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Politics and human rights

European Parliament Resolution on Tymoshenko Case


On 9 June the European Parliament passed a resolution calling on the Ukrainian authorities to ensure that judicial measures are not used selectively, not to use criminal law to prosecute the opposition and not to restrict the freedom of movement of political leaders.

The resolution was supported by the majority of MEPs at a plenary meeting of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Thursday.

The text finally adopted has yet to appear at but it is likely to be roughly the same as the draft given below.

 European Parliament resolution on Ukraine: the cases of Yulia Tymoshenko and other members of the former government                B7‑0373/2011

 The European Parliament,

– having regard to its previous resolutions on Ukraine, in particular its resolution of 25 November 2011,

– having regard to the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) between the European Union and Ukraine, which entered into force on 1 March 1998, and to the ongoing negotiations on a new association agreement designed to replace the PCA,

– having regard to the EU-Ukraine Association Agenda, replacing the Action Plan and endorsed by the EU-Ukraine Cooperation Council in June 2009,

– having regard to the statement by the spokesperson of EU High Representative Catherine Ashton on the case of Yulia Tymoshenko,

 – having regard to the statement by Commissioner Stefan Fule following his meeting with Mrs Yulia Tymoshenko on 24 March 2011,

– having regard to the communication from the Commission "Taking stock of the European Neighbourhood Policy" of 12 May 2011 and to the Progress report on implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy of 25 May 2011,

 – having regard to Rule 122 of its Rules of Procedure,

 A. whereas the EU favours a stable and democratic Ukraine that respects the principles of the social market economy, the rule of law, human rights and the protection of minorities and that guarantees fundamental rights; whereas Ukraine's domestic political stability, its focus on internal reform and the respect for the rule of law, incorporating fair, impartial and independent legal processes is a prerequisite for the further development of relations between the EU and Ukraine; whereas the Eastern Partnership encompasses all these principles,

B. whereas corruption and abuse of power in Ukraine remains widespread and requires unequivocal response by the authorities in bringing those responsible to justice; whereas prosecutions and investigations must be impartial and independent and not be submitted to political ends,

C. whereas a comprehensive reform of the judiciary, respect for rule of law in criminal investigation and prosecutions, including the principle of a fair, impartial and independent judicial process, has not yet been put into practice in Ukraine,

 D. whereas on 24 May 2011 the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine accomplished the investigation into the case against former Prime-minister of Ukraine Mrs. Yulia Tymoshenko and brought charges of abuse of power during the conclusion of gas contracts with the Russian Federation in the year 2009,

 E.  whereas two criminal proceedings against former Prime-minister of Ukraine Mrs. Yulia Tymoshenko on 21 February 2011 were combined into one case in which she is accused of embezzlement of funds from sale of greenhouse-gas emission quotas under the Kyoto Protocol and of abusing UAH 67 million that was allocated from the State budget of Ukraine under government guarantee for purchase and importation of 1, 000 Opel Combo automobiles ostensibly for medical purposes when she was the prime-minister,

 F.  whereas on 20 May 2011 the Oregon district court (state of Oregon, the USA) published the court decision, according to which over 19 million US dollars, which were illegally spent by the government of Mrs. Tymoshenko on purchase of medication at overestimated prices through a number of intermediaries, will now be returned to the State budget of Ukraine; whereas on 23 May 2011 the court of appeal upheld this decision and rejected the requirements of the defence to review the case,

G. whereas the former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko was arrested, being accused of "abuse of power, resulting in grave consequences" and "appropriation of state property through abuse of authority", and has been imprisoned since 27 December 2010,

H. whereas the EU continues to underline the need for respect for the rule of law, incorporating fair, impartial and independent legal processes, while avoiding the danger of provoking any perception that judicial measures are being used selectively; whereas the EU considers these principles especially important in a country which aspires to enter into a deeper contractual relationship built upon political association,

1. Considers the fight against corruption a fundamental factor for the establishment and the consolidation of the rule of law in Ukraine with a view to deepening the relations with the EU and enhancing its integration into EU policies; stresses that these efforts require fair, impartial and independent legal proceedings;

2. Stresses the great importance of Ukraine’s European integration process for the pursuance of economic, social and political reforms in Ukraine; therefore hopes that substantial progress will be made to bring closer the rapid conclusion of an Association Agreement; calls in particular on the Commission and Ukraine to step up efforts to implement the EU – Ukraine Association Agenda;

3. Notes with concern the widespread opinion that recent cases brought against Yulia Tymoshenko and some members of her government are politically motivated and warns against a possible use of criminal law as a tool to achieve political ends;

 4. Calls on the Ukrainian authorities to ensure that judicial measures are not used selectively, and investigations, prosecutions and trials are held in maximum transparency;

5. Reminds the Ukrainian authorities that the principle of collective responsibility for the decisions of the government does not allow for persecution of individual member of the government for the decisions taken as a college;

6. Stresses that ongoing investigations of prominent Ukrainian political leaders should not prevent them from actively participating in the political life of the country, attending public meetings and initiatives all over the country and travelling to international meetings;

7. Notes that the former Minister of Interior Yuriy Lutsenko remains in custody as of 26 December 2010; expresses its support to the Ukrainian Human Rights Commissioner Nina Karpachova who has asked Ukrainian Prosecutor General to consider the possibility of changing preventive punishment to the one that is not linked to detention;

 8. Calls on the members of the former government of Yulia Tymoshenko to cooperate with the Prosecutor General's office in a correct and respectful way;

Appeal to the Leaders of Democratic Countries

Following the 2010 Presidential elections Ukraine’s new leadership began not only carrying out their own policy involving active violation of human rights, but resorted to political persecution of their opponents and critics.  This has been widely reported by the media. foreign and Ukrainian experts, in the report by the Danish Helsinki Committee on Human Rights, etc.

We have seen abuse of remand in custody as preventive measure, the criminalizing of actions which do not even warrant administrative penalties. These include, for example, the criminal cases linked with the Tax Code Maidan – the protests by small business owners against the new draft Tax Code from 16 November to 3 December 2010, as well as the arrests and use of torture against members of the nationalist organization “Tryzub” for damaging a bust to Stalin.

They include administrative proceedings against people involved in protests, administrative prosecution and “prophylactic” measures against small business owners, journalists, bloggers, student activists, the cases of the historian Ruslan Zabily, Hanna Synkova, the criminal investigation linked with the events in Lviv on 9 May 2011 and others.

They include the criminal proceedings against Yury Lutsenko, Yevhen Korniychuk, Bohdan Danylyshyn, Anatoly Makarenko, Ihor Didenko, Yulia Tymoshenko and other leaders of the former Government.  Yury Lutsenko, for example, has been charged with actions which are not of a criminal nature and which have been carried out before and since by heads of the Ministry of Internal Affairs without any legal consequences, this confirming the totally political nature of the prosecution.

