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.

Politics and human rights

“You just need a cradle and the babies will come!”

Public stress over the turbulence of the coalition marathon is gradually waning. All rosy illusions have been lost, all possible recriminations hurled. All party cards waiting to be burned are in ashes. The Orange team, as though on a rollercoaster hurtled down so rapidly that most of the Ukrainian public felt giddy just watching. Nearby, in another cabin, the blue and white team, also spinning from the speed, sped merrily upwards.  Even viewers from Europe felt queasy watching their dizzy pirouettes.  It would be hard to find another European state which has staggered the world so much in the last decade.

Yet should we be surprised?  Is it the first time in the history of democracy that a political faction, having won a first round, experiences crushing defeat in the second? Regular alternation of political poles is logical, and in terms of democracy, even desirable. The mechanism for democratic alternation of political elites is only falteringly starting up in Ukraine. However the situation is made specific by the fact that the alternating poles «government – opposition» at the same time oscillates between two civilization vectors – from the pro-Russian (or more accurately, quasi-Soviet) to the pro-European, and back.  Each side, losing, in turn is filled with a sense of disaster, the feeling that what is dying is the accustomed microcosm of a communist paradise never built to the end, or Ukraine altogether. Ukrainian society, therefore, unlike others, cannot simply brush all this aside, allowing politicians to play their democratic games as they please, but must each time mobilize themselves for rescue actions, whether from the post-Soviet criminality, or from the «machinations» of the nationalists.

The problem which the President faced – whether to put forward Viktor Yanukovych’s candidacy, or to dissolve parliament – was bitterly difficult. «It could go this way, it could go that – and the old lady cried and cried»[1]. Yet whatever the politicians say, to determine now which option would have been best is simply not possible. Only time can be judge of this. Whereas at present al of society, as though sitting with a fortune teller are tormenting themselves with the questions «What happened?», «What’s going to happen?» and «What will calm my fears?»

«What happened?»

During the agonized soap opera «The Creation of an Orange coalition» I couldn’t free my mind of one image: in the middle of a military camp, in a clearing, three card players are sitting, engrossed in their game, their faces filled with gambling fervour and immense delight each time one of them manages to suss out his partner’s trump cards. Through the trees one catches glimpses of the as yet unnoticed soldiers of the enemy army already in the camp 

While the Orange card players on their Kyiv clearing tried to suss out each other’s combination until they couldn’t think straight, enemy information troops swarmed unobstructed through the entire territory of Ukraine. Their victory, achieved through the use of propagandist clichés like «the threat from NATO» and «the denigrated status of the Russian language», was absolute, with seemingly not one single information shot fired from the Orange camp.  And this is although even in Lviv book and newspaper ratios show that in Ukraine the Russian language dominates, and every clearheaded person understands that the Party of the Regions and their allies are trying to obtain the right to not know, to not study, and quite simply to ignore the Ukrainian language.  Nonetheless, not one of the Orange politicians has demonstrated to the ordinary Russian-speaking person from the East the justice of what each person’s experience of life tells them: sportsmen who are running the 400 metres around a stadium in different lanes (inner and outer) cannot have the starting and winning posts imposed on one line. The lane which at present needs to be «run» by the Ukrainian language after centuries of persecution is much longer than that assigned the Russian language which has enjoyed a privileged position for centuries. It is obvious that a shared winning post is fair only where the runner in the outer lane is given a staggered start. (It would be interesting to know whether this elementary rule is clear to at least member of the Party of the Regions and Human Rights Ombudsperson Nina Karpachova[2].

The Orange politicians must also take the blame for allowing the re-interpretation of one of the main rallying cries of Maidan[3]  - «East and West together!»  The uniting of East and West was seen as defence against the rigging of the election results, against the criminalization of the state, reprisals against opponents – Maidan was convinced that the East needed to be rescued from those violating it. The readiness shown by the bloc «Nasha Ukraina» [Our Ukraine»] to form a coalition with a political faction accused of these abuses was seen as shattering fundamental principles. Pro-President politicians had not only lacked the strength to cleanse the East of their criminal elements, they had «handed over» to them all of the East, reconciled with the fact that precisely the Party of the Regions would be its spokesperson – and the latter found it convenient to hide behind the shield of the Maidan rallying cry «East and West together!»

Under such circumstances it would be logical to also renounce one of the other main calls from Maidan: «Bandits to prison!» Guided by temporary political needs, the Orange faction (primarily the President and «Nasha Ukraina») in full view of a shocked nation allowed state criminals to turn into innocent and untouchable political opponents. Today the criminals are not simply protected with their status of parliamentary immunity, but are actually in power.  And the courageous and committed Orange activists of the East are simply ignored and forgotten, and who now in the East will dare to speak out against that force which is so good at protecting its own?

And none of the Orange team wants to take responsibility for the present situation. All of them, beginning with Yushchenko, Tymoshenko and Moroz down to the least important party figure, have simply forgotten the word «sorry». We are not speaking of internal party «takeoff plans» where they all undoubtedly said masses of unpleasant things to each other. We mean a public acknowledgement of their guilt before the voters and their attempt to understand.  Only this can ensure catharsis among those remaining in the Orange camp and begin their recovery. It would seem as though the political technologists have imposed a ban on any kind of apology, considering it a step towards political suicide. Only one Orange politician – the journalist and now young State Deputy Andriy Shevchenko – apologized to the voters in the program»Svoboda slova» [«Freedom of Speech»], and as if to shame the above-mentioned professional oracles, his popularity rating among the studio audience sharply rose.

It is quite likely that soon Yushchenko’s decision will be called a fatal mistake however I could physically feel that incredible psychological burden upon the man.  He had to choose between variants, each of which was perhaps fatal.  The courage with which he took this, and the dignity with which he spoke in parliament, having effectively «blurred» the victors’ triumph, once again convinced me that Yushchenko with all his obvious miscalculations is a major figure for Ukraine. Our current President is one of those historical figures who, being in some things weak and ineffectual administrators, truly enter into the Book of their nation’s existence those letters which the people may temporarily protest at, but which are, seeming, those reflecting God’s Will.

