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On the work of public reception office of the Kharkov group for human rights protection in 2003

Ludmila Klochko, Kharkov
Some facts and figures.

As many as 824 persons turned to the public reception office of the Kharkov group for human rights protection in 2003 - 30% more than in 2002 (628). Among them 328 people sent letters to the reception office, 153 turned there through e-mail and 343 – personally. Besides, some persons phoned to the office, but in such cases the workers of the bureau only rendered necessary information or invited the client to the office for consultation. The increase of the number of the complaints is caused by the wide elucidation of the work of the KhG in mass media, conduction of press-conferences, direct participation in features on all-Ukrainian and regional TV channels, publications in central and regional newspapers. If to take into account the cases, the consideration of which was started in 2001 and 2002 and was continued in 2003, then the work of the consultants of the reception office was very intensive. The increase of the number of complaints connected with torture, cruel treatment, illegal arrest and holding in custody was most sizeable. This is caused by the fact that our organization informed the public about the work on the project «Campaign against torture and cruel treatment in Ukraine», which is realized by the Kharkov group for human rights protection jointly with its partners in various regions of Ukraine with the support of the European Commission.

Advocates V. Nesterenko and A. Bushchenko took part in the work of the reception office, as well as workers of the human rights protection group Karasik, Rapp, Shutaliova, Kriukova, Zakharova, Zakharov, Shevchenko, Bykova, Nedayvoda and Kusaykina. Advocates Perepelitsa and Reziukina participated in the work on the public basis. Students of law and students-psychologists worked in the reception office as volunteers. Physician of the higher grade G. Miasnikova receives clients twice a week, psychiatrist I. Goncharova is regularly summoned for consultations. In the cases connected with torture and cruel treatment, illegal arrest and holding in custody, as well as the cases that had a court prospect, our clients got the aid of the professional advocates, with whom the agreement about the legal aid had been concluded. This gave us the opportunity to become acquainted and cooperate with advocates from various regions of Ukraine.

The number of complaints against courts also increased. Along with the traditional complaints against too strict verdicts in criminal cases, numerous complaints appeared concerning the unfair, in the opinion of citizens, court proceedings in the cases connected with debts in communal payments and other civil cases. The number of the complaints against pay arrears also has not become less, as well as the complaints against the non-execution of court decisions on pay arrears. Citizen M. managed to obtain his salary from the plant «Serp i Molot» only after the beginning of the communication between the European Court and the government. He handed the complaint to the European Court after the consultation given by the reception office of the KhG. There are many complaints against the state service of execution of court decisions. For instance, citizen S. had debts to communal services, but she paid off these debts (or almost did that) during recent two years. She had not been summoned to court, she had not got any court decision, but suddenly she received the notification about the coercive execution of court decision concerning her, which decision had been issued 2.5 years before. Such «energetic» execution of court decisions causes serious misunderstandings. In summer 2003 the communal services intensified the struggle with debtors. As a result the number of citizens’ appeals about the collection of the debts and their restructuring increased.

A relatively new type of appeals has appeared: complaints of the inhabitants of hostels. Some hostels are passed from the enterprises-owners to other owners, and the people, who lived in these houses for many years are proposed to leave their dwellings without rendering them another lodging; they are made to pay for the communal services, which they did not obtain, etc. We helped these people in some cases. So, citizen R., an unwed mother who lived in the hostel of the plant «Elektromashina» since 1991, managed to assert her right for the room, from which she was tried to be evicted. Other dwellers of the same hostel also turned to court with similar complaints.

Another new type of appeals is the complaints of peasants-land owners against the shackling agreements with leasers: the owners cannot dissolve these agreements. We can predict that the quantity of such complaints will increase in future, and the problem will become more acute.

The structure of the appeals and characteristics of the persons, who turned to the reception office during 2003 are presented in the following two tables.

Characteristics of the persons, who turned to the bureau

Type of appeals

Number of appeals





Incarcerated persons and their relatives

Complaints against verdicts, social questions, complaints against the violations during investigation and trial, complaints against the illegal actions of investigating officers and personnel of penitentiary establishments



Persons under investigation, their relatives and witnesses

Appeals about the defense during investigation, complaints against the illegal detention and illegal actions of militia



Recruits and their relatives

Insufficient medical examination




Complaints against dedovshchina, social questions



Parents of servicemen, who perished in the peaceful time

Social questions, compensations



Pensioners, invalids and other socially unprotected persons

Civil problems, rendering of medical aid



Religious communities

Pressure on the side of the power



Non-governmental organizations

Various questions, informational support



Unmarried and divorced mothers

Social questions




Claims to court on the protection of honor and dignity



Victims of repressions

Restoration of rights, search of relatives, social questions



Victims of crimes

Aid during investigation and trial




Various questions






Agencies, against which the complaints were handed

Subjects of complaints




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




Misuse of power, non-fulfillment of service duties



Prosecutor’s office

Insufficient investigation, violations during investigation



Penitentiary establishments

Cruel treatment, absence of medical aid (or insufficient medical aid)




Dedovshchina, other violations



Local power organs

Social questions



Administration of enterprises of all forms of property

Illegal dismissals, violations of labor laws, violation of laws on labor protection




Violation of laws on education




Insufficient examination and treatment, other questions




Various questions






The number of the complaints from recruits became somewhat less. We are connecting this fact with the decrease of the quantity of conflicts between recruits and medical commissions of military commissariats, which, in its turn, is a result of the effective cooperation of military commissariats with non-governmental organizations.

The changes in pension legislation caused the great number of questions from pensioners and people, who were going to retire on pension. M. Nedayvoda, one of the consultants of the reception office, specialized in pension legislation for rendering the professional consultations in the questions of accounting and recalculation of pensions, including academic ones.

All in all, the consultants of the reception office gave more than 1000 consultations (in some cases the number of consultations was 2 and more). The aid was rendered in compilation of more than 300 procedural documents, in creation of about 200 appeals to various institutions and organizations, including 12 appeals to the European Court of human rights. In three cases the communication between the European Court and the Ukrainian government has begun. As many as 19 agreements with advocates were concluded in the cases connected with torture and cruel treatment.

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