war crimes in Ukraine

The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.


Deputy Mayor exposed as a vote-rigger in the Mykolaiv region

A deputy mayor of a town in the Mykolaiv region who in November 2004, during the second round of the election of the President of Ukraine, organized, in agreement with members of the district election commission, rigging of voter lists outside the election station has been exposed.  As a result, 611 voting papers of people either dead or absent got into the ballot-boxes.
The PR-Department of the Ministry of Interior of Ukraine informs that a criminal case has been started in connection with the crime as set out in part 2 of Article 264 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (misuse of power or authority by officials).
26 October 2005

Politics and human rights

Open Letter to the President of Ukraine

To the President of Ukraine

Viktor Andriyovych Yushchenko

8 November 2005

Your Honour, Mr President,

We are turning to you with profound concern that the future democratic development of Ukraine is in jeopardy, and in the shared conviction that urgent measures must be taken to overcome the danger. An extremely serious threat to the very foundations of our State and to the development in Ukraine of a free, open and democratic society is, in our opinion, posed by the “political reform” – the result of dangerous agreements which lack transparency and are incomprehensible to the people who voted for you as President and then defended their victory. The flaws of this “reform” have been repeatedly demonstrated by specialists in constitutional law.

For us it is quite clear that the “political reform” (Law №2222-ІV of 08.12.2004 “On amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine”) was adopted as a condition, in a package with other documents and therefore in flagrant violation of Section XIII of the current Constitution, the Regulations of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, and without the repeat expert assessment of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine required.

For us, as for every thinking Ukrainian, it is obvious that the amendments to the Constitution, which were approved by illegitimate means and are ill-considered, risk introducing disarray to the functioning of the State mechanism and, at the same time open the way for virtual rule by financial and industrial groups and clans who, as a result of this “reform” will be able to take exclusive control over Ukrainian political life. We consider it absolutely unacceptable and inappropriate, given the real demands of the time, that the “reform” effectively runs counter to the will of the people who voted you President for the whole constitutional term and with the powers set out by the current Main Law (the Constitution).  In so doing, the Ukrainian people vested in you responsibility which you may neither legally nor morally relinquish.

Your agreements with the leaders of the opposition may in no way go beyond the framework of the mandate which you received from the people, just as these agreements cannot narrow your democratic mandate.

Mr President, in turning to you, we are united in our conviction that Ukraine will not become a law-based and democratic State if this “reform” is allowed to mutilate our Constitution. Political expediency, power games or immediate interests can in no way serve to justify constitutional ruins.  You are aware what price our people paid during the period of parliamentary rule of the Central Rada[1] and the subsequent experiments speculating on “expediency”. The road to the abyss always begins with one first step. Unfortunately, the “political reform” may become precisely such a step, and therefore, you, as Head of the Ukrainian Nation and Guarantor of its Constitution, must act to avert this.

We call on you to do this solely in accordance with your powers as President and with your duty as a thinking citizen of Ukraine, and to act to defend our democracy and constitutional legality.

Yours respectfully,

Participants in the Ukrainian Human Rights Movement of the 1960s – 1980s (the signatures were confirmed by telephone or email)

Zinoviy Pavlovych ANTONYUK

Mykola Andriyovych HORBAL

Bohdan Mykolayovych HORYN

Mykhailo Mykolayovych HORYN

Mykhailyna Khomivna KOTSYUBYNSKA

Vasyl Vasylyovych LISOVY

Myroslav Frankovych MARYNOVYCH

Nina Mykhailivna MARCHENKO

Vasyl Vasylyovyc OVSIYENKO

Zoryan Volodymyrovych POPADYUK

Petro Pavlovych ROZUMNY

Raisa Panasivna RUDENKO

Yevhen Oleksandrovych SVERSTYUK

Nadiya Oleksiyivna SVITLYCHNA

Oles Yevhenovych SHEVCHENKO

Osyp Stepanovych ZINKEVYCH

Josef Samuilovych  ZISELS



In our view, the necessary and legally correct solution to this problem would be for the appropriate parties (the President, 45 State Deputies of Ukraine, etc) to submit a petition to the Constitutional Court of Ukraine for an official interpretation of Articles 154-159 of the Constitution;  to determine whether the voting for amendments to the Constitution as part of “a package”, that is, together with ordinary draft laws, is in compliance with procedural norms of Section XIII of the Constitution.  If the Constitutional Court declares the voting as part of “a package” unconstitutional, then there will have to be another vote on the “political reform” in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.

A Brief explanatory note

The new constitutional amendments introduce the possibility of removing State Deputies from their (elected) office in the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) if they refuse to follow their faction’s line, or indeed, leave their faction.

They also reduce the powers of the President and allow for a situation where some members of the Cabinet of Ministers answer to the Prime Minister and Parliament, and others to the President.  Particularly in the light of the recent crisis in the government, there seems good cause to fear that such a division of roles will lead to more conflict and bargaining between different factions, and will be less likely to serve the people.

There are a number of further reasons for concern, not least, the increased powers of control given to the Prosecutor’s office. 

The above Appeal also highlights the doubts over the manner in which such significant amendments were brought in as a “compulsory extra” to vital electoral changes needed to ensure that the rerun of the manifestly rigged Presidential elections on 26 December were fair and democratic.

It is also worth noting that most of those who have signed the appeal given above were prisoners of conscience under the Soviet regime.

  Translator’s note

[1]  The Central Rada, social-democrat in leanings, came to power in February 1917. Besieged by opponents from all sides, it first sought to cooperate with the Bolsheviks, then, having declared the Ukrainian National (or Popular) Republic in January 1918, looked for support to oust the Bolsheviks from Imperial Germany.  The general chaos in government and in the country led to a serious drop in popularity. (translator’s note)


A Cold shower for “servants of the people”

I have no idea to what extent, by adopting on 8 September the Law “On amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On the Status of Deputies of Local Councils”” State Deputies have improved their material position at the expense of their “little brothers” from those same local councils and of the contingent of a certain quality, who hope to land there with the aim of gaining the dreamed of “immunity”.  It is possible that they have improved it quite well. Or, perhaps, only so-so with nothing to get excited about. And just maybe (you must admit after all that one wants to believe in something at least comparatively better, contra spem spero [hope against hope] so to speak) that the Representatives of the People pulled this trick in no way “for personal gain, but purely at the will[1]” of their feeble (legal) awareness, which does in that case demonstrate their total incapacity, but no more.

However if such an assumption prove true and individual “local deps” did, in one way or another, natural or, so to speak, unnatural, encourage the State Deputies towards such ignoble and illegal actions, then I’m afraid I must disillusion them – they’re naïve idiots. Sorry, guys, the banal truth is that you’ve been duped by slick dealers from Hrushevsky St [i.e. the Verkhovna Rada]. “Immunity”, even if the anti-constitutional amendments of 8 September 2005 remain in force, is no more than a legal fiction, not worth any special expectations, nor, how shall we put it, capital investment.

So, through the efforts of an organized grouping of State Deputies, and with the backing of the person who not so very long ago the people having risen up almost forcibly brought into the office on Bankovy St. as “Guarantor of the Constitution”, certain norms have appeared in the Law of Ukraine “On the Status of Deputies of Local Councils”.  These state: “A Deputy of a local council cannot be held criminally liable, arrested or subjected to administrative measures of liability imposed through the courts without prior consideration of the issue by the local council (Article 30§ 7) and “preventive measures with regard to a Deputy of a local council in the form of a signed undertaking to not leave the place, or being remanded in custody may be applied exclusively by the court after agreement has been received by the relevant local council” (Article 31 § 2).  And the local deputy heart trembles with joy and the local deputy soul soars, filled with the sense of his or her own “exclusiveness”, and (attention!) perhaps local deputy grey cells begin ticking, brainstorming the vital issue of new profitable opportunities.

However then comes the cold shower.

Being a normative act of “the highest legal force” (Part 2 of Article 8) and “of direct effect” (Part 3 of Article 8), the Constitution of Ukraine at the same time is imperative in establishing the equality of all citizens before the law and before the court (Part 1 of Article 24 and Paragraph 3 of Part 2, Article 129), allowing exceptions only for the President, National Deputies (that is, Deputies of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine) and judges.  Two decisions of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine (No. 7-ep from 23.12.97 and No. 1-pn/98 from 26.02.98) confirms this more than convincingly (although, I admit, not for such a specific contingent as those who, through our will, sit in the building on Hrushevsky St.)

