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.


Constitutional aspects regarding the formation of coalitions in the Ukrainian Parliament

V. P. Kolisnyk , Doctor of Law, Professor

F.V. Venislavsky, Candidate of Law, Associate Professor

V.I. Kychun , Candidate of Law, Associate Professor

1. The legal basis and procedures for forming a coalition, as well as those for terminating such coalitions of deputy factions in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine are set down in the Constitution of Ukraine (Article 83) and the Regulations of the Verkhovna Rada (Chapter 12). In accordance with Article 83 § 6 of the Constitution, a coalition of deputy factions is to be created “following the outcome of the elections and on the basis of agreement over political positions”.
Pursuant to Article 61 § 1 of the Regulations of the Verkhovna Rada “a coalition of deputy factions in the Verkhovna Rada (hereafter “coalition”) is a voluntary association of deputy factions which is formed in the Verkhovna Rada following the outcome of the elections and on the basis of agreement over political position.  Such a coalition is made up of a majority of State Deputies from the constitutional composition of the Verkhovna Rada. The coalition is formed by deputy factions, themselves created according to the rules and procedure established by these Regulations (Article 61 § 2 of the Regulations).  This means that the parties to the formation of the coalition of deputy factions are specifically the deputy factions, and not individual State Deputies (Article 83 § 6 of the Constitution of Ukraine).
How the decision is taken by a given deputy faction to join the coalition is not given normative specification.  At the same time, since a faction is created by a political party (or electoral bloc of political parties) which received deputy mandates as a result of the elections, this issue must be resolved in accordance with the Law of Ukraine “On political parties”.  Based on the principles of democracy and equal rights of the members of a political party enshrined in this Law, a decision of any given faction to join the coalition should be passed by a majority of the State Deputies belonging to the given faction.

The Regulations state that the coalition agreement shall record the agreed political positions which have formed the basis of the given coalition, with regard, in particular, to the principles of internal and external policy, as well as the political direction and principles for the activities of the coalition, and the rules and procedure for determining internal organizational issues pertaining to the working of the coalition and the rules and procedure for the said coalition’s termination. A list of the members of the deputy factions which have formed the coalition, with the personal signatures of their State Deputies, is added to the coalition agreement. The lists of members of the deputy factions are an integral part of the coalition agreement.

The text of the Agreement on the creation of the “Anti-crisis coalition in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of the fifth parliamentary term between the factions of the Party of the Regions, the Socialist Party of Ukraine and the Communist Party of Ukraine shows that as well as State Deputies who are members of those factions, the given coalition agreement was signed by State Deputies who belong to the factions of the political party “Nasha Ukraina” [“Our Ukraine”] and the electoral bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko (BYuT).

The provisions of the Regulations of the Verkhovna Rada given above provide grounds for asserting that the signatures of State Deputies from those factions which have not taken the decision to join the “Anti-crisis coalition” should be declared invalid, and the procedure for the creation of this coalition should be recognized as contravening the normatively established rules and procedure.  Furthermore, the participation of a State Deputy in the activities of a coalition of deputy factions in the absence of a decision by his or her faction to join the coalition runs counter to the main idea set down in point 6 of Article 81 § 2 of the Constitution of Ukraine. The given point should be understood as meaning that a State Deputy must be a member of that political party (electoral bloc of political parties) as part of whose candidate list he or she was elected to office, and can similarly not independently withdraw his or her membership of a faction of a political party (electoral bloc of political parties).  Therefore, a State Deputy by placing his or her signature on the coalition.agreement where there has been no corresponding decision taken by the person’s faction, has effectively declared his or her withdrawal from that faction. There are thus actual grounds for the early termination of the authority of these State Deputies.


2. According to Article 65 § 2 of the Regulations a deputy faction has the right at any time to withdraw from the coalition having warned the leaders of the other deputy factions in the coalition of this in writing not less than ten days before the date of withdrawal.  During that period the deputy faction has the right at any time to revoke in written form its statement warning of its withdrawal. If the deputy faction has not revoked this statement, the Speaker shall, at the first plenary session after the expiry of the ten-day period, announce that the deputy faction has withdrawn from the coalition.

An analysis of the political and legal conditions for the creation of the “Coalition of democratic forces”, and the actual circumstances of its termination, as well as the process of the formation of the “Anti-crisis coalition” in the Verkhovna Rada lead one to conclude that there were serious violations of the above-mentioned requirements set down in the Regulations of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. For example, the Socialist Party of Ukraine which on 22 June 2006, together with the factions of the political party “Nasha Ukraina” and the electoral block of Yulia Tymoshenko, had signed an Agreement on the creation of a Coalition of democratic forces, should have: 1) no later than ten days prior to its withdrawal notified the leaders of the other factions which had signed the Agreement of its plans; 2) after the expiry of this period of time asked the Speaker to announce the withdrawal of its faction from this coalition at the next  plenary session.  Only after this procedure had been adhered to, did the Socialist Party of Ukraine have the right to take the decision to form another coalition. This imperative requirement of the Regulations of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine was violated by the faction of the Socialist Party of Ukraine  since the latter’s representatives effectively announced at the same time that they were withdrawing from the “Coalition of democratic forces” and were joining the “Anti-crisis coalition”. These violations of specific requirements of the Regulations of the Verkhovna Rada thus provide every justification for concluding that the rules and procedure for the creation of the “Anti-crisis coalition” were infringed, and that the coalition is therefore illegitimate, and as a result, all of its actions and decisions are also illegitimate, first and foremost the decision to make a submission to the President of Ukraine to put forward V.F. Yanukovych as candidate for the position of Prime Minister of Ukraine.


 3.  With regard to the statements of certain politicians (in particular, O.O. Moroz and A.I. Martynyuk) that the government has not resigned, we would state the following.  On the basis of an interpretation of the Constitution of Ukraine, of the practice of the functioning of governments in other countries, as well as on sheer common sense, there can only be two possible states of a government: either it carries out its functions permanently, or it exercises its powers on a temporary basis, while having resigned until the new government is formed. There is no other state for a government in world practice, and there can indeed be no other. On the basis of this, the government, having rendered its resignation to the newly-elected Verkhovna Rada, is continuing to temporarily exercise its powers while having resigned.  Such a temporary state may not exceed sixty days. Otherwise, the sense of the constitutional norm, enshrined in point 2 of Article 90 § 2 of the Constitution of Ukraine is lost, since another interpretation of this norm would enable the newly-elected Verkhovna Rada  to not form a government over a lengthy period of time while not bearing any responsibility for such inaction.  And a government could temporarily exercise its duties over a period of 6 months, a year, or even the entire term of office of the parliament.

Furthermore, even if one assumes that the tendering of the resignation of the government to the newly-elected Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine does not constitute the resignation of the government, then in this case, one should bear in mind that back on 10 January 2006 the government headed by Yury Yekhanurov was dismissed by the previous formation of the Verkhovna Rada (although the constitutionality of such a decision by Parliament raises serious doubts, formally the decision is still valid).

Therefore in the fifth parliamentary term of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine the duty to form a government arose from the moment it came into office, that is, on the day of the opening of the first parliamentary session, and the swearing in of State Deputies.  And, consequently, the President’s right to dissolve parliament will take effect 60 days after the opening of the first session, i.e. on 25 July 2006.