«What’s going to happen?»

Since the Verkhovna Rada approved Viktor Yanukovych’s government, the main intrigue of the moment has been how quickly and painfully the Party of the Regions will «throw out» Yushchenko and negate the conditions of the Fifth Universal.  That this is inevitable is not doubted by most of Orange Ukraine. How this intrigue is resolved will effectively determine the historical legitimacy and fatefulness of Viktor Yushchenko’s decision.

The logic of the appointment of the blue-white contingent of the government attests to its being conceived as a government of revanche. The majority of those whom the Prime Minister himself appointed belong to the old Kuchma «clique» which the Orange Revolution swept from power. For them, returning to their offices was the same as for Ludovic XVIII to return to the Trarieux Palace. There are no grounds for saying that in their future actions nothing will be for the good of Ukraine – I can’t say that even about the regime of Kuchma and Medvedchuk. However those people, the communist Hrach is right, were trained back under the Soviet regime, and at best they will build Ukraine according to those post-Soviet models, applied in Russia to create a quasi-democratic, and in actual fact authoritarian, state. It will be based on an economic modal which sooner or later will clash with the freedom of speech we have thanks to Yushchenko and both his governments, and therefore the democratic nature of our society which has thus far differentiated us so favourably from Russia.

How the people put forward by the President will work in Yanukovych’s government is difficult for me to predict, I lack specifically administrative experience. However the question of how to get rid of them will permanently torment the victors. I would like to believe that they won’t chose the most radical way, changing the Constitution in order to turn a parliamentary – presidential republic into a merely parliamentary type.

One may assume that the Party of the Regions will continue to become familiar with the special features of roller coasters which allow, after the giddy ascent, for the government track to tilt downwards. However it is possible that the party will be able, having enjoyed the enjoyable symbolism of revanche to nevertheless bear in mind the experience of Maidan and to not extend to all of Ukraine the methods of administration they have so successfully tried out in Donetsk.

While «Nasha Ukraina», will perhaps manage to fathom what happened that so many of its members could have coolly repeated the words of Maidan’s anti-hero: «You won’t push us out of power!»

However the most vitally important lines will be those through the opposition camp. I was impressed by the undaunted manner in which the recent almost-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko announced her move to the opposition to the government, and then to the President. However what criteria will she apply in choosing her new team?  Will Baba Paraska[4] continue to form her unfailing background? Personally I see the only chance of success being to implement as soon as possible the successful BYuT [Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko] video clip: «There can be nothing without you».  For that, however, an atmosphere needs to be created in the opposition camp which is favourable for specialists of a new age. The litmus test for me will be the response to the question whether Andriy Shevchenko, already mentioned above, will be able to stick it in Yulia Tymoshenko’s team, and whether Arseny Yatsenyuk and Viacheslav Kyrylenko will be able to join it.

A new victory will be achieved not by Maidan’s rallying cries, but by its values which are those by which the new opposition must be guided. It would be simply fatal to rush this. All fighters in the opposition need to calm down. The more emphatically they talk about «a betrayal of Maidan» and «the crimes of the President», the most clearly they exude an aura around them of defeat. They need to move back into the rear, radically regroup, work out a new strategy and ensure the human and material resources. It would not hurt, as well, to learn from their opponents. It’s unlikely that the present shock experienced by the Orange faction is greater than the prostration the white and blue guard was in after the Maidan victory. They did however recognize their defeat, and having regrouped, set to work.

«What will calm my fears?»

I can’t express how sad I feel watching how the politicians of the Orange camp reduce the essence of Maidan to mere political slogans. The State Deputy from BYuT who attached an Orange flag with a mourning ribbon to the President’s chair does not himself realize how he is distorting the deeper meaning of Maidan. It is no less depressing to listen as ordinary Maidan activists plunge into disillusioned regrets: «We froze then in Kyiv for nothing!»  To the delight of the present victors, the most impassioned supporters are en masse denying Maidan. Yet was the political slogan «Down with Bandryukovych!»[5]  really what encapsulated the whole sense of the Orange Revolution?  Can they really have forgotten the mora stand  «We’re not cattle, we’re not goats»[6]?

True, at first glance, the snowy orange fairytale ended when Yushchenko greeted Yanukovych as Prime Minister. The symbolism of that television image was especially potent. Maidan can not forget that the newly-appointed Prime Minister represents the never expiated nor punished sin of election fraud. People are appalled not because two politicians who were enemies before have shaken hands. In politics that’s normal. The anxiety is aroused by the fact that people understand the irreconcilability of their styles of government.

However human fears are not confined to this. The swift degradation of the Orange regime killed the hope of Maidan that the new regime could radically transform Ukraine. Moroz’s betrayal in the moral sense was no different from that of Taras Chornovil[7] In both cases the driving force was political gain. The stubborn pushing into a leading post of Petro Poroshenko against the will of the majority of the Orange camp (not to mention the white and blue faction) was no different from the stubborn thrusting forward as presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych against the will of the majority of the people. In both these instances the will of the people was disregarded. The Orange politicians forgot the word «sorry» just as it was forgotten by Yanukovych, Kushmaryov and Kivalov. Therefore after the somersault performed by Oleksandr Moroz and the election of Viktor Yanukovych, the difference between the orange and the white and blue has not simply been lost once and for all, something that I personally cannot regret since we really do need to bury any political «zbruch»s [Slavonic pagan idols – translator]. What is much worse is that all that endless alternation of betrayal, manipulation, outbursts of ambition, open political opportunism gives grounds for asserting that our entire political elite is not capable of distinguishing good from evil. I do not regret that I was on Maidan, I am just sorry that its moral impulse proved insufficient.

