The Deportation of the Uzbeks, it transpires, was both unlawful and correct
The Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Oleh Rybachuk in an interview given to the newspaper “Syohodni” [“Today”] openly acknowledged that the deportation of 10 Uzbek nationals on 14 February was at the request of the government of Islam Karimov, and that there had been infringements of procedure given that the Uzbeks had not been allowed 7 days to appeal the court decision to deport them. At the same time he described the extradition itself as correct. “They belonged to a radical Islamic group, the name of which unfortunately I cant say”, Rybachuk stated, referring to information received from the Head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU), Ihor Drizhchany. Rybachuk added that he had seen “the so called credit history of the Uzbeks”, and that there had been grounds for deporting them. In his opinion, Ukraine had simply lost the information war, and the criticism of the US State Department was unfair. I am no general, nor commander in this information war. I am simply a civilian who does not wish to fall prey to any manipulation and who does all in her power to ensure that others do not become victims either. Two possible interpretations of Rybachuks statement about the information war can be made, and I believe, demand response. One speaks these days of an information war involving the mass media and various means of influencing public opinion. They have minimum impact where: in the first place, the truth is told, and mistakes acknowledged without waiting for others reactions; secondly the version of events does not change from week to week; and finally when one official version does not contradict another. They have MAXIMUM impact where distrust has been kindled by inept lies and pitiful excuses. In this case the explanations from various departments are constantly at odds one with the other, and with each new version overturning its predecessors, one cannot avoid feeling suspicious. Suspicions, as well as disgust, arise when unsubstantiated claims are made regarding terrorist links with grubby insinuations being made about the “credit history” of Uzbek citizens who, having been handed over to Karimovs regime, are unable to defend themselves. Furthermore, the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) spoke of the deported Uzbeks having belonged to the “Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan”, while Oleh Rybachuk was unable to give the name of the “radical Islamic group”, which seems extremely odd. Or does this mean he had another Islamic organization in mind? Fears are not quelled when the authorities continue to provide no information about the eleventh Uzbek who was not deported, was allegedly released, but who has not been seen since his detention a month and a half ago. If this is what Mr Rybachuk meant by the information war, then it is not too late yet to avert ignominious defeat. One could, however, interpret the words “information war” a little differently, as referring to that war waged by the Ukrainian authorities against their own people in concealing information and refusing to openly acknowledge and investigate grave violations of Ukrainian law and international commitments. In this war there can only be losers. In this war, Mr Rybachuk, there can only be losers. Just over a year ago, the present government stood on the same side of the barricades as the people, defending freedom. I would like to feel reassured that they are still together.