Monthly bulletin Prava Ludyny (Human rights)
A new way to protect mass media
A new way to protect their newspaper against libel cases was invented by the newspaper ‘Severodonetski Visti. This edition, which since 1996 is owned and financed by the town council, plays the role of a journalist killer of those, who may threaten the town mayor. Usually it was done towards persons and organizations, whom the town authorities could not reach in some other way, for example, through law-enforcing bodies. Most often this means that no objective negative information exists, and it must be fabricated. As a result, various persons handed about ten libel complaints against the newspaper ‘Severodonetski Visti, that were won by the newspaper at the town court. The situation changed, when the consecutive victim of the libel became the peoples deputy, the head of the permanent committee on state construction Juliy Ya. Ioffe. Here the court mechanism, which previously functioned quite well for the use of local authorities, broke down. The court ruled the editorial board of the newspaper to pay Hr 5000 for moral damage. The court executor also did not permit to fool himself by the fact that the newspaper had several bank accounts, the deputys referents were vigilant.
But in Saturdays issue the newspaper informed its readers that it found a roundabout way not to pay the fine, which was called the salvation of the newspaper for its readers. Now the newspaper will be published by the collective enterprise ‘My favorite town, and the editors will prepare the newspaper as before, but will have no money. So they will not pay the libel fine. We want to attract the attention of other journalists, who suffer from libel cases, to this new trick.
After the message of the Electronic bulletin of the informative service of the Lugansk oblast department of all-Ukrainian public organizations ‘The committee of Ukrainian voters. No. 3, 2000
The newspaper ‘Informatsiyny buleten on the brink of closure
The Kremenchug weekly ‘Informatsiyny buleten (‘IB) has been published since 1990 and has a pronounced national-democratic orientation. For the last three years, supporting peoples deputies Gregory Omelchenko, Anatoliy Ermak, Sergiy Golovaty and others, the ‘IB became oppositional. It published materials against President Leonid Kuchma during the election campaign of 1999 and against the recent referendum. So, as ‘Prava ludyny wrote more than once, the ‘IB suffered from various kinds of administrative pressure.
This year the ‘IB suffered considerable difficulties in finding a printing house that would agree to print the weekly. All printing houses in Kremenchug, in the Poltava, Cherkassy, Dnepropetrovsk oblasts, and some in the Kyiv and Kirovograd oblasts refused to print the newspaper under different pretexts. In recent months the ‘IB was printed in a Kyiv printing house ‘Ukrainska kniga. But on 27 September the all the run consecutive 39th issue disappeared. According to a member of the printing house, the run was driven away by strangers in civil clothes, who introduced themselves as USS officers. There are no volunteers to print the next issue No. 40.
I personally contacted several printing houses in Klharkov, showed the newspaper and asked to take the order. They refused unanimously. Actually, the newspaper is on the brink of closure due to this reason: no printing house, being afraid of the repressions on the side of the power, refuses to print the weekly. The circumstances make the newspaper print without giving the publishers data, which is a violation of law. In my opinion, this fact demonstrates well the situation with the freedom of expression in Ukraine.
The Kharkiv Group for human rights protection, regardless of the quality and position of the ‘IB, decided to print a special issue of the newspaper with the explanation for readers at the account of the project for the freedom of expression, which project was supported by the international fund ‘Vidrodjennia (i.e. gratis for the ‘IB). We shall distribute this issue also among ‘Prava ludyny readers to enable them to learn and assess what namely provokes such an anger of the authorities and fear of the printers. It should be noted that the special issue will be distributed gratis too.
The newspaper Silski visti is fined again
According to the deputy editor-in-chief of ‘Silski visti Vasyliy Gruzin, officials of tax inspection imposed on the newspaper a fine sanction for Hr 1,767,000.
The editors decided to protest against this sanction and handed a claim to the court. The last session of the court, said V. Gruzin, was appointed on 28 August. But it did not take place, because the tax officials, referring to the complexity of the case, asked for its joint discussion. Their request was complied by court and the session was postponed to 20 September. The deputy editor-in-chief said that the session was postponed since ‘they want to gain time before the session to correct some documents.
The reason for imposing the fine on the newspaper, according to V. Gruzin, was the fact that in 1992, by the official decision, all editions belonging to the publishing house ‘Presa Ukrainy became autonomous organizations and were excluded from the structure of the publishing house. They got the property and equipment, which they used before. As the deputy editor-in-chief said, all the hardware was in such a bad state that they had to write it off. The tax administration considers that having obtained the equipment, the newspaper has to pay the income tax, but dodged it. Today this tax, together with the fine, equals 1 million 150 thousand 562 hrivnas 63 kopecks.
Since the newspaper has not such sum on its account, the tax administration, as it is said in the editorial article, wants to charge it from the editors and providers of the newspaper, which can terminate the publication of the newspaper.
The deputy editor-in-chief of ‘Silski visti is sure that the aim of such activities of the tax officials is ‘to suppress the newspaper, and that it is merely a political order. V. Gruzins argues his opinion so: ‘Firstly, such illegal demands were made only to us. This is confirmed also by the attitude of the court, which ‘during 15 minutes returned the verdict and postponed the sitting.
Accordingly the deputy editor-in-chief draws a conclusion that ‘Ukraine is privatized by oligarchs, who also privatized the power of the President. As it is said in the editorial article of 7 September 2000, the reason for such activities of the officials is that ‘Silski visti, as an independent edition, set its goal to protect the interests of peasants and constitutional rights of all working people and so it prevents to act to state officials.
A peoples deputy Ivan Bokiy, who was present at the press-conference, declared that the tax officials ‘obey the political order from Bankovaya St. and personally from the President – to destroy ‘Silski visti.
Some forces threaten a Ukrainian journalist Oleg Eltsov for his publications on the Russian site ‘Agency of Federal Investigations
As it is said in the message on the site ‘Institute of mass information, on Friday, 15 September, at 20:00 on Olegs domestic telephone in Kyiv a stranger called and threatened that Olegs publications ‘are in the way of very influential people. The stranger demanded from Oleg ‘to stop his tricks in the Internet. When the journalist tried to learn about what they prohibit to write, the stranger dropped the receiver. At once after this connection Oleg Eltsov phoned to militia and informed them about the threats; in one hour Oleg was visited by two local inspectors of Kharkivskiy district militia precinct. Next morning the stranger phoned again and told that he knew about the visit of the militiamen.
The journalist thinks that threats at his address may be linked with two recent publications on the site ‘Agency of Federal Investigations, which was signed by Ivan Stepanov: ‘Wolf without sheeps skin‘ and ‘Oligarchs with stripes. As Oleg said, some people consider him to be the author of these publications, since he often published his articles on the site (under his own name). Yet, Oleg Eltsov did not refute that the name Ivan Stepanov may be his pseudonym.
The journalist said that after the appearance on the site of the article about Volkov (‘Wolf without sheeps skin‘, ‘Volkov in Russian means ‘Wolf. – Translators note) some strangers began to phone him frequently. Oleg also does not exclude the possibility that the phone calls could be initiated by someone of the personages of the article ‘Oligarchs with stripes who in this manner point at Volkov.
In Sevastopol the claim against the newspaper Sevastopolskaya pravda is satisfied
On 13 September 2000 I. V. Burchuladze, the judge of the Leninskiy district court of the city of Sevastopol, satisfied the claim of Vladimir Pilipenko, a vice-admiral, a hero of the Soviet Union, against the newspaper ‘Sevastopolskaya Pravda and its founder the city committee of the communist party of Ukraine. The claim was to defend honor and dignity of the vice-admiral. The court ruled that the newspaper must pay admiral Pilipenko Hr 10,000 as a compensation for libel, and the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Stanislav Galchinskiy, a deputy of the Sevastopol city council and the chairman of the commission on glasnost and mass media, must pay Hr 1000. The defendant handed a cassation to the Sevastopol city court. Admiral Pilipenko declared that he was going to transfer Hr 11,000, if the decision of the court comes into force, to the Sevastopol orphanage.