P.S.  For a constitutional-legal analysis of the situation which has emerged, another aspect is also important. The point of the “political reform” was primarily to increase the responsibility of Parliament and of the Government for the state of affairs in the country. At the same time, in view of the fact that both coalitions (the “Coalition of democratic forces” and the “Anti-crisis coalition”) were either created extremely lethargically (“damp logs burning”) or with numerous violations, one can state that parliamentarians graphically demonstrated their total lack of responsibility, vision, their excessive ambitions, inconsistency, unscrupulousness and impotence. Aiming in the first instance to satisfy their own ambitions, they forgot about the fate of the country.  The experience of the work of Ukrainian parliamentarians over the last few months makes it possible to predict that the creation of artificial coalitions may continue, but it will hardly contribute towards overcoming the systemic crisis which has engulfed different spheres of Ukrainian society. Corruption, the notorious bribes, the misuse of VAT, the buying and selling of positions, the faking of tenders and other negative phenomena have taken on an unprecedented scale over the last ten – twelve years under the rule of those politicians who are now, with clever expressions teaching others just how it’s necessary to “run” the country, that supposedly they should live in another way completely, or boasting of their “stability”. These troubles are still continuing despite the numerous promises (in the opinion of some experts, positions, for example, are still continuing to be sold and bought even in some law enforcement agencies, although those in charge refuse, sometimes quite categorically, to believe this.  Promises were heard during the election campaigns of 2004 and 2006, as well as by the first “coalition partners” and the second, to overcome these negative features. However it is not difficult to predict that if, say, after a certain amount of time (half a year, a year) the activities of the government, created by a coalition, are seen as being inadequate, nobody will be held to answer.  Especially if the coalition of deputy factions proves to be excessively wide., because then, simulating some kind of recreating of the coalition, will again stay in power and will form a “new” government.  There you have all the responsibility. And there will be no formal grounds for entrusting the formation of the government to a new coalition.

Thus, the “political reform” was merely a kind of cover which made it possible for crafty politicians of the ilk of the leader of the socialists to remain in power and to satisfy their personal ambitions.  It was specifically this inadequate “political reform” that enabled the leader of a political force which gained only a little more than six percent of the votes and took only fourth place out of the five parties or blocs which crossed the three-percent threshold in the parliamentary elections, by means of a subtle political ruse and the disregard for basic democratic principles of political activities, to become the Speaker of Parliament. Incidentally, such behaviour did not arouse either condemnation, or even clearly expressed indignation from the overwhelming majority of politicians, this also testifies to the irresponsible attitude of the contemporary Ukrainian political stratum to the pressing problems of development of both state and society.

Politics and human rights

Address to the National Roundtable at the President’s Secretariat on 27 July 2006

In my view, the Declaration of National Unity is a good document and could be signed. However it lacks clear guidelines as to what needs to be done first, second, and so forth. I would like to dwell on this a little.
Firstly, it is vital that the Constitutional Court begins functioning once again. One of the classic definitions of democracy is that it is a war of everyone against everyone under the control of the law.  We are observing the war of all against all, however there is no law exerting control over it since the Constitutional Court is effectively out of action. Ukraine cannot today be considered a law-based state since the law is exercised by precisely this Constitutional Court. All decisions which have been taken in the absence of the Constitutional Court are basically not legitimate, and one should be prepared for the possibility that the latter, when it finally begins functioning again, will cancel such decisions. I would note that this issue, in my view, is more important than the choosing of a government since governments in Ukraine exist for a year, 18 months, no longer, while the judges of the Constitutional Court are appointed for nine years.

Secondly, the disastrous consequences of the so-called “political reform”[1] call for the latter’s review.  Throughout last year human rights organizations repeatedly and publicly warned of the threat which these changes posed. It Is aggrieving to observe that all our predictions have proved correct. Its implementation has created competition between legitimate and real centres of authority – that of the President and of the Prime Minister – within one executive branch of power which will lead to the country being less governable. The “reform” has effectively created a threat to state sovereignty and independence in general. It has destroyed the unity of foreign and internal policy, introduced principles of the worst form of political collectivism, turning parliamentary deputies into voting machines, entirely dependent on the will of their leaders, in fact, I would say rather the owners of their factions. The “reform” has significantly increased the influence of selfish interests of powerful financial-industrial groups on parliament, at the same time reducing the people’s access to power. This is a conspiracy of the rich against the poor, and I fail to understand why the Ukrainian left-wing, which is so concerned about the well-being of poorer Ukrainians, is so adamantly in favour of this “reform”.  After all, Rawls’ principle, that inequality is beneficial to all does not function in Ukraine, and the “reform” clearly hampers its introduction.

What we have seen over the last few months has convincingly proven that Ukraine cannot yet be a parliamentary republic. Our young democracy is simply not ready for this. Our political parties are only capable of dividing people into their own people and the others.  The totalitarian thinking of Ukrainian politicians cannot comprehend parliamentary democracy. Our politicians are not able to make agreements and reach compromises; they are capable only of forcing their opponents, insulting them, gaining a victory over them. It should be understood that the amendments introduced to the Constitution continue the objective grounds for political confrontation in society. It is therefore vital to reassess the principles of Ukrainian politics enshrined in the Constitution. I don’t know how this will be done, whether through the Constitutional Court  or by making new amendments to the Constitution, but it must be done.

Chamberlain once wrote in “Ukraine – a subjugated nation” that the Ukrainian people were permanently betrayed by the national elite. I would hate to think that an American will one day write this about our present political elite.

[1]  The “political reform” mentioned refers specifically to the constitutional amendments passed in a ‘package vote’ also including crucial electoral law reforms on 8 December 2004.  The amendments reduce the powers of the President and create a situation where some Ministers answer to the President, while others directly to the Prime Minister. More on the changes and on the response of KHPG and other human rights groups can be found at  The constitutional changes came into force on 1 January 2006. (translator’s note)

Address to the National Roundtable on 27 July 2006 during a meeting between the President of Ukraine, political forces and public figures on 27 July 2006

I suspect I was invited to this very round table as a person who says what he thinks.

First and foremost I see a huge discrepancy between the cautiously correct speeches by leading politicians and what is happening on the street. Who put up those tents?  Did they really want to arrive in Kyiv all wearing identical clothes and stand with the same banners in this heat?  And what do they actually want?  Why is no one in this room saying anything about that, as if silenced by shame?  Here now, taking advantage of this opportunity, I would like to ask the political elite: “What have you done for the peace of mind and the psychological health of the people?   I can’t see any efforts taken to raise the spirits of the people, but the attempts at grinding them down morally certainly stand out!  We have one people.  They need to be loved. And they are frightened of you, and don’t trust you.

Politicians are fond of the western word “parliament”. While people talk of the Verkhovna  Zrada [Betrayal][1], and give an accordingly low assessment of its standing.  Who has so reduced this standing?  I would like to put this question here, as this is also Ukraine’s standing.

Moral exhaustion is harder than poverty. Yet we somehow learned to protect ourselves with the song of the singer bard Ihor Zhuk:

“Don’t read newspapers. Save your frazzled nerves,

Cover the television with a Claude Monet print …”

The song arose probably still back then when Kuchma and Medvedchuk were trying out their new modal of a slave-owning order in the post-communist world.

However we’ve kept the Claude Monet print handy near the television

The expectations and hopes of the people were finally dealt a harsh blow on 6 July, with the suddenly emergence of the “Anti-Crisis” coalition. I would strengthen this Bolshevik name and make it “Anti-Crisis Anti-Coalition”.

What united them all besides a singe communist cradle?  Look at the Party of the Regions – I have been trying to fathom what this is for a long time. A white-and-blue team? Yet a team plays honestly against another team, and doesn’t extrapolate its own interests to encompass the entire East of the country. Why previously did we never hear anything about the antagonistic East?  Before, that is, this East began to be represented by Viktor Yanukovych?

