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.


Civic Assembly of Ukraine calls presidential candidates to answer

The Civic Assembly of Ukraine [CAU] has addressed an appeal to both Presidential candidates: Yulia Tymoshenko and V. Yanukovych regarding the need for constitutional reform.

“The need to carry out effective constitutional reform and make changes to electoral legislation were the basic tasks highlighted by representatives of over 500 civic organizations from all regions of Ukraine during Civic Assemblies in 2007-2009.

Without dealing with these tasks it is impossible to overcome the systemic crisis in Ukraine.

CAU calls on you during the television debate on 1 February or in a separate address to indicate whether you agree that there is an urgent need for:

  • Constitutional reform via the calling of a Constitutional Assembly
  • Reform of electoral legislation, including through introducing a system of open candidate lists for parliamentary elections.

The Organizing Committee of the Civic Assembly of Ukraine is convinced that a thorough and specific presentation of your approach to carrying out constitutional and electoral reform will help Ukrainian citizens make an informed choice on 7 February.

Mr Yanukovych, don’t ignore the television debates!

A number of civic organizations, journalists and concerned individuals have signed an appeal to one of the two presidential candidates, Viktor Yanukovych, urging him to reconsider his refusal to take part in pre-election television debates.

The appeal states:

“In your pre-election programme “Ukraine for people” you promise, should you be elected President, “to ensure improvement of the mechanisms of State power, a strengthening of the principles of parliamentarism and democracy. In numerous addresses and statements you position yourself as a contemporary European politician, stress your commitment to the principles of democracy, transparency and openness of those in power, their responsibility before civic society.

Before the elections your authorized representatives repeatedly stated that you would definitely take part in television debates with the candidate who reached the second round with you (for example, Anna German, National Deputy ). However since then your position has changed. You explain your refusal to take part in the debates with subject considerations and expectations from the meeting with your opponent, as well as the assumption that such a discussion will “not be interesting to Ukrainians”.

The appeal stresses that television debates between presidential candidates are a tradition in most democratic countries, including in Ukraine where they have been regularly held since 1994, and expands on the important role they provide in ensuring voters make an informed choice.

“We are convinced that you, like all Ukrainian citizens, are interested in constructive discussion and opportunity to compare two views of the country’s future. The format and regime for TV debates can be determined in such a way as to prevent manipulation, mutual recriminations and destructive utterances, maintaining the discussion at the level of exchange of views on strategy for Ukraine’s development, the ways of implementing election programmes, national economic and humanitarian priorities. Where desired, independent experts and members of both candidates’ teams can be involved in formulating the agenda and participation in the debates.

Television debates between presidential candidates before the second round of voting is envisaged by Article 62 of the Law “On the Presidential Elections”. While participation is voluntary, the decision to take part or not in the debates on the basis of personal preferences and interests runs absolutely counter to democratic principles. It is the test which if a candidate has not taken, s/he cannot consider victory in the elections entirely legitimate.

In 2004 neither considerable differences in views, nor the extremely tense and negative pre-election struggle stopped you from twice meeting your then opponent Viktor Yushchenko in live broadcasts. We call on you this time also to put aside all personal prejudices and to behave in the manner befitting a candidate for the post of Head of a civilized law-based State and take part in television debates, demonstrating in this way your commitment to democratic principles and respect for procedure which are the elements of responsibility of a politician to the people.

­The list of signatories since the appeal was sent around on Friday evening is impressive and can be seen here 

It is still open for endorsing (by writing to [email protected])

Legal aid available for journalists on Election Day

The Association of Media Lawyers and the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine will be providing assistance to journalists in the event that their professional rights are infringed, including through refusal to provide information, be present at meetings of electoral commissions, etc.

On 17 January 2010 from 8.00 to 20.00 journalists can turn for help by phoning 0-44-234-23-57 or contacting: [email protected]

The Association of Media Lawyers also reminds journalists that their rights are guaranteed by the Constitution and legislation, including Articles 9 and 10 of the Law on Information; Article 26 of the Law on the Printed Media (Press) and Article 56 of the law on Television and Radio Broadcasting.

Deliberately obstructing journalists in carrying out their professional work is a criminal liable offence (Article 171 of the Criminal Code).

Electoral legislation guarantees unobstructed access by journalists and media to all public events linked with the elections. Members of electoral commission must, within their capacity, provide all representatives of the media with information regarding the preparation and running of the elections (Article 13 of the Law on the Presidential Elections).

The media have the right without permission or invitation to be present at meetings of electoral commissions of all levels, in the premises where the voting is taking place, during vote counting and determining the outcome ((Article 28 of the Law on the Presidential Elections). The only restriction is that there can be no more than 2 people from any one media outlet.  A list is given of the documentation confirming this right.

Legislation does not envisage any accreditation for journalists at district or precinct commissions, including at special polling stations, in hospitals, penal institutions, etc. An electoral commission can refuse a journalist the right to be present only if the person unlawfully obstructs a meeting. Any such decision cannot be taken by one individual, but must be supported by two thirds of the commission.

During all meetings, etc, as listed above, journalists may take photographs, tape or video recordings.

Every journalist has the right to appeal decisions, actions or inaction of a particular electoral commission.

From information at

Human rights activists slam local authority electioneering

Civic organizations are concerned by numerous cases of open and unashamed interference by the local authorities in the elections. Participation of public officials in pre-election campaigning and the violation of candidate parity are most widespread in the regions.

For example, in the first January issue of the newspaper “Voice of the People”, owned by the Chortkiv District Administration and the Ternopil Regional District Council, a “Statement-Appeal to Voters of the District” was published in support of one of the presidential candidates.  Those signing it included 25 local authority officials: the Head of the District Administration; of the District and City Councils; their deputies; Heads of Village Councils; other public officials of executive structures and bodies of local self-government; directors of schools and institutes; the heads of medical and cultural establishments.

The statement is teeming with examples of overt campaigning “we declare our unconditional support”; “this is the only candidate offering a substantive programme and strategy for the development of our country”; “he loves people and is a true Christian. Ukraine can win only with him”.

The Law on the Presidential Elections unequivocally prohibits executive structures and bodies of local self-government, and their officials, from interfering in the electoral process, including by campaigning.

The human rights organization “Helsinki Initiative – XXI” which is a member of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union has lodged a complaint with the District Electoral Commission over the publication of this appeal.

Human rights organizations see such cases as a demonstrative violation of the legitimate restriction on campaigning, as application of means of administrative pressure on their subordinates, in the first instance public sector employees and students.

The Helsinki Initiative – XXI asks the Electoral Commission to warn local officials, candidates’ campaign headquarters and the media against similar infringements of electoral legislation and in so doing, protect the right of citizens to freely use their vote.