The reason of the trial was a number of anonymous publications in the newspaper ‘Sevastopolskaya Pravda, which asserted that admiral Pilipenko broke his military oath and betrayed his comrades-at-arms. Admiral Pilipenko is the head of the Sevastopol organization of all-Ukrainian Union of the WW2 veterans. This organization makes efforts for pacifying all participants of the WW2 regardless of the side on which they fought. Sevastopol communists more than once protested against the activities of this organization. The newspaper ‘Sevastopolskaya Pravda several times published materials containing insulting expressions with respect to admiral Pilipenko. In the opinion of the authors of such publications, his ‘treason was expressed in his journey to Lviv, where he met with Mykhaylo Zelenchuk, the head of the Brotherhood of soldiers of the Ukrainian Rebel Army.
Vladimir Pilipenko is a hero of the defense of Sevastopol. Being in command of a torpedo-boat and being wounded, he shot down a German plane for which he was awarded the Star of a Hero of the Soviet Union. The admiral always took an active part in public life of Sevastopol. On creating the all-Ukrainian Union of veterans he agreed to head the Sevastopol branch of this organization.
The admirals interests were represented at court by a member of the Sevastopol human rights protection group advocate Valeriy Bartash. The legal aid to the admiral was granted free of charge. Speaking during the pleadings advocate Bartash said that the reason of the trial is a mere lack of civility among communists, who just could buy a bouquet of flowers and visit the war veteran in the hospital with expressing in a civilized from their genuine excuses. Hypocrisy of Sevastopol communists is expressed in the fact that the chairman of Sevastopol city council and the head of the Sevastopol city committee of the communist party Vasiliy Parkhomenko directed to admiral Pilipenko a congratulation card to his 70th anniversary, in which he praised the firm public position of the admiral, and, at the same time, his mouthpiece published insulting materials about the admiral. During the trial the sides expressed opposite opinions about the role of OUN-UPA in the Ukrainian history (OUN the organization of Ukrainian nationalists, UPA is Ukrainian Rebel Army. – Translators note). Now we are looking forward to the decision of the cassation instance.
Everybody wants to control the press. Through the court
Head of the council of the public organization ‘Pravochin, Chernigiv
Impressible growth of libel cases against mass media in the recent time does not surprise anybody. To start a libel case against a newspaper has become fashionable. And why not – one may loose Hr 17 and win from thousands to tens of thousands.
If no changes are introduced to the corresponding laws, then our courts will consider libel cases against press exclusively, and the normal place of a journalist in his work-time will become the courtroom.
The claims to cancel information or to protect honor and dignity are a very usual phenomenon. The bright example is the case of Chernigiv administration of ‘Oblpotrebsoyuz (a state in a state, as they call themselves) that went ahead of others. They asked the court ‘to make the editorial board of ‘Chernigivski vidomosti to publish information about the methods that are used by the above-mentioned organization for the improvement of functioning of the central market. They even appended these materials to their claim. The materials appeared to be five pages long. That was a well-prepared massive response to a thirty-line critical note.
The peculiarity of this case, in my opinion, lies in the fact that the plaintiff does not refute a single sentence of the criticism. Treating Article 37 of the Ukrainian law ‘On the press in Ukraine, the plaintiff asks the court to abuse the law, that is to interfere in the affairs of the publisher and make the editorial board to publish what the plaintiff wants.
Really, it is absurd. Fancy that a man is walking in the street and sees a fine house. Next he turns to the court with the demand to consider him the owner of this property, having absolutely no grounds for it. And the highly respected court begins to think whether to give this house to the passer-by or to leave it to its owner.
The district court had two sessions. For half a day the representatives of the editorial board wasted in the oblast court, where the most experienced judges considered the cassation complaint of the ‘Oblpotrebsoyuz. At last they made clear who was ‘the house owner.
This is a tiny case, but the tendency is frightening. If courts begin to consider claims to newspapers from everyone who has his own opinion of any social phenomenon mentioned in a publication, then under our pluralism…
Which medicine we have in Ukraine?
640 thousand people are registered as TB-infected, 28 thousand out of them have the active form. Family TB has become more often.
In the Vinnitsa oblast 226 persons died last year. More than four thousand TB-infected children live in the Crimea and they are not treated.
The official number of the AIDS-infected in Ukraine by 24 May 1999 was 31991 (including 1.5 thousand children). Since the beginning of the year as many as 1605 AIDS-infected have been registered, among them 202 children.
During the first quarter of this year 83 adults and 2 children died of AIDS in Ukraine.
The Odessa, Donetsk, Dnepropetrovsk, Nikolayev oblasts have the doubtful honor to head this list.
If in the Western Europe one syphilis-infected person is counted for 100 thousand population, then in Ukraine this index is 182.
According to the Ministry of Health data, there are 136 abortions in Ukraine for 1000 newborns. 100 thousand women in Ukraine, who have never born children, have abortions. It ends lethally for 320 women. The birth rate in Ukraine is decreasing. In villages the situation is especially grave. According to the data of the State statistical committee not a single child was born in 1998 in 12673 out of 28794 villages. In 1999 the situation did not improve. Children in the age bracket from 6 to 15 years are absent in thousands of villages. There are 253 such villages in each of the Kharkiv and Sumy oblast. In the Chernigov oblast the number of such villages is 224, in the Poltava oblast — 223.
33486 handicapped children up to 16-years-old are registered in the Crimea. 25 newborns out of 100 have congenial defects of development or pathologies.
Last year 14 babies with the Down decease were born in Kyiv.
In the Crimea there are 17 special schools for children with defects of mental and physical development, totally they count 3455. In the Ivano-Frankovsk oblast 7956 children and 2795 youths, who have psychic disorders, were registered by the end of 1998.
‘Golos Ukrainy, No. 118, 6 July 2000
According to the data of the International organization of health protection (Geneva), Ukraine occupies 130 place for mens mortality and 109 place for womens mortality, which is typical of weakly developed countries.
According to the data of the same organization, our country holds the 79th place our of 191 as to the level of medical aid.
This year our state plans to spend for health care $20 per capita. To compare: in Poland the corresponding figure is $170, in Slovakia -- $200, in Hungary -- $300, in the USA -- $2000.
As a consequence of the negative demographic processes, the mean life-span has diminished by 4 years during the last decade. This figure is 13 if compared to the similar figures for men and 11 for women in the Western Europe.
‘Ukraina i svit siogodni, No. 39, October 2000
Nowadays the health of the Ukrainian population is abominable. According to the statistics, 2.5 million of people died in Ukraine during the years of independence.
The medical statistics treat these figures as ‘natural, old-age losses. But this is not so. Too many people die from vessel and cardiac illnesses, cancer, traumas, infectious diseases and the like before the mean life-span, which is 62.7 for men and 73.5 for women in Ukraine. This figures have a tendency to decrease. To compare: in Japan the mean life-span is 74.8 for men and 80.8 for women, in Canada — 74.3 for men and 80.8 for women.
In our society the most dangerous maladies, such as TB, AIDS, hepatitis, gonorrhea, flue, vessel and cardiac illnesses, cancers. About 33 millions of Ukrainian citizens have already suffered from the above-mentioned diseases. That is a big figure for the total population of 49 450 thousand. The number of alcoholics and drug addicts continues to grow. Children mortality rate is 2 — 4 times higher than in other countries, and the maternity mortality rate is 3 — 6 times higher than in developed countries. The mortality rate is higher than birthrate, so we have the so-called ‘super-mortality.
‘Dzerkalo tyzhnia, No. 40, 14 October 2000
The level of consuming medical drugs in Ukraine has fallen this year to the critical value: from 2 billion dollars per year to 4 million dollars (calculations of the Tacis expert commission). Thus, the average Ukrainian consumes medical drugs for $8 per year, while an average American spends $4000, German -- $2000, Hungarian -- $90 for medicines per year.
Weekly ‘PiK, No. 38, 17-23 October 2000
According to some data, the number of psychic cases in Ukraine has grown during late 10 years by 86.9%, and the number of mentally retarded – by 66.5%. The main demographic reasons are of social nature: the material and spiritual pauperization of the population, unemployment, alcoholism, drug addiction, difficulties in family and social life, permanent stress resulting from the soaring of prices, pay arrears, etc. Technogenic and ecological cataclysms have contributed too.