It became clearer to me when I chanced upon a document, a photograph from 2004. There were Medvedchuk, Yanukovych and Kuchma with heads bowed down almost to the ground, with little Putin sitting in an armchair before them. Here is the photo – cut out from “Dzerkalo tyzhnya” [“The Weekly Mirror”] from 30 October. Now it’s clear – the political, moral and economic platform. Clear why there’s “the East” against “the West”, and irreconcilably at that.  Putin’s photographer M. Klimentiev captured the real essence very well.

THE COMMUNISTS’ PLATFORM – the bankrupts of the twentieth century – is recorded in the “Black Book of Communism”  However the post-communists have proved even worse than the communists. They don’t read “black books” about themselves; they don’t quote their leaders whose legacy they don’t reject, though they reject the crimes of communists. In Ukraine these crimes were the blackest, and the burden of guilt the heaviest for such crimes against the Ukrainian people.  However their ferocious determination is also the greatest.  They’ve shaken Ukraine and the Ukrainian language and drained it to the limit, and it’s unclear what their platform even is, when they’re so against its cleansing.

THE SOCIALISTS’ PLATFORM.  The same. Only it’s fallen apart. The same speculating on their native language, the same hypocrisy.  I don’t really have anything to add to what we heard from the address given by Josif Vinsky, the second person in the socialist party, about the first person – Oleksandr Moroz. How can you wash off the truth?  After all  these leaders can’t get away from their platform and when they do, they won’t be accepted in the West. Maybe they should write “a reference for Oleksandr Oleksandrovych Moroz that he’s not a traitor, but the speaker of the Ukrainian parliamentary republic?” The Ukrainian soul will not endure such amorality.  In essence, this is the continuation of an over seventy-year war being waged against the people. I would remind you that even in Brezhnev’s time we knew the Yevtushenko lines:

“But we lost on that uneven road,

Twenty million at the War,

And millions in the war against the people”.

The so-called political elite in Ukraine is against the people. It was against the people and for the leaders.

“You beat your rumbling drum.

Your drum from human skin.

People have too few wounds to their heart,

Many, however, holes. 

(Mykola Bazhan)

The only thing that could be of comfort is that in Biblical times it was all the same. In Psalm 11[2] it is said: “On every side the wicked prowl, as vileness is exalted among the children of man”. 

I would like to remind those Godless people that their time is passing.. Their inglorious moment on the stage will soon end. And “God’s Law is perfect – it strengthens the soul”.

Later in Psalm 17: “.. with an upright man thou wilt show thyself upright; With the pure thou wilt show thyself pure; and with the forward thou wilt show thyself forward.  For thou wilt save the afflicted people; but wilt bring down high looks”.

And here I already read hints at the dissolving of parliament.

Sverstyuk, Yevhen Oleksandrovych – a prominent Ukrainian writer, philosopher and former political prisoner. He has written many books and numerous essays and articles on literature, psychology, philosophy, and religion, as well as translations from German, English and Russian. He is a laureate of the Shevchenko State Prise, and the International UNESCO Award. In Ukraine and in the West he has been known since the 1960s as a participant in the national liberation movement, and was one of the organizers of Ukrainian “samvydav” [samizdat].  He spent 12 years in the Soviet labour camps and in exile for his literary works, in particular for his book “Sobor u ryshtovanni” [“The cathedral under scaffolding”] (Paris, 1970).  He is presently editor of the National newspaper “Nasha Vira” [“Our Faith”], and is also the President of the Ukrainian PEN-Club, and a co-organizer of the civic organization “Hromadyanska pozitsiya” [“Civic Stand”]. 

[1]  Profuse apologies to pan Sverstyuk, for an inept translation of his play on words.  Verkhovna Rada is the Ukrainian parliament. The word for “betrayal” is “zrada”, and he thus suggests that people are changing the name to Verkhovna Zrada (translator’s note)

[2]  The numbering in English-language publications of the Bible is different – 11 is given as 12, and 17 as 18 (translator’s note)


It’s difficult for people from the Diaspora to take part in the events unfolding at the present time.  Your age is wrong, and you feel guilty trying to give advice, since nowadays young people are themselves energetic, sharp and much more au fait with the situation. And yet, on receiving greetings from the Great Chuchka’s rays of light[1] and reading pani Tymoshenko’s declaration of war on stagnant ignorance, the thought came to mind: “Maybe the experience of that hopeless battle that dissidents waged against total lack of awareness might be of some use in the new conditions”.  They won after all and then! Since they didn’t lie (overall ..). Yet they almost immediately lost when they began playing according to political rules, with double accounting. And now, as a young friend from Ukraine puts it, with a hankering nostalgia for that past battle: “Here there isn’t even an actual enemy.  All that remains are genetic mutants, goodness knows of what type and breed …” Does pani Tymoshenko realize that there’s plenty that is primitively ignorant and philistine in her own bloc?”

It is a situation of the same hopelessness unless one understands that what we are dealing with is the same as under Brezhnev: the struggle for selfhood, for the right to not be cattle. It is catharsis which is at once internal, and social. How can one achieve such catharsis?  Through lustration, public repentance?  Who would be in charge of it?  Where do you see scoundrels who have repented?  Even the priest-chekists[2] have not shown any contrition. There is only (for the moment) one carnival possibility for moving outside the rules of play of the oblivious primitives. Laughter.  Not the mindless guffaws of proffessors[3], but serious, even tragic laughter. And one should not be worried about “lashing out at ones own”. What is real cannot fall apart because of laughter. Only the unreal will crumble. So as not to just expound on the philosophy of such a game, I will present some examples from our battle in the west. We began a campaign of “cultural boycotts” in 1979-1980  when it had become clear already that the human rights protest against the GULAG had run into a dead end. The West, both those with left-wing views and those on the right, were betraying us, out of fear, for their own gain, from the dense stupidity of Kremlin and political studies. The slogan “cultural boycott of the USSR” (and others) was about the demand to boycott all the Soviet sham and cobblers we were being presented with by both Western and Soviet mass media and governments. It was a boycott of pseudo-culture in the name of culture.  A crucial demand to all participants in the boycott was to not behave like hooligans, but to hold all protest actions in a well-planned, well-founded and “cultured” manner.

Andryusha[4] Voznesenky came to Paris in the hope of receiving the Mallarmé Prize as almost a dissident. Aware of our influence on public opinion, he tried to curry favour with us, promising to hold a protest action against the arrests. He sidled up to the communists, the white guard, the imperialists, believers, older women … During his personal appearance at a theatre evening we did not interfere with his performance. Before it, we placed flyers on the chairs explaining that here he was not a poet, but a “pretty face” for Brezhnev’s mutt. After the reading, our young women got up with signs reading: “I am Stefa Shabatura[5]. – for my painting – and the number of years of the sentence”, “I am Iryna Kalynets[6], for poetry – so many years”, and so forth. Andryusha did not get his prize.  No newspaper condemned us. Only the newspaper  “Russkaya mysl” [“Russian thought”] labelled me a khunveibin[7], but later apologized:  “Leonid Ivanovych, he did indeed prove to be a swine!”

There was an exhibition “Moscow – Paris” in the same Pompidou Centre. The exhibition was amazing. The works of those shot, those not allowed to be mentioned, of émigrés were presented, all the works that in their “Rodina” [“Homeland”] were not exhibited. In front of the Pompidou Centre there were a huge number of freelance actors, singers, painters … Mostly left-wing, or oddballs.  We handed out explanations. The whole square fell silent. Our painters with the “grave of Malevych” walked around the square several times with all on the square chanting: “The GULAG in the Pompidou Centre”.  The delegation went to the management.  Those in charge of the exhibition apologized, and the exhibition continued. The newspapers were on our side.