Oleksandr Stepanenko, Member of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union Board (slightly abridged)

Against torture and ill-treatment

Six former police officers sentenced over the killing of a detainee

The Konotop City-District Court (Sumy region) on 16 December handed down its verdict in the much publicized prosecution of officers of the Department for Fighting Organized Crime [UBOZ] in the Chernihiv region. Six of the nine were convicted of exceeding official powers and unlawful methods of detective inquiry.

The criminal investigation was initiated in October 2008 following the death of Serhiy Kuntsevsky who died on 2 October from a closed skull injury in the premises of the Chernihiv Regional UBOZ  in Prytuky.  Video footage of the actual detention showed officers putting a polyethylene bag over his head.  He was detained in the early afternoon and died at around 10 in the evening.

The court found that there had been violations of criminal procedure legislation during the detention of the Kyntsevsky brothers, Y. Musiyenko and O. Mykhalyonko on suspicion of criminal activities. It also established that torture had been applied in the form of beatings and other forms of violence aimed at extracting confessions, with these having had grave consequences.

Two officers holding managerial positions had given their subordinates knowingly unlawful instructions, clearly exceeding their official powers and had personally taken part in the torture. They were sentenced to eight years imprisonment.

Another two officers received four year sentences.

Two officers of the special division “Sokil” were sentenced to three and a half years and three years imprisonment with a trial period.

All those convicted were stripped of their military rank.

The Prosecution had demanded that a further three individuals be found guilty of exceeding their power, however the court acquitted them. In view of this, the Chernihiv Regional Prosecutor plans to lodge an appeal.

Press Service of the Chernihiv Regional Prosecutor’s Office

The right to a fair trial

On non-enforcement of court rulings

In our “law-based country” a person can quietly and with total impunity ignore the rulings of two courts. And he doesn’t have to be a deputy or oligarch. The judicial-legal system in our country is so “flexible” that it can bend under the wish of any, to put it mildly, swindler.

There are cases in judicial practice which are privately called “trivial”. These include various suits asking for faulty products to be replaced by those of proper quality. You would think this was a basic and simple procedure: the court issues the appropriate ruling and the bailiff service checks that the situation is resolve.

However if the bailiff is slack in carrying out his duties, then the party which lost the court case has nothing to fear. This can be demonstrated with the example of a “simple mortal” who tried to get a faulty balcony door changed.

In the State Bailiffs’ Service of the Shevchenkivsky District in Kyiv the writ was registered in June 2008. Since that time the aggrieved party has been regularly going there to see the specific bailiff, Serhiy Yurpolsky, responsible for the matter. The latter has all the details about the businessman who has been ordered by the court to change the faulty door. At first Mr Yurpolsky promised to deal with it within a month, but pretty soon he stopped doing anything at all. Each visit turned into meaningless talk.

On 4 November 2008, after almost five months, Mr Yurpolsky issued a resolution to return the writ claiming that the respondent was not at the address indicated. No other measures to find the person responsible for changing the door were taken. The claimant had to turn to the court again, and a second court ruling ordered that he receive moral compensation from the person who provided the faulty door. During those court proceedings, information was sought from the Tax Inspectorate which immediately provided all information about the businessman, and mainly the firm’s bank account.

With all these documents a writ from the second court was registered in the same Bailiff Service Office on 7 October 2009.  During a meeting with the same bailiff, the claimant demanded that the businessman’s bank account be frozen. However the matter was again dragged out with Bailiff Yurpolsky in no way wanting to freeze the account. He procrastinated quite openly, as if enjoying the situation. Was he playing for time so that the account could be emptied? Who knows, but it is looking as though the second court order will also not be enforced.

The situation is particularly depressing given that the Bailiff Service has received new rights. Significant amendments were made to the Law “On bailiff proceedings” which if properly used, could seriously curb swindlers.

A bailiff has the right, for example, to impose a fine of up to 30 times the minimum wage before tax. If the claimant does not respond to the bailiff’s summons, the police can be called in. Furthermore the bailiff can submit an application to have criminal charges brought. Yet with Ukraine’s State employees, it all remains on paper.

Very slightly abridged from an article by Ludmila Nazarets at

Strasbourg issues opinion regarding the dispute over Ukraine’s Judge to the European Court

A Grand Chamber of 17 Judges of the European Court of Human Rights has concluded that a candidate list already submitted to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe cannot be withdrawn and replaced with a new list after the deadline for submission.

The dispute – together with the lack of a permanent Judge from Ukraine at the European Court – has continued since 2007 when President Yushchenko issued a Decree calling for a new candidate list to be drawn up.  The reason was apparently that one of the candidates had withdrawn for personal reasons, however, as the information in the URLs below indicate, the reasons were not quite so clear-cut, and Ukraine refused – as asked – to provide a third candidate to replace Vasyl Marmazov.

The original list includes Serhiy Holovaty, then and now a National Deputy and Anna Yudkivska. Prior to the scandal over the withdrawn candidate list, human rights groups had expressed concern over the candidacy of a prominent politician.

It remains entirely unclear what will happen next and how a much needed permanent appointment of Ukrainian Judge can be achieved.

The Court’s Advisory Opinion in full



In today’s decision, the Court unanimously concluded that a list of candidates for election as a judge of the Court in respect of a particular State, which had already been submitted to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe1, could not be withdrawn and replaced with a new list after the deadline set for submission of the list to the Assembly.

Background and questions

The present request for an opinion arose out of an exchange of letters between the Ukrainian authorities and the Parliamentary Assembly on the composition of the list of candidates for election as a judge of the Court in respect of Ukraine2. Following the withdrawal of one of Ukraine’s three candidates for personal reasons in September 2007, the Ukrainian authorities announced the withdrawal of the entire list. In October 2007 the Parliamentary Assembly, concluding that there were no “exceptional circumstances” justifying the withdrawal of the list, requested that Ukraine submit a replacement candidate and not an entirely new list. That request was reiterated in December 2007.

Against that background, on 15 July 2009, the Committee of Ministers, the Council of Europe’s executive arm, asked the Court, under Article 473 (advisory opinions) of the European Convention on Human Rights, to give its opinion on the following questions:

1.  (a) Can a list of three candidates, nominated by a State for election as a judge to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of that State and submitted to the Parliamentary Assembly, be withdrawn and replaced with a new list of three candidates? If yes, is there any time limit?

(b) Can candidates on a withdrawn list be considered as nominated by a State within the meaning of Article 22 of the Convention?

(c) Is the Parliamentary Assembly obliged to consider a new list of candidates submitted by a State in replacement of its withdrawn list?

2.  (a) If one or more candidates on a list submitted to the Parliamentary Assembly by a State withdraws before the Assembly has voted on the list, is that State obliged under the Convention to submit an additional candidate or candidates to complete the list or is it entitled to submit a new list?

(b) Are the conditions in paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Appendix to Resolution 1432 (2005)4 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in breach of the Assembly’s responsibilities under Article 22 of the Convention to consider a list, or a name on such a list?


