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Human Rights in Ukraine. Website of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
№07
1999

Monthly bulletin Prava Ludyny (Human rights)

Freedom of expression

21.05.2000 | Sergey Bobok, Kharkiv

A militiaman arrested the bank account of a TV-radio company

   

Major Aleksandr Petrovskiy, a senior detective of the department for fighting with organized crime in Kharkiv region, ordered to arrest the bank account of the TV-radio company Simon. Such things are easily done in Kharkiv.

The major decided to arrest Simon’s bank account to satisfy civil suits of the deceived depositors to quite another organization — the company ‘Quick money’, whose former head Akhsarbek Eloyev is staying now in the preliminary prison.

In early 90s ‘Quick money’ was one of many organizations which attracted deposits of the population by promising high income. Later ‘Quick money’ disappeared, as well as its numerous sister-companies, having left little property and crowds of the deceived depositors who wanted to get back the capital, to say nothing of the income. As all such companies ‘Quick money’ organized an energetic advertisement campaign. The logotype ‘Quick money’ decorated all newspaper kiosks, taxi cabs and bill-boards. The advertisements were steadily printed by local newspapers, they were transmitted by radio and TV channels, including those of Simon. In November 1994 ‘Quick money’ paid to Simon for the translation of advertisements with a radio transmitter. Five years passed and an auditor of the control service found that the transmitter counted on Simon’s balance since 1994 was not counted off the balance of ‘Quick money’. In fact this means that the accountant of ‘Quick money’ was negligent, but the auditor drew a conclusion that the transmitter belongs to ‘Quick money’ and ordered Simon to transfer the cost of the transmitter (3685 grivnas) to the court’s account for satisfying suits of the deceived depositors. The administration of Simon did not agree with the decision of the auditor, but, in order to get rid of extra problems, agreed to pay the money, with one condition: after the solution of the court. As Aleksandr Davtian, the president of Simon, told at the press-conference, he suggested a compromise: till the court decision the transmitter should be arrested and stored in Simon. The detective seemingly agreed, but on 17 June the bank account with about 18 thousand grivnas on it was arrested without advising the owners.

Major Aleksandr Petrovskiy declared to the journalists of Simon TV channel the following: ‘Depositors of ‘Quick money’ were picketing the regional administration. Diomin (the chairman of the administration — author’s note) summoned Storozhenko (his deputy in charge of law-enforcing structures — author’s note). Storozhenko turned to us. We presented him a list of debtors; in particular, the list mentioned you. We shall take this money from you’. This speech was filmed and, properly commented, shown on TV. Sergey Storozhenko commented the material as follows: ‘I categorically disagree both with the detective and with the comments. I do not agree that it is the ‘telephone right’ and not the law which acts in this case. As to Petrovskiy’s words that our actions were stimulated by the demonstration, I must say that no meeting, picketing or demonstration can affect the political line of the region administration. We act in the strict agreement with the law and we shall do all to protect legal rights and interests of Kharkivites. I believe that the actions of the militia are quite right’. All his words sounded very smoothly, but the end of his statement seemed doubtful: ‘If a company does not care about its image, if it does not sympathize with citizens who were victims of a crime, then we do not need such a TV company. If you say that the company can die, then maybe it will be right’.

Whether the company dies, the time will show, but it is certainly having problems. ‘The work of Simon is paralyzed’, Lev Koksharov, the general producer of the Simon TV channel, said. — ‘I do not speak about salaries — the collective will work without salaries for six months or more. But we have difficulties in the production of further series of soap operas, purchasing films, paying to partners. We cannot pay for the translation, for renting transmitters and offices. We are a big advertisement agency, we cooperate with various organizations and with other TV channels. Now we must pay the fines. It seems that someone wants to drive us into the corner, where we shall not be able to pay taxes in time. I think that it is not the direct pressure, but it is connected in some way with politics.’ By Koksharov’s words Simon planned a number of features about all pretenders to the presidential position, and we directed letters to the pretenders, asking them to take part in these transmissions. For example, we have already transmitted a number of features about Evgeniy Marchuk. ‘The transmission about Moroz was prohibited,’ — Davtian said to journalists. — ‘If I tell by whom, the company will be closed tomorrow. Our TV company is unbiased, we turned to all pretenders. We believe that mass media must show all pretenders fairly, so that people would know for whom to vote’.

The management of Simon directed the complaint to the region prosecutor and intends to suit the detective. TV viewers from Kharkiv, three more regions of East Ukraine and Belgorod region of Russia (they are the regions that receive Simon) will know what will come of it.

Freedom of expression

21.05.2000

An appeal of the Black-Sea TV-radio company

   

On 19 July the Black-Sea TV-radio company (BSTRC) got an order from the Crimean administration that the former, since 26 July, must terminate broadcasting TV in 16 towns of the Crimea. The reason is that the radio and TV center of the Crimea, which retranslates the BSTRC, has no permission from the Ukrainian main office to use the corresponding frequencies. A.Dmitriev, the director of the radio and TV center of Crimea, informed BSTRC that this order would be obeyed.

The BSTRC has a license from the National Council of Ukraine in questions of TV and radio broadcasting to service the mentioned 16 towns, and during 8 years these towns have been serviced. Correspondingly, the BSTRC was developed. Nowadays the situation looks as follows: one state organization (the Ukrainian main office) punishes another state organization (the radio and TV center of Crimea) and, as a result, an independent company (BSTRC) suffers irreplenishable losses.

In this connection the labor collective of the BSTRC declares its intention to defend in court its

right for work, guaranteed by the license of the National Council of Ukraine in questions of TV and radio broadcasting.

In our opinion, the factual ouster of the largest independent TV organization of the Crimea from the informational space just before the election is not accidental. In all years of its activities BSTRC was and remains a really independent TV and radio company, which objectively describes events in the Crimea and in Ukraine, giving the opportunity to express themselves to all political forces, steadily defending rights and freedoms of TV viewers.

Last spring, before the Parliamentary election a similar attempt to close the BSTRC was already made, but wide public protests made the local authorities to stop suppressing the company. Today we are quite sure that the decision of the Ukrainian main office has another purpose than to order the use of channels, since their demands are directed only to few. For example, the state TV-radio company also has no licenses for the frequencies they use and, last but not least, local state officials have been lately actively negotiating with the BSTRC on behalf of top officials of Ukraine with the ultimatum to sell them the control packet of shares, thus enabling them to affect the BSTRC policy.

The collective of the BSTRC turns to international organizations, which protect journalists’ rights, to mass media and to all public and political organizations of Ukraine with the appeal to support them in protecting their rights for the freedom of speech and for the very existence of independent TV and radio companies. Democratic processes shall not be stopped in Ukraine!

Freedom of expression

21.05.2000 | Oksana Priadko, Cherkassy

Town authorities are worried with the state of the freedom of speech in Cherkassy

   

A provisional Control Commission in charge of observance of the freedom of speech has been created by Cherkassy town council. The corresponding decision pointed out the necessity of creating such a committee because of ‘the aggravation of relations between the executive power and mass media, because of the pressure by the President’s team on the local authorities, law-enforcing bodies, organs of local self-rule, political and public organizations’.

Citizens of Cherkassy region, as well as of other regions of Ukraine, may turn to the Commission with complaints on abusing the norms of election laws during the preparation campaign and the election. All such complaints will be considered at public hearings, which will be held in the end of August.

The Commission includes Nikolay Chebotko, a deputy of the town council, Leonid Zaporozhets, a representative of several public organizations, and Valentina Vasilchenko, a Cherkassy correspondent of the newspaper ‘Nezavisimost’. The Commission is headed by Anatoliy Dzhobolda, the secretary of the town council.

Freedom of expression

21.05.2000 | Oksana Priadko, Cherkassy

A TV journalist is threatened for a feature about Marchuk

   

Natalya Andronova, a Cherkassy journalist in charge of the feature ‘Presidential marathon’ of the TV company ‘YTC – center’, told that after the TV feature with the participation of E.Marchuk, which was shown on 29 June and repeated on 3 July, she was threatened. At first anonymous telephone calls started, in which a stranger insistently did not recommend Ms. Andronova to go in for politics. Next day someone threw into her flat a lighted box of matches, which nearly started a fire. Ms. Andronova handed a complaint to the Commission mentioned in the previous note. She also informed the all-Ukrainian public organization ‘Peoples’ solidarity’, which supports the candidature of E.Marchuk.