It would not, in addition, hurt the “local deps” in their euphoric frame of mind to pay attention to the Decree of the Supreme Court of Ukraine, No. 9 from 01.11.96 “On the Application of the Constitution in the Administration of Justice”, two provisions of which it will give me great pleasure to quote here for those burning with the urge to hide their legally shameful private places behind a “local” mandate.  "Since the Constitution of Ukraine, as set out in Part 2 of Article 8 has the highest legal force, and its norms are norms of direct effect, the courts in considering specific cases should evaluate the content of any law or other normative legal act from the point of view of its compliance with the Constitution and in all necessary cases apply the Constitution as an act of direct effect.  Court rulings must be based on the Constitution, and also on current legislation which does not contradict it”.

Little, you think?  Then here is another: "The court shall directly apply the Constitution in cases: when from the content of the norms of the Constitution there is no ensuing need for supplementary regulation of its provisions by law; when the law which was current before the Constitution came into effect or which was adopted after this, contradicts the Constitution…".  I would stress that this is not a question of any need for a decision of the Constitutional Court declaring an instance where the law adopted is in contravention of the Constitution. It is sufficient for the specific court considering a case to be convinced of this.

Therefore, bearing in mind the above, the Ukrainian courts, bodies of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Prosecutor’s office, the Security Service – that is, all the divisions connected with law enforcement may, and more than that, MUST, simply ignore the legislative lightweight of 08.09.05, remaining guided by the Constitution as the highest norm of direct effect, and consequently assuming the equality before the law and the court of ALL, barring those specifically set apart in the Constitution, that is, the President, State Deputies and judges.  Therefore, for example, the police have every right, without requiring any agreement from any council, where grounds are present, to tie up “locals” right in their hide …, sorry, their offices, session halls and take them to a cell or the court, where the judge in turn is obliged to consider the actions the person is charged with regardless of whether or not he or she is “covered”.

A cold shower can wash from “local deputy” carcasses ineptly daubed protective armour. Icy streams of water can carry this rubbish away where it belongs, down the toilet. What remains is a citizen, equal in his or her equality before the law and the court to other citizens. And nothing else.

I can already hear the counter-arguments – questioning whether law enforcement officers would be prepared to directly apply the Constitution. They must if they do not wish to themselves break the law, after all the application of a norm of lower legal force which runs counter to the Constitution is an infringement of the law, a violation of the Constitution.  Or there are the voices suggesting that criminal deputies will “arrange” things with judges and prosecutor’s officers so well that the latter, setting aside the Main Law (the Constitution), will be guided by a bad law. Yes, it’s possible.  But it is possible, dear mandate bearers that this won’t happen. The maximum that you have gained (and not, incidentally, for long) is lack of clarity. And that, as psychologists tell us, is a highly unpleasant thing, wreaking havoc to psychological stability. So, let the Damocles sword, or more accurately, the sword of Lady Justice hang over those of you who feel the need for that feeble “immunity”.

All of the above does not in any way remove the responsibility from the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and from the President of Ukraine for their joint creation of an openly unconstitutional legislative act ). However this is a slightly different story and its continuation should be acted out in the court. ( )

[1] In the well-known work of Ilf and Petrov “The Twelve Chairs”, Father Fyodor’s typical refrain and excuse for everything is that it is not for personal gain, but for his sick wife (with variations) (translator’s note)

Implementation of European Law

The European Court of Human Rghts has established violations in 58 claims lodged against Ukraine

According to the information of Irina Shevchuk, the head of the National bureau in questions of observance of the Convention on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, by now the European Court of human rights has established violations in 58 cases against Ukraine. Irina Shevchuk reminded that on 11 September 1997 the Convention on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms had come into force for Ukraine. Thus Ukraine acknowledged the obligatory jurisdiction of the European Court of human rights regarding the interpretation and application of the Convention. Physical and juridical persons, groups of persons and non-governmental organizations obtained the right to turn to the European Court of human rights with the complaints about violations of their right by Ukraine.

The head of the National bureau pointed out that they had no official data on the exact number of the claims about violations by Ukraine of rights and freedoms of citizens, which were handed to the European Court since 11 September 1997. She can only say that the number of claims to the European Court of human rights increases from year to year. By now the number of complaints against Ukraine is about 15 thousand, and 419 cases are now on communication with the Ukrainian government.

By words of Irina Shevchuk, the statistics of the appeals to the European Court against Ukraine evidences that the majority of these complaints is regarded as inadmissible as early as at the first stage of their consideration by court. A certain part of the complaints accepted by court concerns concrete cases of human rights violations because of gaps in legislation or imperfection of law-applying practices. In such cases a fact of acknowledgement of a violation by the European Court can noticeably accelerate the necessary changes in the Ukrainian legislation or law-applying practices, which, undoubtedly, would improve the situation with the observance of fundamental human rights and freedoms in Ukraine. Moreover, analysis of the complaints passed by the European Court to the Commissioner in charge of observance of the Convention on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, allows to realize, on the state level, the preventive measures for prevention of repetition of such violations of human rights in future.

For the purpose of diminution of the number of complaints against Ukraine to the European Court of human rights, which complaints are rejected by the Court as ungrounded, Irina Shevchuk emphasized the expediency of study of the opportunities of cooperation with the Council of Europe concerning the enlightenment of potential Ukrainian claimants in the sphere of handing of appeals to the European Court.

Valeria Lutkovska, a deputy of the Minister of Justice and the Commissioner in charge of observance of the Convention on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, commented the practice of handing by Ukrainian citizens of the complaints against Ukraine to the European Court. According to her words, there is not a single country among the countries-members of the Council of Europe, against which the complaints to the European Court were not lodged. Moreover, the number of complaints to the European Court does not characterize the level of observance of human rights in a country. This is confirmed by rather great number of complaints lodged to the European Court against, for example, the Great Britain or France.

Valeria Lutkovska points out that a resolution of the European Court about violation in Ukraine of some rights guaranteed by the Convention on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms entails the introduction of corresponding changes into legislation or administrative practices, which, indubitably, improves the level of observance of human rights in Ukraine.

So, the deputy of the Minister of Justice reckons that handing of the complaints against Ukraine to the European Court is a normal democratic process, which makes possible the improvement of the domestic legislation and national administrative practices.

5 October 2005

Press service of the Ministry of Justice

Against torture and ill-treatment

While ill-treatment continues, the State wastes money

State Representatives frequently explain the pitiful conditions in Ukrainian prisons as due to the absence of proper financing. Yet, it seems that this is not an honest explanation, but rather the usual rhetoric of a totalitarian country, which does not respect people behind bars.

The Chamber of Accounting of Ukraine conducted a check on spending in the penal system of Ukraine and financing of the reform of this system in 2004, and came to the conclusion that the funds were being spent unmethodically and, frequently, not for the purposes stipulated by legislation. In other words, great sums (164.1 million hryvnas, among them 150.8 million hryvnas from the state budget) were spent not on the development and improvement of the system, but, mostly, on its administrative functioning.

At that the conditions of upkeep of convicts were not improved noticeably. The present capacity of penal establishments is 158605 places, but the number of imprisoned is 191241 persons, so the deficit of places for keeping of the convicts in comparison with the available capacity is 20.5%. I want to repeat that these are the official data.

In spite of the deficit of places in investigatory isolation wards (5018 places), not a single place was created during 2004, although the creation of 1250 places was envisaged this year.

Out of 1200 places, which were planned to create for the upkeep of persons condemned to life imprisonment, 1062 places were created in the presence of 1099 condemned of this category.

Repair of 1364 buildings, engineering networks and constructions, objects of the budget sphere was planned, but only 330 objects (24.2%) were repaired.

The question of adequate provision with medical equipment is not solved too. At that, contrary to the demands of Article 16 of the Fundamentals of the Ukrainian legislation on health protection and Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers No. 765 of 15 July 1997 «On the approval of the Order of state accreditation of health protection establishments», 168 health protection establishments of the Department were not accredited as such establishments and had no accreditation certificate, so they realized their activities without any official recognition of the status of health protection establishments, the conditions for rendering of proper medical-sanitary aid, confirmation of their conformity with the prescribed criteria and guarantees of high quality of professional activities.

The problem of provision with dwelling of workers of the Department was not solved satisfactorily. As many as 2892 families of personnel of the criminal-executive system have no proper dwelling, and more than 1000 flats are suspended in the protracted building.

One should also realize that great sums are spent inefficiently, purchase of goods and services at too high prices, some groceries are purchased without the proper quality certificates and the work of several absolutely unprofitable enterprises is supported.