The request for an advisory opinion was assigned to the Grand Chamber of the Court.

Written comments were submitted by the Parliamentary Assembly and the Governments of 16 countries (the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Greece, Ireland, Malta, Moldova, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Sweden, Ukraine and the United Kingdom).

The 22 January decision was given by a Grand Chamber of 17 Judges.

Summary of the decision


Firstly, the Court observed that its jurisdiction under Article 47 was confined to “legal questions concerning the interpretation of the Convention and the protocols thereto”. Questions 1.a through to 2.a, concerning the rights and obligations of the Parliamentary Assembly in the procedure for electing judges, were of a legal character and as such fell within the scope of its jurisdiction under Article 47. On the other hand, question 2.b, which concerned the compatibility with the Convention of a Parliamentary Assembly resolution, and certain of its provisions, fell outside the Court’s advisory jurisdiction.


The Court considered that States could, in exercising their sovereign power, decide – for reasons of their own – to withdraw lists of candidates for the post of judge at the Court. It would not, however, be compatible with the normal conduct of the election procedure to allow Member States to withdraw a list, without any restrictions or conditions, once submitted to the Parliamentary Assembly. Indeed, before submitting their lists, member States would presumably have organised their own selection procedures in such a way as to allow them to choose suitably qualified candidates. Any later possibility of withdrawal could hinder the normal course and timing of the procedure for election by the Parliamentary Assembly. In the Court’s opinion, it was thus reasonable for the time-limit for withdrawal of a list to coincide with the deadline set for the member States to submit the lists to the Parliamentary Assembly.

In conclusion, member States could withdraw and replace a list of candidates for the post of judge at the Court, but only on condition that they did so before the deadline set for submission of the list to the Parliamentary Assembly (question 1a). After that date, the member States would no longer be entitled to withdraw their lists. By the same logic, if the withdrawal occurred before that time-limit: candidates on a list withdrawn by the member State could no longer be regarded as nominated (question 1b); candidates on a new list had to be considered by the Parliamentary Assembly (question 1c); and, the member State concerned could either replace any absent candidates or submit a new list of three candidates (question 2a). If, however, the withdrawal occurred after that date, the member State concerned had to be restricted to replacing only absent candidates (question 2a).


1 Article 22 § 1 of the Convention provides: “The judges shall be elected by the Parliamentary Assembly with respect to each High Contracting Party by a majority of votes cast from a list of three candidates nominated by the High Contracting Party.”

2 Currently there is no elected Judge in respect of Ukraine. Chamber cases against it are considered with the participation of an ad hoc Judge.

3 Under Article 47, the Court may, at the request of the Committee of Ministers, give advisory opinions on legal questions concerning the interpretation of the Convention and the protocols thereto. Such opinions shall not deal with any question relating to the content or scope of the rights and freedoms defined in Section 1 of the Convention and the protocols thereto, or with any other question which the Court or Committee of Ministers might have to consider in consequence of any such proceedings as could be instituted in accordance with the Convention.

4 Concerning the modalites for the election procedure of judges to the European Court of Human Rights and the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights.


25 thousand wiretapping permits a year

Ukrainians remain unprotected legislatively from wiretapping and intrusion in their private life. Human rights activists speak of the authorities receiving more than 25 thousand court warrants for intercepting information from communication channels each year.

Wiretapping, interception of emails, surveillance, etc are standard devices for Ukrainian law enforcement officers. It is extremely difficult to protect yourself from it since, as KHPG Co-Chair Yevhen Zakharov explains, legislation in no way complies with Ukraine’s commitments before the Council of Europe.

Politicians are also not protected from bugs and concealed cameras, as can be seen from high-profile scandals over the tapping of the highest-ranking people in the country.  Yet, Mr Zakharov notes, they show little interest in ensuring that laws on interception of communication channels are followed and in accordance with European standards. They think they know how to protect themselves. Both Tymoshenko and Yanukovych have made use of the special room in the Cabinet of Ministers where conversations cannot be tapped.

A scandal is raging linked to the publishing in the media of excepts supposedly of conversations between Prime Minister Tymoshenko and Georgian President Saakashvili, during which Tymoshenko promises to help register more than 2 thousand Georgian observers at the 17 January elections. On Wednesday 20 January BYuT, Tymoshenko’s bloc, stated that the conversations had been tapped without the sanction of Prosecutor or court, while at the same time not confirming whether or not the telephone conversation had taken place.

It is difficult to complain to the courts about wiretapping since a person may not even know, and proving it is difficult. However two such cases have been heard in the European Court of Human Rights, although its judgment on the need to improvement legislation on tapping has not been implemented.  Yevhen Zakharov believes that Ukraine should introduce amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code similar to those in Germany. Law enforcement agencies should have to report each year on the number of tapping permits, why they were obtained and how they were used. This would reduce the amount of material gathering to compromise a person and intrusions into their private life.

Slightly abridged from a text at

Verkhovna Rada plans to regulate wiretapping permits

The Verkhovna Rada has adopted as a base the draft law “On amendments to some laws to improve mechanisms protecting constitutional rights of citizens during investigative operations and counter-espionage activities”.

The draft law proposes amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code, the laws “On investigative operations” and “On counter-espionage activities”. It would define the procedure for receiving permits to gain secret access to a person’s house or other property, intercept information from communication channels, check their correspondence, telephone calls, telegraphs or other correspondence, and use other technical means of gaining information.

According to the draft law, the body wishing to carry out such measures, must make the relevant application, agreed with the Prosecutor to the court. After this, the judge should check that there are grounds for applying such investigative operations, that it is not possible to obtain the information through any other means, and make a motivated decision.

Comment from the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

UHHRU draws attention to the guarantees laid down in the Constitution where Article 31 states:

“Everyone is guaranteed privacy of mail, telephone conversations, telegraph and other correspondence. Exceptions shall be established only by a court in cases envisaged by law, with the purpose of preventing crime or ascertaining the truth in the course of the investigation of a criminal case, if it is not possible to obtain information by other means.”

The Constitution thus stipulates that the above-mentioned exceptions must be solely at the level of a law. Yet at present, what is in force is  not a law, but Cabinet of Ministers Resolution No. 1169 from 26.09.2007 which approved “Procedure for obtaining a court order to carry out measures which temporarily restrict human rights and the use of the information obtained”

In 2009 UHHRU applied to the District Administrative Court in Kyiv, and referring to Ukraine’s Constitution and to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right of respect for private and family life) and asked that the Cabinet of Ministers Resolution be declared unlawful and revoked.

The court turned this application down, however it did issue a separate decision which reminds the Cabinet of Ministers that the Resolution does not contain the safeguards of civil rights required by the Convention and European Court of Human Rights case law. It does not, for example, prohibit the passing of the protocol and information gathered to other State bodies.