Access to information

21.05.2000 | Roman Romanov, Sebastopol

I have the right to know

   

One of the problems inherited by Ukraine after the disintegration of the USSR is state structures closed for public scrutiny and general inaccessibility of official information. The international agreements, which were signed by Ukraine, shall be printed and distributed in Ukraine. Nonetheless, many such texts are unknown to Ukrainian citizens, because they are unavailable. The law on information obliges state organs to give information about their activities, but actually it can be obtained rather infrequently. For instance, I many times turned to the Sebastopol directorate of the Ministry of Interior, sending requests about the number of militiamen sacked during the year for corruption, about the number of applying firearms and special devices, and the consequences of such applications. I never got an answer.

The timely information about a technogenic catastrophe, elemental calamity and other emergencies may save lives of many people. On the contrary, the concealment of such information results in the growth of victims. We have come across with the bitter experience of this kind in Chernobyl.

The process of the approval of resolutions by the top state officials is absolutely unknown to a man in the street. Only in February 1999 the President of Ukraine issued ten edicts classified as ‘not for print’. This means that citizens of Ukraine may know only the numbers of these edicts: 204/99, 183/99, 184/99, 185/99, 166/99, 167/99, 168/99, 169/99, 170/99, 131/99. What is hidden behind these figures, what has the President decided on our behalf and behind our backs is unknown, as well as the reason for so active issuing unprintable edicts.

Instead of answering the requests and rendering information about their activities, as it is stipulated by the Ukrainian laws ‘On information’ and ‘On complaints of citizens’, the state organs chose another way — they created special departments (press-centres, information cervices, PR departments), which provide only such information, which is worth rendering according in the opinion of the corresponding chiefs. These scraps of information are intended as an advertisement of the activities of the state organs, but they do not enable tax payers to learn what is done by the authorities for the tax payers’ money.

Such actions of the authorities cause estrangement between power bodies and citizens, which is a typical feature of an undemocratic society. That is why many countries (now their number is 20) adopt special laws about the access to information. Next autumn the draft of the law ‘On the access to information’ will be considered by the state Duma of Russia. This draft was adopted in the first reading and later essentially amended and detailed by the authors: Aleksey Simonov, the president of the foundation of protecting glasnost, Viktor Monakhov, a member of the chamber in charge of information conflicts at the President’s administration, Iosif Dzialoshinski, the president of the human rights protection organization ‘Commission on free access to information’, and Yuri Nesterov, a deputy of the Duma.

This amended draft stipulates that the right for requesting information belongs not only to citizens of Russia, but to foreigners as well. The state bodies are obliged to answer a written request within a month.

Another feature of this draft is that nobody has the right to restrict the access to information about laws and other legal acts which are permitted for publication, as well as about emergencies, the size of the gold reserve and hard currency reserve of the country, about privileges, indemnities, health of the top officials, about facts of abusing human rights and freedoms, etc.

The draft lists the punishments for the violation of the right of access to information. These punishments contain criminal, administrative and civil punishments. By the way, the Penal Code of Russia contains the responsibility ‘for the refusal in rendering information to a citizen’ (Article 40).

Thus, it is quite possible that the list of the countries, where the laws guarantee the access to information, which includes Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, the USA, etc., will be enriched by Russia in the near future. And what about our legislators?

PL commentary.
In our opinion the inadequate situation with the access to information in Ukraine is not due to the lack of laws. If one examines attentively the Ukrainian law ‘On information’, he will see that the law permits the access to the official information. The trouble is that this law (with many others, including the Constitution) is steadily violated by the President and by the executive power. The obstacles on the way of obtaining information, which R.Romanov justly describes, has the form of a vertical of press services from that in the President’s administration down to press-services of Ministries, agencies and so on. This construction measures out tiny doses of information. This is the invention of the Ukrainian bureaucracy, which reduced to zero the law ‘On information’, thus violating the Constitution, according to which the restriction of the access to information may be introduced by law only. This situation will be intact until the Ukrainian society bears it, and no new laws will help. To change this situation, in our opinion, is possible only through the analysis of sublegal acts, issued by various agencies. The results of such analysis must be made public, and their anti-Constitutional character must be proved in court.

Social and economic rights

21.05.2000

Ukraine needs reforms of the medical system

   

In Kharkiv psychiatric hospital two other departments are closed. The patients are partly transferred to other departments and are partly discharged home. About 100 high-skilled medical workers, who have the special preparation, will have to change their qualification and look for other jobs. The medical aid to the psychically ill, that always was good in Kharkiv, has lately much deteriorated. Day-time wards and departments of labor therapy do not work; the list of free drugs, which are necessary for psychiatric patients, has become very short. All this resulted in the fact that we, more and more often, come across with psychiatric cases at large.

Ukraine needs reforms of the medical system, as breezing air, but our legislators only speak and do nothing more.

Our informant


‘Prava ludyny’ received an unexpected present: the medical association of Nikolaev region sent us its informative bulletin. The most interesting material for us describes the attempt of the local physicians to protect rights of their patients. To this end, they compiled the booklet ‘Civil rights of a patient in Ukraine’, which we print below. In our opinion, appearance of such a document testifies that the civil society in our country is still developing, although with great difficulties and very slowly. Lately new organizations have appeared, which united people who want to protect their rights and interests. The protection of rights and interests of other people is a higher level of public organization. ‘Prava ludyny’ wishes success to the medical association of Nikolaev region and invites colleagues in human rights protection to further cooperation.

Civil rights of a patient in Ukraine

‘Realization of patient’s rights is possible on the basis of universal, correct and timely informative and educational work, patients must have access to the information checked by public organizations’ (Lubliana Charter, 19 June 1996).

ON YOUR RIGHTS

As a patient, you have certain rights and guarantees of protection on the side of law. It is important to know which rights you have and what you must do if you need medical aid.

If you have problems with your health, turn to medical workers. They are obliged to:

diagnose your illness;

organize medical aid;

help to maintain contacts of the patient with the family;

facilitate your state in the hospital or any other medical establishment.

If you have any questions, problems or complaints concerning your treatment, turn to your doctor or nurse or other worker of the medical establishment. If the medical personnel cannot help you or refuses to solve your problem, you must turn to the territorial organs of the Ministry of Health. Such organs exist in any district town and region.

HOW YOU MUST BEHAVE IF YOU BELIEVE THAT YOUR MEDICAL SERVICING iS INADEQUATE?

If you believe that your medical servicing is inadequate because of the incompetence or irresponsibility on the side of the personnel, you may pass a complaint to:

administration of the medical establishment;

the corresponding department of the executive power;

the ombudsman;

prosecutor’s office;

the court for protection of your rights.

PROBABLE VIOLATIONS WHILE RENDERING MEDICAL AID:

incompetence or obvious irresponsibility;

drinking alcohol or its substitutes during work hours;

refusal of medical aid by the reason of race, skin, color or nationality;

refusal to show the patient or another doctor (by the patient’s request) any records, data or roentgenogram;

deliberate preparation and handing the distorted data on the state of health and the course of treatment of the patient;

prescribing supercilious analyses and courses of treatment;

ill-grounded attempts to promote selling services, materials and medications to the patient or for him;

refusing or ignoring the demand of the urgent aid, when it is necessary.

MECHANISM OF PROTECTION OF PATIENT’S RIGHTS AND LEGAL INTERESTS

If your rights and legal interests are violated, you have the right to turn to the state organs, to the organs of local self-rule, to unions of citizens, to establishments and enterprises independent of the form of property, to mass media and to the corresponding officials with complaints, suggestions and requests. Such addresses may be oral or written, sent by mail or handed personally, or by your representative, and, according to the operating law, it must be accepted.

The organ or the person, to whom you addressed, has the duty to consider your complaint (application, suggestion, remark, request), to check the facts, to take the decision according to law, to ensure its fulfillment and inform you of the result. In handing your complaints and similar materials you must follow the order of subordination turning to the direct superior, or directly to the court.