I once expressed certainty that a spiritual revolution is of a pronouncedly quantum nature. I would illustrate this idea through the process of photosynthesis: each particle of chlorophyll contained in a green leaf receives a quant of light from the Sun and passes the energy received to other cells of the leaf which carry out certain biochemical work. Our particle of chlorophyll is Maidan, which received from God a huge quant of spiritual energy. What happens in society after that is the using of this energy, its distribution, fulfilment of certain social and political work. Here two processes mutually contradictory take place at one time.

We have first the inertia from «Kuchmism» which wants to be revived. In this case we see what in despair we call the frittering away of Maidan’s potential, as graphically seen in recent events. At the same time, however, we have a process of renewal which is perhaps less noticeable, but nonetheless undeniably there. Here the energy of Maidan is assimilated as the beneficial energy of creation. Do we not notice the increase in dignity of Ukrainian citizens, their conscious sense that they «are not cattle and not goats»? Do we not observe how normal we already find freedom of the press, freedom of elections, social activities of different groups, all that we had to wrench from the regime of Leonid Kuchma with such a struggle?  All that is also the energy of Maidan, and it would therefore be a sin before God to say that standing in the snow then was for nothing.

Finally, once again doubting the ability of the Ukrainian people to take care of their own fate, do we notice how it is precisely they, the Ukrainian people, who are a potent passion force which is already for the second time overcoming the stagnation of the Soviet social «material» and is providing the parameters for a new existence?  During the memorable television debates with three representatives from Rukh [Narodny Rukh Ukrainy - The Popular Movement of Ukraine] at the beginning of the nineties Leonid Kravchuk was still threatening «chickens get counted for autumn». Within half a year he had already been forced to adopt all the symbols from Rukh and to become a supporter of independence in order to hold on to power. Before Maidan Viktor Yanukovych was the epitome of an absolutely cynical force which was trying to bring all of society to its knees. Today it is he who, in order to return to power, who is reassuring the anxious that «nobody is going to bring anyone to their knees». 

It is he together with the known separatist Yevhen Kushnaryov who uses the rallying cry of Maidan «East and West together!»  All of that shows that each such outpouring of Ukrainian identity has radically altered Ukraine’s socio-political landscape. Without such outpourings Raisa Bohatyryova would never have sang «Shche ne vmerla Ukraina!» [the Ukrainian National Anthem – translator] with such fervour!

In those freezing days in 2004 the Lord raised an invisible curtain and showed us who we can be. It is no accident that the history of Maidan has recorded the words of one woman as she turned to a priest: «Father, will there be such love among people in Heaven?» The people who stood there were not saints, however they were blessed by what they radiated – faith, hope and love. Non-violent Maidan became a part of humanity’s spiritual treasure as an event which in its significance can be compared with the non-violent resistance of Mahatma Ghandi in India. However such an apotheosis of love carries with it a potential danger since we all know that only one step divides love and hatred. After the spiritual surge forth of non-violence, India plunged into a bloody civil war and finally split up. Who knows, whether it was not the painful decision of Viktor Yushchenko, «immolating» himself in the fire of Orange criticism, that was the act which has saved Ukraine from bloody conflict and a subsequent split?

A little time is needed and then the positive influence of the Orange Revolution will make itself felt both in the West and in the East of Ukraine, just as in the USA where today both the North and the South welcome the abolition of slavery. It will be only historians who recall the division of society into orange and white and blue … and also those foolish politicians the sense of whose political careers rests in confrontation. And we will all recall those who in one way or another helped to protect Ukraine. Since it was not for nothing that one poet of the Shestydesyatnyky [the Sixties activists] wrote: «You just need a cradle, the babies will come!»


About the author:

Myroslav Marynovych, writer and publicist, theologian and human rights activist was one of the founding members of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group in 1976 for which he spent 7 years in the Perm political labour camps , and a further 5 years in exile, and the organizer of the Ukrainian Association of Amnesty International.. 

Another related article can be found at:

and more information about Myroslav Marynovych himself at:

First published in Ukrainian in «Krytykf», № 7-8 (105-106), July - August 2006

[1] The author refers to a well-known proverb «Надвоє бабка ворожила: або вмре, або буде жива» literally: the old lady / grandma foresaw two possibilities: either she would die, or she would live on»  [translator’s note]

[2] Nina Karpachova ran for parliament on the candidate list of the Party of the Regions in 2006. Despite repeated calls from human rights organizations well before the elections, she did not resign from her post as Human Rights Ombudsperson  (translator’s note)

[3] maidan literally means «square».  The word is increasingly used to refer to the Orange Revolution, and what those who stood on all the squares in Ukraine were there to assert (translator’s note)

[4] The person who became known to all of Ukraine (and the world) as Baba Paraska is Paraskovia Korolyuk, an elderly lady who both brought food for those on Miaden in Kyiv and stayed during the tent city vigil. (translator’s note)

[5] A play on words, mixing the word for bandit and the name of the then Presidential candidate Yanukovych (translator’s note)

[6] «My ne bydlo, my ne kozly» .  It seems necessary to stay with the literal version, since there was a very specific reason for the word «goat».  This word in prison slang is a derogatory term, which Yanykovych used in a speech to his supporters about those who (also in prison jargon) get in their way. The words became part of the song by Green Jolly (translator’s note)

[7] Taras Chornovil, son of a famous and respected dissident, having been active in the movement «Ukraine without Kuchma» suddenly changed political affiliations, becoming a key spokesperson for Yanukovych in 2004 and State Deputy from the Party of the Regions (translator’s note)

The Ukrainian Civic Forum is demanding that Nina Karpachova be dismissed from the position of Human Rights Ombudsperson.

(Open Appeal)

To the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine
The Guarantor of the Constitution, the President of Ukraine
The Prosecutor General of Ukraine

Recent events developing around the position of the Authorised Human Rights Representative of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (the Human Rights Ombudsperson) are incomprehensible and unacceptable. We, the undersigned members of the Ukrainian Civic Forum, representatives of civic organizations and citizens of Ukraine, are appalled by the situation which has developed and demand that Nina Karpachova be immediately removed from the post of Human Rights Ombudsperson.