In view of the systematic violations of civil rights, the assault of democratic rights and freedoms

The systematic violations of civil rights, the assault on democratic rights and freedoms in Ukraine and political persecutions have prompted numerous appeals, protest rallies, public statements and other measures by members of human rights organizations, civic activists and politicians, stressing that such actions by those in power are unacceptable. We must however note the lack of any reaction or positive moves from the regime and acknowledge that the means for internal influence to improve the situation have been exhausted.

The question therefore logically arises what is to be done, what levers can be used in a situation where none remain within the country.

As a positive example we can cite the document submitted on 19 May 2011 by US Senator Benjamin Cardin aimed at fighting the atmosphere of impunity in Russia where, despite the rhetoric of the Kremlin’s leaders, the authorities are not taking adequate measures to stop abuse of power and corruption. The bill tabled proposes freezing assets and blocking the issue of visas to Russian Federation officials who violate human rights. 6 months after its adoption, the Senate would receive a report on how it was being enforced.

The refusal to issue visas to officials implicated in human rights infringements, as well as the freezing of financial assets held abroad could serve as effective mechanisms helping to stop violations of human rights and political persecution in Ukraine also.

We are turning to the leaders of all democratic countries with the request to apply these sanctions against Ukrainian officials implicated in human rights infringements and political repression in Ukraine.

 Arkady Bushchenko

Yevhen Zakharov

Ihor Koliushko

Kateryna Levchenko

Olha Kalashnyk

 The letter above is presently open for endorsement at

On the Criminal Prosecution of Yury Lutsenko

It is almost half a year since the day that former Minister of Internal Affairs Yury Lutsenko was taken into custody. His remand since that time in a SIZO [pre-trial detention centre] given the absence of any legal grounds is in breach of Ukraine’s legislation. The first court hearing in his case is scheduled for 9 June 201 and we therefore consider it our civic duty to express our position with regard to the former Minister’s work and the reasons for his prosecution.

The so-called Lutsenko case is just one example of how today’s leaders of Ukraine are not only resorting to criminal prosecution of their opponents and critics, but are also doing this with numerous violations of human rights and domestic legislation.

The many violations are reported by the media. foreign and Ukrainian experts, in the report by the Danish Helsinki Committee on Human Rights, etc. There have been by no means isolated cases of politically motivated criminalization of actions which do not even warrant administrative penalties. These include, for example, the criminal cases linked with the Tax Code Maidan [the protests by small business owners against the new draft Tax Code); the arrests and use of torture against members of the nationalist organization “Tryzub” for damaging a bust to Stalin; persecution for supposed divulgence of State secrets, and others.

The systematic violations of civil rights, the assault on democratic rights and freedoms in Ukraine and political persecutions have prompted numerous appeals, protest rallies, public statements and other measures by members of human rights organizations, civic activists and politicians, stressing that such actions by those in power are unacceptable. We must however note the lack of any reaction or positive moves.
Together with political persecution, there is also systematic deception of the Ukrainian public and international community through information about supposedly serious achievements by the current regime, including with respect to human rights protection. None of this is substantiated by objective facts or figures. At the same time information is spread asserting total lack of activity by the former government.

In view of the above, as members of the Public Council on Human Rights attached to the Ministry of Internal Affairs [MIA], we wish to present our position and assessment of the work of the former Head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Yury Lutsenko.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs under President Kuchma was much criticized for lack of openness and accountability to the public and for politically serving the regime. This included voting for the “right” candidate and helping to falsify election results; being suspicious of civic and international organizations .with appeals and letters arousing genuine outrage from the MIA management as obstructing them in fighting crime.
The appointment in 2005 of a new Minister began a process of depoliticizing of the police force, dialogue and establishment of contact with civil and international organizations. We would note that between 2005 and 2009 there was no political pressure from the police. At the same time, Yury Lutsenko’s efforts to introduce cooperation with civil society and public accountability elicited resistance not only from his opponents, but also from many of those who in 2005-2006 and 2007-2009 were in his team.

Nonetheless, step by step the seeds of a system of human rights monitoring of the work of Internal Affairs bodies emerged and developed. What in 2008-2009 already seemed natural for civil organizations – invitations and the participation of MIA leadership in NGO events, coverage of the MIA’s position, provision of information requested by civic organizations, etc, had been developed step by step from 2005 and was a serious breakthrough in the system of interaction between the police and the public.

At that time there was also a lot of hope among the public for positive change, for a restructuring of the police force based on the principles of democracy and openness. The Minister also showed willingness to take part in creating new structures and models of management.
One first model was seen in the mobile groups on monitoring human rights observance in the work of police stations which included representatives of civic organization. These mobile groups gained access to traditionally secretive special police institutions – temporary holding facilities, special receiving centres for people detained or imprisoned on administrative charges, receiving centre for children, duty units.
An indicator of the positive changes supported by Lutsenko was the fact that the experience of organizing the work of those mobile groups was followed by other countries. It also found support with the UN Human Rights Council and the UN Committee against Torture; the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner; experts from the Council of Europe and the European community. Specialists saw it as the prototype of a national mechanism for preventing torture which Ukraine needed and still needs to implement in fulfilment of its obligations under the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture which it has ratified.

In 2010 with the change in leadership of the MIA, the work of the mobile groups was stopped and in most regions they ceased to exist. In spite of statements made by the new Minister, Anatoly Mohylyov, mobile groups with members of the public have not been able to visit a single district police station where there has been an accident or death of a detainee.

Another demonstration of the wish to reform the MIA on principles of transparency and cooperation with the public was seen in the signing by Yury Lutsenko on 28 December 2005 of Order No. 1243. This created a Public Council, co-chaired by Yury Lutsenko, attached to the MIA on Human Rights in the Work of the Police. The Council was made up of representatives of the most prominent and influential NGOs which can provide professional criticism of police bodies, assisting them to move towards positive change.

We name such some of the results of the Council’s work: monitoring and improvement of the normative base of police bodies; participation in the work of staffing and attestation commissions attached to the Central or regional departments of police; receiving members of the public together with police management; drawing up a Plan for Countering Xenophobia up till 2009; drafting a Programme for Ensuring Gender Equality in Police Bodies; training mobile group experts; organizing and running training courses for investigators, investigative officers, Special Force Berkut officers, personnel of temporary holding centres, and so forth. Behind the words “and so forth” one had the work of members of more than 120 organizations which belong to public councils at regional and national level.

In 2010 the work of the Human Rights Public Council under the MIA was stopped and all appeals from its members to the MIA leadership were ignored, with refusal to cooperate with the many organizations whose members were in public councils.