You must know that a citizen, who handed a complaint, has the following rights: to explain personally the arguments to the official, who checks the complaint; to participate personally in the process of checking; to hand auxiliary materials or insist on issuing a request for getting such materials; to be present at taking the decision; to use services of an advocate or a representative of the labor collective or the organization that renders human rights protection function, to get an answer on the final results in writing; to request orally or in writing the observance of the involved secrets; to demand compensation of the damage if the latter resulted from the established order of considering complaints; to hand a well-reasoned request of the reduction of the term of checking.

You must remember that the term of checking of your complaint may not exceed one month, or, when checking is complicated, 45 days.

You must remember that an organ or an official, to which you turned with your complaint, is obliged to:

objectively, thoroughly and timely check your complaint of application;

invite you, if you wish so, to the sitting of the corresponding organ considering your complaint or application;

change or cancel the resolution if it does not agree with law;

take measures at once for terminating illegal actions;

ensure your rights and obey the corresponding decisions;

guarantee compensation of the material damage;

decide which will be the responsibility of the person, by whose guilt your rights were violated;

inform, if you wish, the corresponding organ of the self-rule or the labor collective or another union of citizens about the adopted decision;

explain the procedure of the appeal in case when the complaint is considered ill-grounded.

The observance of the law on citizens’ complaints is the duty of the Prosecutor General and other subordinated prosecutors.

DON’T HESITATE TO PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS!


ON PATIENT’S RIGHTS IN THE WORLD AND IN UKRAINE

Recently the USA has been covered with a wave of suits connected with medicine. Learning some cases from the American judicial practice one gets an impression that Americans are ready to fight for justice on their deathbed. Jack B. Weinstein, the judge from East Brooklyn, took a resolution in which he reduced the term of incarceration to Harold Hammond, an AIDS-infected criminal, giving the reason that AIDS ‘falls under the definition of a grave physical injury, which can lead to premature death’ thus, he reduced the term of incarceration to 13 months, although, by federal law, the term had to be from 37 to 46 months.

The USA Supreme Court ruled in June 1998 that the AIDS-infected without symptoms of the disease are protected by law on handicapped, and all medical establishments have no right to refuse their services to the AIDS-infected, unless the refuse is well-grounded medically (‘Yuridicheskaya praktika’, No.5, 1999).

‘King Harald and all members of his family must be serviced in all medical establishments in the common queue’ — such was the decision of the Norwegian authorities after an unsuccessful attempt of a member of the royal family to get to a doctor skipping the queue. This is the equality of all patients in the Norwegian way (‘Fakty’, 6.04, 1999).

13 years passed after the Chernobyl catastrophe and the frequency of cancer of thyroid gland has grown by 10 times. Among the former liquidators of the catastrophe almost all are ill, and their mortality rate is 60% higher than the rate of the comparable layer of the population. Meanwhile oncologists are reduced from hospital stuffs. There is shortage of medications distributed free of charge, and those, who need them, have to buy them for their miserable pensions. Additional pays to Chernobyl liquidators are not given, and the debt has grown to 800 million grivnas. Their treatment in sanitariums has been financed only by 22% (‘Segodnia’, No. 75, 1999).

A seminar was held in Kherson devoted to the problems of the observance of human rights of patients in Ukraine and the assessment of the legislation base aimed at protection and realization of these rights. The seminar was organized by the medical association of Ukraine and by the directorate of health in Kherson. In the course of the seminar reasons of abusing patient rights and juridical ways of their protection were discussed. A special stress was put on the necessity of popularization of these questions both among the patients and among the medical personnel.

The support of the given project is carried out in the framework of the joint program of the ‘Eurasia’ fund and the consortium ‘Superiority of right’, financed by the US agency on international development. The point of view reflected in this document may differ from that of the above-mentioned organizations.

Address: POB 14, 327030, Nikolaev - 30.

Tel/fax: (380-512) 37 – 22 – 66.

Court practices

21.05.2000

The Supreme Rada of Ukraine has adopted the Resolution ‘On fundamentals of state policy of Ukraine in human rights protection’

   

The resolution fixes the Constitutional principles and defines basic directions of the state policy in human rights protection. The document states the principles of acknowledging rights and main freedoms of man and citizen; it stipulates the superiority of the right, the non-admission of narrowing and restricting rights and freedoms declared in the Constitution. The conception defines a number of basic directions of the state activities in human rights protection. Among them the document names the accordance of the national legislation with the universal standards proclaimed by the UNO and a Council of Europe; creation of the system of administrative justice; definition of jurisdiction of international organs for human rights protection; perfection of the Parliamentary control over the observance of the rights and main freedoms of man and citizen via the ombudsman. All these statements provide a sound base for the legislative activities in the sphere of rights and freedoms.

‘Zerkalo nedeli’, No. 24, 19 June 1999

Court practices

21.05.2000 | Roman Romanov, Sebastopol

The Supreme Court of Ukraine closed advocate Paliy’s case

   

On 26 June the Sebastopol human rights protection group received a letter from Grigoriy Tverdokhlib, the prosecutor of the city of Sebastopol, which reads:

‘In response to your request concerning the ill-grounded call of advocate Paliy to account, I inform you that no materials have been obtained from the Supreme Court of Ukraine.

However, the resolution of V.Boyko, the head of the Supreme Court of Ukraine, of 14 May 1999 was obtained by Sebastopol city court. The resolution orders to cancel the resolution of Leninskiy district court of the city of Sebastopol of 13 February 1999 concerning calling advocate Paliy to account according to Article 185-3 part 1 of the Ukrainian Administrative Offence Code and terminating the case due to violations of Article 10 of the Ukrainian law ‘On the Bar’, according to which an advocate may not be called to criminal, material and other responsibility.’

We are very satisfied that joint actions of human rights protection organizations of Ukraine and other countries brought this result. On behalf of the Sebastopol human rights protection group we express our gratitude to those who supported our action.

Law enforcement agencies

21.05.2000 | V.Brun, Cherkassy

Crime fights crime

   

There is a terrifying organization in Cherkassy — the directorate of fight with organized crime (DFOC). Here I shall tell about some of its activities.

On 10 May in a super-secret way the administration of the Cherkassy preliminary prison moved the body of Sergey Ostapenko from the prison ward of the third town hospital to the mortuary. Sergey Ostapenko was tormented to death. Meeting with his relatives in the prison he told that he was brutally tormented. The torture applied to him, the so-called ‘monument’, consisted in hanging him by hands for hours without foot support. It resulted in stopping blood circulation in his arms and his arms became gangrenous.

Sergey’s mother told that she could not recognize her son. In particular, his hands were paralyzed and he had to be fed by other people. When her son was dying in the prison ward at the third town hospital, the convoy refused to take the needed medicine from the mother. Before the arrest Sergey Ostapenko was an athlete weighting 80 kg. After six weeks in the preliminary prison he lost half of his weight.

In the Cherkassy DFOC similar events became a system. Recently a detained somehow ‘fell out’ of the window and died. Liubov Danysheva, a resident of Cherkassy, somehow disappeared together with her son. She complained to the DFOC about some racketeers, the DFOC did not help, and then she complained to security service department in Cherkassy.

Deripana, a resident of Uman, was arrested by DFOC and also disappeared.

Gavaga, the head of the administration of the town of Talniv, was arrested and hardly managed to survive. He was blamed of organizing an assassination.

Volodymir Golub, a clerk of Cherkassy town executive committee, was arrested and secretly kept in Zolotonisk cooler for seven months. Later he was found non-guilty by Cherkassy region court, but still he suffers from a mysterious illness.

Several days ago a resident of Cherkassy Komarov was directed from the DFOC to the intense care ward, where his state was assessed as critical, although, when arrested, he was sound as a bell.

Volodymir Kravchenko, a businessman from Cherkassy, after a short stay in the DFOC was directed to the neuro-surgical ward, although he was quite healthy before the ‘invitation’ to this dangerous organization.

Even the district prosecutor of Chigirin lost some teeth in the Cherkassy DFOC. This meeting of law-enforcers is covered by mystery: no one in militia or prosecutor’s office agree to comment it.

Taking into consideration the above-listed facts, it is difficult to expect that Sergey Ostapenko’s death will be objectively investigated and justly punished.