Participation by any human rights defender in political activity on the side of any particular political party automatically means loss of independence and impartiality, and the Human Rights Ombudsperson’s oath according to the law unambiguously demands adherence to these principles. Nina Karpachova should have resigned as Human Rights Ombudsperson back when she was first entered on the candidate list of the Party of the Region and took part in the elections.

By Resolution No. 1234 of the Central Election Commission from 16 May 2006 Nina Karpachova was registered as a State Deputy of Ukraine. As the press service of the Human Rights Ombudsperson reported on 6 June, she handed a written letter of resignation to the Verkhovna Rada in connection with her election to the office of State Deputy.

In the middle of September it transpired that Nina Karpachova wished to remain Human Rights Ombudsperson and that she had handed in a statement resigning from her position as State Deputy of Ukraine.  Recently new contradictory information emerged regarding another apparent change of heart. These political somersaults are an outright violation of the law.

In accordance with Article 8 of the Law on the Human Rights Ombudsperson:

«The Human Rights Ombudsperson may not hold a representative’s mandate or occupy any other office in state bodies of power.

She may not be a member of any political party.

In the event of any circumstances designated in paragraphs one and two this Article, the Human Rights Ombudsperson must remove them within ten days of her / his appointment. Before the said circumstances have been removed, s/he may not take her / his oath.

If the circumstances designated in paragraphs one and two this Article arose during the work of the Human Rights Ombudsperson, they must be removed within ten days of when they first became known.

In the event that it is not possible to remove them within ten days the Human Rights Ombudsperson must make a statement within the stipulated period rejecting any other instructions or powers, except those vested with the Human Rights Ombudsperson.

If within the stipulated period the Human Rights Ombudsperson does not comply with the established requirements, her / his powers shall be suspended and the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine shall be bound to dismiss her / him from office».

Ms Karpachova has for four months now combined the positions of Human Rights Ombudsperson and State Deputy of Ukraine which is prohibited under Article 8 of the Law on the Human Rights Ombudsperson. Pursuant to the last paragraph of Article 8, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine must dismiss Ms Karpachova from the post of Human Rights Ombudsperson and put forward, in accordance with Article 6 of the Law on the Human Rights Ombudsperson, candidates for a new Human Rights Ombudsperson.  Nor does Nina Karpachova have the right now to take part in new elections.

We call on the Verkhovna Rada to comply with the norm of the Law and dismiss Nina Karpachova from the post of Human Rights Ombudsperson. 

It is vital that the necessary lack of political engagement of the Authorised Human Rights Representative of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine be reinstated. Only trust and respect for the Human Rights Ombudsperson from the public can make her / his work effective.

The original Appeal was signed by 47 representatives of different civic and human rights organizations. It has now been placed on the Maidan website where those wishing to are invited to add their signatureю


Implementation of European Law

New demands and new procedure

Back in 1993 new procedure was introduced for registering normative legal acts, this establishing how state executive bodies issued and registered such documents.

State registration was, first of all, mandatory for the normative legal acts of ministries and other executive bodies where they pertained to the socio-economic, political, personal and other rights, freedoms and legal interests of citizens, declared and guaranteed by the Constitution of Ukraine. State registration was regulated by Presidential Decree «On state registration of normative legal acts of ministries and other executive bodies» from 3 October 1992, the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine «On approving the provisions on state registration of normative legal acts of ministries and other executive bodies» from 28 December 1992 and normative legal acts of the Ministry of Justice. In particular, the procedure for submitting normative legal acts for registration was regulated by Order of the Ministry of Justice No. 34/5 from 12 April 2005 «The procedure for submitting normative legal acts for state registration to the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine and procedure for state registration».

State registration of normative legal acts included a legal assessment to check compliance with the Constitution and current laws of Ukraine, the adoption of a decision about state registration, assignment of a registration number to each normative legal act and its being entered into the State Register of normative legal acts.

Ukraine’s ratification of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in 1997 initiated a new approach in the activities of legislative and law-applying bodies of power. Since, according to Article 9 of the Constitution of Ukraine, the Convention is a constituent part of Ukrainian legislation, and taking into account the fact that Ukraine acknowledged the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights as binding for the state, the need arose to adapt Ukrainian legislation to the norms of European Law. It should be pointed out that recently the European court has frequently found violations by Ukraine of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Such violations are often connected with the fact that some domestic normative legal acts contradict the provisions of the Convention, so these documents are the source of systematic violations.

In implementation of the program for adjusting Ukrainian legislation to comply with the norms of European law, the Ministry of Justice passed a decision to make changes to the procedure for state registration of normative legal acts this envisaging an additional check of normative legal acts for conformity with the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

The Ministry of Justice of Ukraine issued Order No. 70/5 of 23 August 2006 «On introducing amendments to normative legal acts of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine concerning state registration of normative-legal acts». From now on all draft laws, other normative legal acts and all documents liable for state registration will undergo expert analysis to ensure conformity with the Convention. The expert analysis will be conducted by the National bureau of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine on observance of the Convention.

This expert assessment will be carried out in accordance with the Law of Ukraine «On enforcing the judgments and applying case law of the European Court of Human Rights», as well as Resolutions of the Cabinet of Ministers on measures for implementing this Law.

The expert assessments will involve two stages, the first being a check to determine whether the subject of regulation of the normative act in fact relates to the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Convention. If the answer is affirmative, then the second stage will commence, this being the check on actual compliance. During this stage specialists will consider whether the normative act conforms to the provisions of the Convention and the case law of the European Court of Human Rights. The resulting conclusion regarding compliance with the Convention of any given normative legal act will then be included in the Opinion of the Ministry of Justice.

If the subject of legal regulation does not concern the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Convention, then this is noted in the accompanying letter, with which the normative legal acts are submitted for state registration. For this test the Ministry of Justice recommends using the topic-based reference book on the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of 1950 and protocols to it (appendix to the Methodical recommendations on carrying out expert assessments of normative legal acts (drafts) for conformity with the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, approved on 15 August 2006 by the Ukrainian Government representative at the European Court of Human Rights.