According to the data made public by Angelina Niagu, the head of the center of psychic consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe of the Ukrainian scientific center of radiation medicine at the Academy of Medical Sciences, six out of ten adults, who suffered from the irradiation, need ‘psychic correction. Chernobyl children happen to be mentally retarded twice as often as the children of the same age, who did not suffer from the irradiation.
On the background of the permanently decreasing population of our country, the proportion of persons with psychic disorders grows (1.5 millions of the registered cases). This figure permits us to set the problem on the total psychic health of the nation. According to the data provided by professor Boris Demyanenko, more and more people are registered as invalids. Only in 1992 – 94 the proportion of psychiatric invalids grew by 201.4%, and the number of invalids of this category moved from the 7th to the 4th place among the groups which completely lost the ability to work. Chronic patients are in a very difficult financial state. The pension to such invalids is misery (Hr 43 per month at most).
‘Nasha gazeta, No. 31, 29 July 2000
To the editor-in-chief of the bulletin ‘Prava ludyny
The city directorate of health protection informs that, according to the instruction of accountancy for describing the main financial operations of budget establishments, approved by order No. 61 of the state treasury of Ukraine of 10 July 2000, the accountancy is carried out in the entire medical establishment. All hospitals of the city (except the psychiatric hospital) have beds for various patients. That is why it is impossible to separate what is the cost of the upkeep of one patient with concrete disease.
On the average, the upkeep of one patient for one day for the reported period of 2000 costs:
in hospitals of the city — Hr 12.39;
in particular, the cost of medicines — Hr 0.92;
feeding — Hr 0.76;
in TB dispensaries — Hr 5.52;
in particular, the cost of medicines – Hr 0.68;
feeding — Hr 0.37;
in psychiatric hospitals — Hr 9.78;
in particular, the cost of medicines — Hr 0.37;
feeding — Hr 1.41.
Acting head of the directorate of health protection L. F. Kostenko
We have presented some figures of International organization of health protection, some statistical data and the response given to us by the main directorate of health protection at Kharkiv city executive committee. We also have direct evidences of our visitors, who are quite ignorant concerning the statistical data and their own rights. Usually the specifically medical topics appear on the background of other complaints. For example, a mother comes to out office and complains that representatives of a recruiting commission cannot decide whether her son is able-bodied. The son is directed to some hospitals for additional examination, and the doctors require money for some kinds of examination. We get many such complaints and we know that this practice violates the operating laws. Our demands and requests were answered in a somewhat peculiar way: ‘we have a duty to render necessary sufficient medical aid. What is the sense of this answer is unknown to anybody. But it sounds convincing. To our request we got an answer from the directorate of health protection at Kharkiv city executive committee that demanding money from recruits for a medical examination is a violation of operating laws, we were informed that head doctors of the city hospitals got the corresponding instructions. Nonetheless, when it concerns recruits, people come to public organizations, since they are driven to the dead-end: recruiting commissions still request examinations, hospitals still demand money for it and recruits and their parents still have no money. As a final result, recruits come to the commissions with almost blank medical cards. ‘Prava ludyny often wrote about situations, when sick young men were taken to the army. The situation with ordinary patients is even worse. People, who have no money are not treated at all.
Recently the Kharkiv Union of soldiers mothers received the letter from a woman, whose son was conscripted in spite of the fact that he had rheumatism and a heart disease, as a consequence. He stayed four months in army hospitals and finally was dismissed from the army. All in all, he did not serve half a year. This situation is rather typical, as well as the reaction of the mother. She said, that in the army they corrected his health a bit, but what shall she do now with her tiny pension? Those who know the state of our medicine, would not be surprised when learning the answer of the Minister of Defense to a complaint of Union of soldiers mothers concerning the quality of recruits. The minister said: ‘… at least, they get some medical treatment in the army. At least, here we have an uncoordinated, but still existing cooperation of two agencies.
And what can be said about our general-purpose medicine… How do they treat all of us? A very small proportion of our population, who has money, may be treated abroad, so they are not ‘threatened by our medicine. As to a wider section of our population, even those who work and get their remuneration in the proper time are able to pay, if necessary, for the domestic medical services and drugs, they still have what to brood about.
It is striking that our society treats such an acute problem so lightheartedly. This is a more serious problem than the abolition of the death penalty or the protection of the freedom of speech. These problems provoke a lot of articles, debates and sociological polls, and this is fine. But, in our opinion, the problems of medical aid require more serious attention of the entire public. This is obvious, because this is next to impossible to find a person, who never needed medical aid and drugs. There exist many problems related to the crisis of our economy, and some drawbacks of our medical services have appeared rather long ago. The medical bulletins, for example, that working people must get if they are sick, are given by the instruction of 1938. According to this instruction, a doctor has the right to give a bulletin, if it is not a trauma or a surgical operation, by the term of not longer than three days (five days during an epidemic). After this sometimes a quite sick person has to get to a hospital, more often using the public transport. And if a person is sick more than a fortnight, he or she is proposed (almost coerced) to be taken to a stationary, where there is no food and no medicine. Because nobody can imagine, how to feed a patient for Hr 0.76 and provide him with medicine for Hr 0.92 per day.
It is impossible to comprehend such a careless attitude to an institution, which is practically the base for a normal life of a society? Everybody affirms that our medicine is in decline and ruins, but no one suggests any realistic program, how to go from this crisis, even discussions are not held. One has a suspicion, that the society spits upon itself and upon the life and health of their citizens.
Many citizens of Ukraine complain at the decision of the Constitutional Court of 25 November 1998 as to the accordance with the Constitution of Ukraine of the Decision of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine ‘About the list of the paid services, which are offered in the state medical establishments. This Decision of the Constitutional Court gives a distinct formulation: ‘The development of state and other programs, according to item 4 of Article 116 of the Constitution of Ukraine, is related to the rights and duties of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, while their confirmation is a right of the Supreme Rada of Ukraine (item 6, Article 85 of the Constitution of Ukraine).
That is why the Constitutional Court reckons that ‘the way out of this difficult situation, which occurred with the financing medical aid from the budget, lies not in the introduction of longer lists of the paid medical services, but in the change, according to the mentioned statements of the Constitution, of conceptual approaches to solving the problems related to constitutional right for medical aid.
We complain at the decision of the Constitutional Court without proper reasons, since Article 49 of the Constitution drove the court to this decision. Yet, both in the decision of the Constitutional Court and in Article 49 of the Constitution of Ukraine the necessity of the development of insurance medicine is pointed out. Almost four years have passed since the adoption of the Constitution, but we only daydream about the insurance medicine. To be exact, only those, who know what is the insurance medicine, dream about it.
The decision of the Constitutional Court about the discord of the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine ‘About the list of the paid services, which are offered in the state medical establishments with the Constitution of Ukraine did not make the paid services free ones, but drove most of these payments ‘into shadow. The result was that the poorer part of the population completely lost the opportunity to be treated.
But the Constitutional Court is the least guilty. First, it should be noted, that Article 49 of the Constitution of Ukraine is written with a lot of populism and rather as a declaration, as well as Article 48 about the dignified living standard and other articles about social, economic and cultural rights. This approach caused that the Constitution is not executable.
Unfortunately, the mentioned decision of the Constitutional Court, as far as we come across in practice, especially when dealing with recruits, is not executed. Here is another example of neglect on the side of our medicine. An elderly man with a cerebral brain trauma was dismissed from a hospital too fast, since he had no money for the cure. In three days of staying at home his trauma developed into paralysis of lower extremities. The situation with handing free medicine to psychic cases is even worse. And now we often come across with obviously psychic patients in the streets and in the public transport. We have not come across with such a situation before. Now, without proper medical drugs, they may be dangerous, so this problem must not be neglected. If we ourselves are unable to take care of our health and safety, whom can we depend upon? Which ministers?