A team of generals from the Ministry of Interior inspected Cherkassy and came to the conclusion that all the facts about torture were false inventions of journalists.

Crime fights crime, and no wonder that the criminal world also started a fight with bruisers from the DFOC. In summer of 1995 a detective was killed, presumably for tormenting an innocent man. Cherkassy militia even did not try to find the killers. Recently another detective was stabbed. He remained alive quite accidentally.

Returning to Ostapenko’s case, his mother is convinced that her son was arrested with the purpose of concealing grave injuries which he got during the first interrogation. The idea was that in the preliminary prison his wounds would heal, and then he would be released. But the wounds did not heal. In order to save him his both arms had to be amputated. So it was decided that it would suit anyone if he died of some mysterious disease.

Ostapenko’s death was commented on request of Cherkassy newspaper ’Fakty’ by the head of the special unit of the preliminary prison major-colonel Sinelnikov:


— Yes, arrested Sergey Ostapenko died, but we have no part in it. We do not torment the incarcerated, because the prison does not carry out detective activities. When the administration of the prison got complaints from Ostapenko and his parents, we reacted in the framework of law, but we had no right to release him, since this is the right of the detective, prosecutor, or court.

Now we investigate why it is written in the medical card that he was directed to the prison ward of the third town hospital from home and why there are numerous corrections in his medical documents, the corrections which were made already after his death.

When we saw blue spots on Ostapenko’s arms, we immediately called the motor ambulance, but the doctors did not take him to the hospital and diagnosed the reason as allergy (?).

Only the next motor ambulance took Ostapenko to the hospital, but it was late. He died of gangrene.

The investigation will show who is guilty, but one is certain: the administration of the preliminary prison did all they could to save Sergey Ostapenko.

Penal institutions

21.05.2000

Some opinions on and some details of prison life

   

An article reprinted from ‘Vecherniy Zhytomir’, No. 13, 1999

In September 1998 M.Brodskiy, a member of the Parliamentary Committee on legal questions of the activity of law-enforcing agencies, suggested a draft of law ‘On amending the Penal Code of Ukraine’ to the Supreme Rada. In particular, M.Brodskiy suggested to introduce to the Penal Code an article about torture, to define the notion of torture and to introduce rather grave punishments to those who apply physical and moral torture. That it was M.Brodskiy who suggested this law is perhaps not accidental, because he himself had stayed behind the bars of Zhytomir preliminary prison.

Perhaps it is not accidental that the Ukrainian secret service and the Ministry of Justice sent to the Parliamentary Committee their recommendations, where they say that they do not consider timely the inclusion of responsibility for torture into the Penal Code. The editorial board of ‘Vecherniy Zhitomir’ was rather interested in the attitude of the Ministry of Justice, because now it is in charge of all penitentiaries, and mere staying in these establishments is considered by many international experts as torture. Many international organizations protest against the absence of progress in reforming the court system and prosecutor’s offices, which had to fight with such conditions and punish the guilty.

The town of Zhytomir has the honor to possess the wide range of penitentiaries: ‘coolers’ (detention blocks of militia precincts), a preliminary prison and a colony of strict regime. The editorial board turned to a man who passed through all of them and asked him to describe the conditions. He agreed, but he asked to remain anonymous, since his ‘confession’ could harm several people who are still in the penitentiaries.

The upkeep of the incarcerated in the above-mentioned penitentiaries is directed by several laws and sublegal acts, among them the Ukrainian law on preliminary incarceration, the Correcting Labor Code, the Rules of internal order and several others. They blatantly disagree with many international legal norms and, in particular, with the UNO Convention against torture and other inhumane or degrading treatment and punishments, as well as with the European Convention on protection of human rights and freedoms ratified by Ukraine. Besides, they disagree with the operating Constitution, in particular with Articles 22, 28, 31, 43, 63 and others.

In addition these far from liberal acts are rudely violated by the Ministry and administration. This perhaps made the Ukrainian security service and the Ministry of Justice protest against the introduction of the punishment for torture to the Penal Code. The routine violations of the international documents are numerous. For example, according to Article 74 of the Correcting Labor Code, each convict in a colony must have not less than 2 square meters of floor space; in the prison the limit is 2.5 square meters (by the way, a dead body on the graveyard has much more); this very modest norm is normally violated. In accordance with the Rules of internal order, not more than 1800 convicts may be kept in a strict regime colony, but in reality the number of the inmates is more than 2300. According to Section 11 of the mentioned Rules, one water tap in a washing room must be for 10 people, in reality they have one tap for 30 – 40 people. In reality 350 – 400 people must wash themselves and their clothes under 20 showers during 2 hours. Only this can be qualified as torture. This condition results in the abundance of lice and scab. Another plague is fast expansion of TB. To protect themselves from this disease convicts mugs kept their own mugs. Then the mugs were confiscated and put to the common use in the canteen. The confiscation was explained by the shortage of mugs. The punishments applied are certainly degrading. For example, a convict is made to stand in five feet from the wall with his feet as wide apart as he can stretch them, leaning against the wall with hands wide apart; in this posture the punished is made to stand for hours. A detachment of convicts (100 – 120 people) can be made to march in a circle in the prison yard under rain, snow or scorching sun. The convicts having just returned from the work and having the right for rest are forced to march as well. Such ‘correcting measures’ are frequently used by detachment commanders L.Galichev, P.Tychyna and Yu.Bugayev.

However, the described conditions look like a sanitarium compared to those in the detention block of Bogunskiy precinct. The block contains ten cells of different size accommodating from 2 to 20 inmates. The walls and floors are made of cement. In the non-aired cell there stands an open toilet seat. The density of the population is such, that it is possible either to stand or to seat on the floor, since there is no room for walking. In bigger cells, instead of berths, there is a platform, called ‘dais’ on which the convicts sleep as sardines in a tin (if there is enough place, otherwise they sleep, sitting or lying, on the filthy concrete floor), bed-clothes are certainly not available. In summer, when in the non-ventilated tobacco smoke filled cell the air becomes unbearably stuffy and stale, the convicts sweat and take off all their rags, the ‘dais’ becomes filthy and sticky from sweat and stenches even stronger than the open toilet seat. The ‘dais’ is wiped during cleaning of the cell with the same rag which is used for washing the floor and the toilet seat. The toilet seat tank is controlled from the outside, from the passage, and in order to wash down its content one must call the militiaman on duty. Will he pull the handle and when depends on his whim. Once a day the cell population is taken out for ten minutes for washing. Certainly, neither soap nor towels are given. The drinking water is raw, it is brought in a big basin from which the thirsty drink without mugs. Under such conditions it is near to impossible not to catch a disease. It is easy to fancy what the sick feel, staying round the clock in the overcrowded, non-ventilated concrete box full of stench and smoke, through which an electric bulb dimly shines at night and day time. Add here alcoholic delirium and abstinence sufferings of some convicts, fat lice, unhurriedly crawling upon the ‘dais’, brought by non-stop scratching tramps, and fancy yourself inside such a cell.

Is it surprising that normal people are ready to sign absolutely all accusations, not thinking about the consequences. Everyone wants to get out of this hell as soon as possible, undoubtedly this hell is organized deliberately just to force the suspects to confess. If this measure does not help, there are lots of auxiliary methods, starting with a primitive beating and ending in sophisticated tortures, after which a human being becomes an invalid, and not only a moral one. Such facts were described in detail in the newspaper ‘Kiyevskiye vedomosti’ of 12 January 1998. As to the possibility to turn to an advocate under such conditions, you may recollect the case of Brodskiy. Even to him, a well-known public figure, advocates could not break through.

Even the preliminary prison, compared to the detention block, seems a paradise. There they give bed clothes, permit to have radio and TV, toiletries, and stationery, they have a daily walk and weekly bath. Still it is not quite the paradise. There stands an open toilet seat in the cell and concrete floors, although by Section 12 of the Rules of internal order the floors must be covered with planks. As to having bath, it is done under 3 – 4 showers during 15 – 20 minutes for 30 – 35 convicts. They have a choice: either wash themselves or their underwear, which is dried inside the cell to render better conditions for developing TB. Theoretically they have medical aid, but there is a shortage of drugs. They have library service — one book per one month per one head. The books are worth the service. The medicinal drugs brought by relatives pass to the sanitary department, and receiving drugs requires a long bureaucratic procedure. It can take two days for obtaining one pill. The food, both in quantity and quality, would make a pig die of indigestion. The convicts survive as a rule, but they get gastritis, stomach ulcer and the like. Since cells are overcrowded, convicts walk along a wall in turns, and for the most inmates the turn never comes. During the so-called walk people mostly stand, because the floor space of the walking yards is 15 – 20 square meters, so 30 – 35 people cannot walk around, or they walk in turns. People who stay in preliminary prisons for 5 – 6 months suffer from muscle dystrophy, but there are the unfortunates who spend in the prison two years or more.