The Ukrainian Diaspora managed to get the city administration to name the square near the Greek Catholic Church Shevchenko Square and wanted to put up the Monument to Taras Shevchenko created by the sculptor Arkhypenko. The Soviets succeeded in getting the Mayor Chirac’s agreement to the Soviet monument by Lysenko. Devoid of talent, of course. In the press, and on flyers we explained what we were objecting to (the censorship of Kobzar[8], the arrests of poets, the ban on the Greek Catholic Church, the anti-Semitic monument by Lysenko in Babi Yar, the flagrant Russification, Arkhypenko versus artistic mediocrity, etc).  The police surrounded the square.  As well as Soviets – Drach, Vinhranovsky and I think Korotych, figuratively speaking, a trio of Andryushas, we were there with the Metropolitan of the Autocephalous Church, Mstislav (the Catholic priests didn’t dare). We suddenly realized that several young lads had prepared bottles with ink.  Thank goodness Father Mstislav stopped them “Remember, it is still Shevchenko” … In the press we swore to Chirac that we would take the offensive monument down. The Mayor brought in a police guard which gave the opportunity for a further information campaign. A threat did not mean actually carrying it out!  . In the battle the process is often more important than the specific result. It wasn’t after all untalented mediocrity that we were protesting over – that gets displayed everywhere.  This paradoxical protest by Ukrainians apparently against their own hero gave more scope for raising awareness about Ukrainian problems than all conferences and books.

Before the Moscow Olympics, together with a movement of anti-sportspeople, we created a Boycott Committee. Our main argument was the parallel with the Berlin Olympics … However we supported those also who went to the Olympics and organized protest actions in Moscow.

Gorbachev came to Paris. He lied, claiming that in the USSR there was no anti-Semitism. He lied about Afghanistan. Dissidents were tacitly stopped from demonstrating. Persuaded, … however the police didn’t approach me, because they were worried that I would, as usual, make big noises about it in the press. Therefore, I was able to call people to a demonstration. Arrest.  From the van we called out: “Vive La France!”  This also became a humorous morsel for television. In the van the police found a document from a member of a neo-Nazi party. We started discussing among ourselves aloud: “The police planted it: we need to tell the press”.  The document was not used. On television we accused Gorbachev of lying about anti-Semitism and murders (Afghanistan, the death of political prisoners).

Our humour-based approach during the Brezhnev era appealed to Michel Foucault. When Giscard

d’Estaing met with Brezhnev, Foucault and Hélène Châtelain organized a meeting between French intellectuals and the dissident intelligentsia’.  We were stopped on that day from giving press conferences and interviews. At the meeting with the intellectuals, we held an evening of answers with anecdotes on any issues relating to the USSR, and Alexandr Galich sang. Another time in our cultural way, we boycotted “Yevgeny Onegin”, and were so cultured in doing so that the Soviet actors (“quietly”) expressed support. After our arrest, Michel Foucault came to the temporary holding unit and demanded to be arrested too. Laughter and beer that Foucault had brought us. And Ukrainian songs.

During perestroika we extended and intensified our carnival methodology. The fairly carnival-like Italian party of radicals (nowadays transnational and transparty) put me forward as candidate for the European Parliament. It was clear from the outset that I wouldn’t get in. And that wasn’t the goal anyway. It was a statement about Ukraine – Europe: a candidate from Italy from the Ukrainian Helsinki Union…. A month of political rallies and provocation. In the sense of “a provocation of giving birth”. We called them positive acts of provocation (like Tetyana Montyan provoked a moralist from BYuT”). One of them was our demonstration (2 Italians and myself) on the neutral strip in Berlin – against the Berlin Wall, half a year before it came down.  A clear violation of border rulers… and arrest. We were taken to East Berlin. The interrogation was run by a capitan of their security services. “You’re the West: you live the way you do, and we like we do: Don’t interfere”.  I insist that I’m not the West, and from the same bog as he is. I promise him that his people will soon show him what it wants (I didn’t expect it to be so quick).  He doesn’t hear that I from the “Soviets”. Because they didn’t want to ask Moscow. We were ready for prison – they weren’t, since someone had sussed out that prison would be our trampoline into the  European Parliament … C’est la vie, I never got to the European trough.

Were there failures?  There were – when we miscalculated the situation, the slogans, and something cracked.

They arrested Sakharov. Our “new philosophers” suggested a demonstration near the Soviet Embassy. All our people turned up. And, unexpectedly, some Zionists also arrived. The police sympathised with us, but they were guarding the embassy. And then suddenly some neo-Nazis appear.  Provocation … , Just what the Soviets were waiting for.. We suggest the slogans: “KGB and Nazis out of France”  The five-minute philosophers got frightened: intellectual rot against elderly ladies?  We disperse … Idiots, cowards, they got scared that they’d duff us up..  The police would be forced to grab them and not us. And the press was more on our side anyway. No, we had to organize such things ourselves.

Obviously the situation in Ukraine is different… The forces are different (there were always just a few of us), and the aim is also not the same.  That’s really what you need to begin with … (It’s not my business to write about it, and it becomes clear only in the course of the struggle). If Yulia Tymoshenko’s position was more transparent, and not contingent on her aim of become Prime Minister, she would also be capable, and even more effectively than the “Maidan” Alliance of making use of carnival methods.  Why could Yulia Volodymyrivna not file a civil suit against the Crimean KROK, a motley gang of ignorant fascists, a fifth column that stirs up inter-ethnic enmity?  (cf. .  The Crimean Tatars would support her. In principle the SBU (the Security Service of Ukraine) would also have to support her… The Crimean Regionals (i.e. from the  Party of the Regions) accuse  BYuT of that (the Eurasian Svystunov).   It would be easy in court to prove KROK’s Nazism and the calls for another country to meddle in Ukraine’s affairs.  The court wouldn’t accept the suit?  Then hold such a court hearing on television. A civic suit.  Now that would be carnival. There was a statement that the Regionals had attempted to “buy” some of the BYuT people. Why not take them to court?  Not in order to get a fair verdict (though why not?). Not for publicity and political manipulation.  No, as a form of purgation. For openness, to make things transparent. To force those who don’t want to hear to listen. Nowadays the situation is both worse and better than in 2004.  The press is much less venal.  On the other hand, they’re “their people”.  The main idea of carnival is to cleanse the residue that has settled in people’s souls, the dirt on the dreams which were the impulse for Maidan in 2004.  The powder of disillusionment. And then new slogans and energy will crystallize for new elections. Without that, re-elections will lead to an even worse defeat for the democratic forces.

Leonid Plyushch, 17 June 2006, France.