These figures and facts evidence that the matter is not in money, but in the persons, who spend the money, and the ways, in which this money is spent. Unfortunately, the new Head of State penitentiary department does not improve the situation, but worsens it in some aspects, in particular in the sphere of cooperation with non-governmental organizations, which get less and less opportunities for work in penitentiary establishments.

In fact, this report confirms the presence of inhumane and cruel treatment of prisoners in Ukraine, as well as the lack of  efficient state policy for overcoming of this phenomena.

24 October 2005

“Great-small” victory of human dignity

Mykhaylo Demyan lives in a small settlement Melnitsy-Podilskiy near Dniestr. Both in appearance and in biographical details, he is an ordinary person, like hundreds of thousands of such people in our country. To the question about his place of employment he answers: “I do not work anywhere”. This means that he works in his vegetable garden and helps his fellow-villagers to keep their households for minimal pay.

Just because of these everyday affairs Mykhaylo sometimes visited the house and homestead land of his neighbor I. Polivchak. One of April days a trouble happened: rather great, by local criteria, sum of money (several thousands hryvnas) allegedly vanished from Polivchak’s house. Mykhaylo was suspected of this theft, and although he categorically denied his guilt, in morning of 26 April 2005 Polivchak lodged the corresponding complaint to police. The events developed swiftly… Officers of the Borshchivskiy district police department Vitaliy Chepesiuk and Vasyl Kutasevich did not want to burden themselves with procedural formalities and looking for proofs of the crime. On the same day, without any arrest warrant and informing Mykhaylo’s relatives, Demyan was detained. The policemen transported him to the district police station and tried to beat out the confession from him. During the entire day two robust torturers kept the aged man handcuffed, without food and water; they brutally beat him with fists, feet and rubber hose, blackmailed, humiliated and intimidated him… Nobody knows what result would have this “investigation”, but in evening Polivchak’s wife phoned to the police station and informed that the ill-starred money had been found.

When the “investigators” were releasing M. Demyan, they, of course, gave him some “recommendations”: how to behave in future and what consequences will have the non-observance of these “friendly advises”…

Yet, the modest dweller Melnitsy-Podilskiy did not turn out to be “appeasable” for some reasons. The next day he underwent the forensic examination and lodged the complaint against the offenders-policemen to the Borshchivskiy district prosecutor’s office. Of course, the prosecutor’s office did not start the investigation of deeds of colleagues-law-enforcers immediately. At first district prosecutor Shavarivskiy signed the refusal to institute the criminal case “because of absence of corpus delicti in the actions of the policemen”. When M. Demyan appealed this decision in the regional prosecutor’s office, the first deputy of the prosecutor signed the repeated refusal… Only in June, after several appeals of the victim to the prosecutor’s office of the Ternopil region, the criminal case was started and only in July it was passed for consideration to V. Parfeniuk, a judge of the Chortkiv district court.

Consideration of the case lasted for almost two months. It is known that during this time several attempts were made to persuade M. Demyan to come to a compromise with his offenders, but he did not surrender. As a result, the Chortkiv district court acknowledged that policemen V. Chepesiuk and V. Kutasevich were guilty of “misuse of power and service authorities” in accordance with part 2 of Article 365 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. On 21 October 2005 the appeal court of the Ternopil region left this verdict unchanged. Both uniformed criminals were sentenced to 4 years of deprivation of liberty.

According to words of judge V. Parfeniuk, this was the first case in his practice, when policemen were incarcerated for the illegal violent actions in the course of investigation. Yet, we could not obtain a perspicuous answer to the question why in this case the actions of the policemen were not classified as torture…

It is noteworthy that during past years the prosecutor’s office of the Ternopil region stated, in the official responses to our requests, that “courts of the region did not issue the convictions concerning any workers of the organs of the Ministry of Interior and the regional directorate of the Penitentiary Department of Ukraine for commitment of crimes consisting in the illegal cruel treatment during detention, arrest, investigation or serving of sentence”. So, one can assume that the “Demyan’s case” is the next after the resonant “Shpakovich’s case” precedent, when policemen were sentenced to deprivation of liberty for the illegal violent actions.

(Note: the case of Mykolay Shpakovich, a Polish citizen, who perished on 17 September 1994 because of beating inflicted by police officers in the town of Pochaev. As a result of interference of Amnesty International the prosecutor’s office of the Ternopil region carried out the investigation of this case. One of the policemen was then sentenced to 8 years of incarceration “for exceeding his authority”).

However, in the majority of cases the complaints against application of illegal violent actions by officers of the Ministry of Interior do not reach court. The prosecutor’s office rather frequently refuses to start a criminal case. Sometimes the investigation of such cases lasts for years and is regularly closed; all this lasts until the claimant understands that his intention to punish his offenders is hopeless. Yet, most frequently the victims of police torturers are “persuaded”, in various methods, to take away their complaints.

The described case of implementation of justice is interesting because a common citizen, without any advocate’s aid, managed to achieve court consideration of the case, could defend his human dignity and demonstrated the force of his temper…

“Our own helplessness is as dangerous as somebody’s violence”. This is one of Stanislaw Jerzy Lets’ aphorisms. By the way, he could produce this idea just in our town…

The Prosecutor’s office has submitted charges involving the use of torture by police officers to the court

The Prosecutor’s office of the Zhytomyr region has investigated and passed on to the court criminal charges against eight officers of the law enforcement bodies.  The policemen are accused of crimes under by part 3 of Article 127, part 3 of Article 146, part 3 of Article 365, part 2 of Article 366, part 3 of Article 371 and part 2 of Article 373 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (torture, illegal deprivation of liberty, misuse of power, fraud committed by officials, etc.). This information was given to “proUA” by the press service of the General prosecutor’s office of Ukraine. In March of the current year the policemen illegally detained a citizen and tortured him extracting his "confession" to having committed a burglary.

The right to a fair trial

The planned reforms of the courts and of law enforcement bodies do not meet the needs of a democratic society

On 10 October, in the UNIAN, human rights protection activists and lawyers discussed issues relating to the reform of the courts and of law enforcement bodies in Ukraine. Although Mykola Siriy declared that he had assembled the press not for criticism, much criticism was heard. “If we respect the power, then we must openly point out the all drawbacks and mistakes, which it makes”, he said.

The first serious accusation was expressed by the lawyers about non-professionalism of the present power. “One must have professionalism, but not only the will and freedom to do something”, said Mykola Siriy and gave several examples of the activities, which, in his opinion and in the opinion of many other experts, were not adequate from the viewpoint of professional lawyers. So, he flayed the Order of the President on the creation of the Inter-departmental commission in charge of questions of reforming of the judicial system. From the viewpoint of world practice nothing really good can be created by a commission, which, by words of Siriy, “is collectively irresponsible for everything they write”. The draft of the Criminal-Procedural Code is an example of such “collective” work, which prejudices the possibility to turn Ukraine into a democratic and free state. “I, as a professional, need only 15 minutes to explain the absurdity of this 400-pages scribble”, remarked Mr. Siriy. “Yet, at all sittings given up to discussion of the new draft of the CPC, they did not allow me to open my mouth, so I had to take the floor by a small scandal, although I am a thoroughbred and intelligent person”.

Program manager of the Ukrainian Helsinki Union of human rights Volodymyr Yavorskiy emphasized that no organ could reform itself. However, just this process takes place now in Ukraine. Human rights protectors insist that independent experts must be involved in such important projects, as it is done in other democratic countries. Mr. Siriy added that he and his organization “Lawyers’ club” were absolutely opened for cooperation and, being independent of any political interests, were ready to help the power in solution of the questions of reforming of law-enforcing and judicial organs. “We are ready for cooperation and will work together with the power, or at least inform the public about possible results of these or those actions of the authorities and the probability of the reforms, which they promise to make”.

V. Yavorskiy also points out that even now the power demonstrates its unwillingness to work openly and transparently, to listen to the opinion of experts. “Recently it has become known that the Supreme Council is going to adopt the current version Criminal-Procedural Code, in spite of 1000 pages of criticism of international experts, who recommended to adopt the CPC only in the debugged, revised form”, told Mr. Yavorskiy. “However, the power ignored the opinion of international and local experts, decided to adopt the code and even distributed the draft among MPs for familiarization”.