The separate decision informs the Prime Minister and her Cabinet of the need to draw up and submit to the Verkhovna Rada a draft law on the Procedure for obtaining a court order to carry out measures which temporarily restrict human rights. It stresses that this law must be line with the Convention and case law of the European Court of Human Rights. It in fact suggests that those drawing up the law make use of UHHRU recommendations.

Comment from the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

UHHRU draws attention to the guarantees laid down in the Constitution where Article 31 states: “Everyone is guaranteed privacy of mail, telephone conversations, telegraph and other correspondence. Exceptions shall be established only by a court in cases envisaged by law, with the purpose of preventing crime or ascertaining the truth in the course of the investigation of a criminal case, if it is not possible to obtain information by other means.” The Constitution thus stipulates that the above-mentioned exceptions must be solely at the level of a law. Yet at present, what is in force is not a law, but Cabinet of Ministers Resolution No. 1169 from 26.09.2007 which approved “Procedure for obtaining a court order to carry out measures which temporarily restrict human rights and the use of the information obtained” In 2009 UHHRU applied to the District Administrative Court in Kyiv, and referring to Ukraine’s Constitution and to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right of respect for private and family life) and asked that the Cabinet of Ministers Resolution be declared unlawful and revoked. The court turned this application down, however it did issue a separate decision which reminds the Cabinet of Ministers that the Resolution does not contain the safeguards of civil rights required by the Convention and European Court of Human Rights case law. It does not, for example, prohibit the passing of the protocol and information gathered to other State bodies. The separate decision informs the Prime Minister and her Cabinet of the need to draw up and submit to the Verkhovna Rada a draft law on the Procedure for obtaining a court order to carry out measures which temporarily restrict human rights. It stresses that this law must be line with the Convention and case law of the European Court of Human Rights. It in fact suggests that those drawing up the law make use of UHHRU recommendations

Freedom of expression

More on the new law against child pornography

As reported, the Verkhovna Rada on Tuesday passed in its final reading the Law “On amendments to some legislative acts (on countering the spread of child pornography)”.  This legislates for the first time a definition of the crime and also introduces liability for its import, production and circulation of between 5 and 10 years imprisonment.

The amendments are to the Criminal Code, the laws “On Telecommunications” and “On the protection of public morality”.

Article 301 of the Criminal Code now reads:

Article 301: Bringing into, production, sale and circulation of pornographic items

1.         The bringing into Ukraine of works, images or other items of a pornographic nature for the purpose of sale or circulation, or their production, possession, transportation or other movement for the same purpose, or their sale or circulation, as well as coercion to take part in their creation,

shall be punishable by a fine of between 50 and 100 times the minimum wage before tax, or custodial arrest for a period of up to six months, or restriction of liberty for a period of up to three years, with confiscation of the pornographic items and means for their production and circulation.

2.         The same acts, committed with respect to film and video production, computer programmes of a pornographic nature, as well as the sale to minors or the circulation among them of works, images or other items of a pornographic nature,

            shall be punishable by a fine of between 100 and 300 times the minimum wage before tax, or restriction of liberty for a period of up to five years, or deprivation of liberty for the same period, with confiscation of the pornographic film and video production, and means for their production and showing.

3.         The bringing into Ukraine of products of a pornographic nature, created with the participation of a child or use of a child’s picture for the purpose of sale or circulation, transportation or other movement for the same purpose, preparation, sale or circulation, including by providing access to such products with the use of information telecommunication systems, as well as the purchase, exchange and possession of such products in any form and by any means, -

            shall be punishable by a fine of between 500 and 700 times the minimum wage before tax, or restriction of liberty for a period of up to five years, or deprivation of liberty for the same period, with confiscation of the pornographic film and video production, and means for their production and showing.

4.         The sale to minors or circulation among them of works, images or other items of a pornographic nature created with the participation of a child or use of a child’s picture

            shall be punishable by a fine of between 700 and 1,000 times the minimum wage before tax, or restriction of liberty for a period of up to seven years, or deprivation of liberty for the same period, with confiscation of the pornographic film and video production, and means for their production and showing

5.         Acts, set out in paragraphs one to four of this article, if committed again or by prior conspiracy of a group of people, as well as coercing minors to take part in the creation of works, images, or film or video products, computer programmes of a pornographic nature,

            shall be punishable by deprivation of liberty for a period of between five and ten years with stripping of the right to hold certain positions or engage in certain activities for a period of three years, and with confiscation of the pornographic items, film and video products, computer programmes, means for their production, circulation and showing

            Amendments to the Law on the Protection of Public Morality provide a definition of child pornography and references to it.

The following amendment is made to Article 39 of the Law “On Telecommunications”

            18) on the basis of a court order to restrict access of its customers to resources by which child pornography is being circulated”.

            Paragraph two is amended as follows:

“Operators, providers of telecommunications shall keep and provide information about their customers’ Internet connections according to procedure established by law.


It should be mentioned that this was the main area of concern during the first reading of the law. At that stage there was a norm which obliged providers to keep information about their customers’ Internet traffic and report on cases where legislation was violated, including about the circulation of pornography involving children.

The President of the Internet Association of Ukraine, Tetyana Popova told the newspaper Kommersant - Ukraine that providers are no longer obliged to monitor their customers’ traffic, but that there remain a number of points still unclear. “The document says that telecommunication operators should keep information about their customers’ connections, but it doesn’t indicate for how long.” She adds that it is also unclear whether the very service of providing access to the Internet constitutes “providing access to child pornography”. She says that a working group has already been created with representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Internet Association. It will study international experience and endeavour to adapt this to Ukrainian legislation.

There are of course a number of civic organizations that are convinced that Internet providers should bear liability for access to sites with dodgy content. Kommersant quotes Inna Savchuk, from the Service for the Protection of Children as stating that they must monitor and block sites with child pornography.

On refugees

Strasbourg prohibits extradition of Austrian refugee Chataev to Russia

On 14 January the European Court of Human Rights applied Rule 39 and pointed out to the Ukrainian Government that Akhmed Chataev must not be extradited to Russia until further notice.

The Centre for Legal Assistance to Victims of Torture and Ill-treatment has been dealing with the case since 7 January when news was received that Chataev had been detained by Ukrainian police on the basis of an extradition request from Russia. On 8 January an application was submitted for the European Court to apply temporary measures. The Court requested further information, invaluable help in obtaining which was providing by bar lawyer Vladislav Mukhadyanov, representatives of the UNHCR in Ukraine as well as other people and organizations.

Akhmed Chataev is presently being held in a SIZO [remand centre]. As reported already, he was detained on 7 January by Uzhhorod officers of the Department for Fighting Organized Crime. The police inform that he was detained because he is on the international wanted list in connection with charges of terrorism. The order for his detention was passed by the Grozny Court.