Both in detention blocks and in the preliminary prison rubber clubs are frequently used. Besides, at any moment the convicts can be taken out of the cell, and then a total search, the notorious shmon, is carried out, after which only the walls and the berths welded to the floor stand on the previous places. All other belongings are piled in the corner maximally shuffled. Idle and curious convicts computed that 30 – 50 cockroaches fall to the share of one convict. Nonetheless, plastic bags are forbidden, perhaps to facilitate the approach of cockroaches to food reserves. The citizens of Ukraine are kept in these inhumane conditions, although their guilt is not proved yet, and some of them will be released either by court or before it.

How can one speak about the ‘right for legal protection’ if in the preliminary prison with about 2000 inmates, there is only one cubicle for lawyers. It should be added that communication through letters is forbidden and during 2 – 3 years a convict does not see his relatives and friends, may not write to them and may not receive a letter. Besides, a stool-pigeon is present in each cell, who tries to learn details of the alleged crimes. Certainly, it is the work of professionals to choose the ODA methods, but these methods must be legal. The stool-pigeons are usually convicts already condemned by court, and the joint upkeep of them with suspects is forbidden by law. It seems that the prison administration and prosecutor’s office try to forget this rule.

In all colonies, including Zhytomir one, the situation is created when practically all actions of a convict may be called a ‘violation of the regime’: wrinkles on the blanket, being late to morning exercises, keeping hands in pockets, bare head, etc. Because of such ‘serious violations of the regime’ a convict is punished by exclusion from those released conditionally before the full term, or from the list of the directed to the colony-settlement. Prison guards unearth such violations with the zeal worth of better application. Some comb the barracks catching those who did not go to the meal, others catch those ‘order breakers’, who dared to take a slice of bread from the ration of those who did not come to the canteen. This is a serious and frequent violation of order. Something positive must be said about the prison administration. Even in our difficult times Zhytomir prison (in contrast to the majority of similar penitentiaries) has still retained three meals per day. Certainly, the food is inadequate, the necessary additional source of food are parcels from outside, but the administration sternly restricts the number and weight of the parcels. To compensate the starvation the convicts are driven daily to the yard to do morning exercises with the musical accompaniment. The exercises are not cancelled in rainy or frosty weather. To cheer up the sportsmen they are forbidden to put on warm clothes, for example sweaters. Improvisations are frowned upon: a guard punished a 46-year-old convict for doing another exercise instead of jumping. Since the prison is overcrowded, all the convicts cannot relieve themselves before morning exercises, so all are awaken 10 – 15 minutes before the reveille, although the prison rules promise eight-hour sleep. Call up is done thrice in daytime, out of doors in any weather, although the prison rules permit to do it indoors, when the weather is nasty. At night the convicts must dry their wet cotton-wool-padded jackets in their overcrowded cells.

Many other prison rules are also violated. For example, Section 35 Part 4 reads that ‘the duration of a short meeting of a convict with his visitor may not be less then 2 hours’. In reality it lasts about one hour or less. ‘A long meeting must last 24 hours’, but in reality a convict is led to the meeting at 13:30 – 14:00 and is led away at 10:00 next morning. The usual explanations are that there are no rooms, no opportunity, etc. But the most convicts also had no opportunity to find a job and feed their families, so they had to steal. Courts, however, did not take into consideration these mitigating circumstances and condemned the thieves: some for stealing a hen, some for stealing three meters of pipe, some for a bucket of potatoes.

The prisons are overcrowded contrary to the law. But not a single warden has ever refused to take new convicts, although, according to Article 60 of the Constitution of Ukraine, he has the right to disobey orders contradicting the law. Moreover, each new shipment of convicts arriving to the colony is met with orchestra.

That will be a great pity if the Supreme Rada does not accept the article about torture to the Penal Code.

PL commentary.
We reprinted this article (in a slightly abridged form) from the newspaper ‘Vecherniy Zhytomir’, since the conditions of upkeep in other prisons are very similar. The editorial board of ‘Vecherniy Zhytomir’ informed that the newspaper possess a lot of auxiliary information concerning the facts described in this article.

Army

21.05.2000 | I.Sukhorukova, Kharkiv

Happy end of ‘deserter’ Nigrutsa’s case

   

‘Prava Ludyny’ published several notes about the case of A.Nigrutsa, who had been condemned for deserting. Since 1998 the Kharkiv Group for human rights protection, supported by their colleagues from Odessa and the Crimea, has turned to the highest instances, asking to reconsider the verdict.

At last Artur Nigrutsa is at large. On 20 April the military collegium of the Supreme Court of Ukraine, presided by M.Dryga and consisting of judges V.Bondarev, O.Volkov and prosecutor O.Fediushin, considered the criminal case of A.Nigrutsa by the protest of the Supreme Court of Ukraine. The military collegium agreed with the protest. By the resolution of the military collegium the punishment of A.Nigrutsa was decreased from four years to the actual term which Nigrutsa stayed in prison (two years and two months). The court considered the circumstances ‘which forced A.Nigrutsa to desert’ extraordinary and, according to Article 44 of the Penal Code of Ukraine, decreased the term of the punishment.

Kharkiv region Union of soldiers’ mothers regards the resolution of the military collegium humane. However, several questions about this complicated case have remained, and they concern first of all the application of Article 241 of the Penal Code of Ukraine about deserting.

Let us think together why do we, the country with peaceful defensive doctrine, need the article on deserting? Why does this article stipulate such long terms of incarceration? Why is this article preserved in the new version of the Penal Code? We have some experience of meetings with servicemen, who escaped from their military units, and these meetings convince us that young men leave their units because of their unwillingness to serve or by some criminal motives only very infrequently. As a rule, serviceman run because of dedovshchina or because of diseases, especially psychic. Do we need to preserve this cruel article, if in the most cases the convicted servicemen were brutally treated during their service? In the case of A.Nigrutsa the most guilty are those who recruited the invalid, then military doctors who did not treat him, then those doctors who negligently examined him, when directed from the prosecutor’s office. The court, fast and biased, did not take into consideration any mitigating circumstances, although Nigrutsa’s father kept telling during the trial that his son was gravely ill. It is paradoxical that the best medical treatment A.Nigrutsa got in the colony. In the medical department of the colony he was attentively examined and treated as carefully as poor material resources permit.

A.Nigrutsa is a citizen with respect to whom the state did not fulfil its duty.

Now A.Nigrutsa’s parents intend to prosecute the Ministry of Defense. Maybe, in the course of investigation, detectives will elucidate how it could happen that he got a trauma during his service and not a single one in the battalion paid attention to it. Unfortunately, the neuropathologist of the Kharkiv garrison hospital considered A.Nigrutsa healthy without any medical examination.

Our legislators should think to which degree the article on deserting corresponds to realia of our life. The law on the alternative service, which is quite obvious, does not correspond to these realia.

The draft of the law on the military service, in our opinion, does not solve urgent questions that stand before our society.

Legislators do not take into account the problems which our life generates. A deserter in the peaceful Ukraine is an anachronism inherited from the 30s. Another example is Article 400 of the draft of the Penal Code of Ukraine — voluntary giving in, which in the military time is punished by the term up to 15 years. In which time live those who compose such juridical masterpieces?

Artur Nigrutsa is free now. He works and undergoes medical treatment. But who knows how many such as he stay in our colonies now?

Army

21.05.2000 | I.S., Kharkiv

How the order of the Minister of Defense is fulfilled

   

According to the solution of the all-Ukrainian conference of the Union of soldiers’ mothers of Ukraine (USMU) which was held in Kyiv in the beginning of May with the participation of the President of Ukraine, the Minister of Defense Kuzmuk issued an order, establishing a position of a lawyer, who has to work, in each region, with servicemen and members of their families. This candidature must be appointed at the region conferences of the USMU.