Mykola Siriy stated that if the CPC would be adopted in the present form, this would put an end to the democratic society and freedom and would be a great step backwards. He points out that it is a very dangerous draft and it is necessary to make everything possible to prevent its adoption. “This is a step to the Middle Ages. There are some unpleasant clauses in the draft, for example, the first interrogation can be conducted before the meeting with advocate. One can only guess what methods would be applied for obtaining of testimonies. The draft also contains many other clauses restricting the access to defense. So, if this CPC would be adopted, we would be absolutely legally deprived of the constitutional right for defense. This is not compatible with a democratic society”, concluded Volodymyr Yavorskiy.

On the other hand, all participants of the press conference agree that the reform of the judicial and law-enforcing organs is necessary and urgent. Yet, they express their anxiousness about the fact that the judicial system is not ready for such reforms, and everything should be done step by step. “The system existing today was born many years ago, during Kuchma’s regime. And we really need to get rid of it, but this cannot be done abruptly, as it happens now, for instance, in road police. Judges and prosecutors must be prepared, trained, and only after this the reforms should be carried out. This will take much time”, said Mykola Siriy at the end of the press conference.

Vasyl Onopenko: “The Criminal Procedure Code should be changed!”

(Information for the press of the Supreme Council Committee in charge of questions of legal policy)

Last week Vasyl Onopenko introduced a new Draft Law No. 8256 on amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine. The author points out that such amendments are needed because of discrepancies in the legislative regulation of the methods of recording court hearings into a case (minutes of a court sitting) and reproduction of technical tools in courts of all jurisdiction. Article 87 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine reads that the minutes of a court sitting are the basic procedural document, which is compiled on the stage of court consideration of a case and are an important source of information on the contents of proofs analyzed in a first instance court, as well as observance of legal procedure by court and participants of court sitting.

Besides, this law envisages taking of minutes not only in the course of every sitting of a first instance court, but also during consideration in the appeal and cassation courts.

Although such regulation of fixation of the process in a court of the first instance is well-founded, it is expedient to keep minutes in a court of the appeal instance only during the investigation in court (as it is stipulated by Article 362 of the CPC of Ukraine). In other cases such fixation is not caused by procedural necessity, but will only result in the excessive financial expenditures for court secretaries, additional rooms, etc.

Moreover, there is no need to keep minutes in a court of cassation instance. The cassation consideration of a case is realized without investigation of proofs and within the bounds determined in the cassation claim (appeal). All procedurally significant actions are described in court resolution. Any fixation of the cassation process is not envisaged by other procedural codes too.

Practical realization of the provision that minutes should be kept during court consideration of every cassation case would result in unjustified financial expenditures for increase of secretaries’ staff in the Supreme Court of Ukraine, additional rooms, prolongation of the terms of cassation reconsideration of cases, etc.

As to the necessity of observance of the procedure of reproduction of technical recording of court process, which is realized at consideration in courts of the first instance, in appeal and cassation courts, it should be concretized. Besides, it should be envisaged that such reproduction can be realized both fully and partially, depending on the concrete circumstances of the case, which would make impossible the misuses on the side of the participants of the process for the purpose of unjustified retardation of case consideration.

Besides, it is necessary to stipulate in the law that the minutes of a court sitting should be kept during consideration of the complaints against the decisions of inquiry organs, investigating officers and prosecutors on the pre-trial stages of the process, during the preliminary consideration of the case and at solution of the questions connected with execution of a verdict.

The main goal of adoption of the proposed Law draft is liquidation of contradictions in the operating Criminal-Procedural Code of Ukraine concerning the fixation of court processes.

The law draft proposes to change Articles 87, 88-2, 236-2, 236-6, 240 and 411 of the CPC of Ukraine and to establish that the minutes should not be kept in courts of the cassation instance. In the courts of the appeal instance the minutes of court sittings should be kept in the cases, where court investigation is carried out. The minutes of court sitting is obligatorily kept during consideration of the complaints against the decisions of inquiry organs, investigating officers and prosecutors on the pre-trial stages of the process, during the preliminary consideration of the case and at solution of the questions connected with execution of a verdict.

We also suggest to establish that full or partial reproduction of technical records of a court process is realized according to court decision in a court sitting during consideration of a case in the courts of the first instance, in appeal and cassation courts, as well as at consideration of remarks.

The relations in this sphere are regulated by the Criminal-Procedural Code of Ukraine.

Adoption of this draft as a Law of Ukraine and its realization would not require any additional expenditures from the State budget of Ukraine.

Realization of the provisions of the law draft, in case of its adoption, will make possible the increase of the level of justice at consideration of cases in the appeal and cassation courts.


Freedom of expression

Journalists protest against persecution of their colleague

Investigative journalists, headed by Chief Editor Igor Kanevskiy, are leaving the newspaper “Biznes” in protest at the persecution of their colleague Oleksandr Dranikov. A new media-project will be created in Ukraine, which will specialize in investigative journalism.

We have all worked in the business press for 2-10 years. During several past years our lives have been connected with the leading business edition of Ukraine – the weekly “Biznes”. Since spring 2004, along with everyday journalistic work, we were occupied with investigation of the political career and business-activities of Dmytro Tabachnik, Oleksandr Tretyakov, David Zhvania, Yevhen Chervonenko, Vladislav Milenki, Eduard Zeynalov and a number of other well-known political figures. This work was started when Sergey Melnichuk, the main owner of the company “KhK “Blits-Inform”” (the publisher of the newspaper “Biznes”) was faced with criminal prosecution. Under pressure fromTabachnik’s and Tretyakov’s team, criminal charges involving tax evasion were brought against him.

Our work resulted in the publication of a series of articles about the business activities of top officials of our state. We exposed the attempts at secret privatization of the largest printing enterprises of the country united into the company “Ukrizdatpoligrafia”. If this happened, 80% of printed mass media would become dependent on the group of persons from the team of Tretyakov and Tabachnik. We also made public the plans of Yevhen Chervonenko, who, as Minister of transport, actively lobbied for the creation of yacht-club on the territory of the Yalta sea port. Our publications permanently described the misuses of officers of tax police and local state officials – the people, who most influenced the small-scale business.

The publications we prepared played into the hands of our employer Sergey Melnichuk, who used them to bargin with the present regimes over his own business-preferences. From the middle of July 2005 he initiated negotiations with MP Mykola Martynenko, the leader of the parliamentary fraction “Our Ukraine”. Sergey Melnichuk’s plan was that Martynenko would provide the “cover” for the company “KhK “Blits-Inform”” and would “hush up” the criminal case against Melnichuk. Melnichuk, for his part, was allegedly ready to support Martynenko in his ambition to become Mayor of Kyiv. At the beginning of the negotiations Melnichuk, being the publisher of the newspaper, created a list of persons, “not to be touched” by journalists of “Biznes”. The editorial board was prohibited from publishing any materials about the business dealings of Oleksandr Tretyakov, Mykola Martynenko and other members of “Our Ukraine”. Instead it was suggested that we look for some compromising facts about Kyiv mayor Oleksandr Omelchenko or the speaker of the Verkhovna Rada Volodymyr Litvin. Evidently, the promises given to new “partners” obliged our employer to do that. We refused to fulfill this work.

After this, from the end of September, the repressions started in the newspaper. Oleksandr Dranikov, a Deputy Chief Editor in charge of investigative journalism, was dismissed from the newspaper.  He refused to resign, but from 22 September he was not admitted to work, and the administration of the company, led by general manager of the publishing house “Blits-Inform” Yuri Feoktistov,  began to spread gossip among the staff about  Dranikov’s supposed midemeanours. His dismissal was accompanied by a  series of flagrant violations of the Labor Code by administration of the enterprise, such as non-payment of salary, non-giving of reference about income, acts on passing of property of the enterprise, etc.

The journalistic collective of the newspaper was absolutely demoralized by such actions on the part of Sergey Melnichuk and Yuri Feoktistov. On 11 October 2005 this story received its logical continuation. The apogee of persecution of the journalist was the threats of physical violence received by the journalist from two unknown young people, who demanded that Dranikov abandon journalism. The journalist turned to the organs of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the General prosecutor’s office with complaints about these threats. The law enforcements bodies have not yet reacted to Oleksandr Dranikov’s complaints.

However, the most capable team of investigative journalistsdid not desert in the hard time. In protest at the persecution of their colleague Oleksandr Dranikov, they decided to leave the newspaper “Biznes”. This decision was not a demarche against Melnichuk, who exchanged the principles of European editorial policy for the “ideas” of the gang of the corrupted officials, but an attempt to create an absolutely new media-project, the goal of which would be the formation of honest power in Ukraine.