With the help of the UNHCR, Mr Chataev, who is disabled following ill-treatment in Chechnya, received official refugee status in Austria where he has lived for several years with his wife and three children. He was in Ukraine on personal matters, has broken no Ukrainian law and was planning to return to Austria.

Mr Chataev has already once been detained - by the Swedish police in March 2007 – because of being on the international wanted list. He was then released as a person protected by the UN Convention on Refugees.

NGO activities

Human Rights Watch 2009 Report

The section of the report without comment

Another period of instability characterized political life in Ukraine in 2009. Political scuffles between President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko continued through most of the year. In March Yushchenko proposed a constitutional amendment that would restructure parliament into two chambers-ostensibly the intent is that a bicameral parliament will better withstand political crisis, but critics suggest that the amendment is also designed to limit presidential power after Yushchenko's term ends in 2010. On October 22, parliament voted against the president's proposal.

Relations with Russia continued to deteriorate. As 2008 drew to a close, tensions erupted over a Russian gas pipeline to Europe that crosses Ukraine, prompting the European Union to convene an emergency summit, held in January 2009, dedicated to regional energy security. Although Russia and Ukraine eventually reached a compromise, diplomatic disagreements aggravated political tension between the countries. In August 2009 Russian president Dmitry Medvedev accused the Ukrainian government of "anti-Russian" policies and declared that he refused to work with the Ukrainian government as composed. Ukraine responded by condemning Russia's "empire complex."

Despite some improvements, Ukraine's overall human rights record remains poor, with torture and ill-treatment in detention still commonplace. Hostility to asylum seekers, hate attacks on ethnic minorities, and Ukraine's staggering HIV/AIDS epidemic are problems that the government still fails to address effectively.

Criminal Justice System

The Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Authorities reform enacted in 2008 achieved some positive changes in 2009, in particular better treatment of mentally ill detainees and improved adherence to due process requirements. However, Ukraine's criminal justice system is still plagued by a high number of arbitrary detentions, ill-treatment in custody, corruption among law enforcement personnel, and a weak judiciary.

Ukraine's human rights groups report high numbers of forced confessions extracted under torture, which are then allowed as evidence during trials. Impunity in the police force is widespread. However, in 2009 mobile monitoring groups composed of Ministry of Internal Affairs personnel and members of the public successfully drew attention to poor conditions in custody. The monitoring groups made 41 visits in the first six months of 2009, uncovering routine violations of detention procedures such as failing to register arrests and to read detainees their rights during arrest, as well as overcrowding and lack of natural light in cells. As a result, by May 2009 more than 50 law enforcement officials had been convicted of crimes related to abuse of power, including ill-treatment.

Treatment of Asylum Seekers and Refugees

With no clear migration policy and a flawed and restrictive refugee law that results in only 3 percent of asylum seekers obtaining refugee status, Ukraine continues to deny asylum seekers protection. However, the Department on Refugees and Asylum-Seekers of the State Committee on Nationalities and Religion has proposed legislation to address these shortcomings.

In 2009 Ukraine continued to refuse to grant refugee status to Chechens, since Ukraine does not recognize war as grounds for granting refugee status. On September 2, six people from the Democratic Republic of Congo, including at least one who sought asylum, were returned two days after arriving in Kyiv. The six were deported despite protests from representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Ukraine, who were not granted access to them. The Ukrainian authorities cited an August 2009 law requiring persons from Africa, Asia, and several countries of the former Soviet Union entering Ukraine to have at least 12,620 hryvnia (approximately US$1,600), or risk being refused entry. This requirement poses a significant new obstacle for asylum seekers in Ukraine.

In 2009 Ukrainian authorities continued to comply with requests of other governments that violate fundamental refugee rights. In June they provided the Prosecutor General's Office of Kazakhstan with confidential documents from the refugee status applications of four Kazakhstan citizens, in direct violation of article 11 of the Ukrainian refugee law. As a result, Kazakhstan launched criminal cases against people who had provided, in support of the refugee applications, evidence that the four had suffered persecution.

Hate Crimes and Discrimination

Physical assaults and attacks on immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers, foreign students, Roma, and people of non-Slavic appearance persist in Ukraine. On January 18, 2009, a young Nigerian man was stabbed to death, and police promptly ruled out a racial motive without evidence supporting an alternate theory. Ukraine continues to lack legislation on racially motivated crimes, and the current civil and administrative anti-discrimination law does not provide proper protection and access to justice for the victims of racially motivated abuses.

Crimean Tatars continue to endure discrimination, including unequal land allocation, employment opportunities, and access to places of worship, and unavailability of education in their native language. A group of Tatars held a months-long demonstration in front of the government building in Kyiv to protest unequal access to land ownership. On July 30 the protestors were attacked by a group of young people while police looked on.

Health Issues and the HIV/AIDS Epidemic

The Ukrainian National AIDS Center reported 13,039 newly registered cases of HIV infection in the first eight months of 2009, nearly half among injection drug users. On March 19, parliament approved a national HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment program for 2009-13, aiming to provide treatment to 20,000 patients by 2013.

The government expanded provision of antiretroviral therapy (ART) for people living with HIV/AIDS, and increased drug users' access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) with methadone and buprenorphine (widely recognized as the most effective means to treat opiate dependence and critical to HIV prevention and treatment support for opioid-dependent drug users), though not on a scale sufficient to address the need. As of November 1, 2009, 13,500 people living with HIV/AIDS were receiving ART, and over 4,800 people were receiving MAT in 102 healthcare institutions in 26 regions of Ukraine. There is no MAT in prisons, however, and limited access to ART.

In contrast, Ukraine has made little progress ensuring that patients who face severe pain have adequate access to opioid medications like morphine. Due to excessively restrictive narcotics regulations, tens of thousands of cancer and AIDS patients are likely to suffer from severe pain unnecessarily because they cannot get access to appropriate treatment.

Media Freedom

On June 9, 2009, parliament held the first reading of a draft law imposing criminal liability for violations of public morality, sparking harsh criticism from media and human rights groups concerned that overbroad or subjective definitions of the term "public morality" could make editors and journalists vulnerable to criminal prosecution for publishing otherwise protected speech.

There was welcome progress in the investigation into the murder of journalist Georgy Gongadze. On July 21 Alexei Pukach, a former Ministry of Internal Affairs official suspected of ordering Gongadze's killing in 2000, was arrested after being on the run for four years. He reportedly gave key evidence to investigators, including names of other people involved in the murder.

Key International Actors

On February 9, 2009, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention released a report on its 2008 visit to Ukraine. The report noted positive changes in the detention practices of Ukraine's law enforcement agencies, but expressed concern at the high number of arbitrary detentions, the regular use of torture to extract confessions, and the lack of a separate juvenile justice system.