And, by the way, the countries, which introduced the insurance medicine were not all prosperous at the time of taking the decision. For example, Israel, that in the 60s was far from being a developed country, and that nowadays often suffers from bursting military conflicts, has now a well-developed system of the insurance medicine, which functions well and provides the citizens an excellent level of medical services. The first medical insurance company ‘Kupat-Knolit was founded by a trade union. As to our trade unions, that have a rather ramified organizational structure, own estate and control funds of social insurance, if they diminished their political activities and occupied themselves with insurance medicine, then in several years the matter could begin to move at last. Many countries of the East Europe started the insurance medicine on the background of rather difficult economic state.
I do not insist that we must blindly copy some system of insurance medicine, undoubtedly we must develop a system of insurance medicine that would suit the Ukrainian population. But we have preferred to do nothing, and, as a result, the chaos and disorder have increased. ‘Prava ludyny suggests to start debates about what must be done in order to make the level of medical aid in Ukraine corresponding to the world level. That is why we appeal to our readers with the request to read carefully our materials and to answer our questionnaire. Let us decide together, what should be done in order to protect our health.
‘Rabochaya gazeta, 28 September 2000
Ecological emergency in the Donetsk oblast
After showers the dam of the liquid ash reservoir ‘Starye Terny of Kurakhovskaya thermal electric station broke down.
In several seconds thousands of tonnes of the pulp went down through the gap eighteen meters wide. The pulp contains several poisonous elements and has a high level of radioactivity. A number of small rivers so valuable in the arid Donetsk steppe suffered, as well as the surrounding landscape. The greatest loss is that some quarries of the mineral raw materials were filled with the pulp. According to the first data obtained from experts attracted to study this emergency, the dam was broken because for a long time it had not been repaired.
A satan bug in the village of Khomutets
L. Kucherenko, the president of Poltava media-club, the responsible coordinator of hearings, turned to the Minister of Defense of Ukraine O. Kuzmuk with the letter concerning the events in the village of Khomutets. It reads.
‘To the Minister of Defense of Ukraine O. KUZMUK
To the commander of chemical troops V. LITVAK
On 17 September 1998 in the village of Khomutets, not far from the well-known spa Mirgorod, during the meeting dedicated to the 55th anniversary of liberation the village from German occupants, in which participated more than 800 persons, a massive chemical poisoning of pupils of the local school, students of the zoological school and teachers took place. The poisoning, according to experts, happened by inhalation. The meeting started at 10 a.m. In ten minutes a girl fell unconscious. At first it was explained by a sunstroke. In twenty minutes many children from the first rows fainted too. Later they would recollect that they smelled a weak odor of medicine oil. Later, when taken to the hospital, the children and their parents noticed small tinsels on their clothes and footwear. Two teachers, seven students and 34 pupils got to the hospital, some even to the intense care ward. It is interesting that only six boys suffered, the rest were girls and women.
The general pattern of poisoning was as follows:
feeling darkness in the eyes; giddiness; temporary insanity; cramps of face and extremities (the face was distorted asymmetrically – the upper lip raised, and the lower lip went down; fingers spread like teeth of rakes; legs curved and feet turned with soles inside); nausea; heartache; grave headache; pain in the eyes; flowing tears; asphyxia; frequent heartbeat; stomach ache; numbness of extremities; sleepiness; abrupt lowering of the arterial blood pressure; some suffered from abrupt changes in the blood pressure; dryness in the mouth and sweet taste; consecutive feeling of cold and heat; cooling of extremities; loss of orientation in time and space; loss of coordination of arms and hands; faints without the reaction to ammonia; disappearance of the pulse; shivering; hysterical state; weeping without cause; active and frequent urination; hallucinations; widening and narrowing of pupils; euphoria; devastating appetite.
Upon the whole, every victim demonstrated individual symptoms. The symptoms also changed with time: during the meeting, during the transportation to the hospital, immediately after the hospitalization, in several hours, in two days, in 12 days (the relapses were observed), etc.
The samples of the ground from the place where the children stood and bouquets of flowers that the children held were taken to the Mirgorod sanitary station in five hours. The analyses showed the qualitative reaction typical for ‘residual quantities of poison from the group of the phosphor-organic compounds. The fall of holinestaraza activity was fixed on 17 September 1998 in the blood of two victims: down to 16.4 and 26.6 mmohl. A doctor from Poltava, who managed to get the reagents needed for the analysis of holinestaraza, said confidentially that the fall of holinestaraza in tens of times was observed in all victims, but she got an order to write the norm.
On 29 September 1998, in twelve days, the victims again demonstrated literally all symptoms of poisoning, again they were taken to the hospital in a very grave state. Then they had systematic repetitions of the fits: on 15 November 1998, 3 December 1998, 16 January 1999, 11 February 1999, 15 February 1999, 17 March 1999, etc.
The health of the victims was deteriorating all the time. A year passed and they demonstrated such phenomena as: quick tiredness, dyspnea, total weakness, faints, permanent headache and nausea, abrupt changes in the blood pressure, pain in the eyes, heaviness in legs, numbness and pain in extremities, heartache, nerves, unreasonable fear, insomnia, difficulty in concentration, irritation without reason, slow thinking, perturbation of short-term and long-term memory, fear of darkness and light, claustrophobia, fear of being alone in darkness, in some victims: hallucinations, bad appetite, impaired eyesight, discomfort in the stomach, liver, kidneys, bladder.
Practically healthy up to 17 September 1998, the gay and optimistic children turned into small old people unable to bear physical and mental load. During the first year of their illness they got a variety of diagnoses: vegeto-vascular dystonia, dyskinesia of bile channels, myocardial dystrophy, cholecystocholangioholit, pancreatitis, enlargement of the thyroid gland, lymph node enlargement, astenoneurotic syndrome, decreased immunity -- immune deficiency. In two years a number of other diseases were added to the list.
Many participants of the 17 September 1998 meeting, who were not visibly damaged, did not get to the hospital and were not included to the list of the victims, now demonstrate the abrupt deterioration of health with similar symptoms. Yet, doctors refuse to register them.
Further the letter asserts, that, according to the data of the directorate of emergency situations and in protection of the population from the consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe at the Poltava oblast state administration, the Ministry of Defense ignored the request and did not direct their toxicologists to Khomutets for the complete elucidation of the event. They also did not check the conditions of storing poisons at the chemical store in the village of Seleshchina of the Poltava oblast.
L. Kucherenko demands to get an answer to these and other questions concerning the poisonous substances and invites the Minister of Defense to take part in the public hearings ‘Truth about the Khomutets tragedy.
In order to avoid any repetition of the Khomutets tragedy the Poltava media-club ‘Zeleny svit and ‘EkoPravo-Kyiv, the youth parliament of the Poltava oblast, the peoples university at the cultural-educational union of the handicapped ‘Irina, the Poltava union of women ‘Churayivna, the Poltava department of the union of Ukrainian voters, the union ‘Eko-svit and other public organizations on 30 October will hold the public hearings ‘Truth about the Khomutets tragedy. Heads of the corresponding branches of the Poltava administration, heads of the profile committees of the Supreme Rada, representatives of ministries and agencies, the oblast state administration, the oblast council, peoples deputies and deputies of the oblast council, representatives of international organizations, parties, national and foreign mass media will take part in this hearings.
Our contact address: 34 Bilshovistska St.
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Some considerations concerning womens rights
During several recent decades international and national legislation has enriched with various documents about human rights. A significant part of these document relates to the regulation of the legal rights of women. The permanent attention to womens rights on the side of states considerably promoted the acceptation of legal acts and recommending acts of the universal and local character. By and by national legislation systems begin to accommodate to the international standards of womens rights. In general, the attitude to women in the society has been considerably corrected. The women have not only won some rights, they have got rights equal to those of men.
Nonetheless, the very fact of existing special rights for women is neglected in the society. So, it is necessary, first of all, to answer the question: is it reasonable to single out womens rights as a separate block? And here one must remember the specifics of this group of rights, which mostly belong to the universal conception of human rights, but in some cases even get outside its framework.
First, a great complex of human rights belong to all social groups of population, that is why womens rights are surely human rights too.