Aware of the need to create and form an internal system for monitoring human rights, Minister Lutsenko, following his return to the post in January 2008, issued an order to create within the Minister’s Office a Department for the Monitoring of Human Rights in the Work of the Police.
The formation of the Department for the Monitoring of Human Rights, like the work of mobile groups previously, was positively assessed by the majority of national experts and international organizations. For three years in a row Ukraine reported on the fulfilment of its international human rights obligations specifically through the creation of that institution. Its achievements were not spectacular but this could not have been expected after a year and a half’s work. Nevertheless, among those achievements noted not only by the heads of departments and the Minister, but by external observers, was a move towards transparency of police bodies; a rebirth of trust; contact with organizations of civil society, as well as several thousand complaints and appeals from members of the public being objectively and impartially examined with the participation of aides to the Minister; improved conditions in temporary holding facilities and the inclusion in the vocabulary of police staff of the concept of human rights which they began paying attention to.

It is symbolic that virtually the first order issued by the present Minister of the MIA in March 2010 was that which dissolved the Department for Monitoring Human Rights in the Work of the Police. Activity linked with implementation of Ukraine’s domestic and international human rights commitments was overly and cynically destroyed.

The present regime prefers not to mention its destructive acts while this fateful list, containing only objective facts, can be continued. We can add the fate of the Department for Fighting Human Trafficking. This was created in 2005 by an Order issued by the same Yury Lutsenko, first with less power, than as a fully-fledged Department. This no longer exists within the MIA structure. As of the beginning of June 2011 no central executive body had been assigned duties with respect to countering and preventing human trafficking and providing assistance to victims of the crime. This will mean that the function of countering human trafficking is lost at both regional and local levels since there is no structure responsible for coordinating activities and for implementing a national referral mechanism for trafficking victims in order to provide them with comprehensive assistance and carry out preventive work. The Department of Criminal Police in Juvenile Matters has also been dissolved despite the fact that its work is regulated by Ukrainian laws.

No work is being carried out within the MIA on countering racism and xenophobia. This was insufficient before also, but now this area is effectively ignored. The departments for investigating hate crimes and crimes against foreign nationals or by them have been dissolved. Peaceful public gatherings are dispersed in rough manner, with the police wielding the political stick for those in power. The right to privacy is violated, as are many other rights

In concluding, we would remind high-ranking Ukrainian officials responsible for systematic violations of human rights in Ukraine that they must answer for their actions and not only to the Ukrainian people, but also to the international community since human rights are not an internal matter for any country.

Both the status of a democratic nation and the position of a country which presently chairs the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers oblige the government of Ukraine to be highly responsible on issues of internal policy since even insignificant false moves will cause considerable damage to the country’s image. Adherence to the principle of the rule of law is one of those opportunities for the Government to demonstrate to the European community their professional ability to chair the largest country in Europe. We hope that public officials and the President will prove ready to use this opportunity for the good of the people of Ukraine.

Yevhen Zakharov
Oleh Martynenko
Kateryna Levchenko
Olha Kalashnyk

Kyiv, 8 June 2011

Survey: Almost 50% see political repression by the regime


The authoritative Razumkov Centre has published the results of a new public survey for May 2011.  The fact that the level of optimism with the development of events in Ukraine has not changed if compared with the results for April is not especially cheering. Only 15.2% believe that events are going in the right direction, while 63.4% consider them to be going the wrong way.

Almost half the respondents (48.7%) consider that the present regime is resorting to political repression, while 27.9% believe this is not the case. The others didn’t know.

An absolute majority (59.1%) think that the law enforcement agencies treat members of opposition political forces more harshly and are more mellow in their treatment of representatives of the political parties in power.  Only 22.3% believe that they treat representatives of the regime and the opposition equally, and 2.3% said that they were more lenient in their treatment of the opposition.

A majority (52.2%) are convinced that criminal prosecutions are being used for fighting political opponents. 14.8% of those surveyed believed that criminal prosecutions against members of the present regime do not get coverage in the media, and only 8.8% are convinced that members of the former regime violated the law and that members of the present regime do not. Around a quarter of the respondents did not know.

Most people see the main reason for Yury Lutsenko’s continued remand in custody as revenge for his actions during his leadership of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (29.6%) or the wish to scare off supporters of the opposition (24.6%). A lot less respondents see the reason as being that he could flee the country (19.9%) or exert pressure on the investigation (10.7%).

The survey was carried out by the Razumkov Centre from 19 to 26 May 2011, with 2 thousand respondents aged 18 or over in all regions of Ukraine. The margin of error does not exceed 2.3%. 

Human Rights Activist: Ukraine will lose the Lutsenko Case in Strasbourg


The public conflict between the Ukrainian regime in power and the opposition may once again become the subject of discussion in Europe.  National Deputies from BTuT, outraged by the recent attempt to arrest Yulia Tymoshenko, have again accused the President’s team of political persecution and threatened to complain of repression to ambassadors of EU countries. “Today it’s Tymoshenko, Lutsenko, Makarenko, Didenko, Shchepytko, tomorrow – and Ukrainian citizen”, they said in explaining their complaint.

The regime reacts to such accusations with a standard collection of phrases: there is no political repression in the country, no selective application of the law, the criminal prosecutions against opposition politicians are of a purely legal nature and the court will have the final word on them.

There is a third, impartial side in this conflict – human rights activists. They agree to a large extent with the opposition and say that there is repression in Ukraine. Member of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union Board and Co-Chair of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group, Yevhen Zakharov gave an interview to LIGABusinessform where he considered whether there is any logic to the Lutsenko cost; why members of the Tax Code protest are being put under pressure and the human rights situation in Ukraine in general.

- The number of political prisoners, that’s how they call themselves, has been rising over recent months. Some are already being held in SIZO [remand units], others are simply going to interrogations. Lutsenko declared hunger strike in protest. Tymoshenko is calling on European institutions. Can one really speak of political persecution in these cases?

Unfortunately, yes, one can and must speak of this. Moreover in each of these cases one can observe actions of the authorities which are totally idiotic from the point of view of commonsense.

If we take the “Lutsenko case” over the work years status of his driver: what did Lustenko do? He only sent a letter to the Cabinet of Ministers  in which he asked whether he could include the time that his driver worked before coming to the police in his police work years record. Lutsenko wrote no less than 20 of such letters.  Before him such letters were written by Tsushko, Bilokin and the current Minister Mohylyov has already written several. This is normal practice. The question goes to the Cabinet of Ministers, the Ministry of Labour answers. If you’re speaking of an organized criminal group, there should be dozens of officials of the ministry who prepared letters. Where the punishable criminal acts were in Lutsenko’s behaviour I don’t understand. The losses – 40 thousand UAH – have been repaid.