("Pravoe delo", Odessa , No. 111, 20 October 2005)

Another likely case of pressure on journalists

Oleg Sevastyanov, the Deputy Chief Editor of the newspaper “Ogni Severodonetska” ended up in hospital after a visit from a "police officer". The journalist told our correspondent. “This morning a man came to the door, introducing himself as a police officer. He was not wearing a uniform and proved not to have no proper documents. He said that he had a summons from the city police department, but did not show the summons. "After that we had a very unpleasant talk. I got excited, and my blood sugar level fell”,  Sevastyanov recounted.  He explained that he suffers from diabetes, and that the ambulance he called had taken him to hospital.

Oleg Sevastyanov believes that the “summons” to the town police department was connected with his publications about the defence of the rights of homeless children who have been raped. He claims that on the eve of the visit of the “policeman” some strangers phoned him and made threats.

“Furthermore, today the city court is going to consider my complaint against a guard of Severodonetsk enterprise “Azot”. So, I believe that all this could have been an act of provocation”,  he said.


Parallel-Media, 28 September 2005

Access to information

Human rights activists investigate how available information about the activities of State bodies is in Ukraine

The right for the access to information is one of the corner-stones, on which a real democratic society is based. The content of the right for information is the right of everyone to free collection, storage, use and distribution of information orally, in writing or by other means.

The constitutional grounds of the right for information are secured in Ukraine, first of all, by Articles 32, 34 and 40 of the Basic Law. During 14 years of independence of Ukraine the legislative base has changed towards greater informational openness. The thirst for informational openness and transparency in the activities of state agencies and other juridical persons was embodied in the Laws of Ukraine «On information» and «On citizens’ appeals».

However, if to consider the real informational relations in Ukraine, they are much worse than ones proclaimed in the legislation. This arouses natural anxiousness of human rights protection activists, who are doing their best to improve the situation.

The Kharkiv group for human rights protection, together with the public organization «Koreni travy» («Grass roots») initiated this year a large-scale public work in Ukraine in framework of the project «Access to information on the activities of power», which is supported by the International Foundation «Vidrodjennia».

Coalition of human rights protecting public organizations from all regions of the country is involved in this project. They study the observance in Ukraine of the right for the access to information in two directions:

1) The monitoring is realized, how the organs of state power and local self-government carry out the work for informing of population about their activities and the adopted decisions (publications in the official printed editions and in mass media, placing in the Internet).

2) Human rights protectors direct the informational requests with the aim to obtain the information about the state of human rights in the regions of Ukraine. Analysis of the received responses will allow not only to get the information on the observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Ukraine, but also to get some idea about the situation with guaranteeing of the active right for the access to information: how the state organs realize the direct rendering of information to the interested persons.

The Ukrainian legislation envisages certain mechanism of protection of the right for the access to information, which allows to make the officials to fulfill their service duty concerning rendering of information. Along with handing of the appeal against the refusal to render the information to the organs of higher level, it is expediently and necessary to turn to court. The Law of Ukraine «On introduction of changes to some legislative acts of Ukraine on questions of guaranteeing and unimpeded realization of human right for the freedom of speech», signed in April 2003, introduced changes into the Code on administrative offences, supplying Article 212-3. This article stipulates the responsibility for the illegal refusal to render information, untimely or incomplete rendering of information, rendering of inauthentic information in the cases, where such information must be rendered by request of a citizen or a juridical person in compliance with the Laws of Ukraine «On information» and «On citizens’ appeals». At that it is pointed out that «the officials, whom the action of the Law of Ukraine «On struggle with corruption» concerns, are brought to responsibility for such deeds according to Law of Ukraine «On struggle with corruption»«.

In the framework of the project «Access to information about the activities of power» the advocates’ network has been created, which, on behalf of public organization «Korni travy», will render legal aid to the persons, who cannot realize their constitutional right for the access to information. The Ukrainian government, according to the Universal declaration of human rights, being a party of the International pact on civil and political right and being a signer of the European Convention of human rights, must protect the rights established by these documents. This obligation envisages not only respect to these rights, but also guaranteeing of existence of the legal and efficient system for procurement of these rights and their realization.

Taking into account the fact that this efficient system is not created yet and the Ukrainian officials have no sufficient knowledge and experience for work in the sphere of informational relations, «Korni travy» will carry out a series of seminars for state officials devoted to organization of work with information. Conduction of 10 such seminars-trainings is planned.

The project «Access to information on the activities of power» will last until 31 July 2006. We hope that its fulfillment will contribute to guaranteeing of the right for the access to information in Ukraine. However, one should understand that realization of this right can be guaranteed only by the common efforts of new power (which must work for its citizens), representatives of public organizations and mass media (which will not lose their persistence in informing of public) and the entire society (which should endorse representative of the «third sector» and the «fourth power» in the struggle with unfair officials and call them to account for their deeds).

About access to information in some European countries


The French Ministry of Finance has published in the Internet the budgets for all communes, territorial departments and regions for 2004 and for previous years.

At the present time bodies of territorial self-government within the country have begun to work under new conditions. This is connected with the fact that in accordance with the law on financial autonomy from 29 July 2004 and the law on their freedoms and responsibilities from 13 August 2004, bodies of local self-government receive a much greater amount of State funds, and also wider powers in managing the development of their territories. In addition, the role of local authorities in providing investment in local development increases.

In connection with this, the government is taking steps to increase transparency and openness in the work of local authorities.


The United Kingdom

British bodies of power are getting used to rigorous compliance with the Law on freedom of information. In comparison with the first quarter of this year, central executive bodies in the United Kingdom noticeably improved their level of compliance with the demands of the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act 2000] in the second quarter, according to a government report released.

This particularly concerns the time taken to provide answers to formal requests for information from individuals and organizations. Whereas in the first quarter only 69% of the requests were dealt with in the 20 day period allowed for this, from April to June this figure was already 82%.

It is worth noting that the wave of requests for information is beginning to fall: in the second quarter it stood at 8,400 requests which was 38% less than at the beginning of the year.

The best departments proved to be the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Debt Management Office, the Ordnance Survey и the Treasury Solicitor’s Department, which answered all requests for information within 20 days. The Home Office and Her Majesty’s Treasury had the worst results.

The most popular turned out to be the Ministry of Defence which received 1,039 requests.

For her turn, the Scottish Minister for Parliamentary Business, Margaret Curran, announced that a study was to be made about the compliance with the Freedom of Information Act in Scotland. She invited all of those individuals interested, as well as civic organizations, to provide their responses and comments with regard to any problem concerning FoI, including issues involving the payment of work of executive bodies in satisfying requests for information.

However, some civic organizations have already suggested that public discussion may end in an increase in the cost of information services provided by the authorities. At the present time all requests for information which cost the authorities up to 100 pounds to satisfy are free of charge.

The source: е, Great Britain


The material was compiled by Roman Romanov


Human rights and legal awareness-raising in Sumy

The Sumy City Civic Organization “Pravozakhyst" ["Human rights protection"] was created by a group of Sumy residents in February 2001. Its main aim is to develop legal awareness and ensure that people understand their rights and the law.

“Pravozakhyst" does not take part in any political activities either at local or national level, expect by monitoring the observance of electoral and other laws by local State bodies.

The work of the organization is funded by membership fees and donations, as well as by international technical aid.

The main areas of its activity focus on:

·  increasing public involvement through legal awareness-raising work and education in the sphere of human rights (group and individual consultations, publications in the press, assistance in registration of citizens’ unions);

·  ensuring freedom of speech and the access of citizens to information  (conduction of trainings and seminars on legislation for journalists, representation of their interests in court);

·  prevention of torture and cruel treatment (recording incidents and appeals from citizens, publications in the press, information and educational programs for workers of investigation bodies and the penal system).

In addition, at the beginning of this 2005, the public bureau “Pravozakhyst” concluded an agreement on cooperation with the Sumy regional association of citizens “Public initiative “Nichny dozor””, which provides legal advice and control over the observance of election laws.

Our correspondent

The Luhansk information and education center for human rights

Dear colleagues!

The Luhansk information and education center for human rights ( invite all those interested to visit their new website.

The goal of this site is realization of timely and reliable informational provision of the work of judges of the Luhansk region, as well as other concerned persons, whose activities are connected with human rights protection.

The site contains international legal documents in the sphere of human rights protection, precedents of the European Court of human rights, monographs, textbooks and other publications connected with this topic.