Secondly, womens rights are rooted in the same documents as the universal conception of human rights. That, first of all, is the UNO Statute of 1945, in whose preamble the member-countries pointed out again the importance of human rights and the equality of the sexes. Article 1 of the Statute proclaimed the respect to the human rights without the division according to the sex as the main goal of the UNO. The same principle is declared also in Articles 8, 13, 55, 76 of the Statute, the duty of member-countries to cooperate in this respect is fixed in Article 56.
The Universal Declaration of human rights of 1948 has become another corner stone of the human rights and womens rights. The principle of non-discrimination of women is again pointed out in Article 2 of the Declaration.
However, the conception of discrimination is not always suitable when we deal with womens rights. This is so because these rights are somewhat peculiar. Among others, the maternity right does not concern the stronger sex. This fact must be the basic one in our discussion. It is especially important because discussions about violating womens rights really concern this topic. The conception of discrimination is suitable when we speak about the cases when the obvious advantage is given to men, when the latter are given advantages in distributing certain rights, freedoms or opportunities. In the case of maternity, the discrimination in the favor of man is impossible. So this group of rights is peculiar as to the legal regulation.
It seems that according the womens right to give birth to a child there must be no controversies. Yet, in practice, these rights of women are grossly violated. Some statistical data confirm this statement. So, the absence of information and adequate sexual education say, in Argentina, results in the death of 333 women because of abnormal births, and bring about 861 deaths because of gynecological ailments per year. This happens partly because 40% of women have no opportunity or desire to turn to doctors. This idea is confirmed by the fact that from half a million of women, that die of births every year, 98% are from weakly developed countries. The reasons of the mortality are also rooted in the defects or absence of social services, of systems of maternity protection, and often just the absence the needed information and womens remoteness from the civilization.
As a result, the high birthrate and high mortality rate of newborns both become inevitable. Say, in Africa, the birthrate of 1000 newborns is accompanied by 700 stillborn babies, when in Europe the corresponding figures are 100 thousand and 10.
One of the most frequent reasons of death among women is abortion. In Argentina, according to data of the department of health protection of mothers and children of the Ministry of social relations and health protection for 1985, 400 thousand abortions were made. It became a frequent contraceptive measure among poorer women. Besides, 80-90% of women in the Third World give birth without qualified medical aid (data for 1991). All these problems require flexible and reasonable interference on the side of the state for regulating family problems with the aim of protection of mothers and childrens health.
It deserves attention that these were family questions from which human rights protection activities in the sphere of womens right began. In general, the history of feminist movement counts about a century. As long as in 1902 the Hague international conventions concerning collisions of national laws about marriage, divorce and guardianship were adopted. The League of Nations treated the problem very seriously, and in 1935 and 1937 several basic reports on the state of womens rights were prepared. Similar studies were carried out on the regional level, especially in the North and Latin America.
The legal documents were accumulated, but the decisive step was made in the UNO Statute, where equal rights for men and women were adopted. By and by a number of related documents were adopted by the UNO General Assembly and the International Labor Organization.
The second wave of the feminist movement was aimed at the factual, not only juridical, equality of men and women. The period between 1975 and 1985 was declared to be the Womens Decade. In 1993 the Declaration on liquidation of violence against women was confirmed. It was this document that finally pointed out massiveness of this phenomena.
After this long and fruitful work the womens rights seemed to become very popular in the world. Yet, only the UNO Vienna Conference in 1993 for the first time officially confirmed the existence of special womens rights and the wide scale of their violation. At last, at the conference in Rio-de-Janeiro in 1999, the key role of women in human progress was officially confirmed.
Having such a rich legal base and the history of active work, the womens rights protection movement nowadays reconsiders its positions even about the legislation technologies and the very conception and interpretation of womens rights. That is why the new legal norms on womens rights have to be created on the basis of the so-called womens legal analysis. The existing conception of human rights has an obvious trace of mens approach to rights, since the main document in this sphere were created by men, since all the world culture of recent millennia is characterized with ‘the masculine orientation. The application of womens legal analysis in the legislation process does not mean that the norms to be created would be more biased for women than for men. This only means that in the estimating the effect of such laws on the human rights theory and practice it would be necessary to assess how women themselves perceive violations of their rights.
Up to now women-MPs and legislators were in the minority of absent. In Latin America, as well as on the entire post-Soviet space, in 1987 the proportion of women in national parliaments equaled from 0% to 13.3%. In general, these indicators grow very slowly and did not step over the mentioned upper limit. And in Antigua, Barbuda, Santa Lucia and Uruguay the women even do not figure in the candidates lists. The additional factor is the massive illiteracy of women, that reaches in the Caribbean 23% — 45% in various countries.
In 1990 only 3% of administrative positions in the world governments were held by women. This proportion, however, is not uniform. In the governments of 93 countries no women work. Even in international organizations of the UNO structures and the Council of Europe, which often initiate adoption of the documents on human rights, the women executives make only 5%. The women representation in top echelons of power in the world makes less than 10%, mostly in specific branches: education, health protection, social welfare. The problem is that any political activity of women is practically impossible, since the time-table of work in the organizations and establishments suits a man more than a woman, who has family duties.
One of several opportunities to increase the number of women-MPs is to adopt national laws about quoting the number of women in the candidates lists and in parliaments. Such a practice is adopted in Sweden, where the number of women in the parliament and in government equals 50%.
The first official documents, such as the UNO Statute of 1945, the Universal Declaration of human rights of 1948, the Declaration of the UNO General Assembly ‘On the liquidation of discrimination of women of 1967, fixed the equality of sexes, whereas the Geneva Convention of 1979 for the first time introduced the legal norm that liquidated all forms of discrimination of women as different from a mere discrimination on the basis of sex. Thus, a deviation was made from the principle of so-called gender neutrality, which demanded the same attitude to men and women based on their equality. It was officially recognized that the peculiarities of women, the necessity of protection of health of mothers and children and the wide practice of discrimination demand special legal norms.
For a long time the conception of the absolute state sovereignty and the activities of sovereign countries on their territory did not obey to be influenced, thus standing in the way of realizing womens rights. That is why this group of rights is usually related to the third or fourth generation of human rights, together with the rights related to the environment and refugees. But since the time when the recognition of womens rights became one of the international standards of observing human rights, a question was at once raised about the responsibility for violating such rights.
Certainly, nowadays not a single state is not able to abuse the established norms of the international rights without being punished. Yet, up to now, the main problem, with which womens movements and organizations come across, is the tendency to single out womens rights from the entire sphere of state activities. It is so because one of the main features of the international standards of human rights is that that they have a state basis, i.e. that a violation of human rights is such only in the case, when the state, that signed the related international document, is responsible for this violation to when the abuser is a state officer, who works within the rights given to him by the state. A positive example in this respect may be the activities of the European Court of human rights in the case ‘Cyprus vs. Turkey of 10 July 1976, when Turkey was found guilty for raping Cypriot women by Turkish army men. That created a precedent for blaming a country for the actions of the country official representatives.
However, the violation of womens rights is done not so often by state or its official representatives, as by private citizens in the sphere of private relations. In this case we have not the opportunity to demand international responsibility from a state, but only about the responsibility of private individuals for the violation of the national legislation. Yet, there are still countries in the world with the weakly developed legislation, that cannot guarantee the efficient protection of womens rights in the case of their abuse. That is why some countries still protection the viewpoint that such violation are not covered with international legal documents, since such relations are not regulated by the state laws and are considered to be the private sphere.
Such position is ill-grounded, since the International Pact of civil and political rights of 1966 states that the state is obliged ‘to guarantee to all persons, who stay on their territory and obey their jurisdiction, all the rights stipulated by the mentioned Pact. So states must guarantee to their citizen the rights they have and to take up the necessary measures from their violation. This is approved in the Geneva Convention of 1979 that encompasses international norms about the protection of women from discrimination in national legislation. Moreover, taking account of the fact that the impossibility to observe womens rights is often linked with religion and national culture, the duty of states was stipulated to change the customs of men and women with the aim of getting rid of prejudices, traditions and other practices, based on the idea of the inferiority of women or on the stereotypes of mens and womens roles. This means that in the international legal field the mainstays of the state behavior for the efficient protection of womens rights are clearly marked. However, in the real practice, all these duties are executed very slowly or in general remain ignored. So, for example, at the state in 1996, the laws against the family violence were introduced only in 44 countries, against raping the wife – in 17 countries, against sexual harassment – in 29 countries, against maiming women genitals – in 14 countries (although every year about 2 million of women suffer from this brutality).