However, in several regions the heads of region military commissions brutally disregard this order, ignore the appointments of the local Union of soldiers’ mothers and give the position to other people. For example, this happened in Kharkiv and Nikolaev. Kharkiv Union of soldiers’ mothers now collects the information concerning this question in other regions of Ukraine.

Human rights protection

21.05.2000

Teaching human rights in Kharkiv region

   

Oleg Diomin, the head of the Kharkiv region state administration, approved the Program of the legal education of the population in 1999-2000. The Program states that all citizens have the right to acquire the necessary minimum of legal knowledge. This Program is based on the ramified network of educational establishments and by mass media, which would inform the population on the elementary legal questions.

The Program contains such questions as the problems of state and right, the fight with the organized crime and corruption, the duties of law-enforcing bodies, the explanation of the main questions of the operating laws. It is planned to hold annually the Day of legal knowledge and to increase the legal education of the younger generation.

‘Slobidskiy kray’, No.68, 22 June 1999

Human rights protection

21.05.2000 | G.Mamonov, Kyiv

Inefficient work of the ombudsperson

   

We have directed an appeal to the ombudsperson Nina Karpacheva. In the appeal we protested against the order of the Ministry of Interior on training special troops of the Ministry using as dummies the incarcerated in prisons, preliminary prisons and colonies. The training is carried out quarterly since 1998. This practice was described in the newspapers ‘Zerkalo nedeli’, ‘Den’, ‘Kievskiye vedomosti’, ‘Tiurma I volia’. The newspapers informed that the results were traumas of the incarcerated and complaints. In our appeal we suggested the ombudsperson to start checking whether this order agrees with the Constitution of Ukraine and with international documents on human rights. We appealed to cancel this order.

Ombudsperson Karpacheva directed out appeal to the Penitentiary Department at the Cabinet of Ministers, i.e. to the agency which is directly interested in the application of this order. Until now the order has not been cancelled and our appeal has not been answered.

Besides, we directed an appeal to the ombudsperson about the violation of terms of imprisonment in the detention blocks at precincts and directorates of militia. In particular, we wrote about detention blocks at the Kyivan directorate, where the terms of detention are often very long.

Detention blocks are not intended for long upkeep of the arrested, and, according to Article 155 of the Penal-Procedural Code (PPC) the arrested must not be kept in detention blocks longer than three days, and then they must be transferred to preliminary prisons. According to Article 236 of the PPC, if Article 155 is violated, then the court may cancel the prosecutor’s sanction for arrest. Unfortunately, courts seldom react to the violation of Article 155. In this connection we suggested the ombudsperson to turn to the Supreme Court with a request to analyze the practice of lower courts relative to Article 155. The ombudsperson redirected the appeal to the General Prosecutor’s office, i.e. to the interested agency. The General Prosecutor’s office sent this appeal to the prosecutor’s office of the district of Kyiv, where the violations are frequent. No legal assessment of the violations has been given.

So, in our opinion, a detained citizen must individually complain about any fact of keeping for more than three days in detention blocks, to mention this fact in the appellation as a violation of rights.

Unfortunately, we must draw a conclusion that the activity of the ombudsperson is little efficient and is a usual bureaucratic structure at the top of the legislative power.

News from the CIS countries

21.05.2000

Appeal of the chairman of the party ‘Erk’ of Uzbekistan

   

To Knut Wollenbak, President of OSCE
To leaders of democratic countries
To human rights protection organizations of the world

When the Central Asian republics of the disintegrated USSR became independent, the West supported them, disregarding the authoritarian regime of these states. This was demanded by the Western strategy in the new geopolitical space. Human rights and democracy in these countries were not on the priority list of the West. If the character of the regime was criticized, it was done by public, not by official agencies. Such was the official attitude, although these countries had already signed international documents, proclaiming human rights and democratic values.

This attitude encouraged the supporters of authoritarian regimes, and one after another dictators appeared in the Central Asia, who did not conceal their hate to democracy. The President of the Uzbekistan was the most candid. Having disbanded by bullets a peaceful demonstration of students in 1992, he put an end to democratization of the country. Seven difficult years have passed since that time. These years were the ones of incarceration, exile, death for Uzbek democrats. People got five-year terms of prison only because they read the newspaper of the opposition or because they were relatives of oppositionists.

Repressions expanded year after year, covering new layers of the population. People began to run from the country. Thousands went to Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, even to Tadzhikistan, where a war was raging. They were refugees of the new type. they ran not from an economic catastrophe and not from the elemental calamity, but from the state terror.

The main argument in the mouth of the Uzbek dictator was stability. He used this keyword in his fight with the opposition. During seven years he kept repeating the same: ‘If I give freedom to people, we shall have war, like in Tadzhikistan’. He never said ‘like in Kyrgyzstan’, because Kyrgyzstan was peaceful and people were free. There was stability in this country in spite of the fact that people used their Constitutional rights: the freedom of speech, of demonstrations, of meetings. In order to make stability even more stable the Uzbek President trebled the personnel of the security service and of the Ministry of Interior during seven years. Along with it he created a vast network of stool-pigeons and provocateurs, which covered the remotest districts of the country. Thus, on the ruins of the former Soviet Union there appeared a compact totalitarian copy of its prototype. Nobody noticed or wanted to notice the new-born monster. Some had economic, other had political interests in this dark nook of the new world. The West and the USA tried not to scare away the new states by demands to introduce democracy, since they did not wish to loose strategic partners in Eurasia. Besides their attention was focused on other events in the post-Soviet space (wars in Tadzhikistan, Chechnya, etc.). All this postponed the lazy opposition to totalitarianism in the Central Asia. The Uzbek President used the moment very successfully. He continued to grow the state terror against the population literally before the eyes of the world public, without arising any criticism. But everything has an end. Seven years of this distracting policy brought the country to the edge of a precipice. A social explosion in Uzbekistan seems unavoidable. Various social groups become radical, as well as political groups tired of many-year persecutions. Less and less people inside these groups remain, who believe in democratic solutions of the accumulated problems, most become supporters of forcible methods.

The explosions of 16 February in Tashkent gave a pretext to the regime to increase repressions to support stability, but simultaneously the regime increased hate of the people and decreased the probability of the compromise. As a result of the natural development of events the world soon will get here, instead of the stable totalitarian power, a hotbed of a civil war, compared only with Afghanistan.

The West, the USA and Russia are equally responsible for the rebirth of totalitarianism in the Central Asia and for the danger of a civil war in this region. That happened because for many years they disregarded the growth of violence in the most important state of this region and, one way or another, supported this country.

We, representatives of the political opposition in Uzbekistan, more than once turned to the world public and to the governments of the mentioned countries with the request to render assistance to the Uzbek democracy, but never got a positive answer. Now we turn to them again, this time not with the request to help democracy in our country, but to help the country itself, since it is standing on the brink of a civil war.

With respect, Muhammad Salih

14 June 1999

News from the CIS countries

21.05.2000

The last word of Grigoriy Pasko at his trial

   

(Pronounced during the court session on 16 July)

The present criminal case is not about the high treason — during the court session this aspect was hardly touched. All about which the sides argued, including all witnesses, concerned my professional activities as a journalist.

Nowadays in our country the freedom of speech is guaranteed by the law. That is a pity that the freedom of speakers is not guaranteed and completely depends on the will of rascals. I am convinced in it by my own experience.

They say that history is repeated twice: first time as a tragedy, and second time as a farce. Yet a farce also may become tragic on a little, individual scale. The spy-catching hysteria of the 30s was a tragedy for all our people. Today successors of the NKVD hangmen continue the farce, which however can result in condemnation of a few innocent. Only court — an independent, unbiased and just court — may put the end to this tragic farce. But do we have such court?

Aleksandr II said to A.F.Koni, the chairman of St. Petersburg court, concerning the trial of Vera Zasulich, who assassinated general Trepov, the mayor of the city: ‘The government has the right to expect from the court and from you some special favor’. Koni answered to the char: ‘The court rules sentences, not makes favors’.