If, during state registration, some doubts arise as to the correctness of the results of the check, then the normative legal act is returned without state registration, this providing another reason for turning down state registration

Against torture and ill-treatment

KHPG consultants ever more in demand

Members of the public were given consultations by the lawyers A. Bushchenko, V. Nesterenko, I. Perepelitsa and I. Blaha, as well as by the consultants S. Karasik, M. Kryukova and M. Nedaivoda.

There were also volunteers, students of law and psychology, who took part in the reception centre’s work. Medical consultations were provided by a doctor and a psychiatrist. The KHGP reception centre cooperates with lawyers in Kharkiv and other regions of Ukraine, as well as with other civic organizations.

During the first six months of the year 593 persons approached the public reception centre.

Of these:

  • 251 came to the reception centre in person
  • 266 wrote to the centre
  • 8 approached us through emails
  • 56 either telephoned or faxed
  • 12 cases were referred to us from other organzations
  • 289 cases received during previous periods are still being considered or reviewed.

Social breakdown of individuals who approached the reception centre

Table 1

 Types of people who approach the centre


 Nature of the appeals


of appeals


Individuals serving a sentence and their relatives

Complaints against verdicts, social issues, complaints against violations during investigation and trial, complaints against the illegal actions of investigating officers and personnel of penal institutions



Individuals under investigation, their relatives and witnesses

Requests for defence during investigation, allegations of illegal detention and unlawful actions of the police



Military servicemen and their relatives

Complaints against improper treatment, social issues



Pensioners, people with disabilities and other socially vulnerable people

Civil or social issues, providing medical help



Single and divorced mothers

Social issues



Victims of crimes

Assistance during the investigation and trial




Various issues






Agencies, against whom the complaints were made

Table 2

The courts

Unfair verdicts, too heavy sentences, violations in the course of court proceedings, red tape



The Police

Illegal detention and arrest, torture and cruel treatment, absence of reaction to complaints



The Prosecutor’s office

Absence of reaction to complaints



Penal institutions

Inadequate living conditions, ill-treatment



The Army

Social issues



The local authorities

Absence of reaction to complaints, social and everyday issues, appeals against decisions



The administration of enterprises of all forms of property

Violations of labour laws, illegal dismissals



Medical establishments

Inadequate medical aid, insufficient examination of conscripts




Social issues, family relations, various complaints







The above-mentioned staff of the reception centre gave over 800 consultations and advice (in the case of some appeals two or more consultations were needed).  57 procedural documents were prepared (law suits, claims). In 78 cases appeals were made on the clients’ behalf to the relevant state institutions, and on in 28 cases the clients’ interests were represented in courts and in state executive bodies. 6 claims have been lodged with the European Court of Human Rights. 7 cases were referred to other organizations, and 17 applications were presented to the Fund for Professional Aid to Victims of Torture. 18 applications for assistance were turned down.

We attribute the substantial increase in approaches made to our organization as being an increase in information provided to the public about the activities of KHPG in the media.



No such thing as a former cop

Over the last two years working as coordinator for the Donetsk region on the program «Against torture and ill-treatment»  I have constantly wondered just how deeply the need has become entrenched in law enforcement officers to torment and torture people.

Encountering numerous complaints from victims, trying to get to the reasons for all forms of detentions, interrogations, with some leaving people cripples, or on occasion costing them their lives, I have become more and more convinced that such activities must inevitably leave a mark on the individuals in uniform. Beating out somebody’s kidneys, breaking noses, ribs, placing bags over people’s heads, connecting electrodes to a person’s body, and so forth, these guys must change inside. It simply goes deeper in some, and is more on the surface in others. With regard to this point, I would give a highly symptomatic example which took place in Konstantinivka.

It all began when I decided to meet with one of the candidates for the city leaders in Konstantinivka during the 2004 elections. Having discovered that he had previously served in the police force and had a law education, I wanted to sound him out about the possibility of his working within the program. Having arranged a meeting, at the time set I met a man of around 40, medium build with regular facial features. The no-nonsense candidate (a successful businessman) listened carefully to my suggestion. The latter revolved around creating within his taskforce a public reception centre on problems involving the violation of human rights. I particularly emphasised possible help for people who had suffered from the activities of the police. I thought that he might «bite» at this point sensing the additional votes this could win him. So you can imagine my surprise when the former police captain, who’d left the force after being wounded, suddenly interrupted me abruptly and bellowed «Huh, those bastards went flying around my office! They need their heads scraped against the walls during interrogations!» That was the end of our contact. I had nothing more to say to him.

That individual whose physiognomy was pasted over roads into the city and fences was fairly successful at the elections, coming a respectable third out of the 13 contenders in the «election race». Then I lost sight of him.

However in July of this year, 2006, an incident took place in the city which is still being discussed and which left many in a state of shock. On one fine morning the rumour sped around Konstantinivka that some vandals had beaten a girl until she was unrecognizable and thrown her from the balcony of an eighth-floor flat. And the surname of that same candidate and ex-cop was named. I got interested, and meeting with the prosecutor was able to find out all the details. It turned out that this «wounded» individual, with a perfectly happy family, had spent the night together with a friend in a casino, and had appeared in the morning at the home of a twenty-three-year woman he knew supposedly «to rest». Later they were joined by her 19-year-old friend. That was the beginning of the real horror. The former candidate suddenly discovered that his gas pistol had disappeared. Having told his partner to close the door to the flat, he bound the girls and started to give them the whole works in torture. The woman who lived in the flat was able to break free and use the balcony to escape to her neighbours.  The men continued torturing the other girl. And then (and this was seen by numerous witnesses) they dragged her onto the balcony, and despite her pleas for mercy, literally threw her over the balcony.

She was killed on impact.

The Prosecutor says that the girl had been totally beaten (they had specially removed a table leg to use) and even her finger nails had been ripped out.