More – if somewhat drier - information about Leonid Plyushch can be found at

[1]  This was a group of Ukrainians who, very much in the carnival spirit which the author is writing about, spoke of themselves as the representatives of the Great Chuchka – the leader of North Korea, and called themselves the Chuchka’s rays of light, with the leader’s truth being cast on the world through them.  (translator’s note)

[2]  Chekist  - the word taken from the first of several names of the same notorious security service  “Cheka-OGPU-NKVD-MGB-KGB …”is often used to refer to those working for the service (translator’s note)

[3]  The spelling here is deliberate. Viktor Yanukovych, after his somewhat, shall we say, eventful youth, received a higher education in 2001 with a Masters in International Law from the Ukrainian Academy of Foreign Trade. He was later awarded the titles of Doctor of Sciences and Professor. In describing the latter qualifications, he spelt “professor” as given in the text. (translator’s note)

[4]  Andryusha is the diminutive form of the name Andrei (translator’s note)

[5]  More information about Stefaniya Shabatura can be found at

[6]   See

[7]  These were brigades of young people sent by the regime in China in 1966 to provide support for the Cultural Revolution  (translator’s note)

[8]  “Kobzar” was the title of Taras Shevchenko’s first book of poetry, but it is used now to refer to all his works, and more symbolically to Shevchenko himself.  While the Tsarist regime banned Shevchenko’s work (and the poet himself, who died in exile in St. Petersburg), the Soviets tried to highlight any “revolutionary notes”, while heavily censoring what they found ideologically unpalatable or “too nationalistic”.  (translator’s note)


Vinnytsa doctor, Svitllana Poberezhets succeeds in upholding the right of each citizen to privacy

The Pechersky District Court in Kyiv has concluded its consideration of the administrative claim lodged by Svitlana Yurivna Poberezhets, an anaesthetist and resuscitation expert from the Vinnytsa City Clinical Hospital against the Ukrainian Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Employment and Social Policy of Ukraine, the Social Insurance Fund for Temporary disability and the Industrial accident and occupational diseases which have caused disability Fund and the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine. She was demanding that the court recognize as unlawful the normative legal act in the form of a Joint Order of the administrative respondents “On approving the form and technical description of a medical certificate and instructions on the procedure for filling in the form on temporary inability to work”. In her administrative claim, Svitllana Poberezhets argued that the requirement to provide information about a person’s diagnosis and the code of their illness according to the International Classification of Diseases should be declared unlawful as it violated the constitutional right of Ukrainian citizens to privacy ((confidentiality of medical records).

In spite of the denials by the administrative respondents, the panel of judges of the Pechersky District Court in Kyiv (Judges Malynin, Kvasnevska and Volkov) entirely upheld all the demands in Svitllana Poberezhets’ claim. The normative legal act in question was declared partially invalid. Pursuant to the court ruling the provision of information about a person’s diagnosis contravenes a whole range of normative legal acts of highest legal forces, namely the Constitution of Ukraine (Articles 3,19, 21,22, 32, 55, 64, 68), the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (Article 8), the Fundamental Principles of Ukrainian Legislation on Healthcare (Articles 4, 6, 7, 8, 14, 40, 41), the Civil Code of Ukraine (Articles 285, 286), the Law of Ukraine “On information” (Article 23).

If the ruling of the first instance court comes into force, then all Ukrainian doctors will be prohibited from indicating on medical certificates the diagnoses of their patients, this meaning that those at work will not be able to find about what the employee’s illness was. In 2005 almost 11 million such medical certificates were issued in Ukraine.

The Vinnytsa Human Rights Group (VHRG) considers the ruling of the Pechersky District Court in the case involving medical certificates to be an important precedent and a breakthrough in protecting personal information in Ukraine. At the same time, the VHRG notes that there are a whole range of other normative legal acts issued by the Ministry of Health which enable the disclosure of private information about a person’s state of health (for example, information about a person’s diagnosis is provided according to where they are studying by adding it to the section “Diagnosis” in the certificate for being released from lessons or lectures).  The Vinnytsa Human Rights Group is planning to continue appealing against such normative legal acts  in Ukrainian  courts.

Svitllana Poberezhets was represented by the Coordinator of the Vinnytsa Human Rights Group, Dmytro Groisman, and Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union lawyer Viacheslav Yakubenko. The case was supported by the UHHRU Foundation for legal aid to victims of human rights violations

“Prava ludyny” commentary

Material regarding this case can be found at:  This ruling could, we believe, be very useful to many of those touched by the problems of our healthcare system.

Protecting human rights on the Internet: here and now!

New information technology has radically altered the way people communicate, and one can expect even greater changes.  The law, however, is not keeping up with this rapid development in kinds of technology which are difficult for us to even begin to comprehend. Since human nature on the other hand does not change, such new forms of technology present not only previously unimaginable opportunities for intellectual and technical progress, but also unforeseen ways and means of committing crimes. New threats are also posed to human rights. It is therefore enormously important to consider the real nature of social relations relating to information in new conditions and to formulate new safeguards of human rights. Although our ideas about civil and political rights and liberties – property rights, the right to privacy, to freedom of thought and conscience, to freedom of expression, the right to information, the right to publish, the right of association, of peaceful gatherings and others - have changed significantly, the fundamental concept of the observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms remains unchanged.  The interference of the state in our exercise of any of these rights and freedoms must be based on the law, have a lawful purpose and be necessary in a democratic society, for example, in response to an “urgent public need”.  At the same time the law on the basis of which a particular right is restricted must be accessible, foreseeable and contain adequate and effective guarantees against abuse.  The substance of these criteria must be established by a court.

It seems to me that even a cursory survey of administrative practice regarding the Internet in Ukraine would show that the Ukrainian authorities’ intervention, as a rule, is not based on the law and is most definitely not necessary. Unfortunately this practice continues to hanker after Russian, Belarusian, Uzbek and other post-Soviet models. The state is determined in its wish to take the registration and domain zone .ua under its control.  It is trying to monopolize the information market, by introducing licensing for all telecommunications services, and to turn “Ukrtelecom” into the “provider of providers”,  The state wants to keep tabs on the flow of information, demanding that operators install equipment for monitoring telecommunications, and at the operators’ experience to boot.  It is attempting a division into “the right” and “the wrong” providers, by demanding that state agencies connect up to the Internet only via “the right” providers. It wants to register all electronic addresses, all websites, giving them the status of media outlets, and goodness knows what else in their insatiable desire to protect information security, and and monitor just about everything. One could take any statement in this paragraph, look at in detail and show precisely how the state is violating fundamental rights and freedoms. [1] .

I would therefore identify the first priority in legal regulation of the Internet as being to draw up laws which protect human rights against unwarranted and disproportionate intervention by the authorities in the sphere of information. A full reworking is needed of the basic law “On information” which was passed before the age of the Internet. A law is urgently needed to protect personal data which would provide the possibility of Ukraine’s joining the Council of Europe’s Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data (ETS No. 108), would comply with the requirements of EC Directives №№95/46, 97/66, as well as other European documents on protection of personal data, and would become a basis for safeguarding information privacy in all areas, which are no less urgently in need of change. The latter include the Laws “On investigative operations”, “On a Single Register of Individual taxpayers”, “On communications” and many others.

Let us look in more detail at the problem of monitoring of telecommunications [2]. Crime has become much more sophisticated, using means of information technology as its weapons. Naturally the police the security service must have adequate means for averting and investigating crime. It would therefore be foolish to deny any possibility of monitoring of telecommunications. However there must be mechanisms of public control which would provide a shield against abuse. We need, in particularа, a procedure for making interception of information from channels of communication more transparent, bringing in a norm making it mandatory to inform the person whose communications were intercepted after the interception has stopped, and to show the person any intercepted material which does not constitute a state secret (there are similar norms in the laws of Germany, Austria and other countries).  країн). There should also be an annual report from the law enforcement agencies on the use of investigative operations in the form of interception of information from communications channels  which would be obliged to indicate the total number of court warrants with a breakdown into the grounds on which they were issued and an analysis of the effectiveness of such measures. We would note that many of the relations in the Internet which our state is trying to regulate are in the countries of the European Union, which Ukraine would so like to be a part of, and in the USA, a matter for self-regulation. Therefore drawing up and carrying out initiatives on self-regulation of relations in the Internet should be a second main direction for legal regulation of the Internet, closely linked with the first.