I ask the court to rule a sentence because the federal security service and a prosecutor’s office of the Pacific Navy have made enough favors.

In my last word I shall permit to turn the attention of the court to those circumstances, which shall not be ignored, even if someone wishes very much to ignore them.

In the Russian doctrine of the penal right the basic is the opinion that a crime must be considered committed if it led to some consequences. From the material of this case, legally started against me, it is clearly seen that my professional relations with Japanese journalists did not bring about the tiniest damage to Russia and they could not bring about anything of the sort because, first, I did nothing contrary to law and, secondly, the ecological angle of journalist investigations is not related to secrets by the law of Russian federation. Moreover, if the investigation were carried out objectively, it could collect enough proofs that my publications and films stimulated Japan to pay 25 million dollars for the building of floating plant for purification of liquid radioactive waste.

In the prosecutor’s accusation the term ‘state secrets’ is used so frequently that it lost its initial meaning. The law of Russia ‘On state secrets’ treats these secrets as state-protected information in the sphere of military, political, economic and other activities, whose distribution may bring about damage to the security of Russia. If one applies the given definition to the materials which were seized in my flat, then it will appear that all the information contained in them was not state-protected, since it was not classified. Secondly, the information in the confiscated documents does not refer to any kind of activities listed in the definition of state secrets. Thirdly, there is not a single fact that my activities brought about any damage to the security of Russia. There are even no indications that this information has been ever distributed or passed to any side.

During the court session we could see that both investigation officers and the prosecutor’s office of the Pacific Navy trampled a number of articles of the Constitution of Russian Federation. In particular, it was personal immunity (Article 12), presumption of innocence and equal rights of the both sides in court (Article 12), the right of the suspect not to prove his innocence, benefit of the doubt (Article 49), inaccessibility of proofs obtained by illegal methods (Article 50), immunity of witnesses (Article 51) and others.

More than two hundred documents in my criminal case are obtained by illegal methods, and there are proofs that they are obtained so. Such are the documents confiscated at the custom house and found during the search in my flat. If the mentioned documents were excluded at the proper time, then there would be no criminal case. But the law-enforcing officers continued to promote the case with maniacal insistence. They illegally started the criminal case, they incarcerated an innocent, they falsified the documents. For all this they certainly must bear criminal responsibility.

Yet even the faked documents do not contain a single fact proving my guilt. Article 49 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation implies that non-proved guilt is legally equivalent to proved innocence.

Officers of the security service pressed upon me physically and morally at the stage of the preliminary investigation — they wanted very much to hear from me a confession of my guilt. Now, in my last word, I may satisfy the prosecution. Yes, I am guilty. I am guilty in honest execution of my duty as a journalist. I am guilty of patriotism and of my attempts to attract foreign investments for solving ecological problems. I am guilty because I have not noticed how glasnost has terminated in our country, how the buds of democracy withered. I am guilty that I undervalued cynicism and meanness of the present KGB, I am guilty that fulfilling my duty of a journalist, I stood in the way of real enemies of the people who wasted away the riches of our country. I am guilty that I have survived the investigation.

I beg the court to pay attention to absurdity of the accusations. All this pompous and loud nonsense is needed to camouflage the juridical insignificance and criminal essence of the prosecution arguments.

Behind numerous violations of law on the side of security service and prosecutor’s office one can distinctly see cynical tricks of people who are sure of their impunity just because they belong to so-called law-enforcing bodies. They were one hundred percent sure that some insignificant pressman would be frightened and would confess anything. They have their grounds for such attitude because a typical Soviet man has a fear before law-enforcing bodies in his genes.

This trial will come to the history of Russian court practice as an attempt to restore in Russia censorship, fear and Gestapo methods. If I am found guilty in any form, this will confirm existence of lawlessness in our state. On the contrary, if I am found innocent, this will bring names of the judges to the textbooks as an example of those who created a precedent opposing the pressure of lawlessness, as an example of those who showed wisdom and courage in fulfilling their professional duty and defending their honor.

I appeal to the court to defend me from such security which abuses Russian and international laws, tramples human rights and discredits our country.

News from the CIS countries

21.05.2000

Grigoriy Pasko was released in the courtroom

   

A message from human rights protection network

On 20 July the court in Vladivostok found Pasko innocent in high treason (Article 275 of Penal Code) and found him guilty in abusing service rights (Article 285). For this crime Pasko was condemned for three years of coercive work in a correcting colony of common regime.

Having applied the decision of the State Duma of Russia about amnesty to the condemned Pasko, the court released him in the courtroom.

In the additional resolution of the court the head of the directorate of security service in the Pacific Navy was reprimanded because of breaches of law by the ODA department during the investigation of Grigoriy Pasko’s case.

Miscellaneous

21.05.2000

Kharkiv Group for human rights protection informs

   

A year ago the USA and the countries of the Council of Europe handed 50 prizes ‘For democracy and civil society’. Each prize was 20,000 USD and it was handed to commemorate the 50 th anniversary of Marshall’s plan and the 40 thanniversary of the Rome Treaty. The prizes were given to organizations and private persons in the countries of Central and East Europe, as well as in the former USSR for outstanding contribution to the fight for democracy and human rights. Three prizes were given in Ukraine: personally to Semen Gluzman, to the Ukrainian lawyers foundation and to our organization, the Kharkiv Group for human rights protection. We find it proper to report, for what we spent the money.

Equipment for other human rights protection organizations
and pay for the communication
$3835.66


Publishing three books by Vsevolod Rechitskiy: ‘Freedom and state’, ‘Essay
on politics’, ‘Constitutionalism: Ukrainian experience’, a book by Yuri
Poltavtsev ‘A white spacing on officers’ shoulder straps’ and the book ‘Human
rights: my personal opinion’ (essays of the participantsof the 1 stand 2 nd
all-Ukrainian competition for a better essay in human rights) $5985.86

Materials and equipment for the Kharkiv Group $6998.27
Repair and arrangement of the Kharkiv Group office $2385.46
Material aid to people who turned to the Kharkiv Group$575.60
Expenditures for bank services$219.15

We have given some equipment needed for the normal work to our colleagues in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Donetsk, Sebastopol and Simferopol. In particular, we bought for them computers, laser printers, Xeroxes, modems and the like. We also paid the expenditures for E-mail of some human rights protection organizations. Then we published five books, mentioned above. We have sent them free of charge to all regional and university libraries and to the libraries of law schools (all in all we sent around about 300 copies of each book). Our readers, who want to get these books, may turn to our office.

The prize enable the Kharkiv Group to purchase a risograph of format A3 (and not A4 as it was planned in the grant from the National Endowment for Democracy), which greatly increased the productivity. Using the risograph, we decreased the cost of publications, and now the great part of our publications is printed on our own equipment. This year we have so printed all the books and all our periodicals.

A part of the prize was paid for repair and arrangement of our office, which enabled us to provide 12 work places to our full-time workers (eight more full-time workers still work outside the office). The Kharkiv Group rendered material aid to some people who turned to the group: many-children families, children who needed stationary medical treatment, servicemen who were crippled because of dedovshchina, recruits who had to be medically examined in order to specify their diagnose, some lonely pensioners who got into a critical situation.

Council of the Kharkiv Group for human rights protection

We remember

21.05.2000 | V.Ovsienko, Kyiv

Memorial museum in Kuchino

   

On 21 – 23 June 1999 a conference was held in Perm. The theme of the conference was ‘Human rights in Russia: past and present’. The participants visited the only on the post-Soviet territory memorial museum devoted to the history of political repressions and totalitarianism. The museum is located in the former concentration camp ‘Perm-36’. That was why the participants of the conference, former political prisoners, members of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group Mykhaylo Goryn and Vasyl Ovsienko revisited their ‘native’ prison. During the visit they played the role of living visual aids and guides rolled together. In what follows one of the ‘guides’ shares his remembrances and ideas relative to this journey to the far away Urals.

Starting with 1972 the Soviet power has begun to move political concentration camps (in the USSR they were called by the innocent world combination ‘correcting establishments’) from Mordovia, which is not far from Moscow to the Urals. The reason was that in the sixties too much information about political prisoners and conditions of their upkeep began to leak abroad. Meanwhile the KGB was preparing a consecutive purge of the country from the ‘anti-Soviet agents’, who, by that time, openly revealed their ‘dissident nature’. Since most of them were acquainted with each other, personally or through samizdat or through the ‘Liberty’ radio, they had to be reliably isolated by sending to distant and comparatively small concentration camps.