The scum are now facing the full range of charges – murder, committed by a group with particular cruelty. However seemingly the former (and are any of them former?) cop is trying the «not in his right mind» line, and may get a milder sentence.

Yes, and I completely forgot – they found the pistol in the taxi that the two used to get to that ill-fated place.

Freedom of conscience and religion

Religious freedom and the right of peaceful assembly violated in the Luhansk region

In the settlement Ivanivka, Antratytivsk district of the Luhansk region, notification from the local Protestant community that they planned to hold a concert of Christian songs near the settlement club has met with opposition from the local authorities. The latter have banned “any activities of totalitarian sects on the territory of the Ivanivka Settlement Council”.  This is the exact wording in the official decision taken by the fifth meeting of the current session of the Ivanivka Settlement Council “On prohibiting totalitarian activities on the territory of the Ivanivka Settlement Council” No. 5/12 from 22.08.2006, as was stated by the Religious Information Service of Ukraine [RISU].

Despite support from residents of the settlement for such a concert of Christian songs, the local authorities and particular individuals have twice succeeded in disrupting the event, stopping the equipment from working and shouting abuse at the believers. They based such behaviour on the above-mentioned decision of the settlement council. At the same time, officers from law enforcement agencies called by the concert’s organizers to ensure public order have taken no measures against individuals trying to disrupt the concert and provoke a fight.

RISU points out that the decision of the Ivanivka Settlement Council is unlawful and exceeds its authority since it contravenes the Constitution of Ukraine which guarantees each citizen, regardless of their faith, the right the right to assemble peacefully without arms and to hold meetings, rallies, processions and demonstrations (Article 39).  Furthermore, only the court has the right to restrict the right of believers to peaceful assembly. Experts believe that the issue of such unlawful acts by the local authorities is artificially creating social tension and provoking confrontation on religious grounds.

Members of the Protestant community have turned to the prosecutor’s office of the Luhansk district, Y.V. Udartsov over this violation of their constitutional rights, asking him to defend their legitimate interests and to register a protest at the decision of the Ivanivka Settlement Council of the Luhansk region  No. 5/12 from 22.08.2006.  As of today, the response of the prosecutor’s office to this appeal is not known.

Access to information

Officials think up another classification stamp for making normative acts secret

Since the beginning of 2005 the “Maidan” Alliance has been running a campaign “To be printed!” to have all “secret” material issued by the authorities made public.  The action has received support form the International Renaissance Foundation as part of a program “Exercising the right to access to information about the activities of the authorities”.

Throughout this campaign the “Maidan” Alliance has been calling for all illegal stamps restricting access to be removed from all normative acts issued by Ukrainian state bodies.  Those documents which really contain state secrets should be classified as state secrets in accordance with the Law “On state secrets”, or attached to particular departments as “For official use only”. Others without exception should be made open in full to the public.

The reaction of the authorities has been very specific, and is yet another demonstration not only of a move backwards, and also of the attempt to avoid public criticism, while keeping things the way they were. The public demonstrate the illegality of the stamps “Not to be printed” and “Not to be published”, which are not allowed for by the Law “On information” and so the officials think up another stamp – “For internal use” which is nonetheless equally illegal.

This very stamp was used by the Ministry of Agricultural Policy for Orders No. 472 and 473 from 28 August 2006. Incidentally the Minister of Agricultural Policy is Y.F. Melnyk, appointed to this position from the Communists’ quota.

The right to health care

Human rights group calls for public councils to work on reforming the ailing health service

In light of the fact that we are constantly approached by people seeking legal assistance on medical matters, the Kharkiv Working Group of the International Society for Human Rights Ukrainian Section [ISHR-US] has decided to broaden its mandate.

Given that: health care in Ukraine has in no way been reformed and remains extremely poorly funded with the services as a result not fulfilling their duties;

Results of sociological surveys indicate that an improvement in medical care is of great concern to the Ukrainian public;

None of the authorities, nor the politicians voted into the Verkhovna Rada according to their party candidate lists consider reform of the medical sphere to be a high-priority task;

the Kharkiv Working Group of the International Society for Human Rights Ukrainian Section is proposing that public supervisory councils be created attached to regional departments of health care, regional hospitals, central district hospitals and in military registration and conscription offices, with the following tasks.

Informing the wider public about the state of the medical sector, financial expenditure, amendments to legislation;

Monitoring the level of access of the population to medical care in cities and the regions, promoting equal opportunities in urban and rural areas;

«European Ukraine – a European level of medical care» – bringing this catchphrase into effect by exerting influence on all branches of power;

Creating the legal foundations through amendments to current legislation of conditions for mutual responsibility of doctors and patients in a new healthcare system;

As the ultimate goal – to effect change in Ukrainian legislation on health care, while the immediate task is to ensure that medical institutions observe current legislation – «The Fundamental principles of medical legislation in Ukraine», the relevant articles of the Laws of Ukraine «On employment», «On information», etc;.

To protect doctors from administrative pressure, unlawful financial profit, to protect ambulance staff from professional risks; to achieve an improvement in the conditions of their work, to raise salaries in view of the many-faceted and often unpredictable risks faced and bring salaries of these workers into line with international standards;

To make the medical community aware of the rights of patients and world standards in this area;

To monitor violations of medical legislation in the army, to ensure that young lads with medical problems are not taken for military duty into the Armed Forces of Ukraine, to ensure qualified medical care and decent medicine for military servicemen in the Armed Forces, and to keep the public informed about the resolution of such issues;

To monitor violations of medical legislation in closed institutions (places of deprivation of liberty, psychiatric hospitals, etc). Where necessary to insist on amendments to current legislation;

To monitor the availability and price of medicines and whether these are accessible to patients.

The highest priority task in legal regulation of the healthcare system will be to draw up and pass a Law of Ukraine «On mandatory medical insurance», «On the creation of a system of hospital funds», and to have the Law «On approving Rules and Procedure for registration of narcotics, psychotropic substances and precursor chemicals in state and municipal healthcare institutions of Ukraine» revoked as not promoting the health of the Ukrainian public.