In general, the violence to women remains one of the most serious problems in the world. This problem is very wide, since violence has many forms.
The conception ‘cruelty or ‘violence to women includes every kind of violence related to the features of gender or a threat of such violence, aggression, physical, sexual or psychic sufferings inflicted on a woman, illegal limitation of freedom in the social or private life. Nowadays the violence can assume various forms: the physical violence applied to children in a family, coerced marriage or marital rape, incest, exploitation of women, coerced prostitution, sexual molesting in education establishments and at a job, abuse or limitation of human rights during armed conflicts. The most frequent kinds of violence: beating, rape, maiming, burning of a bride, coerced marriage, maiming genitals, violation on behalf of states with anti-democratic regimes, and discrimination as one of many kinds of violence.
Now human rights protection movements and international government and non-government organizations have enough information and statistical data, which again and again prove the actuality of the problem. This problem is neither artificial nor exaggerated. Thus, recently about 60 million have disappeared owing to unknown reasons, but the final cause is the discrimination of women. About one million of girls annually are coercively driven to prostitution; each 9 seconds in the USA a woman suffers from an act of violence from her sexual partner; more than 5000 women in India are killed annually because relatives of their husbands regard their dowry as insufficient. In some countries of the Near East and Latin America men are often pardoned for the murder of an unfaithful, disobedient or strong-willed wife, since this is considered as the question of ‘honor and may be explained by the ‘excitation of man, the state of affect. There is evidence that violence and rape of women are a strategic maneuver.
But nevertheless, the most violent and brutal demonstration of abusing women is the ‘white slavery that is trading of women. This problem is the best investigated and legally regulated compared to all other problems that was posed before the world public by the global human rights protection movement. There exists a long list of documents that made the ‘white slavery illegal. They are: Paris international agreement of 1904, conventions of 1910, 1921, 1933, the UNO Convention against the trade of people and exploitation of the prostitution by the third side of 1949, Convention on slavery of 1926, Additional Convention on abolishment of slavery, slave trading, institutes and practices similar to slavery of 1956.
Slavery is a crime in the entire world for a long time, that is why it seems implausible that the all the center of Europe is divided in sex-industry into the countries-customers and countries-providers of women for prostitution. Such countries as Sweden (1500 sex-workers are registered here annually), Finland, Germany (one of the most active buyers of women in the world, in 1996 the number of prostitutes reached 50 thousand), France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, the USA, Japan and Macao are the most active users of the lively goods in the world. At the same time the Baltic countries, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, the South Africa and Latin America are the best providers of potential prostitutes to the developed countries.
This is not accidental that the poorest countries or the countries, which go through the period economic reforms or are to be on the way of development, are centers of the world supply in the sphere of sex-business. That is economic difficulties and the low living standard which make women to seek for work abroad.
That is true, that the problem of discrimination of women even in the well-developed countries, so it is easy to imagine how bleak are the prospects of women in the countries, where women have ever been the second-rate population. It is not surprising that the World Bank in 1992 formulated this problem as a factor of artificial creation of super-occupation of men and unemployment of women. According to total calculations, more than 50% of women work in services, on less socially valuable jobs (although 78% of women get higher education, only 26% work according to their preparation), that is get smaller salaries. In the families, where a woman is the only provider, the situation becomes really difficult. Such families are officially regarded as poor.
According to the data of the same World Bank, in 1994 in Argentina, the most developed country in the Caribbean, in 100 largest firms of the country women occupy only 4.9% of jobs, in services – 6.2%, in banks – 3%. At the same time, finding a job for a woman is rather problematic, since the employers require many specific demands concerning age, marital status, origin, number of children, the place of residence. According to the official data, 80% of employed women earn poor salaries owing to the reasons that have nothing in common with their qualification, women have a smaller access to credit and financial services, education programs and investigations, they make their carriers in a much slower way. And what can be said about women, who are illiterate? What a chance to find a job have they? The number of such women reach 45% in some countries of the Latin America.
So, the reason of separation of countries into countries-providers of slaves and countries-consumers is always economic and often political drawbacks. That is why the duty of the countries with have such disadvantages is the creation of protective laws aimed at the illegal export of women abroad.
A typical example of such a legislation is the Ukrainian one. One of the directions of state activities in this sphere is the punishment of traffickers, slave trade and coercive prostitution. In Ukraine the most frequently applicable norm is Article 210 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (‘Keeping brothels and procuration). In 1995-1997 the number of the convicted by this article was 14 persons. There are also Articles 119, 123, 208, which are aimed on the protection of the womens sexual freedom, but they are applied much more infrequently. In the draft of the new Criminal Code of Ukraine Articles 141 and 149 are introduced, which stipulate the prohibition of trading women and coercive prostitution.
Since Ukraine has joined the UNO Convention against the trade of people and exploitation of the prostitution by the third side of 1949, Convention on slavery of 1926, Additional Convention on abolishment of slavery of 1956, it is necessary to improve the national legislation with the aim of the protection of women against their illegal export abroad. Thus, by the Law of Ukraine of 28 March 1998 a number of changes was introduced to the Criminal Code of Ukraine, and Article 124 was added about the slave trade. This article stipulates the ban for trade or exploitation of people in sex-business, the punishment being incarceration for the term up to 8 years with a possible confiscation of property, in the case when minors are involved – from 5 to 10 years.
Such reaction of the state was provoked by the massive export of the Ukrainian women abroad. 400 thousand women (which is 10% of the total world number) up to 30 left Ukraine during the last decade. Very often they are tortured and killed.
There is no doubt that the protection of women nowadays is quite urgent, since there exists no country, without any kind of violence against women. Now this is not just a juridical, legal, economic, political and social problem. Nowadays it is mainly a cultural problem, a problem of archaic stereotypes, unjustified social preferences and standard roles, which are disbalanced to the advantage of men. So, a state must not only ratify the needed international documents and create a flawless legislation. First of all such a social medium must be created, in which the observation of women rights and human rights in general would be a reality. These changes shall, step by step, create a new system of social relations, which will be based not on sex differences, but on social and legal factors. Such system of social relations is called now gender.
Nobody bears responsibility for medical aid in preliminary prisons
A letter from behind the bars
I, Vadim A. Rodnianskiy, have stayed in the preliminary prison No. 13 since February this year. I am directed here by the Vatutinskiy district court of Kyiv.
In the small hours in the morning of 13 February an incident occurred in cell No. 178, as a result of which I got a cerebral trauma and lost my left eye.
Since then I turned to our medical workers more than once with a written request to undergo a complete examination, to invite an ophthalmologist and neuropathist and to render me the necessary medical aid. Up to now all my requests are ignored.
The state of my health is fast deteriorating: blood and pus permanently soak from my eye-socket, my temperature is always high, I have headache, nausea, more than once I fainted. In 1989-90 I underwent two very complicated operations on my eyes (cherothomia and scleroplastics). Obviously, due to the trauma I lost my left eye, and the seams on my right eye widened. As a result I am loosing my eyesight completely.
Besides, the lack of treatment of my cerebral brain trauma may bring about irreversible consequences.
Writing this complaint, I want to attract attention to the fact that all the responsibility for my life and health lies upon the administration of the preliminary prison No. 13.
I demand to examine the state of health and to hospitalize me immediately.