As Viktor Naumov shows [3], key issues in legal regulation of the Internet are the problems of jurisdiction of relations within the Internet and the issue of the providers’ liability. One can think of information relations as a chain with at least five elements: the user – the provider 1 – the information resource – the provider – 2 – the owner of the resource. And the elements of the chain may be located within the jurisdiction of different countries. One may therefore consider five variants for legal regulation according to the legislation of the countries of residence of the user, the owner, the place where the resource is located, and the place where the providers are situated. Obviously the question arises: which country’s legal system is applied in disputes, and which country’s jurisdiction covers various information relations? There are no universal answers to these questions however a substantial amount of case law has emerged. On the whole the presence of such a complex intertwining of contradictions to a large degrees renders meaningless the practice traditional for the post-Soviet realm of imposing control over social relations.

It should be remembered that attempts to regulate the exchange of information on the Internet by the dictator regimes in Myanmar and North Korea led to a total ban on using the Internet. Let such examples serve as a lesson for the Ukrainian authorities.

[1]  see, for example, Roman Romanov: “The Internet in Ukraine within the context of the relations between the individual, society and the state”  (in Ukrainian)  //Freedom of expression and privacy, №3, 2002. – p. 4-20.

[2] Yevhen Zakharov: “Without the right to privacy?” (in Ukrainian)  // . Freedom of expression and privacy, №3, 2003. – pp. 9-15.

[3] V. Naumov: The Law and the Internet: comments on theory and practice. (in Russian) – Moscow: Knizhny dom “Universitet”, 2002..

Freedom of conscience and religion

Inter-denominational conflict emerges in Kharkiv. Who is to blame?

Kharkiv used to stand out from other regions in the level of tolerance as regards inter-ethnic and inter-denominational relations. There were certain moments of friction however in 15 years since independence I cannot recall any serious conflict.  This balance has now been aggressively overturned.

The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) recently received a request from the parish of the Church of St. John Bohoslov[1](on Kotlova Street, no. 105a in Kharkiv), which belongs to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC KP), to act as observers during a picket near the Church building. According to the Dean of the Church, Father Viktor (Viktor Andriyovych Marynchak), he had been unofficially informed that a picket would be held on 22-23 July by representatives of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC MP).  The purpose of the picket was apparently to stop the Patriarch of the UOC KP Filaret from coming to the Church with the relics of the Great Martyr Barbara.

Having received this information, Father Viktor on 21 July submitted a letter to the local authorities and administration which is given below. In fact Patriarch Filaret was not planning to visit Kharkiv on those days nor to bring the relics.

The picket itself is an intrusion by one religious organization in the activities of another which is prohibited by Article 5 of the Law “On freedom of conscience and religious organizations”. This means that such a picket is a priori unlawful. However the picket took place. We have no information as to whether written notification was provided of the plan to hold the picket, or who reviewed it.  The police did not receive a copy of any statement regarding the intended picket and had only the letter from the Leninsky District Executive Committee with a request to ensure law and order during the picket. This was safeguarded by twenty police officers.

KHPG representatives observed the events of 22 and 23 July and can state the following.

On the morning of 22 July the telephone in the Church was disconnected. Picketers began gathering at 6 a.m., having been brought there in coaches. Besides Kharkiv residents there were also people from Poltava and Krasnohrad. At 7.00 the picket began. In all there were around 200 picketers – mainly elderly women who were led by approximately 15 sturdy middle-aged men, among them two priests. The picketers chanted three slogans: “No to the schism on Slobozhanshchyna[2], “Filaret repent! The Lord will hold you to answer for each lost soul”.  “Denysenko, do not hide behind the national idea!  You’re a buffoon, not a patriot!”.  They also sang prayers. At first they stood at a right angle to Fastovsky Lane so that there was access to the Church and cars could drive through the lane. However at 9.00, following the instructions of one of the organizers, they blocked Fastovsky Lane, and prevented car access to it until the end of the picket   (18.00) while making it difficult to walk up to the Church. Several cars tried to pass through the lane however the picketers would not let them through. The police officers did not attempt to ensure car access: the picketers, aggressive and irritable from the heat, seemed unpredictable.

It was clear from talking to the picketers that they were convinced that Patriarch Filaret was coming and that they mustn’t let him enter the Church.  They said that Filaret had seized the Church, and that they would continue this picket until the Church was returned to them. They claimed it had been taken over by dissenters and that al the believers of the Church had fallen into the clutches of Satan. The men in charge of the picket were the most militant and aggressive. “The Church belongs to the Moscow Patriarchate and it will belong to us!”, they asserted. They were also insult about believers of other denominations and faiths – Catholics (“uncanonical”), especially Greek-Catholic (“dissenters!”), Buddhists (“and they’re just Satanists!”) etc.  They claimed that all the latter, like the believers of the Church of St. John the Baptist, should be driven out of Slobozhanshchyna. One lady plunged into esoteric explanations on how a horseshoe is the sign of the orange side – that’s from Satan, and anyone who hangs a horseshoe up at home as placed himself or herself in the hands of Satan. So it’s no wonder that the President supports Filaret! Here the priests, asked to explain what exactly was going on fled from us like the Devil from a Cross.

As a result of the large number of people at the picket, many of whom were behaving aggressively, the Church of St, John Bohoslov was forced to cancel their prayer service which is usually held between 12.00 and 14.00 on Saturdays. The evening service at 16.00 took place under enormous tension.

At 16.00 the Head of the Department on Religious Affairs of the Regional State Administration, Viktor Pevchuk. He began by saying that this was all Filaret’s fault, that he shouldn’t come to Kharkiv, stirring up Orthodox believers of the Moscow Patriarchate.  When asked directly whether he agreed that such actions are a breach of the law, Mr Pevchuk responded that he was holding talks with the organizers of the picket, pointing out possible violations, and warning that they did not have the right to go on the territory of the Church, however a decision about the holding of the picket was not within his authority. Permission had been given by the Secretary of the City Council, Mr Pevchuk stated. We drew his attention to the lack of telecommunications, the obstructed access to the Church, the blocking of the road, the aggressive behaviour of many of the participants. Mr :Pevchuk then began acting straight away.  Following his call to Ukrtelekom the telephone in the Church worked immediately. The crowd cleared a space of a metre and a half so that it was possible to get to the Church without coming into contact with the picketers.
One felt sorry for the elderly ladies who stood in the heat all day. However one felt no less sympathy for the members of the parish of the Church of St, John Bohoslov who felt upset and extremely insulted. “There’s a feeling of having been spat in the face”, one woman said.  Another added: “They’ve trampled on the most sacred thing that I have”.

On 23 July the picket began again, but there were considerably less people this time. At the same time many members of the UOC MP tried to get into the Sunday service in the Church of St, John Bohoslov. However the Church people allowed only the members of the parish into the service since they were worried that there could be an attempt to seize the Church during the service.

On the same day, members of the UOC MP picketed the premises of the Eparchy administration of the UOC KP at another of its churches in the Kyivsky district of the city. The same slogans were heard, and around the same number of picketers.

We are forced to state that the members of the UOC MP who took part in the picket interfered in the affairs of another denomination – the UOC KP (a violation of Article 5 of the Law on freedom of conscience and religious organizations), and obstructed a religious ceremony in the Church of St, John Bohoslov (an offence under Article 180 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine), insulted believers, members of the congregation of this Church, and deliberately fuelled inter-denominational enmity – the intentional nature is seen in the slogans prepared in advance, insulting Patriarch Filaret of the UOC KP (an offence under Article 161 of the Criminal Code). In our opinion, the responsibility for all of this lies mainly with the organizers of the picket who were perfectly well aware what they were doing, and the authorities and administration which abetted them in these unlawful actions. They did nothing to avert conflict. Moreover, the Head of the Kharkiv Regional Council Vasily Salygin virtually supported the illegal actions when, during a news broadcast on Channel R-1, he blamed Patriarch Filaret for all of it, claiming that the latter is spreading dissent in the south and east of the country. “We can see that believers are expressing their protest against the fact that Filaret is trying to get to Kharkiv. We will not allow a schism in Slobozhanshchyna”, Mr Salygin stated.