During an April 2009 visit to Ukraine, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, co-rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe's Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, cautiously encouraged reform of the parliamentary system in Ukraine. She also expressed regret that those who ordered Georgy Gongadze's murder had still not been brought to justice. The Council of Europe's European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) recommended in May that Ukraine sign and ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. The ECRI also noted problems in the response by Ukrainian law enforcement to racially motivated crimes.

Procedural obstacles hindered the appointment of a new Ukrainian judge in the European Court of Human Rights in 2009, requiring that judges be appointed ad hoc to hear cases brought against Ukraine. The court has nearly 10,000 pending applications against Ukraine, comprising 8.7 percent of all pending cases for the first eight months of 2009.

United States Vice President Joe Biden visited Ukraine in July 2009 to reassure the Ukrainian government of US support for Ukraine's bid for NATO membership. Biden also encouraged Ukraine to resolve the political crisis in the government, to implement economic reforms to alleviate growing unemployment and inflation, and to become less dependent on Russia for energy.

In 2009 the European Union introduced projects related to migration regulation and equal labor policies in Ukraine. On the initiative of the European Commission, an Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum was established, including over 60 Ukrainian civil society actors.

Victims of political repression

Appeal Court condemns Stalin and other leaders over Holodomor

On 13 January the Kyiv Court of Appeal heard the criminal case initiated and investigated by the Security Service [SBU] over the perpetrating of Holodomor-Genocide in Ukraine in 1932-1933.

The court ruling upheld the conclusions by SBU investigators regarding the organization in 1932-1933 on the territory of the Ukrainian SSR by the leadership of the Bolshevik totalitarian regime of the genocide of the Ukrainian national group, that is, the artificial creation of living conditions directed at their partial physical destruction. Those indicted are: Joseph Stalin, Molotov; Secretaries of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, Kaganovich and Pavel Postyshev; Stanislav Kosior; Vlas Chubar; Mendel Khatayevych.

In accordance with the conclusion of the demographic expert opinion carried out as part of the criminal investigation by the Institute of Demography and Social Research, as a result of the genocide 3 million 941 thousand people died in Ukraine.

The court found that Stalin, Molotov, Kaganovich, Kaganovich, Postyshev, Kosior, Chubar and  Khatayevych guilty of the crime of genocide as set down in Article 442 § 1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine and terminated the criminal proceedings on the basis of Article 6 § 8.1 of the Criminal Procedure Code in connection with the perpetrators no longer being alive.

From the report by the SBU Press Service

Freedom of information v. secrecy of archives: brief impressions

On 9 December 2009 the Kharkiv Human Rights Group [KHPG] ran a seminar for heads of the archives of regional divisions of the Security Service [SBU] on Freedom of Information and Access to Archives. The programme covered fundamental issues like the concept of freedom of information; basic principles of freedom of information; legal frameworks of freedom of information and exceptions to public access to information.

It should first of all be noted that the seminar was initiated by the management of the Branch State Archive of the SBU. During the discussion the Head of the Archive Volodymyr Vyatrovych and his Deputy, Alina Shpak responded on the stated issues as though they were representatives of the organization Article 19. One must, admittedly, acknowledge that such a “progressive position of the management” was shared by a minority of the seminar participants which became most noticeable when the audience was one to one with the speakers.

Then the most interesting part began, and the point is not even in the fact that a large number of the participants, having worked for many years in the archives, saw secrecy of the criminal investigation as an absolute principle.  What came to the surface was also the entirely understandable desire of people to avoid responsibility and not take decisions by themselves: “we’re a militarized service, give us an order or instruction which covers all cases and we’ll work in accordance with them”. And it is a bit strange to hear from the lips of a civil servant of an independent country assertions that they need to receive permission from Russia’s FSB [Federal Security Service] to open archival files.

One of the materials used during the seminar was the practical manual “Freedom of Information: Theory and Practice” drawn up specifically for civil servants.  An interesting example was given in the context of the defence of the rights of those providing information, the case of Katharine Gun. She worked as a translator for the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters [GCHQ].  At the beginning of 2003 she received a copy of an email with US official detailed plans to bug diplomats of member states of the UN Security Council.  The USA and UK needed to receive a decision from the Security Council to sanction their invasion of Iraq. Ms Gun was shocked by what she read and passed a copy to the Observer. The governments of both governments experienced great embarrassment as a result.

I mentioned this case during a coffee break, talking with younger SBU archive officers and immediately heard that in Ukraine after that you would at least end up without a job, or have even more serious problems. In fact, Katharine did lose her job, and was accused of spying to boot. She was not protected under British law, and the charges against her were only withdrawn because the British Government could have run up against a lot of difficulties if it had been obliged to present to the court the confidential legal advice used in support of the invasion of Iraq.

Ukraine is indeed far removed from the UK. However each head of a regional archive knows that his archives under the stamp “secret” contain whole piles of documentary evidence about such Ukrainian Katharine Guns who, in retaining their self-respect and upholding the principles of honour and dignity, paid with more than just their jobs.

It is generally known that people actively listen in only two cases: when it’s useful and / or interesting. However good a specialist the representative of the Canada-Ukraine Grain Project may be, his impassioned speech about the need for a loan for the agricultural industry will not touch the hearts of workers of a garment factory. Yet if during the New Year holidays the garment factory employees en masse storm Mount Hoverlia, the same audience will listen to each word of the elderly guide, however inarticulate he is, if he just begins: “An avalanche is on its way and we are in danger. However don’t worry, I’ve been descending this mountain for 20 years, just listen carefully and carry out my instructions…”

It must be acknowledged that the staff of the regional archives didn’t find it useful or interesting. From the seminar they expected mainly specific instructions and directives in their work with archival documents. And lack of understanding as to what is freedom of information and why society and they themselves need it was demonstrated at the stage of determining the advantages and dangers of freedom of information, the culmination being the assertion: “People don’t need freedom of information”.

It is precisely with this lack of understanding that work is needed. Only when all archival staff realize that they are first and foremost not civil servants, but people; that, regardless of their position, type of activities, political convictions, etc, universal human values, remain inviolable, these including the right to freely gather and circulate information, enshrined in Article 34 of the Constitution, and that this right is like oxygen for a democratic country on which their life and that of their families depends, only then will many issues pertaining to specific instructions and directives in work with archival documents be resolved.

Such educational work with civil servants needs to be continued. This is an extremely important direct and specific kind of challenge for civic organizations since our government in the 18th year of independence is only now beginning to declare its readiness for systematic work which has thus far been based on the isolated efforts of certain enthusiasts regarding the reinstatement of historical truth. Therefore the word “declassification” and the name of the relevant department of the SBU Archives which was the topic of discussion at the seminar has not so much a legal, as an essential nature. “Of course I agree that from the legal point of view it is correct to say “review of archival files”. However what percentage approximately of files with the stamp “secret” or “top secret” after review do you move to open access documents? The answer: around 95%.