The site has been created by the Luhansk humanitarian center with financial support of the International Foundation “Vidrodjennia” in the framework of the project “Luhansk informational-educational center on the problems of application of the European Convention on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms”.

NGO activities

Crime without punishment?

(On the sixth anniversary of the artillery strikes on convoys of refugees)

Six days ago on the same day, 29 October 1999, in two different areas of Chechnya, near the village of Shami-Yurt and around the large village settlement of Goryacheistochnenskaya, Russian forces subjected convoys of refugees to artillery strikes and rocket attacks.  Dozens of people, at minimum estimates, were killed or wounded. We have no possibility of establishing the exact number of victims. Among the dead were women and children.

These events cannot be viewed as a tragic accident. They were the logical consequence of a criminal system for planning and carrying out “counter-revolutionary operations”. This conclusion must be drawn from the Judgment of the Court in Strasbourg (cf. the appendix).

The European Court of Human Rights considered the complaints lodged by three women who had suffered as a result of a rocket attack near the village of Shami-Yurt. It found Russia guilty of violations of human rights and awarded the claimants compensation. 

However it remains unclear whether, in implementation of the Judgments of the European Court, other measures will be taken, aimed at investigating the crimes committed and avoiding a repetition of them in the future.

A month before the tragic events, on 25 September 1999, telex messages were received in the Ministries and Departments of Internal Affairs of a number of territories and republics of the Northern Caucuses from the headquarters of groups of federal forces ordering that the administrative borders be closed to stop people leaving the Chechen Republic.  Only the President of the Republic of Ingushetia, Ruslan Aushev, refused to comply with these instructions. This resulted in a flow of people into Ingushetia fleeing the military action in Chechnya.

However on 22 October 1999, federal troops totally closed off the administrative border between Ingushetia and Chechnya and prohibited civilians from crossing it.  At the same time, a large part of the republic not occupied by federal forces was subjected to artillery fire, bombing and rocket attacks.

On 26 October the Russian mass media reported that from 29 October “humanitarian corridors” would be open to enable civilian residents of Chechnya to cross either into Ingushetia, or into the northern areas of the Chechen Republic. Thousands of people decided to take advantage of this opportunity.

Some of the refugees considered it preferable to move to the northern areas already occupied by Russian troops. On that day at about nine o’clock a convoy of refugees passed through the village of Petropavlovskoye and headed along the main road in the direction of the village settlement of Goryacheistochnenskaya, adjoining the district centre – the large village of Tolstoy-Yurt. Russian forces had already taken position on the outskirts of these two inhabited areas. When the car convoy came close to Goryacheistochnenskaya, it was without warning subjected to an artillery attack. The bombardment would appear to have come from a line of federal troops on a hill near the village of Vinogradnoye, approximately 5 kilometres to the North-East of Goryacheistochnenskaya. 

Over a period of four hours the military did not let local residents who wanted to give help to those in need near the place where the convoy had been shot at. It was only after the head of the administration of the village settlement of Goryacheistochnenskaya, was able to reach an agreement with the forces that a truck with young people from the village of Tolstoy-Yurt could go to the aid of the convoy of refugees, and was able to bring out the wounded and some of the bodies of those killed.

However five terrified children, led by a lad of seventeen spent a further five days without food or warm clothes, hiding from the bombardment in the hills. It was only on 3 November that they ventured out into Goryacheistochnenskaya, where they were given first aid.

As a result of the bombardment no less than twenty three refugees died, and another seven died later from their wounds in hospital. Among the dead were at least five children. Several dozen people were wounded.

It is possible that the number of dead was higher. It was not possible to assess the exact number of casualties. Some of those killed were buried by local residents in the cemetery of the village of Tolstoy-Yurt, while the bodies of some victims were taken by their relatives to be buried in other inhabited areas of Chechnya.  The bodies which they did not manage to drag from the place of the tragedy immediately were buried by the military together with the cars which had been destroyed. It was only on 2 and 3 June 2000 that one such “burial ground” was opened by the relatives of those killed.

The accounts of witnesses of the tragedy and of victims can be found on the website of the Organization “Memorial” at:

The second tragedy, which took place on the same day, near the village of Shami-Yurt, has received more publicity. This event continues to be talked about in large part due to the fact that it received consideration in the Court in Strasbourg.

Having learned from reports in the mass media that a “humanitarian corridor” through the control point “Caucuses-1” on the border with Ingushetia was to be opened on 29 October, many thousands of refugees decided to take this opportunity. Hundreds of cars amassed on the road there. However on that day permission was not in fact given to cross into Ingushetia (the passage of civilians on foot and in cars from Chechnya was restored only on 2 November 1999).  The cars carrying refugees, which had gathered at the control point, began turning around and heading back along the road Rostov – Baku in the direction of Grozny. However, near the village of Shami-Yurt the convoy came under rocket fire. Dozens of people were killed or wounded.

A criminal case involving the death of people was launched only in May 2000, to be subsequently suspended “due to the absence of the elements of a crime (corpus delicti)” in the actions of the fighter pilots.

Three of the victims lodged a claim with the European Court of Human Rights. The claim was prepared and supported in the court by lawyers of the Human Rights Centre “Memorial”.

The first claimant had lost two children and a daughter-in-law, and she herself had received injuries. The second women had been seriously wounded, while the third victim claimed for psychological trauma and the destruction of property belonging to her family.

The Court in Strasbourg issued its decision in this case on 24 February 2005, to come into force on 6 July 2005 (cf. the website of the Organization “Memorial” at  Russia was found guilty of having violated Articles 2 (“the right to life”) and 13 “the right to an effective remedy») of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.  Moreover, in accordance with the Judgment of the Court, in the case of one of the claimants, there had also been a violation of Article 1 of Protocol 1 to the Convention (“protection of property”).

The Judgment of the Court in Strasbourg does not place in question the principle of legality and appropriateness of federal forces inflicting attacks on armed formations showing resistance. The European Court of Human Rights passed its judgment on the absence of adequate measures directing at protecting the civilian population while an operation was being carried out.

In its Ruling, the Court also mentions that Russia did not carry out an effective investigation into the incident.  There had been unjustified delays in launching a criminal investigation. The Court noted “a number of elements which, taken together, create the strong impression that there was a series of serious and inexplicable omissions which occurred after the investigation had been begun”.  Nor had efforts been taken to obtain information about the misinformation regarding “safe passage” or to establish who among the military and civic authorities had been responsible for safety of passage. Nothing had been done to ascertain the causes for the total lack of coordination between the public statements about “safe passage” for the civilian population and the clear ignorance of this on the part of the military who were planning and carrying out a task.

In the opinion of the Court, “these failings alone make it impossible to describe such an investigation as effective”.  Nevertheless, the Court’s Judgment cites other circumstances as well which testify to the total lack of will among the Russian authorities to investigate this case.

In October 2005 Russia paid the three claimants the amount in compensation awarded by the Court in Strasbourg.

The Russian State’s culpability has now been established beyond any doubt, and the State has paid the victims compensation. However, this after all was not the main objective of either the claimants or “Memorial”. By turning to the European Court of Human Rights we sought to bring an end to the practice of killing of Russian citizens going unpunished and to ensure that those guilty of committing war crimes are punished by Russian courts.

Otherwise the European Court will condemn violations of human rights, and the authorities in our country will pay out compensation, while happily continuing to violate human rights on a mass scale, viewing such compensation payments as a reasonably small (in terms of State revenue) tax on lawlessness and killings of their own citizens.

The implementation of the judgment of the Court in Strasbourg envisages a whole range of measures in addition to pecuniary compensation.


1.  A translation of the Court’s judgment and its summary should be made available and distributed through units of the armed forces and internal law enforcement bodies, as well as in the courts.

2.  The criminal case launched in connection with this incident must be restarted, and those guilty must be brought to justice.

3.  A review is needed both of anti-terrorist legislation, and of the regulations, instructions and other acts regulating the use of arms.

4.  It is necessary to create a system of training in the appropriate standards of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and international humanitarian law, covering investigators, prosecutors, judges and military servicemen.