Point of view

Bugged rocks or how our peace is protected by the prosecutor’s office, the Security Service and the au-thorities as a whole

A wave of strange inter-religious conflict has recently swept Ukraine, conflict which was not seen even at the beginning of the troubled 1990s. Some “canonical Orthodox believers” seem to have woken up and suddenly understood only now that they are not living in a “sterile” spiritual environment. Extraordinary! Ukraine also has the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate [UOC KP], the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, Roman Catholics, Greek Catholics, and Protestants and even, oh horrors, Buddhists. Good morning, esteemed canonical friends!

Yet, there is something oddly familiar in this apparent total insanity. First of all, the similarities ad the way the “actions” are organized. The spitting image of those collective actions from Soviet times in support of Fidel Castro or not in support of America’s war in Vietnam. Or somewhere else

With only small differences in time around eastern and southern cities, and even in Chernihiv, these “canonical” Orthodox faithful organized pickets of churches of the UOC KP, “standing in prayer” and “prayer processions”. All their actions and statements on various TV channels and radio stations clearly fall under Article 161 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code, yet only lawyers and human rights groups see this. The prosecutor’s people and the SBU are asleep and dreaming, goodness knows about what since we don’t bug them, I assure you.

If this had happened before some election, if these pickets and “standing” had been headed by Ms. Vitrenko or, at least, Mr. Korchinsky, there would not be any questions. Even stranger things happen before and during elections! Yet in more peaceful time? Those, who do not remember Soviet times will not understand me. Yet, I believe that those, who remember, and even had occasion to communicate with the KGB, will understand at once. When something well-organized and directed nobody knows by whom appears suddenly, and nobody interferes, and the prosecutor’s office and the SBU look amicably up at the sky, one recalls Russian stones with bugs for bugging foreign spies.

Now the canonical faithful are taking time out for Kashpirovskiy. He’s not to their liking. Nor mine, however that’s no reason to picket him. I’m not going to waste time and energy picketing everybody I don’t like. What about work? What about housework? And I want to rest. Yet, there are people, who have enough “time” and “inspiration”. So, maybe this is their work? Then who pays for this work? And why don’t the authorities respond? You’ll see that in other cases they behave quite differently.

About three years ago representatives of the movement Falun Gong turned to us. This is a widespread non-religious movement, which is persecuted in China. This movement is absolutely peaceful, espousing only a healthy way of living, love and patience. In essence, this is a kind of the movement Tsu-Gong, only it is based on modern philosophy. They teach that the Universe is founded on three spiritual pillars: Love, Patience and Truth. And, naturally, there is only one truth in Chine – communism, which does not want to put up with some other truth, even absolutely innocent. So the poor Chinese followers of Falun Gong have ended up in terrible concentration camps facing torture, suffering and death… yet, this is separate topic, very painful for me, because the reaction of the so-called developed democracies to the events in China is just as inadequate as the reaction to the genocide committed by Stalin and Hitler in the 1930s.

Yet here we are speaking about our domestic problems. Straight after the entirely peaceful actions by Ukrainian followers of Falun Gong against the terror perpetrated by the Chinese regime, the authorities then headed by L. Kuchma, prohibited these actions. Followers of the doctrine have been shadowed, and even today they feel the attention of the Ukrainian Security Service. Then I wrote that such pro-Chinese politics of Ukraine seemed to be not very timely. China has yet to share a border with us, and we do not depend on them as on Russia and Europe. So, there could be no sense in persecuting those disliked in China, or in Japan, or in Guinea-Bissau. Strangely, however, the Security Service paid no heed.

This concerns not only peaceful followers of Falun Gong, who are given to understand that they are being watched and controlled, but also Uzbeks from the movement “Akromiya”, which according to human rights groups is also a purely peaceful association. In spite of this fact, 11 of them were arrested and deported directly into the clutches of the dictator Karimov, about whom it is known that he treats the citizens, disliked by him, not better than in China. Of course, the scale of repressions is less.

In extraditing these poor Uzbek refugees, Ukraine violated its international commitments, not to speak of domestic legislation. Yet this means nothing to our regime. Quite honestly, I feel that the Orange Revolution ended the day they were extradited, and harsh Ukrainian reality began, playing up to everybody, fearing everybody and putting your own dignity and interests last.

The extradition of the Uzbeks damaged Ukraine’s reputation which had stood high after the Orange Revolution. Why was nobody held responsible? Why were the President, the prosecutor, the management of the SBU, the Human Rights Ombudsperson and the opposition of all shades silent?

Why did nobody, nd, first of all, you, respected prosecutors not react to the complete absence of power, violation of all articles of the Criminal Code and Constitution of Ukraine, when the affair concerns our “canonical” believers? Why do you send formal answers to those, who complain about threats of pogroms and capture of buildings? Who are you afraid of? I think I know. You are afraid of our northern neighbour, Russia. Small Georgia is not afraid, Moldova too. And we are shaking with fear again. That is why absurd and inept, but dangerous language and religious scenarios are spread in Ukraine. And the people, who should be protecting us are poised in meditation.

It is time for our President, his Secretariat and the new Prime-Minister, if they are leaders of the entire country and not of some loyal parts, to think about who is playing these games on Ukraine’s territory and why. Or are they are interested only in interpersonal relations?

Why are they silent, when unlawful statements are being thrown around?

Ukraine was not split during the “criminal” Kuchma regime. I must acknowledge this despite my disdain for that regime. Ukraine was separated artificially, in the course of the political game, which is called “struggle for power”. It was split into West and East, Russian- and Ukrainian-speakers, canonical and non-canonical. This separation occurred during the election race of 2004, and nothing was done to improve the situation during the year before the next election. And the new election campaign completed the destructive process. Everybody suffers from destabilization: canonical and non-canonicals, Russian speaking citizens of Ukraine and Ukrainian speaking… Over the last 15 years I have never felt such unsteady ground under my feet. Who is governing the state? Who is protecting citizens? Where are you?!