17 September 2000
A dweller of Lviv won a case against the local energy suppliers
Energy suppliers have a rather efficient lever to press on those, who systematically do not pay for the consumed energy: they can cut the debtor from the mains. It is much more complicated for those organizations that supply heat and water. To cut heat from a separate flat in a big block of flats is technically complicated. But heat suppliers, as it was in Lviv, cut off customers on a large scale: all the summer and most of the autumn they did not give hot water. One local radio station held the Internet poll in Lviv, asking them how they assess the situation with hot water supply. The most patient people hope for the better in future. The most of the responses are difficult to identify, whether they are serious or jocular. Not few Lviv inhabitants answered that they travel to take a bath to Ternopil to friends and relatives. It is not quite at hand – 140 kilometers in one direction. But beggars must not be choosers…
A public letter to A. Solzhenitsyn
As George Orwell said, every political movement has a lunatic fringe. Valeria Novodvorskaya undoubtedly belongs to that fringe of the dissent. Recently she wrote a public letter turned to Solzhenitsyn about the fact that he received a visitor – the President of Russia. Although we do not agree that Ms Novodvorskaya has the moral right to speak in such a tone of voice with the great writer, we publish her letter for the information of our readers.
A public letter to A. Solzhenitsyn
Revered Aleksandr Isaevich!
You are standing on the brink of loosing your good name, civil dignity and an image of a fighter with totalitarianism. My duty is to warn you. I am speaking with you as a dissident active for more than 30 years, your former comrade-at-arms and a devoted reader, who distributed in samizdat many copies of your great works. I have a right to tell you what I must tell. What are you doing? Do you think, it is little that since the moment of your coming back you do not fight communism, that you disregard the stars above the Kremlin and the Lenins Mausoleum on the Red Square? Now you licking the dust before KGB-men, your torturers and destroyers of Russia, when you meet on the porch the KGB-man Putin. Have you forgotten everything? Your arrest, Lubianka, interrogations, concentration camps, colony-mates, to whom you dedicated your script ‘Tanks know the truth, your exile from the country, people, who, risking their lives, distributed your ‘GULAG Archipelago? Now you cooperate with those very organs, which you anathematized in your books. Do you want to leave this world not with the reputation of a saint, but of a colony stool-pigeon? Were it you who advised in your ‘Archipelago to meet KGB-men with an axe. And you have met on the porch a KGB-man, who congratulated his colleagues on 20 December, the foundation day of this organization, an admirer of Stalin and Andropov? Are not afraid that heroes of our books, Ivan Denisovich, Tsezar, Kavtorang, will denounce you? The victims of Ekibastuz uprising, convicts of Solovki, Elgen, Steplag will rise from their graves to call you a traitor. Have you returned to Russia in order to bring shame upon yourself and Russian literature? Have you thought about your future readers who will learn that the author of these prophesies has finished his life as a renegade and yes-man?
Shame upon you, Aleksandr Isaevich! Have mercy on us, stop it! Otherwise your admirers will treat you as Knut Gamsun: they will throw your books dishonored by you in front of your house. You were shameless enough to publicly praise a son of the KGB, tyrant and military criminal. Knut Gamsun collaborated with fascists, you – with the KGB. I cannot think about any reason to pardon you and I ask all dissidents, still alive, who have not given up, to join me and to appeal to your consciousness of a Russian writer.
Valeria Novodvorskaya, a dissident and human rights protection
activist since 1968 (when I was 19), three times laureate
of Article 70 of the Criminal Code of Russian Federation
A new form of corruption
On 25 September the conference of the round table of political parties was held in Lugansk. This conference was devoted to the freedom of speech and to the protection of journalists. Representatives of all oblast leading mass media being present (altogether about 40 persons gathered in the hall of the Ukrainian-Canadian center) Mr. Valentin Tkalych, the head of the oblast department of the Rukh made a sensational, in my opinion, declaration.
First of all, he expressed the desire to confess and to excuse himself before Aleksey Svetikov, whom he had once threatened.
As Mr. Tkalych informed the present, in 1997 A. Svetikov published a small newspaper ‘Accent, that acutely criticized the mayor of Severodonetsk Vladimir Gritsyshin. And then, according to Mr. Tkalych, who then worked as a vice-mayor, the mayor ordered to local hoodlums to catch Svetikov near his house, to take to the forest, to beat him black and blue and to hang by legs to a branch.
There are grounds to believe that such an order was really given. At that time (summer of 1997) a militia officer (the name is not given by his request) contacted Mr. Tkalych and had with him a talk (surely within a car not to be eavesdropped). The officer asked to warn Svetikov to be extremely careful and not to appear outdoors after darkness because the order was to be executed.
In the autumn of that year a local godfather turned to Svetikov, as to the editor of the newspaper ‘Accent, with the request to publish information about many facts of violating law by the local militia. ‘Accent published such information. The godfather told Svetikov among other things that one convict released before his time got an order to beat Svetikov, but not to death. The ex-convict came to the godfather to ask his judgement. The answer was not to fulfil the order, or else the executor will have many troubles.
At that time we understood it as an empty threat , but now, after the confession of Valentin Tkalych, we see it in another light. Rather bleak…
PL commentary. One of the definitions of corruption tells that it is blending of the authorities with the criminal element. In Severodonetsk the situation is reverse: liberals and human rights protectors join criminals in their fight against the authorities. We hope that this new form of symbiosis will be as vital.
In memoriam of the great poet
20 years ago, on 2 October 1980 a great Ukrainian poet Vasyl Stus was condemned to 10 years of concentration camps and 5 years of exile. 15 years ago, 5 September 1985 Stus tragically died in Perm special political colony No. 36. We publish today some materials from our archives: a fragment from Mikhail Heyfetz book ‘Mesto i vremia (‘Place and time)about Stus first term, the information about the trial of 1980, fragments from Andrey Sakharovs appeal in protection of Stus. All these materials are published in Ukraine for the first time.
Mikhail Heyfetz. A fragment from the book ‘Mesto i vremia from the chapter ‘Boris Penson tells
…On the day of signing the Helsinki documents Vasyl Stus fainted and fell on the floor in the prison barrack. Permanent stays in the punishment block, undernourishment, fault-finding and persecution on the side of the administration resulted in the hemorrhage in his torn stomach.
I am listening to Bob with pain . It is next to impossible to find a man nobler than Vasyl and, at the same time, less suitable for the prison life. He is straightforward, manly and proud like his poems; such people are first broken in concentration camps, and they cannot avoid it. This is the essence of the concentration camp regime.
Here is an example: in January 1974 a convict, a Lithuanian Klemanskis died in the hospital. ‘As a convict he was a good comrade, said Vasyl. It was a usual roll-call. Stus stepped from the line: ‘Our comrade has died. He is deprived of the last consolation: he cannot be seen to his last abode by those who shared bread and salt with him… – ‘Stus, stop your agitation! – ‘Let us do what we can, let us bare our heads to commemorate him. – ‘Stus, stop it!. But everybody, including hardened criminals, took off their caps. Naturally an affair was started about ‘the meeting organized by Stus. During the investigation he reproached an officer, major Aleksandrov: ‘Shame upon you! Even fascists gave away coffins and urns to the relatives, if the deads were German… So Vasyl earned six months of the camp prison. That was typical for Stus.
-- …When Vasyl fainted and fell down, he was bleeding. We were frightened. I ran to the guard and pressed upon him as I could, he phoned to the settlement. It was a day-off, and for a long time we could not find a doctor. At last someone promised to find a doctor. In an hour a doctor appeared, he was somewhat tipsy. One hour more – and we managed to direct Stus to a stationary hospital. While we convinced the bosses, while we found a stretcher and transport, while we solved the problem of convoy, another hour passed.
Two convicts from an adjacent zone convoyed by four guards wit tommy-guns, their sergeant and a dog brought Stus to the hospital situated in 300 meters from the colony three hours after the fit. Nobody attended him to the morning.
It looked especially bleak on the days of signing the Helsinki act.