The charge, therefore, seems legally nonsensical. And the reasons for moving Lutsenko from a signed undertaking not to abscond to remand in custody are incomprehensible. What are they saying, that he went away without the investigator’s permission?  There was nothing of the sort. The court gave fourt motives. The first was that he was taking a long time to familiarize himself with the file material. This is an absolute outrage, it is the right of every person accused and their lawyer to familiarize themselves with the case, and not the prerogative of the investigator to write a schedule. The Danish Helsinki Committee on Human Rights which monitored the case has written that this is unheard of that the investigator determines how a defendant prepares for the trial.  The second reason is that he refused to admit guilt. Excuse me, this is his right, guaranteed by the Constitution. The third is that he refused to answer questions about himself. That is also his right. And the fourth is that he gave interviews, wrote articles, in that way obstructing the work of the investigators.

All four reasons taken together are a flagrant violation of human rights, of Articles 5, 6 and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. If the European Court examines the case, in my view, the government will lost and pay Lutsenko several thousand euro.

So in the “Lutsenko case” political motives outweigh legal?

You know in our country it’s been a long time since we saw such a flagrantly unlawful case. There is not one action of the Prosecutor, one court ruling which could be logically explained and called lawful. As for unlawful actions, unmotivated remand in custody, these are exactly the hallmarks of political persecution. Particularly since there is a clear political motive in this case.

What does it consist of – what do they want from Lutsenko?

It’s all very simple. They want him to give up, stop asserting that he is in the right. In the Internet I saw an assertion that they want him to give evidence with regard to the former Prime Minister’s government. I don’t know how much truth there is in that. But here it is quite clear, that he is standing firm, insisting that he is not guilty of anything, that he committed no unlawful, and still more so, no criminally punishable actions. And he is told that he’ll be in prison. And that’s it. The last time they thought up that he would be in custody until the lawyers read through all the file material. This is like sacrilege, to put such things as the motivation for a court order remanding somebody in custody. That was why he declared a hunger strike since he had no more legal arguments left. And even with that he didn’t succeed in getting them to release him.  They want to break him, want him to give him, say that he’s guilty. I think this battle will continue to the court ruling. And for me it’s clear that there is no good waiting for anything reasonable. The very case is in style very similar to those against human rights activists in the 1970s and 1980s. Lutsenko himself is gradually turning into a typical prisoner of conscience. What will happen next? The attitude to Lutsenko is changing; they’re making a martyr out of him in the eyes of many people. Even those who don’t have a good attitude to him are beginning to sympathise with him.

Who else can be deemed to be a victim of political persecution?

The Tymoshenko case is also undoubtedly political. This has been confirmed by international experts. At least they haven’t imprisoned her. But they planned to.

There are also political cases which don’t affect officials. For example, two cases against small business owners who took part in the Tax Code Maidan [the protests against the new Tax Code – translator]. One is on a charge of group infringement of public order, the other – for driving pikes into the square and in that way deliberately spoiling the granite slab.  The motive is political – to scare those who came out onto Maidan [Nezalezhnosti – Independence Square] so that they don’t do it again. The infringement of order consisted in the fact that on 22 November notification was given of a protest rally with 100 thousand people, and it is absolutely plain that with that number of people, the transport in the centre of Kyiv won’t be able to move. What should the police have done?  They should have sent them around.  However they didn’t do that.  That’s how they ended up with “group infringement”  The question arises: who is answerable for this? There is another thing: the investigation was initiated over this, but not one person was charged, yet they dragged thousands of small business owners to be questioned, taking them right from their workplace, scaring them, threatening. All of this together shows that the regime is frightened of a new Maidan and doesn’t want new protests.

Seven people are charged in another case. One and the same sacramental phrase is written in the order to initiate a criminal investigatgion: having joined together by agreement into a criminal group, they drove those same pikes and put up tents. And then turns out that the people don’t know each other, that they first met at the court hearing. You can’t talk of any conspiracy! Furthermore, the first four who were charged didn’t have any connection with Maidan at all, however they did all have previous criminal records.  Those in power thought that all of this would go unnoticed. And it turned out that people took an interest in these people, began to defend them, got them released from custody and showed up the scam. And now, at the very first court hearing on the case Judge Yevhen Sidorov looked at all of this and sent the case to the Prosecutor for further investigation. So the case is hanging in the air.

Then if we take a third category of cases linked with the actions of organizations which call themselves patriotic. They daubed paint on the monument to Dzerzhynsky -  malicious hooliganism. They cut off the head of the bust to Stalin in the courtyard of the regional committee [obkom] of the Communist Party in Zaporizhya, videoed it and posted it on a website – there are searches, interrogations, detentions throughout the country: all are identified, taken to Zaporizhya, beaten, deprived of their clothes, not given food. Totally insanity. For what? For cutting off the head of a bust to a man whom the majority of Ukrainians consider a butcher and criminal?   Why deprive of her liberty a young woman who fried eggs on the Eternal Flame?  Of course this is, perhaps, unattractive, aesthetically unappealing means of expressing ones views. But excuse me, you can’t imprison somebody for expressing their views. This is an inappropriate response by the State.

All is clear with politicians, at least they can afford good lawyers, and are held in cells for 2 people, and dozens of journalists attend their court hearings. Normal people have it much harder. How do you assess the situation with human rights violations, has it got worse?

It has. Moreover thanks to those unusual historians whose political motives are clearly visible and who have therefore become the focus of attention for a large number of people, everybody has seen how it’s all happening. And there’s no difference in actual fact. The difference is only as you mentioned that they are in better conditions in SIZO. And that’s not all of them, but only the VIPs arrested. As for the others, it’s just the same as for the members of “Tryzub”, those suspected of an offence are subjected to torture and other forms of unlawful violence. The aim is clear – so that they confession. The estimated number of victims in 2010 around the country is 700 thousand.

How does that compare with previous years?

In 2009 it was 604 thousand. However in 2004, say, it was more than a million. These are huge figures and they’re received through sociological surveys. The respondents were four thousand people in five cities. The sociologists selected all those from among the respondents who in answer to the questions said that they had had such problems. Then they extrapolated the figures for the entire adult population and received such a figure.

How objective is this?

These are estimated figures, but they’re huge. Even the Human Rights Ombudsperson Nina Karpachova admits that every third detainee in Ukraine is subjected to torture. This is a problem which concerns everybody. Yet not everything ends with this. The situation with Lutsenko for whose detention there were no grounds according to the Criminal Procedure Code is seen in ordinary cases quite often. The accused are therefore held in SIZO. Nor is there in Ukraine, as there is in other countries, an overall restriction on the time a person can be held in custody during the investigation and trial. A person can be held in a SIZO without a sentence for seven years, or ten – there have been such cases. Although, for example, in neighbouring Moldova they have long introduced a norm saying that you can’t spend more than two years proving guilt. If you haven’t proven it in two years, release the person.