Maybe I do not understand something? Yet, who would admit to the elections in any country of Europe Ms. Vitrenko, who has done everything to fall under the mentioned Article 161. She did that, when she organized the action against Lubomir Huzar in Kyiv, when she publicly stated that she wanted to drive out the “Tatar horde” from the Crimea, etc. One can mock the woman and compare her with Zhirinovsky. The latter has already played his part in the cultural-religious-ethnical disorder which Russia has been sinking in for a long time, and now it is the turn of Ukraine.

Shouldn’t every country protect its state and social order?

Or will we wait for war, our respected authorities? Like in Abkhazia, Trans-Dniester or Nagorny Karabakh. Ukraine is still peaceful? We will improve the situation. There are no grounds? We will create them artificially. And then we will accuse each other, or “villain” Putin, or “villain” Bush for disorder in our own house.

And we will continue to pretend that we are doing something for the state. We will persecute Falun Gong followers because they are disliked in China, Chechens because Russia doesn’t like them, members of “Akromiya” because they are not friends with Karimov… Maybe we can hunt down our pigs because they’re not kosher?

Well, how low is our national dignity, how vividly we sympathize with the interests and ideas absolutely alien to us! And the resources for this sympathy are, by the way, the same: moral and material acquisitions of the recent 15 years. 15 years in the life of independent and sovereign Ukraine, state officials. There are not so many of these acquisitions. But they do exist! And our people are able to prove that, when they’re driven to the edge. But is it reasonable to wait for this? Still more to bring it closer?

Victims of political repression

Ever more graves of the victims of Stalinism

The world knows the forest of Bykivnya in the north-eastern outskirts of Kyiv. It was here in the years of the Stalinist repressions that the NKVD buried the remains of the nearly thirty thousand Soviet citizens it had executed, as well as over three thousand Poles.  However, besides Bykivnya, there are many other such mass graves on Ukrainian territory. When the Nazis occupied Podillya in autumn 1941, they dug up mass graves on the outskirts of Vinnytsa and it was established that lying in a common grave were the victims of Stalinist repressions in the thirties. Among them were people of different ages and from different social classes.  Photographs of the remains, pieces of their clothing, shoes and personal belongings went through all publications of the Third Reich and incredibly survived to the present day. I was shown a yellowed page from a Berlin newspaper by a former Ukrainian military prosecutor and now one of the heads of the interdepartmental commission on research into Stalinism, Andriy Amons. According to him, in the SBU [Security Service] archives they managed to find documents which indicated the place of burial of Ukrainian and Polish victims of the Stalinist repressions. However, not all these places are available to the researchers.

“In Kherson a similar grave was destroyed, all the earth and taken away and buildings put up. It’s now impossible to find or prove anything there. In Kharkiv and Kyiv you can still find such places, real common graves. I found documents that show the following: in Bykivnya and other places bulldozers removed the earth, dug up the graves, found bits – buttons, Soviet kopecks and then they put the graves back. And before that, immediately after the War, looters “went through” such common graves, the law enforcement officers didn’t stop them, there was no order. The graves were plundered, the proof that the NKVD was involved destroyed.  However we work at the places of burial and we find proof.  It’s time to sit down over the documents”.

The documents, according to pan Amons do not only provide confirmation of the things and human remains found during excavations. The researchers do not exclude the possibility that the geography of burial places of the victims of Stalinist repressions on the territory of Ukraine is much wider than would presently seem. The documents which are held by the SBU have been studied. It’s time to work through the archives of the former NKVD in Moscow. However access to those archives is closed to the Ukrainian researcherss.

7 September 2006

Vandals desecrate the memorial graves at Sandarmokh in Karelia

In the Medvezhyegorsk district of Karelia the memorial graves “Sandarmokh” which hold the remains of the victims of Stalin’s Terror have been desecrated, the newspaper “” reports, citing Interfax.

The human rights activist Yury Dmitriev who helped create the cemetery relates: “Vandals have marred the central monument of the Memorial, and broken from the granite foundation the 700 kilogram bas-relief “Execution”, erected in 1998 where the victims of the red regime are depicted facing execution”.

The three-layer bas-relief was created using the artist’s original technique and attached to the stone with iron pegs set in concrete, yet the vandals managed to rip it from the foundation of the Monument and hurl it on the ground.

The creator of the Monumment, a well-known Karelian sculptor Grigory Saltup has already send an official message to the prosecutor of Karelia. The artist believes that the bas-relief could have been destroyed by those hunting for nonferrous metals who in 1999 knocked a plaque made from bronze cuttings from the Monument. The vandals may have assumed that the bas-relief was also made out of the metal cuttings.

The Memorial Cemetery “Sandarmokh” is a monument of republic significance which is visited each year by thousands of citizens of Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania , Finland and other countries to honour the memory of those murdered during the Stalin Terror.

In the Sandarmokh Clearing in the Medvezhyegorsk district of Karelia during 1937 and 1938 prisoners from the Belbaltlag and Solovky Special Purpose Camp [SLON] were executed.  The confirmed number of victims whose remains lie in Sandarmokh is around 12 thousand people.


Information about the  Sandarmokh Clearing and the Cossack Cross in memory of the Ukrainian victims who lie there can be found at:

News from the CIS countries

Ogulsapar Muradova has died in a Turkmenistan prison

58-year-old Ogulsapar Muradova was arrested in June. She was not allowed to see lawyers, and human rights organizations believe that psychotropic substances were used to force her to confess to “subversive activities”.

In August she was sentenced to six years imprisonment on a charge of illegal possession of weapons.

The cause of death is unknown. Her relatives were called to the morgue today for the official identification.

International human rights organizations had repeatedly expressed grave concern about the fate of Ogulsapar Muradova and the two human rights activists arrested and sentenced with her.

“Prava Ludiny” (human rights) monthly bulletin, 2006, #09