We consider that the most flagrant violation of the Constitution of Ukraine, of the Criminal Code and the Law on freedom of conscience and religious organizations was the address given the evening before on Television Channel R-1 by Mr Valery Kaurov who called on believers from the UOC MP to take this protest action. During a live broadcast, Mr Kaurov gravely offended believers of other denominations: Roman Catholics, Greek Catholics, Patriarch Filaret  worshippers at the Church of St, John Bohoslov, the President of Ukraine and his wife. He also called on people to not allow “the dissenter” on Slobozhanshchyna and claimed that all churches belong to the Moscow Patriarchate. This was a direct call to religious enmity. This was not Kaurov’s first such public call, he is constantly allowed time on the air on television channels. And we saw the consequences of this with our own eyes.

In the evening of 23 July on the same TV R-! news it was reported that a “Committee for the defence of canonical Orthodoxy” had been created in Kharkiv. Given the events of 22 – 23 July, the calls to not allow Patriarch Filaret on  Slobozhanshchyna, to return all churches to the UOC of the Moscow Patriarchate, we are not hopeful that the activities of this Committee will be restricted to only conversations with members of the UOC MP.

What next?  If the inaction of the local authorities and administration, or even abetting of the initiators of conflict – Orthodox members of the UOC MP – continue, then one must expect new and more serious confrontations on religious grounds. The authorities must comply with the Law on freedom of conscience and avert such unlawful actions.

Letter from the Church of St. John Bohoslov regarding a planned picket


The Head of the Kharkiv Regional State Administration, Arsen Avakov

The Mayor of Kharkiv, Mykhailo Dobkin

The Prosecutor of the Kharkiv Region, Vasyl Synchuk

The Head of the SBU for the Kharkiv Region, Major-General, Andriy Mukhatayev

The Head of the Kharkiv Regional Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs,  

Ihor Repeshko

The Head of the Leninsky District Council in Kharkiv, Anatoly Nomerovsky

Over the 15 years of its existence the parish of St. John Bohoslov of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate have shown themselves to be a religious community united in the love which brings peace to the world. It has never taken part in religious or political confrontation, still less has it initiated any such conflict.

The parish has learned that on 22 July 2006 (from 8.00 to 1800) a picket is planned directly outside the Church as a protest action against the visit to Kharkiv of his Holiness, Patriarch Filaret.
In fact this visit by Patriarch Filaret to the communities of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate took place on 13 July at a time and in a way that would avert disruption of the peace in the city and in the life of the communities due to displays of aggression by the clergy and believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. The visit planned for 22-23 July 2006 was cancelled.

We would ask that the organizers of the pickets be informed of this and advised against holding their protest.  We would in any case ask that public order near the Church be safeguarded given that the community is categorically against any of the pickets entering the territory which it owns.

We would also inform you that due to the aggressive actions, pickets and threats expressed by people calling themselves defenders of Orthodoxy, it was also decided not to bring the relics of the Great Martyr Barbara which were to be here from 31 July – 3 August, was cancelled too. We would ask you to warn our opponents against conducting protest actions near our Church both on the mentioned days and in future.

We believe that holding pickets directly outside the Church violates the rights of our congregation, is a display of flagrant pressure on them and is an and encroachment on the freedom of conscience and religion, on the right of free choice of denomination, religious community or association, and is in its essence an overt expression of inter-denominational enmity.

We are disturbed that the Kharkiv authorities are allowing such protest actions in the city and are, in doing so, creating a precedent encouraging confrontation on religious grounds.

We would stress that no rhetoric by those connected with the Church can justify what our opponents at a press conference on 7 July, attended by V. Kaurov, a representative  of theUkrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate -  Father Aleksandr and others called a religious war, publicly threatening violence and not even excluding the possibility of bloodshed and the “release from captivity” of the relics of the Great Martyr Barbara.

We would ask you to take appropriate and adequate measures to turn the religious life in Kharkiv back on the course of law and legality.

The Dean of the Church of St. John Bohoslov

Archpriest  Viktor Marynchak

[1]  Bohoslov means theologian, however there seem to be divergent translations among Orthodox Churches – St, John the Theologian or the Divine [translator’s note]

[2]  Slobozhanshchyna or Sloboda Ukraine was a region in the 17th and 18th century of the Russian Empire.  It now basically refers to the Kharkiv region and parts of the Luhansk, Sumy and Poltava regions – or more figuratively, the East of Ukraine.  (translator’s note).

Access to information

Ukrainian officials think that citizens have no right to approach the President!

We have seen much in the course of the campaign “To be printed!”, run by the “Maidan” Alliance, and aimed at stopping the use by state bodies of illegal stamps restricting access to documents and at having such documents declassified. The document given below suggests that the Secretariat of the President of Ukraine (a body, incidentally, anti-constitutional and illegal) thinks that (attention!) citizens have no right to approach the President! No comment, read it for yourselves. And we promise to describe continuation of this story, which will not be endless, even if the officials want that. We will win together! *** From the Secretariat of the President of Ukraine To [V.G]…. Dear Mr G, With regard to your request for information, I am instructed by the President of Ukraine to inform you that in for the purpose of ensuring access, public availability and openness of legal information for individuals and legal entities, a Single State Register of Normative Acts has been created which contains all acts issued by the President of Ukraine, laws and other normative-legal acts. The Ministry of Justice is responsible for a complex of measures for ensuring access by individuals and legal entities to the Register and providing them with information. The Procedure for this Single State Register and its use, approved by Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine No. 376 of 23 April 2001, provides in particular that individuals and legal entities can obtain copies of standard texts of normative-legal acts from the information fund of the Register in electronic form or on paper by approaching the Registrar or by direct sanctioned access to the information fund of the Register. It should be taken into account that, pursuant to Article 34 of the Constitution of Ukraine and Article 37 of the Law of Ukraine “On information” some documents are not liable to disclosure following a request for information, namely, official documents containing information classified as a state secret, confidential information and information that cannot be divulged in accordance with other legal acts. According to the Law of Ukraine “On state secrets”, a permit is needed to see acts issued by the Head of the state and other normative-legal acts with stamps restricting access.. We wish to point out that, in compliance with Article 32 of the Law of Ukraine “On information”, a citizen has the right to address request for information to state bodies, but not to the Head of state. We would mention also that on the instructions of President of Ukraine V. Yushchenko, in the interests of improving normative-legal regulation on ensuring transparency and openness of activities of the Head of state, state authorities and bodies of local self-government, and of preventing unwarranted restriction on the right of access to information, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, taking into consideration the provisions of international legal acts and world experience, is preparing relevant suggestions for introducing amendments to legislation regulating relations in the area of information. The Secretariat of the President of Ukraine, taking into account the requirements of legislation, is permanently working to prevent llegal restriction of access to the acts issued by the head of state. Please accept our apologies for the delay in responding which was due to technical causes. I. Vasyuyik, First Deputy Head of the Secretariat of the President of Ukraine

Freedom of movement

How hard is it to be disabled in Ukraine?