An unambiguous indication of the need for this package of measures is contained in the Memorandum sent by the representatives of the claimants to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe which, in accordance with its status, plays a supervisory role ensuring the implementation by countries of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (this can be found on the website of “Memorial”’ at:

Victims of political repression

In Memory of the Victims of the Solovky embarkation point

68 years ago, on 27 October 1937, in fulfilment of a resolution of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik) R 51/94 «On anti-Soviet elements», in the forest clearing of Sandarmokh in the south of Karelia the execution began of 1111 prisoners of the Solovky Special Purpose Prison (SLON[1]). Among them were 290 Ukrainians – the pride of the Ukrainian nation: the creator of the theatre “Berezil” [“March”] Les Kurbas; the neo-classic poet and professor of Kyiv University, Mykola Zerov; the playwright Mykola Kulish; the writers Valeryan Pidmohylny, Pavlo Filypovych, Oleksa Slisarenko, Myroslav Irchan, Hryhoriy Elik, Valeryan Polishchuk, Marko Vorony, Myhkailo Kozoriz, Mykhailo Yalovy; the former Minister of Education in the Ukrainian National Republic[2] Anton Krushelnytsky, and his sons Bohdan and Ostap; the historians Academician Matviy Yavorsky, Professor Serhiy Hrushevsky; the scientists Stepan Rudnytsky, Mykola Pavlushkov, Vasyl Volkov, Petro Bovsunivsky, Mykola Trokhymenko; the founder of the Hydro-meteorological Service of the USSR, Professor Oleksiy Vangenheim; the Minister of Finance of the Ukrainian SSR Mykhailo Poloz … These were people who could have created inestimable spiritual treasures whose heritage would have brought us, Ukrainians, onto an equal footing with other civilized nations. The very presence of such people uplifts a society, makes it better.  Instead the bullets of the barely literate executioner, Matveyev  implementing the will of the Russian communist regime, which was alien and profoundly hostile to us, changed the course of our history.

As in previous years, the informal society “Ukrainian Solovky”, the Kyiv City Organization “Memorial” named after Vasyl Stus, the All-Ukrainian Association of Political Prisoners and Victims of Repression, and the people of Kyiv plan to hold a memorial service and meeting in memory of the victims of the Solovky embarkation point.  It will begin on Thursday, 27 October, at 18.00, near the Monument to Les Kurbas (at the intersection of Prorizna St. and Pushkin St.]

The memorial service and meeting will be attended by descendents of those murdered, participants in the annual delegation to Solovky and Sandarmokh, as well as members of the public. Both the President of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko and the Head of the Kyiv City State Administration, O.O. Omelchenko have been invited.

If you are unable to be at the memorial service and meeting, then at home remember to light a candle in their memory.

On 2 July 1937 the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik) (hereafter the Politburo) passed Resolution R 51/94 «On anti-Soviet elements», in accordance with which the secretaries of regional, area, republic-wide organizations and representative bodies of the NKVD were told within a period of five days to create “special panels of three”[3]and establish the number of people who were to be shot or sent away.  The operation was to begin on 5 July 1937 according to the Order of the NKVD of the USSR No. 00447 and to last 4 months.  In fact, it was suspended at the decision of the Politburo on 15 November 1938. This was to be the most mass-scale “Yezhov Purge”[4] of the entire Soviet era, aimed at ridding society of those categories of the population who, in the opinion of the leadership of the USSR, were not suitable for the building of communism.  Over the 15 months of this campaign, the “special panels of three”, without investigation, court hearings, the prosecutor, defence lawyers and, as often as not, without any actual charges being laid, administered 681,692 death sentences, according to their lists. The death sentences were carried out immediately. This was entirely in keeping with the spirit of the directive issued by the creator of the Soviet State, Vladimir Lenin, which enjoined: “Be models of ruthlessness. Shoot, asking no questions and allowing no idiotic procrastination!” Each republic, region, district was issued with quotes for repression according to categories I and II (I stood for execution (being shot) and II – imprisonment, with the ratio being 3 to 1). Reports were sent “from above” on exceeding quotas, and a socialist competition was launched encouraging going over the norms given, with requests and demands to increase these norms, especially in the case of Category I, with “counter-plans” also put forward.  For example, the People’s Commissar of Internal Affairs of the Ukrainian SSR, Israel Leplevsky made three approaches to have the quotas increased, the People’s Commissar newly-appointed in January 1938 made two such requests. And Moscow obliged each time.

The activity of the “threesomes” covered all categories of the population. Those subjected to repression included “kulaks”[5], “criminal elements”, “counter-revolutionaries” of various shades, “rebels”, “church people”, “spies”, “Trotskyites”,  “saboteurs”, “wreckers”, “bourgeois nationalists”, that is, also the Ukrainian intelligentsia, which, according to Stalin’s definition, “were not trustworthy”. 

The repressions undoubtedly affected all the nations whose misfortune it was to remain in the Russian Empire under the new name of the USSR.  Yet nonetheless it could seem that the Ukrainian nation suffered the most, for it, with its deeply religious, freedom-loving aspiration to be independent and to fend for itself, was totally unsuited for the building of communism, and it needed to be replaced by a newly-created “Soviet people”. 

In carrying out the above-mentioned Resolution, the “purge” also affected the labour camps. For example, the Head of the Solovky Special Purpose Prison (SLON), Ivan Apeter, received the order to draw up a list with the names of 1825 prisoners to be shot.  He selected the intelligentsia of virtually all the nations of the USSR (perhaps, on the eve of the twentieth anniversary of the “Great October socialist revolution”, in order to strengthen the “friendship of nations”).

One group of 509 prisoners was shot near Leningrad on 8 December 1937; 200 (in fact, 198) – at Solovky on 14 February 1938.  The fate of 1,116 people, of the “Solovky embarkation point” was not known. For a long time a story circulated that these prisoners had been drowned in old barges in the White Sea.  It was only in 1997 that it became clear: On 27 October, 1, 2, 3 and 4 November 1937 Captain Mykhail Matveyev shot 1111 Solovky prisoners in the forest clearing in Sandarmokh – “a regular execution site.”” in the south of Karelia, not far from Belomorkanal, where, in 150 pits, the remains of around 8 thousand victims already lay – the builders of Belomorkanal, Karelians, Finns …

This Sandarmokh was found and identified at the site on 1 July 1997 by the Karelian and St. Petersburg chapters of “Memorial”, specifically Yury Dmitriev, Venyamin Yofe, Irina Ryeznikova. It was on 27 October of that year that those murdered were properly honoured for the first time. It was then that Larysa Krushelnytska (granddaughter of Anton Krushelnytsky) and her daughter, Tetyana, Ivan Drach, the bandurist Mykola Lytvyn, Reverend Pavlo Bokhnyak came to Sandarmokh. In two days the artist Mykola Malyshko carved a small oak cross with the words “To the slaughtered sons and daughters of Ukraine”. This was taken to Sandarmokh by Yevhen Sverstyuk. Nearby in the clearing there are crosses erected by Poles and by Russians, Muslim and Jewish Memorial Stones, while in the forest there are around 150 Karelian signs with memorials. The Russian Orthodox Church has built a chapel. At the entrance to the memorial there is a monument with the words inscribed: “People, do not kill each other”.  The St. Petersburg chapter of “Memorial” brought the stone here from Solovky.

From then on, each year on 5 August, in the forest clearing at Sandarmokh, and on 7 August on the Solovky Islands, Remembrance Days are held to honour the victims of political repression. The descendants of those shot and others from many countries, as well as the consuls of Finland, Poland, Germany and Ukraine come to pay tribute.  In 2003, with the support of Viktor Yushchenko’s bloc, “Nasha Ukraina” [“Our Ukraine”], a coach was taken to both Sandarmokh and to Solovky, carrying 50 people, six of them descendants of murdered victims, and many young people and journalists. In 2004 there was a Ukrainian delegation with 11 people.

Thanks to the financial assistance of the son of the outstanding Ukrainian linguist, Mykola Trokhymenko, murdered at Sandarmokh  – Venyamin Trokhymenko, who now lives in the USA, the Mykola Trokhymenko Scientific Society, the All-Ukrainian Association of Political Prisoners and Victims of Repression, the Kyiv State Institute of Applied Arts and Design named after M. Boichuk, as well as the editorial board of the bulletin “Ant”, an open competition was organized for the design of a monument for Sandarmokh. On 30 October 2002, the entries were judged in the M. Boichuk Institute.  The winning designs were from the laureate of the Vasyl Stus Award, artist Mykola Malyshko and the sculptor Nazar Bilyk.  They were asked to join their two designs into one.