For example, in the case of Kharchenko v. Ukraine, the judgement passed on 10 February this year (where Ukraine was ordered to pay 20 thousand euro compensation for a former detainee of the Kyiv SIZO who had been in custody from April 2001 to August 2003 – Ed.), the European Court found systematic violations and gave the Ukrainian government six months to rectify legislation on pre-trial investigation and remand in custody. Yet May has ended and nothing has yet been done.

The conditions of  pre-trial detainees in places of confinement cannot be called normal. New SIZO are not being built and there are only 32 around the country, on average holding 40 thousand people.  And there are far less places. This does not mean that the situation is equally bad everywhere. There are over-crowded SIZO, and ones that are not full; it all depends on the level of crime in a particular region. Yet five SIZO – Kyiv, Kharkiv, Donetsk, Crimean and Dnipropetrovsk – are always over-crowded. Lutsenko is in a threesome unit where for three places there are three people. There are also cells for 30 beds with 70 people, who take turns sleeping.

Can the reaction of European institutions have any impact?

They have an impact, of course. At the moment in the State Penitentiary Service there is a new leadership who want to cooperate with human rights activists, count on cooperation and help. We can only welcome that. But this friendship, or I’d say, dialogue will be normal only if they don’t hide the abuse which is there.

Do they hide it now?

I won’t throw stones, they are in a very difficult position. Because the system is in a terrible state, is under-funded, not being reformed, ridden with corruption. And these things cannot be rectified immediately.  It’s important to understand that there is the desire to fix things and to gradually seek the brick which if removed, will bring down the entire wall. I suspect that I know where that brick is. If they’d only agree with this. I mean the lack of openness of the system, the isolation of prisoners from the outside world, the virtually total lack of public control. After all the prisoner is almost totally under the power of the Administration and can’t even complain about their actions.

With the police at present there is no dialogue. Under Mohylyov everything has only got worse.

The former First Deputy Minister of Justice, Yevhen Korniychuk recently, as he was already leaving the SIZO,   expressed regret that he hadn’t given attention to reforming criminal justice. Do you think in the present conditions that it is realistic to carry out such reform?

There is a concept for such a reform, drawn up by President Yushchenko’s Decree in 2008.  Who prevented him from carrying it through you’d better ask him why it wasn’t done. Particularly since there was already consensus on reform within the legal milieu, all had agreed among themselves. I also took part in that discussion and therefore know it all well. There was a draft Criminal Procedure Code which was quite acceptable. Furthermore the members of BYuT then, in December 2009 swore that they would pass it, yet didn’t do it. If the new CPC were now functioning, there wouldn’t be this disgraceful mess.

Will the new regime wish to carry out reforms? I have serious doubts since that will prevent them from getting rid of people from politics, as is happening now, their opponents. In additions they have in no way proven that they really want reform.



Implementation of European Law

11 thousand cases against Ukraine in the European Court of Human Rights


In an interview for Den’, ECHR Judge from Ukraine Anna Yudkivska spoke of the cases against Ukraine which are heard by the Court in Strasbourg as a reflection of the problem issues in the country itself.  In the first place, she said, were problems relating to the penal system and pre-trial investigations.

“I can’t give a general assessment of the human rights situation, I can only talk about how it’s seen by the Court on the basis of the applications which come in. If we consider the applications to reflect the legal problems in society, then in the first place we need to put problems with the penitentiary system and problems with pre-trial investigations – the almost exclusive preventive measure being remand in custody; torture of defendants; the lack of proper investigation into complaints of inadmissible methods of investigation. These are the most acute problems bearing in mind how standard they are. Being used to them hampers any attempts at change in this sphere, and these issues cannot be resolved solely at the legislative level, you need to change lawyers’ mentality.

(The Interviewer had initially mentioned the Amnesty International report which expressed concern over worrying tendencies regarding human rights and mainly harassment of human rights activists by the police).

Anna Yudkivska returned to the questions he raised, saying that, again, from the point of view of what reaches the Court, one cannot talk of a problem on a mass scale. “As far as I know, there are two or three such applications at the moment before the Court, one of which has already been communicated to the Government. Obviously such applications are usually examined as priority cases, after all the fate of human rights activists as “watchdogs of democracy” are followed by all international structures – PACE, the European Parliament and the UN have special co-rapporteurs on the situation with human rights activists”

“At present there are around 11 thousand cases against Ukraine awaiting examination by the European Court. That’s approximately 7.5 percent of the total number of cases. In terms of number of cases, Ukraine is fourth. However these figures are in no way an indicator. We shouldn’t forget that our country is large and if we take statistics regarding the number of the population, then Ukraine would be around the middle and the leaders such countries as Slovenia and Lichtenstein. In fact those figures also are not an indicator of the number of problems but rather reflect certain traditions of legal culture, public awareness of rights and opportunities for upholding them.

The range is broad from the conditions under remand in custody to interference in the right to receive information or threat to health due to a dangerous environment. There are a lot of applications about what the applicants believe were unfair court proceedings, or unwarranted interference into property rights. The last judgement relating to Article 10 was quite interesting from a legal point of view. The Court drew attention to the lack of clarity in Ukrainian legislation regarding the term “circulation of information”, and in another case to the lack of adequate guarantees for journalists who use information from the Internet.

However in the figure of 11 thousand there are two elements of concern. One is the number of applications found inadmissible, this reaching 80 percent. The reason here is an incorrect understanding of the Court’s role, the content and scope of the rights guaranteed by the Convention, as well as the conditions of admissibility. The Court is still seen by many as the highest level capable of revoking or changing the rulings of domestic courts or even as a first instance who anyone who sees their rights as having been infringed can approach. The overwhelming majority of applications are submitted without qualified legal assistance and are accordingly badly substantiated or inadmissible because deadlines have not been kept. Such an insane number of inadmissible claims seriously impedes the Court’s work.

The second serious problem is the number of repetitive claims, so called clone cases which reflect structural problems, including those mentioned above. Here the reaction of the authorities to the failings that the Court draws attention to is vital.

One structural problem, for example, which prompted a pilot judgement was the case of Kharchenko v. Ukraine, over a violation of Article 5 – the right to liberty and security of person. The Court has on many occasions found violations of this norm in cases against Ukraine with respect to periods of remand in custody without a court order between the conclusion of the pre-trial investigation and the beginning of the court examination. Another problem involves decisions extending remand in custody at court stage with the period not specified, i.e. they basically just remand in custody rather than extending it. These problems, the Court has found, are linked with failings in legislation. Moreover, where there is long-term remand in custody courts cite the same grounds although after a certain period of time merely one well-founded suspicion that a person committed the crime is not sufficient to justify deprivation of liberty. The courts should provide other motives for continued remand.  Recalling that the same infringements have been found in a number of prior cases, the Court has stressed that in view of the structural nature of the problem specific reforms in legislation and administrative practice are urgently required. What specific reforms are needed is no way within the jurisdiction of the Court to determine. That is decided by the country under the supervision of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. However in this case, the Court asked the government to provide information about the strategy adopted in this respect within 6 months of when the judgement comes into force.