It is a priority task for our society to recognize the true significance of freedom of information. After all it was Socrates who asserted that to know what is good is to be good. This is how the knowledge which determines our behaviour differs from information.

It is this recognition which will render irreversible reforms initiated by the management of the Central Archive of the SBU and ensure freedom of information from the dangers of political snowfalls as the result of any change in political course. Incidentally it was precisely this feeling that was demonstrated by one of the participants in an anonymous questionnaire. The person answered the question: “Which necessary questions remained outside the programme” with the words: “Our work’s direction after the presidential elections.”

Deported peoples

New draft law on compensation for deported peoples

A draft law has been registered in the Verkhovna Rada on procedure for reinstating the rights of the national groups deported under Stalin from Ukrainian territory. The author is the head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People and National Deputy, Mustafa Dzhemiliev [“Our Ukraine – People’s Self-Defence”] is proposing to compensate people who were deported for the value of their lost property out of public funding. Members of the Verkhovna Rada profile committee are prepared to support the draft law if it takes into account the rights of all deported peoples.

The draft law “On reinstating the rights of people deported on ethnic grounds” will apply to Crimean Tatars and other ethnic minorities deported in 1941-1944, as well as to their children born before the return of the family to Ukraine. If the draft law is adopted, a central body will be set up on issues relating to the reinstatement of Deported people’s rights which would deal with confirming status and coordinating the return of property.

On 11 May 1944 Stalin signed an order “On resettling the Crimean Tatars from the Crimean Autonomous SSR to the Uzbek SSR”. Approximately 200 thousand Crimean Tatars were deported on the false claim that the Crimean Tatar people had collaborated with the Nazis. They began returning in any significant numbers only after Ukraine gained independence in 1989.  There were also deportations of Bulgarians, Greeks and ethnic Germans from the Crimea. There were also mass deportations in 1940 from the territory of Western Ukraine. According to various estimates, more than 230 thousand people, mainly Poles, were sent to eastern regions of the USSR.

The value of the property lost during the deportation would be compensated within five years of the status being confirmed. Mustafa Dzhemiliev told the newspaper that if the property remain and nobody owned it, then it would be returned. If, however, the house was no longer standing, they would return the cost of building it, with this coming from the State’s coffers. Veteran of the National Movement of Crimean Tatars Timur Dagdzhy estimates that the cost only of lost housing for deported Crimean Tatars would be around 6 billion US. However the draft law does not mention the possible amount of compensation.

Members of the profile Committee on Human Rights, National Minorities and Inter-ethnic Relations have not yet studied the new draft law. They stress only that it must guarantee to reinstate the rights of all deported peoples.

From a report at

News from the CIS countries

Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia: once rehabilitated, now again persecuted

Persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia has taken on new and frightening proportions and can only get worse unless world attention is focused on this totally unacceptable situation now. PLEASE pass this information on to anybody who can raise the issue with political and religious bodies

A number of human rights and civic organizations have addressed an appeal to the Russian Federation Human Rights Ombudsperson, Russia’s Public Chamber and the Council under the President for the Promotion of Institutes of Civic Society and Human Rights. They are calling for an end to State persecution of religious minorities.

They endorse the initiative from the international human rights network in support of conscripts, military servicemen and those doing alternative service, and express concern over the violation of rights of Jehovah’s Witness communities in the Russian Federation.

The authors point out that the Jehovah’s Witnesses have always been the most consistent in refusing to do military service and make up a considerable number of those doing alternative service in the countries of the former Soviet Union where there is such a possibility. Where there is no such possibility, or where alternative service is little different from military service, the Jehovah’s Witnesses stay true to their beliefs, even to the point of prosecution and imprisonment.

Major restrictions to freedom of worship of Jehovah’s Witnesses, as well as a number of other “non-title” religious communities are occurring not only in Russia, but also in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus and other countries of the region. In Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan Jehovah’s Witnesses’ activities are banned. Their refusal to do military service is used as one of the grounds for the State waging a battle against them.

We consider it a matter of greatest urgency to draw particular attention to the position of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia where the situation is moving from the stage of numerous violations of their constitutional rights and freedoms to downright persecution.

To provide the authorities with a semblance of legality, charges of extremist activities have been used as supposed justification. The charges are based solely on the law enforcement agencies deeming Jehovah’s Witness religious literature to be extremist, using dishonest commissioned “expert assessments” to provide justification.  

They have labelled as “extremist” the assertion by Jehovah’s Witnesses of the superiority of their religion, criticism by them of other denominations, including of Orthodox and other priests. The typical assertion of exclusiveness found in all Semitic religions is treated by the Prosecutor and court as incitement to religious enmity and hatred, propaganda of religious superiority and insulting the feelings of believers (these coming under extremism in the Law “On countering extremist activities”).

This turns tens of thousands of believers into criminals falling under Articles 280 and 282-2 of the Russian Criminal Code. Such rulings have already been passed by courts and one has come into force. Criminal prosecution for ones faith could at any time become a reality.

On 11 September 2009 the Rostov Regional Court, on an application from the Prosecutor, found the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Taganrog to be an extremist organization and banned them. 34 religious publications, taken from the community, were declared extremist. On 8 December 2009 this ruling was affirmed by the Russian Supreme Court and came into force.

Similar cases are being initiated by the Prosecutor throughout the country. On 1 October last year the Supreme Court of the Republic of Altai passed a ruling finding another 18 Jehovah’s Witness publications extremist. This ruling has been appealed and has not therefore come into force. On 23 December 2009 a District Prosecutor’s Office in the city of Adygeisk, Republic of Adygea issued 11 warnings on the inadmissibility of extremist activities, with these all related purely to cases where publications declared extremist by the Rostov Regional Court had been distributed.

On 28 December 2009 a similar warning was issued by the Arkhangelsk Regional Prosecutor’s Office. It once again refers to religious literature legally distributed throughout the entire world.

We consider it necessary to particularly note the accusation in the Taganrog case of inciting members of the organization to refuse to carry out civic duties. Such actions are not considered extremist, but carry with them, according to Article 14 of the Federal Law “On freedom of conscience and religious associations” the liquidation of the religious organization and ban on its activities. The court considered the proof of such incitement to have been the refusal by one believer to do alternative civic service. This is despite the fact that hundreds of Jehovah’s Witnesses have carried out this service, regardless of its hardship and poor pay, every year. There are cases where people refuse but this is due to the failings of the law on alternative civil service which allows for it to be carried out in organizations under the military. Jehovah’s Witnesses sent to military factories, albeit to departments not linked with military production are guided by their own conscience as to whether they can agree to this. They do not refuse to do alternative service but demand real civil service, not its profanation.