Not long before these events the newspaper ‘Pravda placed the note that Louis Corvalan fell ill, and the Academy of Medical Sciences volunteered to send to Chili a group of doctors. Slavko Chornovil sent this note to the Academy of Medical Sciences asking its president to sent a team of doctors to Stus, whose life was endangered not far from Moscow. Certainly, there was no answer, but the prison hospitals hospital made their best: they stopped the hemorrhage. The main surgeon of the hospital used to boast: ‘Ive taken Stus from the mortuary. Vasyls state continued to be grave, and we asked to send him to the hospital again. The doctor murmured back: ‘I cannot carry him in my arms. What happened with Stus I learned in a year since just then I was transferred to another zone…
Half-dead, Vasyl was sent to Kyiv, where KGB-men tried to interrogate him. He refused pointblank saying to the prosecutor in the presence of the KGB-men that ‘one has no obligation to speak with ones murderers. His 80-year-old mother came to Kyiv asking to see her son. His wife walked his son, the 10-year-old Mytryk, around the prison: Here is your daddy…. Neither wife no mother were permitted to see Stus. From Kyiv they took Stus to Leningrad, where doctors cut out two thirds of his stomach. From there he was returned to zone No. 17.
‘The Chronicle of Current Events, No. 58 (Moscow, Samizdat 1980, pp. 74-78)
On 29 September – 2 October the Kyiv city court chaired by P. I. Feshchenko considered the case of a member of the Ukrainian Helsinki group Vasyl Stus (born in 1938), accused by the Article 62 Part 2 of the Criminal Code of the UkrSSR (Article 70 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). The prosecutors name was Ardjanov. In spite of Stus protests an advocate V. V. Medvedchuk was present at the trial; he was appointed to defend Stus (Chr. 55).
Stus was arrested on 14 May (Chr. 57). During the preliminary investigation Stus refused to give any information.
Stus was blamed of writing letters to Sakharov, Lukyanenko, Grygorenko and his Kyivan friends, as well as an application concerning the Gorbal, his poems, and ‘oral agitation.
On 25 September Valentina Popeliukh, Stus wife, phoned to Seliuk (a KGB major who investigated Stuss case. – Editors note), but he said nothing about the trial of her husband. Late in the evening of 30 September Mykhaylina Kotsiubunska (Chr. 45, 46, 48, 49), Svetlana Kirichenko (the wide of political prisoner Yuri Badzio. – Editors note) and V. Andrievska, the wife of Evhen Sverstiuk, received summons for the 1 October calling them to come to the trial as witnesses. It was from them that Popeliukh learned that the trial of her husband was carried, but she was not admitted to the courtroom on the 1 October.
In her evidence Kotsiubinska called Stus a men with bare consciousness, unable to pass by any injustice. ‘Such people are seldom, and I am happy that the lot permitted me to meet Stus. I much oblige to him. Answering the judges question what she can say about Stus application to the prosecutors office about Gorbal (in this application Stus demanded to start a criminal case against the organizers of the cynical provocation), she answered that this application brightly confirms her characteristic of Stus. She also was convinced that Gorbal was not guilty, but she was only feeling grief, while Stus reacted at once.
Kotsiubinska refused to fulfil the judges request: to characterize Stus letter from his exile to Kyiv written in 1977. In this letter Stus wrote about his with to join the Ukrainian Helsinki group, planned his behavior at the trial to be: he was going to demand the representatives of the World Congress of free Ukrainians to be present. In the opposite case he was going not to participate in the trial and to dot the is only in his conclusive word.
In answer to the advocates request to give Stus a political characteristics, Kotsiubinska remarked the profound humanity and democracy of his outlook. He was absolutely devoid of the skin-surface nationalism. But is to understand nationalism in the light of the saying: ‘If one does not love his mother, one does not love the mankind, then Stus was a nationalist. He perceived all ugliness of the national life with acute pain and always condemned them openly.
Stus. Does the witness know that the Declaration of human rights proclaims a right of man to have his own views?
Stus. Does the witness know about the about the secret of the personal correspondence?
Stus. Does the witness know that Kristine Bremer (Stuss incrimination included his letter to her; in the final accusation it was said that he communicated by mail with ‘a nationalist from Germany) is a member of ‘Amnesty International, can she be a nationalist at that?
Kotsiubinska. It is absurd. Now I understand why the investigation officer did not want to write in the preliminary accusation that Kristine Bremer was a member of the German socialist party.
Stus. Does the witness know that on 8 August at the preliminary investigation cops applied to me physical torture? That is who ordered it (Stus pointed at the deputy head of the KGB preliminary prison standing near the door).
Kotsiubinska. I do not now. But if Stus says it, then it is true.
Then Kotsiubinska described heavy conditions under which Stus lived in the exile: he was made to reside in a hostel, where everybody was drinking.
The judge interrupted her by saying that some of these people were present in the courtroom (as witnesses of Stus ‘oral agitation several people from the settlement Matrosovo of the Magadan oblast were invited) and let her not slander the working class.
After this one of the witnesses from Magadan was asked if it was right that one of Stus neighbors, being drunk, urinated to Stus tea-kettle. The witness answered that he was not present at the act, but the urine actually was in the kettle.
After the interrogation Kotsiubinska was asked to leave the courtroom.
In the beginning of the testimony Svetlana Kirichenko addressed the court: ‘I demand to ask Stus whether he regards this trial as a legal one.
Kirichenko. In this case I refuse to take part in this trial.
In answer to the prosecutors demand to punish her for the refusal to give testimony and similar threats, Kirichenko answered: ‘I shall give testimony at the trial, where Stus will be an accuser, not an accused, and left the courtroom.
Andrievska was asked about Stus letter from the exile (see above). She answered that she read only the part of the letter addressed personally to her.
In the capacity of witnesses of Stus ‘oral agitation, some dwellers of the settlement Matrosovo were interrogated. They were: the manager of the mine, where Stus worked, the staff manager of this mine, several workers, his neighbors in the hostel, a nurse from the hospital, where Stus was treated, shop-girls.
The prosecutors speech lasted more than two hours. At first he listed the achievements of the Soviet Ukraine, blackened by Stus, then he dwelt upon crimes of Bandera followers and of OUN members. After this he enumerated Stus‘ ‘crimes: the letter from exile, the application concerning Gorbals case, letters to Kristine Bremer, A. Gorbach and G. Gorbach (to Germany), A. D. Sakharov, L. Lukyanenko, P. G. Grigorenko (these letters were represented in his case as xerocopies); the main accusation was about the oral agitation in the exile).
The advocate said in his speech that all crimes committed by Stus amply deserve punishment, but he asked the judge to take into account that Stus, when he had worked at Kyiv enterprises in 1979-80, always fulfilled the norms, besides, he underwent a grave operation on the stomach.
After the advocates speech the court session was interrupted.
On 2 October the session was resumed with reading the verdict (thus Stus was deprived of the right for a ‘final speech stipulated by law). Handpicked public, not to count V. Popeliukh, her sister and Rita Dovgan, was admitted to the courtroom. Kirichenko was summoned to militia on the same day as a social parasite (she was unemployed for three and a half months; according to the then law, she had to be persecuted after four months) and was kept at the militia station to the end of the court session.
The court condemned Stus to the maximal punishment: 10 years of the special regime colony and 5 years of exile. Besides, Stus was ordered to pay 2300 rubles of court expenses (mainly for the transportation of witnesses from Magadan.
The judge read the verdict, swallowing words and with such speed that it was impossible to recognize the dates and the names of witnesses. Having finished, he said without any pause: ‘The court is over, and the public started to leave the courtroom. ‘Butchers! You have not even given me my final word, exclaimed Stus.
Stus looked pale and ill. After the trial he said to his wife that he would not survive the term.
On 19 October A. Sakharov published an appeal
In protection of poet Vasyl Stus
1980 is notorious with unjust verdicts and persecutions of human rights protection activitists in our country. But the verdict to the Ukrainian poet Vasyl Stus is noticeable on this tragic background by its cruelty.
…The juridical machine worked with its usual cruelty and doomed a human being for 15 years of sufferings more.
That is the way how a human life is broken as a pay for an elementary decency and non-conformism, for the faithfulness to ones convictions, for ones self. The verdict to Stus is a shame of the Soviet repressive system.
I appeal to colleagues of Vasyl Stus, poets and writers throughout the world, to my colleagues, scientists, to ‘Amnesty International, to everybody who values human dignity and justice, to defend Stus. My especial appeal is directed to the participants of the Madrid conference… The verdict to Stus must the canceled, as all other verdicts to participants of non-violent human rights protection movement.
Monthly bulletin Prava Ludyny (Human rights), 2000, №10