UHHRU: At the beginning of the XXI century Ukraine has become a feudal state
Ukraine has turned into a feudal state, believes Volodymyr Yavorsky, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union [UHHRU], with reference to the situation with human rights abuse under the new regime. He said in an interview to Radio Svoboda that in various regions of Ukraine they are receiving information of arbitrary rule by local officialdom and politicians, with the same trend existing at national level. Among neo-feudal offenders are those who should be protecting the law – prosecutors, mayors, tax officials, police heads.
Together they create some kind of Mafioso clans which hold all of them. Or it can be other wealthy people who buy everything up – businesses, large areas of land and dictate to the villages what to do. People in the provinces feel totally lack of rights because it’s clear that the police are not performing their functions. They never protect ordinary people, they do only what the authorities above say. My colleagues and I have also noticed that all the authorities are so closed that there is no response to complaints regardless who complains, whether human rights organizations or ordinary individuals – they’re hitting their heads against the wall. Only if there’s a call from above do the authorities begin to do something.
He was asked whether international human rights organizations are quicker to react to violations of human rights than Ukrainian institutions which should be dealing with these issues.
They – our politicians and officials live autonomously full stop. The central authorities do not pay attention to any events. That is, they have some kind of plan, they carry it out, regardless of anything. Whatever else that happens is in their view failings, or organized by the opposition. When we see in the media the reaction of the authorities, it’s always that everything is organized provocation by the opposition. When the Security Service [SBU] comes to check civic activists, that’s some kind of opposition things. When the local administrations collect information about the political convictions of officials, or how they voted at the last presidential elections, keeping databases about all officials in the district, that also the opposition!
How do you assess in this context the law on peaceful assembly proposed by the new parliamentary coalition?
It’s not the worst draft law, and if you change 5 or 6 norms it will be better than the situation at present. The Law on Personal Data Protection is much worse, as is the Labour Code which is being considered in parliament. This regime listens to only two things: ratings (that is, if their rating falls, there will be some change in their behaviour). People need to know and understand what is happening in the country, that’s our key function at the present. And the second thing is the reaction of the international community to all these things. Our country depends on export, all our business is built on selling metals or other things to the European Union, the USA, other countries and therefore Ukraine cannot be isolated.
Volodymyr Yavorsky says that it is not out of the question that under the pressure of western economic partners Ukrainian politicians closely linked with big business will be forced to reduce pressure on society. He stresses that society must become hardened to counter pressure from the present regime for their own sakes and that of the country.