As well as court and prosecutor pressure, Jehovah’s Witnesses also experience severe pressure from regional and local executive bodies. In violation of Article 28 of the Constitution, the authorities obstruct believers from spreading the word, holding congresses, coerce those letting properties to break lease agreements with communities, remove land previously allocated for construction, pressurize through endless checks, raids and break up meetings.

The Russian Federation Supreme Court’s upholding of the liquidation of the Taganrog organization has moved the campaign against the Jehovah’s Witnesses to a new level. Now they can be legally detained, not only in the Rostov region, but throughout the country, for distributing “extremist material”. Reports of such incidents are already coming in.  For example, on 8 January 2010 in Pochel, Bryansk region, two believers were detained and taken to the police station for “unlawful preaching” and “circulation of extremist literature”.

Jehovah’s Witnesses were victims of criminal State violence in Hitler’s Germnay and in the Soviet Union. Thousands of families were exiled by the Soviet regime to Siberia and Kazakhstan. Huge numbers were arrested and went through the cases for belonging to a “fanatical anti-Soviet sect”. The Jehovah’s Witnesses were rehabilitated in 1991 with the passing of the Law “On the rehabilitation of victims of political repression”. The law declared the judicial and extra-judicial persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses  to be an element of the despotism of the totalitarian regime.

This law has not been revoked, yet believers, many of whom have certificates confirming their rehabilitation, are again being dragged through the court. Only the outdated word “anti-Soviet” has been replaced by the modern “extremist”.

The authors call on the President of Russia to use all legal and political means at his disposal to stop the persecution of citizens of Russia and act as guarantor of their religious freedom.

They turn to the Prosecutor General to stop the department under his charge from carrying out a religious inquisition, to recognize the priority of human rights and freedoms and to initiate nadzornye appeals (when a sentence has come into force) over unlawful court rulings in respect to Jehovah’s Witnesses.

They call on the Human Rights Ombudsperson, Russia’s Public Chamber and the Council under the President for the Promotion of Institutes of Civic Society and Human Rights to stop State persecution of religious minorities.

The appeal is signed by Oleg Orlov, Head of the Memorial Board, Svetlana Gannushkina from the Civic Assistance Committee, and many other human rights activists from Russia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova, Tajikistan and Ukraine.

The full appeal together with signatures can be found at:

This is Russia, this is Moscow, this is fascism

Letter from the parents of slain journalist Anastasia Baburova to those who ordered and organized their daughter’s murder

It has been a year since on 19 January 2009 on Prechistenka St in the centre of Moscow and in broad daylight you killed our daughter Anastasia Baburova, freelance journalist for “Novaya gazeta”, together with human rights defender Stanislav Markelov.

It was a contract killing. You who ordered it needed to show that you are the bosses in the country. You therefore thought up that brazen killing during the day in the centre of Moscow in the presence of numerous witnesses as a demonstration of your strength, power and impunity.

The need arose to select a killer. There you remembered Markelov’s relations with N. Tikhonov over previous court cases. According to the results of the investigation, as is now clear, no other candidate proved required. Agreement was reached.

If the killer had merely had a personal score to settle with Markelov, without carrying out your contract, he would have committed his dark deed far from people, without witnesses, usually near a gateway.

That option didn’t suit you. You needed to demonstrate that you can do everything. Doubtless, at the time of the killing there was a car on Prechistenka St with the client’s representative watching over the contract’s completion.

The killer is convinced that you won’t let him down. He knows that even if he gets the maximum sentence, that he’ll soon be freed. You have your people everywhere. You hope to come to power soon.

The combination of the ideologies of patriotism and fascism is increasingly permeating all layers of Russian society from below upwards. Neo-Nazis are now in the law enforcement agencies, in bodies of power and legislative structures. There is a real chance that fascists will come to power. You are preparing yourself a road to power, using weapons against unarmed anti-fascists and human rights defenders. After receiving real power, you’ll declare the present killers national heroes and therefore they’re convinced of their impunity.

We are in no doubt that the murderers of our daughter and Stanislav Markelov have been arrested. There is a method for identifying killings, the accuracy of which is as accurate as with fingerprints.

The murders are now retracting their evidence and claiming that they don’t belong to nationalist organizations, that they didn’t kill anybody, and that they killed our Nastenka only because “that was how things turned out”. In that way they want to reduce their liability in order to get a shorter sentence.

Yet our daughter already knеw on 13 January 2009 that she would be killed. On that day she emailed us a farewell letter although she didn’t directly say that she would be killed.

It was terrifying to even think that she could be murdered. We read the letter on 15 January and on 19 January Nastya was killed.

We turn to those who ordered and who organized the killing. Everybody understands that you won’t stop with this murder. After all you want to establish yourselves in the country and come to power precisely though such radical methods. When you plan the next murder of a journalist or human rights defender, at least find out the identity of these people.  Maybe you will just understand that these people are looking further than you and that they could bring only good to the country, while you with your murders can bring Russia only international shame and condemnation.

Imagine yourselves in the place of the parents of those who you are planning to murder. What would you feel if your children were slain on the street with bullets in the back of the skull. A very familiar trademark, is it not?  You the clients know it well!

Tell  parents that you’ll kill their children and the parents will get their children out of your way. But it’s simpler for you to put a bullet in those children. Strong armed guys demonstratively gun down a defenceless girl.  What do you say? This is Russia, this is Moscow, this is fascism

We’re told that we can be proud of our little girl. She didn’t tremble before a hefty killer with a pistol in his hand and tried to stop him.

You who ordered the killing don’t know who you killed. Human rights defender Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova were unrelenting fighters for the honour, freedom and greatness of Russia. They proved that through their life, and through their death. They were educated and highly talented people. Our Earth seldom, very seldom gives birth to such children. Our Nastenka’s main features were an unquenchable desire for knowledge combined with the qualities of an untiring toiler, and intense sense of the need to defend the downtrodden and dispossessed. It was this last feature which brought her to journalism.

You murdered a Russian girl whose grandfather, Captain Fyodor Baburov, from the Smolensk region, fell in World War II fighting the fascist occupiers. Nastya’s second grandfather, Ivan Glotov, as an 18-year-old sailor in 1942 fought off Nazi attacks at the last defence line of Sevastopol. And their granddaughter, a journalist, student of Moscow State University, 67 years later in a time of peace, was killed by Neo-Nazis in the centre of Moscow near the Kremlin for showing no tolerance of fascists.

That means fascism has not been conquered, it has penetrated into Russia and is rapidly spreading. This has become uncontrollable.

The investigators have done a huge amount of work in finding the killers. However it is considerably harder to identify their clients. They can hold a high position in the country.

Yet all that is secret will one day be revealed. And even if your names become known only after your death, eternal shame will still be on your heads and on your names.

May you be forever accursed!

E.F. Baburov, L.I. Baburova

18 January 2010

“Prava Ludiny” (human rights) monthly bulletin, 2010, #01