On 13 July 1972 under the conditions of super-secrecy (even the convoy was dressed in sportive togs), the first train with several hundreds of convicts from Mordovia camps arrived at Chusovskoy district of Perm region. It took the train three nights to come from Mordovia. In daytime the train waited at some quiet sidings. In daytime the incarcerated suffered in the special carriages, because the summer was very hot, forests and peatbogs were burning around. People fainted, one died. When they at last arrived at the place of destination, many could not stand. They were distributed to three concentration camps: 35 (Tsentralny settlement), 36 (village of Kuchino) and 37 (village of Polovinka).

Another great portion of convicts of the stern regime from Mordovia came to the Urals in summer 1976.

At last on 1 March 1980 from Sosnovka in Mordovia 32 convicts kept under especially stern regime were directed to Kuchino (one again died on the way). Levko Lukyanenko, Oles Berdnik, Oleksa Tyhiy, Bogdan Rebrik and Danylo Shumuk, members of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group, were among the last shipment. The convicts of the especially strict regime were billeted in the wooden barrack of the former power-saw bench, which was situated about half a mile from the strict regime zone.

That was the beginning of the ‘establishment’, which became known throughout the world as ‘the camp of death’. Here eight convicts died, among them Oleksa Tykhiy, Yuri Litvin and Valeriy Marchenko died here in 1984, and Vasyl Stus died here in the lock-up block in September 1985. Here from 1 March 1980 to 8 December 1987, in different times and in different cells were punished other members of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group: Ivan Kandyba, Vitaliy Kalynychenko, Mikhaylo Goryn, Ivan Sokulsky, Petro Ruban, Mykola Gorbal, and the group’s foreign members: Estonian Mart Niklus and Lithuanian Viktoras Piatkus, who joined the Ukrainian Helsinki Group at the gravest time — in 1982. Here I wasted six years of my life. Nearby, in the strict regime camp, Mykola Rudenko, the head of the Group, was kept. All in all there were 18 people. At large they never managed to get together in such quantity.

Many other Ukrainian dissidents were incarcerated here: Ivan Gel, Vasyul Kurylo, Semen Skalych (Poputnyk), Grigory Prykhodko, Mykola Evgrafov. As in any political concentration camp, Ukrainians were in majority, but Lithuanian Balis Gayauskas, Estonian Ann Tarto, Latvian Gunar Astra, Armenians Azat Arshakian and Ashot Navasardian, Russians Yuri Fedorov and Leonid Borodin spent several years in this ‘international’. Most of these people were well-known figures in the national liberation movements and human rights protection activists; after the liberation they became prominent politicians and public figures. All in all 56 convicts stayed there during 7.5 years. All of us, relative to the Soviet power, were especially dangerous recidivists or especially dangerous criminals, for whom the death penalty was substituted by 15-years terms (along with us there were several convicts accused of the cooperation with German occupants).

In fact, it was not a camp, but a prison with the super-cruel regime. In the camps for criminal recidivists the latter are permitted to leave the camp for work, but we, political recidivists, worked in our cells, and for a walk we were driven for one hour to a two by three meters yard surrounded by a metal wall and covered with barbed wire. From our cells we saw only the fence in five meters from the window and a little tent of sky. Our food was inadequate, water stenching and rusty, our hair was crop-cut, we wore striped clothes. We were permitted one meeting per year and one parcel of five kilograms once a year after completing half the term. Some of us saw no one except the guards and cell-mates for years on end.

On 8 December 1987, just on the day when Mikhail Gorbachev was negotiating with Ronald Reagan in Reykjavik, and Gorbachev needed some partly justified pack of lies (about the absence of political prisoners in Kuchino), a team of guards was sent to the zone. At that time only 18 convicts remained. We were searched and transported to camp 35, from which by and by during 18 months we were ‘mercied’ — Gorbachev did not dare to rehabilitate us at once and make us allies in the perestroyka. We were rehabilitated only on 17 April 1991 by the Supreme Rada of the UkrSSR, which adopted the law ‘On rehabilitation of victims of political repressions in Ukraine’.

Although our barrack remained empty, the history of this ‘correcting establishment’ did not end.

Mikhaylo Goryn, released in summer of 1987, came here together with Pavlo Skochok in April 1988, directed there by the magazine ‘Ukrainskiy Visnik’, publication of which was resumed by Viacheslav Chornovil. They intended to visit us, the remaining convicts, but instead they were threatened and driven away by the prison guards. Goryn and Skochok’s report was published in ‘Ukrainskiy Visnik’ No. 13.

In May 1989 some Estonians headed by Mart Niklus came to Kuchino. They filmed the neighborhood, but the barrack was still locked then.

I came there on 31 August 1989 with the expedition of the Union of the repressed and the Ukrainian Helsinki Group, having the task to exhume the remains of Vasyl Stus and Yuri Lytvyn,buried not far,and Oleksa Tykhiy, buried in Perm. We were prohibited to do this because of the ‘dangerous epidemiological situation’. Then we observed the cells and filmed them, as well as the lock-up cell where Vasyl Stus died. Now this material can be viewed in the film by Stanislav Chernylevski about Vasyl Stus. This film is titled ‘A black candle of the radiant road’. Then I found three keys from the cell locks, and on 9 September I jingled with them from the tribune of the constituent assembly of the Popular Rukh.

For the second time we came to this unforgettable place on 17 November 1989. The Soviet power harassed us, but did not prohibit to take the remains of our compatriots to Ukraine. We had no time to come to the barrack, but later we learned that KGB mobsters bulldozed down the fence, trampled the gates and grates. After this the local population by and by carried away floor planks and roof tiles. Then we thought: let the prison disappear, that is the way it should be!

Fortunately, some Russian people understood the historical value of the last barrack of the last concentration camp. The people belong to the Perm region branch of ‘Memorial’, which appeared in 1988. They decided to reconstruct the camp and to prepare it as a public memorial. Let us agree, this is a civil heroic deed — to demonstrate the shame of their nation to everybody! They are real patriots of Russia, they understood that there is no way for their motherland to return the respect of the world community otherwise as passing through catharsis.

Since 1994 ‘Memorial’ has begun to restore the concentration camp, turning it to the memorial museum ‘Perm-36’. I was invited there in September 1996 when the museum was opened. Among other invited were Dmytro Stus, the son of the poet, as well as Volodymir Tikhiy, a son of Oleksa, historian Yaroslav Tynchenko, journalist Vakhtang Tipiani. This year the museum was visited by Levko Lukyanenko and Evhen Sverstiuk. Now several barracks of the strict regime camp are being restored, and several are left in ruins to symbolize the ruined totalitarian epoch.

The museum works rather efficiently. So, on 22 June it was visited by eleven excursions, on 23 June until 16:00 hours seven excursions came. And you must take into account that the camp is situated 250 kilometers from the region center. During June (up to 23 June) three thousand schoolchildren, students and teachers attended the museum. The museum cooperates with similar museums, such as Buchenwald, Saxenhausen, etc. Every year international conferences devoted to totalitarianism and human rights are held in Perm or nearby. Their participants (among them many political prisoners) often attend the museum. In reconstructing the camp students-volunteers work, not only from Russia, but also from Germany.

The people who ever attended this museum will never want the restoration of communism. The museum tells the younger generation about the tragic pages of the recent history of Russia and ensures immunity against the virus of totalitarianism. And we, Ukrainians, like this because in the Russian people we want to have a good neighbor, which would respect humane values, human rights and rights of nations, including us.

Leaving this place where ‘all cries of human torture’ (V.Stus), I thought: and what do we do, in Ukraine, that suffered most from the totalitarianism, what do we do to keep our historical memory awake? We do little because we permit our new Russophiles to agitate in the Supreme Rada for the liquidation of the Ukrainian state and elbow their way to the presidential armchair, wishing to tie Ukraine again to the Moscow saddle and then to drive their enemies to the endless space of Russia.

Monthly bulletin Prava Ludyny (Human rights), 1999, №07

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