpose in such a way that it must be violated. That is why the authorities could easily deprive the opposition of any support. It is rather difficult to prove in such cases that the criminal persecution has political roots. Nonetheless, one thing is clear: political repressions will continue, of the society will not try fighting with them.

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