The Karelia Republic Society for Ukrainian Culture “Kalyna” received the first contributions for the future monument at the Sandarmokh Clearing itself on 5 August 2003 – on Remembrance Day for Victims of Political Repression.  However things only began moving when in March 2004 the Chairperson of the Society, Larysa Hryhorivna Skrypnykova, came to Kyiv.  A civic group to support the creation of a monument then approved the plan to erect a granite Cossack Cross over a grave from boulders.  This idea had the support of the leader of the bloc “Nasha Ukraina”, Viktor Yushchenko, who met with Larysa Skrypnykova.  The bloc provided significant financial assistance which made it possible to commence work.

Over the spring and summer, Mykola Malyshko and Nazar Bilyk prepared their design.  The Ukrainian media was instrumental in informing people about the plan and about the need for financial contributions (the newspapers: “Ukraina moloda” [“Young Ukraine”], “Literaturna Ukraina” [“Literary Ukraine”], “Shlyakh peremohy” [“Path of Liberation”], “Ukrainske slovo” [“Ukrainian word”], “Slovo Prosvity” [“Word of Enlightenment”]; the bulletin “Prava ludyny” [“Human rights”]; Radio “Svoboda” [Radio “Liberty”] and the third channel of Ukrainian Radio; the newspapers “Svoboda” [“Liberty”] (USA) and “Homin” [“Voices”] (Canada), as well as the press of Karelia. The largest contributions came from Venyamin Trokhymenko, from the Ukrainian community of Karelia, from the bloc “Nasha Ukraina”,  the World Congress of Ukrainians (thanks to the Chairperson of the Kyiv organization “Memorial”, Roman Krutsyk, and the Chairperson of the Ukrainian Cultural Centre, Bohdan Fedorak).  A large amount was collected in America by the Taras Shevchenko Award laureate, Nadiya Svitlychna, who was herself once a political prisoner.  Her list, which is not complete, included more than 50 people (Ada Kulyk, Roksolyana and Bohdan Siri, Ivan Danylenko, Larysa Zyelyk and Natalka Sonevytska – in memory of her mother, Mariya Palidvor, “Samopomich” from New York).  A generous donation was also passed on by Doctor Larysa Kyj, the chairperson of the United Ukrainian and American Aid Committee.

From among Ukrainian citizens, contributions from their hard earnings were made by Valeriy Yermolenko from Komsomolsk in the Poltava region, Kyiv residents Nina Marchenko, Oleksandr Suhonyako, Yevhen Sverstyuk, Emiliya Chernova, Serhiy Shevchenko, Vira Lisova, members of the Kyiv “Memorial”, a guest from Canada, Oleksandra Kovalska. However the most cherished “poor widow’s contributions” were those made by people whose relatives were victims of the repressions, but whose graves have not been found. Maybe they too lie in Karelia.  Not everyone is aware why Viktor Yushchenko has taken this cause to heart. His father worked as a prisoner near to Sandarmokh, on the construction of Belomorkanal (he was sentenced in 1937 to three years for “an infringement of the passport regime”.). 

The Ukrainian State authorities did not play any part in the creation of the monument, although the Civic Support Group did approach the State Construction Department, citing the Presidential Decree “On measures of State support for former political prisoners and victims of repression”,  No. 307/2001, from 14 May 2001, which allows for the honouring of the memory of victims of political repression on Russian territory also. In a letter to me dated 9 October 2001, Yury Dmitriev congratulates us “on the victory over international Russian-Ukrainian bureaucracy. The method of people’s diplomacy – the Cross is standing! – is by far more efficient than bowing low before Presidents”.

Not so very much time was needed from when the plot of land was formally received on 12 December 2003 to the actual construction of the Cross.  And during this time it was also necessary to organize the work, to raise money, obtain material and organize transport – all of these numerous difficulties fell on the shoulders of Larysa Hryhorivna Skrypnykova and her many co-helpers from the “Kalyna” Association – Mykola Kovtun, Viktor Krysevych, Viktor Mohutin and Oleh Mysylyuk who worked with just as much selfless commitment.  The Director of the Museum in Medvezhyegorsk, Serhiy Koltyrin, helped, and the head of the body of local self-government, Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Karpenko (Ukrainian pride through out the world!), and his deputy, Viktor Mykhailov did everything in their power too.  It should be mentioned that Ms Skrypnykova succeeded in getting much of the work done on a voluntary basis, which cut costs. People saw that this national wound caused her sorrow, and trusted and helped her, for this is a matter of honour for any decent person and citizen.

The Cossack Cross which is 3 x 1 x 1 metres was carved with a machine from slabs of grey granite stone at a factory in the city of Kondopog which is 60 kilometres from the capital of Karelia, Petroskoya (Petrozavodsk).  From 23 August to 14 September 2004 the sculptors Mykola Malyshko and Nazar Bilyk worked there, preparing the inscription “To the slaughtered sons and daughters of Ukraine”, and a group of sculpted portraits among which one recognizes Les Kurbas, Mykola Zerov, Valeryan Pidmohylny, Anton Krushelnytsky, Mykola Kulish, Marko Vorony … On 6 October the Cross was erected in Sandarmokh with the help of Mykola Malyshko.  A liturgy was held on 9 October 2004 in the Sandarmokh Clearing for the prisoners murdered in this place. With this, the Karelia Republic Society for Ukrainian Culture “Kalyna” brought to completion a great undertaking.

The granite Cossack Cross at Sandarmokh is the first professional monument to political prisoners outside Ukraine – on the territory of the former USSR strewn with the remains of Ukrainian victims. The presentation ceremony of the Monument took place on the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Political Repression, 5 August, 2005. It was attended by the General Consul of Ukraine in St. Petersburg, Mykola Oleksandrovych Rudko, members of the “Kalyna” Association, a Ukrainian delegation of 45 people who came in a coach provided by President of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko. On 7 August the delegation also took part in a Remembrance Day ceremony on Solovky.

By this time, the Karelia Republic Society for Ukrainian Culture “Kalyna” had published a well-illustrated book entitled “To the slaughtered sons and daughters of Ukraine. Sandarmokh”, which includes a list of 677 people of Ukrainian origin shot here (the list was compiled by Yury Dmitriev).

Let us remember: Sandarmokh happened because the government of Soviet Ukraine which was not Ukrainian in either makeup or spirit during the 1920s and 1930s surrendered Ukraine’s sovereignty.  It did not even have the right to hold prisoners on its own territory. The forces which wanted to return us to an empire of Evil have still not been overcome. We must pass on to our people just what a tragic hell we are trying to break free of.

  15 October 2005

On 27 October in Kyiv those present at a meeting honoured the memory of the victims of the Solovky embarkation point.

[1]  The abbreviation given in the text is from the Russian   (translator’s note) 

[2]  The Ukrainian National Republic (sometimes translated as People’s Republic) was proclaimed in January 1918 by the social-democrat, Simon Petlura’s Central Rada, but survived against the Bolsheviks, and against the background of chaos within the country only for a few months (translator’s note)

[3]  In both Ukrainian and Russian, the word used was “troika”, the word being used more widely for any threesome  (translator’s note)

[4]  Yezhov was People’s Commissar for Internal Affairs during the worst period of the Terror (translator’s note)

[5]  “Kulaks” were (sometimes not much) more affluent and successful peasants.  Collectivization, with the appropriation of “kulak” land and possessions, as well as repressive measures against them, had already  taken place on a mass scale at the end of the 1920s and beginning of the 1930s  (translator’s note)

News from the CIS countries

A new TV Documentary “The Truth about our rights”

The foundation “Force of the law” is offering to provide on request to public human rights  organizations, individual human rights protectors, informal groups, associations and unions, TV broadcasters and other mass media their TV Documentary “The Truth about our rights” (about human rights issues during 2004-2005). The film was made within the framework of the project “The annual video report on human rights”.

This film presents, in the interesting artistic form, the events, which have taken place in the sphere of human rights protection during this period. The film is available on DVD, CD and VHS carriers. The film will be sent to many state agencies, to the Supreme Council, ombudsperson, non-governmental and donor organizations, Minister, political parties, etc. The film will be also provided in the professional format to regional TV organizations for translation.

Besides, there is other video production made by the TV studio of our organization; the list of this production is contained in the appended questionnaire. The film “Truth about the rights” can be also ordered by foreign organizations – it is translated into English.

Respected colleagues, I also want to remind that our organization is forming the permanently functioning video archive on human rights. In the framework of this project you can invite our camera group to interesting human rights protection actions in your region. Turn to me, Oleg Spornikov, by phones: 044-5920383, 067-2099359 (cell); e-mail: [email protected].

“Prava Ludiny” (human rights) monthly bulletin, 2005, #10