The Donetsk City Civic Organization for Young People with Disabilities “You’re not alone” was registered on 20 September 2001, and includes young disabled people between the ages of 16 and 36 from all over Donetsk.

At the present time there are 50 people with different illnesses registered with the organization. Since 2001 members of the organization have on many occasions received various forms of charitable aid from different enterprises, institutions and charitable foundations of our city and region.

“You’re not alone” is registered in the Kuybyshevsky District of Donetsk, and together with the Donetsk Regional Chess and Draughts Association for people for motor and control impairments “Black rooks” squeezes into the premises of the room of school students “Light ray” (the former “Olympia”) without any formal contract. They were allocated the place in 2001 thanks to a letter from the former deputy of the Kuybyshevsky Executive Committee, A.S. Holubyov.

The organization presently owns two power-building training machines, one electric sewing machine and two manual knitting machines. All of these are however gathering dust in the homes of the members of the organization, when they could be helping not only disabled people, but also orphaned children.

Irina Mykhailovna Yaskevych, herself disabled from childhood (with first group disability status) works from home finding disabled people employment. Thanks to her efforts, just for the period from March to June around fifty people with disabilities have been employed in various businesses in the city, and there is a constant stream of requests for help in finding work.

If our organization had its own premises, then Irina Mykhailovna would be able to not only find people jobs, but also enter into agreements with various institutions, businesses or organizations to train people in certain specializations, which would help to reduce the number of young people hanging about without any occupation, while the members of “You’re not alone” could themselves teach those interested different skills.  Who won’t benefit if our young people, instead of mooching about the streets with a cigarette in their mouth, receive various skills?

In March 2005 we registered the Adaptation Centre for disabled people and orphaned children “Nadezhda” [“Hope” as a branch of the Donetsk City Civic Organization for Young People with Disabilities “You’re not alone”.

As the Director of this organization, I have repeatedly approached various bodies requesting that “You’re not alone” be allocated premises, but heard the same response from all: “there aren’t any premises available”, with most of these answers being given only verbally.

I would like to know where the premises got to which up till 1990 belonged to the department of education and were intended to be used as rooms for school students. Why were they let out to different commercial organizations?  Why does the education department when it closes this or that institution let it fall into such a state of disrepair?  Where is the city administration in all of this, and why do the local authorities close their eyes to it?  Why could those premises that they’re planning to close not be given to civic organizations who want to work and be useful to society, to the state and Ukraine?

Our organization at the moment has a huge number of really good ideas which could help and bring benefit not just to disabled people, but to orphans, and this would reduce juvenile crime and kids hanging about without aim

I would also like to draw your attention to the fact that in our city there is a Fund for Social Protection for Disabled People which, according to its Charter, should provide different types of assistance to those with disabilities. Yet this is only what the Charter says. I would be interested, and probably the reader, to find out what specific assistance this Fund renders, and why when disabled people approach it for help, they are turned down, or receive offers that could not suit.

I would like to cite one example where a disabled person had her request for assistance turned down by the Fund, and felt total lack of confidence in the Fund’s activities.

Several months ago, the Fund for Social Protection for Disabled People received a letter from the President of Ukraine which asked them to consider the possibility of providing, if needed, computers for two young people with cerebral palsy, Oksana Bondarevych and Serhiy Kodak. In fact, by the time the letter was sent, Serhiy’s parents had managed to buy him a computer, so he no longer needed one. However, Oksana’s parents cannot afford to buy their daughter a computer. And where would they get the money when Oksana has been living for 10 years already with her paralyzed grandmother who helped to rebuild the Donbas area after the War, and who also needs help from the state, and a mother who is ill, and is cared for by Oksana after her lessons?

The Fund did consider the President’s letter but turned it down, claiming that it did not have the money for such assistance, and that disabled people could go out to work and then buy it themselves.

Of course they have a problem finding money when the Fund is constantly updating its office equipment, buying ever more new things. They haven’t time to think about disabled people, the main thing is not to stint on themselves, after all look after number one first, and the disabled can wait, it won’t kill them. and if they die, not real loss: “if you have a person, there’s a problem, no person, no problem”.

This is just a small aspect of the injustice which organizations for the Disabled and disabled people themselves confront.

Please send any suggestions, wishes, etc in writing to

The Donetsk City Civic Organization for Young People with Disabilities “You’re not alone”,

Viktor Nikolayevich Losov

Kuybyshev Street 210, flat 21

Donetsk – 12, 83012

[Лозовому Виктору Николаевичу

ул. Куйбышева, 210 кв. 21

г. Донецк -12


Human rights protection

The remains of NKVD victims are to be buried at the Lychakivsky Cemetery in Lviv

On 21 July 2006 the City Council Executive Committee passed a decision to build crypts within the Lychakivsky Cemetery.  These crypts will hold the remains of those murdered by the NKVD (predecessor to the KGB) during the 1940s and 1950s

The remains will be laid to rest of 225 people, 80 of whom were children, discovered four years in the crypt of a monastery in Zhovkva in the Lviv region.

According to the forensic expert commission, the remains are those of victims of the Soviet secret police.  The remains were all exhumed, but have since been kept in bags, awaiting burial.

This year in the courtyard of a church in the centre of Zhovkva, more human remains were discovered.  According to preliminary investigations these people were probably also murdered by the NIKVD in the 1950s. However forensic tests have not yet been carried out.

The building of the crypts at the the Lychakivsky Cemetery will be paid for by the state, and the crypts will be a place of memory in honour of all the NKVD victims in the Lviv region.

Deported peoples

In Memoriam: Dina Kaminskaya

On 10 July 2006 Dina Kaminskaya, lawyer and human rights defender, died in Washington.  She was 87.

Dina Isaakovna Kaminskaya was born on 13 January 1919 in Yekaterinoslavl (Dnipropetrovsk).  She graduated from the Moscow Law Institute, and was a member of the Moscow City Chamber of Lawyers [Московская городская коллегия адвокатов].

In December 1965 Dina Kaminskaya was prevented from appearing at the trial of Sinyavsky and Daniel as Yuli Daniel’s defence lawyer after it became clear that she was planning to seek an acquittal.

She defended Vladimir Bukovsky (1967), Yury Galanskov (1967-1968), Anatoly Marchenko (1968), Larissa Bogoraz and Pavel Litvinov (1968), Mustafa Dzemilyev and Ilya Gabai (1969-1970). She was prevented from defending Vladimir Bukovsky in 1971, Sergei Kovalyov in 1975 and (Natan) Anatoly Sharansky in 1975.

In 1977, Kaminskaya and her husband, the renowned law expert K.M. Simis, were interrogated by the KGB and under threat of arrest forced to emigrate to the USA.

In emigration, Dina Kaminskaya wrote her memoirs “Zapiski advokata” [“Notes of a Lawyer”], was a member of the Moscow Helsinki Group and broadcast on the radio stations “Radio Svoboda” [“Radio Liberty”] and “Voice of America”. 

The Board of the International Society “Memorial” express their deepest sorrow at the passing of Dina Kaminskaya.

Dina Isaakovna will always remain for us a symbol of the struggle for Right and Justice. We will never forget the enormous role she played in the development of the human rights movement in our country.

Many of us did not have the fortune to know Dina Isaakovna in person, but this does not prevent our feeling deepest respect and love.  From the accounts of her friends, from her radio broadcasts, from others’ memoirs, as well as from her own book, one has the wonderful image of an intelligent, courageous, firm person of extraordinary charm. A person who feels very close. It is this image that we will endeavour to retain and cherish.

“Prava Ludiny” (human rights) monthly bulletin, 2006, #07