From the interview at:

Against torture and ill-treatment

Immunity has a Human Face


When, in the film “Matilda”, Danny DeVito bellows to his daughter to be quiet because: “I’m big, you’re small, I’m smart, you’re dumb”, we smile. We are already aware of Matilda’s extraordinary abilities, and the rules of the genre dictate that baddies get their comeuppance.

Beyond the film cameras it’s not so easy, particularly when control is determined by entirely different levers. When those in authority can, for example, beat “confessions” out of detainees or quite simply extort money using threats and torture. When they know that the victims won’t dare complain and that they can rely on the Prosecutor, other police departments, and, unfortunately, the courts.

Scandal cannot always be avoided.  There was general outrage over the senseless death of young student Ihor Indylo in a Kyiv police station. The young man died in the early hours of 18 May 2010, on what should have been his twentieth birthday.  He had had a few drinks with a friend who couldn’t be there on his birthday and then got into a row with a police officer living in his student hostel.  No crime was committed, but the officer asked him to go to the police station and he went.  What happened later only became known thanks to one television channel, but the outcry forced the authorities to react. 

The current official version is that Ihor Indylo, a healthy young man, died “through the professional negligence” of two officers who didn’t respond when he himself fell from a bunk in a police cell. Incidentally the court in December 2010 upheld the decision not to remand the two officers in custody and demanded only a signed undertaking not to leave the city.  By comparison, in that same month the former Minister of Internal Affairs, Yury Lutsenko, one of the Tax Code protesters, Serhiy Kostakov, and Yakov Strogan who had for four months been trying to get a criminal investigation launched against his alleged police torturers, were all remanded in custody and remain there now.

Around International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on 26 June human rights organizations traditionally endeavour to bring the issue of police torture into the limelight. The authorities in turn try to ignore the issue, or embellish it with yet more noble intentions and fine-sounding words.

There will be a great deal to talk about this year since the divide between empty phrases and adequate response is rapidly placing Ukraine’s development as a democratic country in jeopardy.

More and more concern is being expressed, not only in Ukraine, over the use of the law enforcement agencies in obstructing or even crushing peaceful assembly. Over the last year there has been a sharp rise in the number of deaths of people in police custody. One normally needs time to study likely reasons with premature conclusions better avoided. Yet what if the reasons fairly hit one in the eye?

Ukrainian governments have long demonstrated quite unwarranted optimism regarding the willingness of European and international bodies to be content with documents, preferably draft versions, rather than action. One such example is the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT). Ukraine ratified this back on 21 July 2006.  Ratifying is easy, but a national preventive mechanism against torture needed to be developed within a year and that has still not been done.

Blind faith in the persuasive power of empty promises and assurances is misplaced.  Nobody believes in them anymore and they have good grounds. Such grounds are and will be the subject of numerous reports, recommendations, etc.  All of this is undoubtedly important in order to understand the scale of the problem and measures needed.

Yet what is needed so that people don’t give up, don’t decide that they shouldn’t ask for trouble when they can’t achieve anything anyway?

Impunity has a human face and we must not forget individual victims.  Maximum publicity is vital for Yakov Strogan, although not only because an innocent man with a wife and baby son is facing imprisonment for a non-existent crime.  The case is also of enormous significance because of the lesson it is clearly trying to give others, and the very dangerous conclusions which will be drawn by certain police officers if justice does not prevail.

After all, from August to December 2010 Yakov Strogan effectively said:  “You’re big, I’m small, but you have no right to subject me to torture”. What is more, he said it many times and very publicly.

On 18 August after a scuffle between Strogan and his neighbour where the latter tripped and fell on glass from a broken bottle, police officers turned up at Strogan’s flat.  He was first taken to a police station where they tried to get him to sign a confession. He consistently refused, and they decided to continue their methods of persuasion in a forest.  He was subjected to torture, losing consciousness a few times, but still refused to confess to a crime he hadn’t committed. He was then held for four days while the officers tried to extort 10 thousand dollars out of his wife.  They only released him when it became clear that his wife would not find the money.

Yakov Strogan decided not to remain silent. There was no need to search for him since he himself several times went to the Prosecutor, trying to get a criminal investigation initiated.  Should there be any doubt, we are talking about an investigation into his allegations of having been subjected to torture by officers from the Kievsky District Police Station in Kharkiv. Most crucially:  during those months the enforcement bodies were not looking for him. Up till December he appeared publicly, repeating his allegations.  This included on 1 December at parliamentary hearings in Kyiv. A week after the hearings, Strogan was arrested.  He was charged with attempted murder … over the scuffle in August.  There was now a “witness” and a new forensic medical assessment. No explanation, admittedly, has been forthcoming, as to why all of this took place only in December..

The judge saw no reason to bother her head with such details. Nor was she concerned about the fact that he had been detained by officers from this same police station, or the clear signs of torture on his body when he was brought to court after a night in police custody.

The hearings into this case are presently underway. The court recently rejected the Kharkiv Human Rights Group’s application to release Strogan under their guarantee, and he remains in custody. At a recent hearing, the court rejected an application to hear a new witness for the defence who had seen the broken glass with blood on it.  The woman didn’t have a document confirming her place of work, but it would have taken her an hour to go and collect it. The court simply refused to hear her testimony. 

Her statement is vital since, along with a new “witness”, a knife has appeared: with blood, but without Strogan’s fingerprints.

The court has, admittedly, been unable to close its eyes to serious doubts raised by the forensic medical assessment of the new-old victim of the alleged attempted murder. It partially allowed the application from Strogan’s lawyer and for the next hearing, on 30 June, the forensic expert has been called, and various documents are to be provided.  After this the court will decide whether to call for a new forensic assessment to be undertaken outside Kharkiv.

In short, the number of questions forced by this case is huge. If they are not asked and if answers are not insisted on, then we can assume that there will be no more questions.   If Yakov Strogan is left to his torturers, then it will be totally redundant to ask who would dare complain of police lawlessness. 

Court hearings in Strogan case continue


The trial is continuing of Yakov Strogan who was charged with attempted murder almost four months after a domestic incident involving himself and a neighbour.  During those months, supported by human rights activists, he spoke out publicly about torture and attempted extortion which police officers who appeared after the original incident had allegedly subjected him to.  He was arrested and remanded in custody a week after taking part in parliamentary hearings at which he again accused police officers of abduction, torture and attempted extortion.  He was brought to the courtroom in December showing clear signs of ill-treatment after having been held in police custody since the previous evening.  This was reported by both the human rights activists and journalists present in the courtroom.  The judge found none of this cause for concern and remanded Yakov Strogan in custody.  More details can be found here

The hearings over the attempted murder charges have been adjourned a few times, on one occasion without the defence being warned.

On 11 May there were no observers from the Kharkiv Human Rights Group {KHPG} because one was ill and the other was dealing with a case in another court. Strogan’s wife informs that without any human rights group observers the judges behaved in a very rude manner with the defence witnesses, in the first instance with her. She reports that they shouted at her, tried to confuse her, interrupted. She remained very calm and said what she wanted to say.

The next hearing was scheduled for 23 May however the judge, without notifying either the witnesses or the lawyers, adjourned this to 28 May. The witnesses and lawyer had waited for an hour and a half for the hearing to commence before learning that the judge had not sent the relevant document for Strogan to be brought to the court.

On 11 May KHPG had asked that the preventive measure in Strogan’s case be changed and that he be released from custody with KHPG acting as guarantee. This was rejected, with the judge saying that bail was needed and that KHPG needed to provide documentation proving it had sufficient funds. KHPG prepared all necessary documents, authorized one representative to act as guarantor however it did not get to this.

The 28 May hearing began with the court rejecting the lawyer’s application to hear a witness from the defence – the wife of the courtyard janitor who saw the broken glass which Strogan’s neighbour, according to the defence fell on) and blood.  This is vital evidence since the case initiated in December speaks of a knife which was “found” with blood on it, but no fingerprints.  The court refused to hear her on the pretext that she had no certificate from her place of work.  She could have brought this within an hour. Instead the court simply removed her as witness.

The next piece of evidence could not be removed so easily. The lawyer read out the text of the victim’s forensic examination carried out two months after the event and virtually demolished it. He called on the court to order records from the hospitals where the alleged victim was treated after his injury as well as a new comprehensive forensic examination carried out somewhere other than in Kharkiv. The lawyer also demanded that the person who had carried out the extraordinarily unprofessional forensic examination be summoned for questioning. The Prosecutor agreed with this, and the court retired to the consulting chamber.  Those present waiting almost three hours for the hearing to resume.

Inna Sukhorukova who reports on the hearing stresses that the forensic examination is the main thing that the prosecution have. If this can be shown to be faked, the whole case will collapse.  The lawyer had virtually proved this.  After three hour, the court partially allowed the lawyer’s application: the forensic expert is to be called, some medical documents to be damaged and following this a decision will be made whether to carry out a comprehensive forensic examination outside Kharkiv.


The right to a fair trial

Kharkiv Court: Police not obliged to respond to calls for help

On 24 May this year the Kharkiv District Administrative Court rejected a claim filed against the unlawful actions and inaction by the police during the protest in Gorky Park in Kharkiv from  late May to early June 2010.   As reported at the time, the city authorities carried out entirely unlawful logging aided by strongmen from a non-existent municipal department and the police to crush peaceful protest (see and the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union Statement: The Police are carrying out unlawful instructions

The only people ever punished were those exercising their constitutional right to peaceful assembly.

The latest attempt to uphold their right to a police force which protects citizens has also been thwarted by the courts.

Judge M.O. Spiridonova examined a suit brought by a large number of claimants against various Departments of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. They sought to have the inaction of the police declared unlawful and moral compensation to be awarded.

They explained that the police had not reacted to calls for help (“police!”) and had not done anything to defend people from violations of the law by unidentified individuals.

Various representatives of the MIA appeared in order to deny the claims.

The court found that the claimants had all come separately by train from 20 May to 4 June 2010 and had been at “an unauthorized protest action”, specifically at the site of the construction of a road in the park.

It found that “during examination of the case neither the claimants nor their representatives had provided proof that the police had not reacted specifically to their cries “Police!”. Nor had they, at the court’s demand  provided any proof as understood by Article 70 of the Code of Administrative Proceedings” which would indicate what specifically with relation to them constituted police inactivity.”

The court rejected photos and videos as not providing any “factual data” confirming the claimants’ assertions.  (The reader may wish to view video footage in the links given above and others below).

The list of denied charges is long but basically the court found that the “actions of police officers with regarding reaction to reports and statements from citizens regarding crimes and offences were in accordance” with various MIA Instructions

Judge M.O. Spiridonova thus found that all had been in order, that the numerous video, photo and witness evidence did not contain “factual data” and rejected the claim.

The claimants had 10 days to appeal this regrettably not unexpected, but nonetheless extraordinary ruling.

The ruling is published in full at:

Freedom of expression

Orchestrated presidential interview for selected journalists


The filming of the TV interview of President Yanukovych on Friday at his residence Mezhyhirya was organized by the President’s Press Service. There were no cameras from other television channels.  This information was reported by Interfax Ukraine, citing one of those who took part in the event, the presenter of the programme “Big Politics with Yevgeny Kiselyov” on TV Inter (the channel owned by head of the Security Service Valery Khoroshkovsky).

Kiselyov said that the whole thing had been managed by Darya Chepak, the President’s Press Secretary and that he had not seen any Inter cameras or filming personnel.

The meeting took place on 24 June with only certain journalists being invited. Kiselyov from Inter; Savik Shuster who runs a similar political talk show on the State-owned UTV1; Andriy Kulikov who has such a programme on ICTV and Oleksandr Tkachenko from 1 + 1/ 

The others invited were the Chief Editor of the newspaper Segodnya (owned by billionaire and Party of the Regions Deputy, Renat Akmetov and one Internet site (Obozrevatel).

The interview will be broadcast on Inter, 1+1, UTV-1 and ICTV on 28 June.

See information about journalists’ thwarted attempts to remind the President of his promise given a year ago to show journalists around what is reported to be a sumptuous estate at Mezhyhirya here and at the links below.

Worth noting that the four channels which are to broadcast the interview are those regularly at the top (or bottom) of the monitoring reports when it comes to muffled news items and other infringements of the standards of journalism. 

President’s Day of Shame

A year has passed in which Viktor Yanukovych has failed to keep his promise.

On 4 June 2010 Yanukovych promised to remove all suspicion of corruption and show his possessions at his Mezhyhirya residence.

“Get ready, we’ll go right now”, he said with clapping from his subordinates.

However when the live broadcast on television ended, it transpired that nobody was going to show anybody Mezhyhirya because, Anna Herman said, there are no coaches in the President’s Administration.

They couldn’t find coaches for a whole year, and the story with Yanukovych’s Mezhyhirya turned into a symbol not only of corruption, but of numerous promises not kept.

On 6 June, on Journalist Day, members of the civic movement Stop Censorship had announced a peaceful gathering near Mezhyhirya in order to remind Yanukovych of the promise not kept.

The organizers informed the Novi Petrivtsi Village Council, however its Head, R. Starenkt applied to the court to ban the protest.

I had the opportunity yesterday to meet the cynical 30-year-old Village Head of Novi Petrivtsi. The local “Mayor” had curious argumentation.  He told the UNIAN information agency that he “took the decision in the interests of the Novi Petrivtsi community to turn to the court to ban the protest throughout ALL OF 2011”.

He explained that the event was planned on one of the village streets and “from the morning when local residents will be going to work, the protest will obstruct his fellow villagers”.

The protest near the residence can in no way obstruct villagers from going to work since villagers simply don’t walk around there.

There are signs 50 metres away from the gates of Mezhyhirya saying “No entry. Aside from Administration cars”. Which means the only “villager” who could theoretically be disturbed was Viktor Yanukovych.

The author also points out that one can see from the video demonstrated that there is easily enough room near the entrance to Mezhyhirya for the 30 journalists who were going to hold the peaceful gathering.

He also points out the bleep in the Village Head’s logic. By asking for a blanket ban, this includes weekends so what is his argument worth that this will disturb people going to work?

Judge Panova went even further, he notes, defending Yanukovych’s right … to rest.

“Taking into consideration the constitutional principles of defence of human rights to personal life, its inviolability, the right to rest outside working hours, the said gathering would infringe the mentioned personal human rights”, the court ruling states, as well as saying that this is Yanukovych’s residence.

In fact, the author notes, according to official registration records, Viktor Yanukovych lives in Kyiv at 15 Obolonska Embankment.  This is the address given on his income declaration and where he’s registered to vote.

So Mezhyhirya is not the President’s official residence, yet the judge made no effort to establish his place of residence. She simply copied out the application in her ruling.

The author suggests that none of these nuances are of interest to a judge whose initial 5-year tenure is to end in two years, and who doesn’t want any problems so that the Verkhovna Rada appoints her to a post with indefinite tenure.

The author says that the journalists, as part of their professional duties, plan to go to Mezhyhirya to check how the court ruling is enforced.

Slightly abridged from Serhiy Leshchenko’s blog

Social and economic rights

Yanukovych may veto scandalous law on public procurement


Kommersant Ukraine has reported that the President is planning to veto amendments to the Law on Public Procurement.  As reported here, 90 Ukrainian NGOs and Transparency International have come out strongly against the law and called for the President to use his power of veto. Kommersant-Ukrainie however clearly sees the prompt as having come from the European Commission [EC] and World Bank.  While they had urged Ukraine to pass a law on public procurement, the law adopted is so obviously aimed at fuelling, rather than preventing corruption, that Kommersant suggests that the EC and World Bank will push for its veto. Yanukovych is asked to get rid of the norms on removing State enterprises from the general procedure for public procurement and to reduce the possibility for procurement with only one bidder.

As reported, Law No. 7532 On Amendments to Legislation on Public Procurement was passed by the Verkhovna Rada on 17 May. 

This was after the EC suspended its funding of State bodies because of previous amendments passed to the procedure for public procurement on 11 January. Then parliament included energy goods, as well as water supply and drainage services among goods and services which do not require tender procedure.

Kommersant-Ukraine says that the funding was to be restored only on condition of the adoption of the present law. However independent experts believed that this new law would make the situation worse.

Up till recently, the newspaper says, the EC and World Bank avoided making any comments, however last week they are believed to have decided to take the opposite stand. The newspaper cites a source aware of the course of negotiations as saying that they have achieved agreement with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and will be writing to the President asking him to veto the bill.

“Information about the letter being prepared was confirmed by the Head of the EC Representative Office in Ukraine ose Manuel Pinto Teixeira. “I fear that we will be forced to state that the new law is incompatible (with EC requirements) and inform the Ukrainian authorities of the inadmissibility of passing it”.

One of the newspaper’s sources, involved in preparing a joint appeal from the EC and World Bank, says that these organizations will ask the President to revise the list of exclusions from general procedure which the new law brought in.

The Head of TORO, the contact group for Transparency International in Ukraine, Oleksiy Khmara points to other problems with the new law.

“Some of the exceptions certainly need to be removed. However the main problem is not in them, but in the fact that the new law gives wide scope for carrying out public procurement where there is only one bidder. Following the letter of the law, during a period of economic crisis, which means today, you can purchase virtually any goods or services from only one bidder”. Another problem he mentions is the vague procedure of insuring the item of the purchase which can be used for creating corrupt schemes at national level.

From the report here

Dissidents and their time

In Memory: Yelena Bonner

Yelena Bonner, human rights defender, publicist and widow of Andrei Sakharov, has died after a long illness.  Andrei Grigorenko who conveyed the news, expresses his condolences to her family which we can only echo.  She was a very special and very courageous person and her passing is a great loss.

Yelena Bonner was born on 15 February 1923 in the Turkmen SSR.  Her parents were arrested in 1937.  Her father was shot the following year and her mother sentenced to 8 years imprisonment.  Both were rehabilitated in 1954

Yelena Bonner volunteered and served as a nurse in World War II and was twice wounded. She later became a paediatrician.

She was briefly a member of the Communist Party, but left it in 1968 over the crushing of the Prague Spring. 

From the 1960s through the 1980s she took part in protests against the persecution of dissidents and helped to circulate accurate information about politically motivated trials.  In 1974 she established a fund to help children of political prisoners in the USSR

She was subjected to numerous searches and detentions for her human rights activities and her son and daughter (from her first marriage) were expelled from their institutes and finally driven to emigrate to the USA. 

In 1972 she married Andrei Sakharov and was to represent him in 1975 at the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony in Oslo.  She was a founding member of the Moscow Helsinki Group in 1976 and active until the Group was forced to disband in 1982.

After Sakharov was exiled to Gorky (now Nizhny Novgorod) in 1980 until her own arrest in 1984 she provided vital contact between her husband and both Moscow and the West.  She was however herself convicted in August 1984 of “systematic dissemination of false information defaming the Soviet state and social system” and sentenced to 5 years exile in Gorky.

On their return to Moscow in 1987, they became involved in human rights work and organizations like Memorial.  Following Sakharov’s death in 1989, she also chaired the Sakharov Foundation.

She also “took an active part in the work of Grigorenko Foundation where we will miss her help and friendly advice”.

Yelena Bonner died in Boston on 18 June 2011. 

She leaves a daughter, Tatyana, son Alex and grandchildren.  And a huge number of people who felt the deepest respect for her courage and commitment.

Вечная память    Eternal Memory

“Prava Ludiny” (human rights) monthly bulletin, 2011, #06