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The State is watching you everywhere!

16.08.2010    source: www.helsinki.org.ua
M. Hovorukhina, V. Yavorsky

From now on any movement by students around Ukraine will be under the close surveillance of the State. From September the Ministry of Education and Science will be introducing an electronic student card. This will mean that the relevant bodies will have no difficulty in finding out when and where a student went.

The Ministry claims that their aim is to create an information and analysis system for recording and compensating concessions which school and institute students receive when buying tickets for travelling around. When buying any railway ticket, the railway database will add the information that the ticket was bought using a student concession. It will therefore, they say, be very easy to estimate the overall amount compensated. The new system will clearly allow them also to identify people who use these concessions.

Such an initiative by officials jeopardizes freedom of peaceful assembly in Ukraine. It is easy to understand how by imagining a situation where the Ministry of Education issues an order banning the study of Ukrainian. Students from all parts of the country would want to converge on the Ministry. The authorities will now know each of them by name. What guarantees do we have that the authorities will not apply repressive means against activists of the student movement whose names and movements are now known?

It is not only students who are endangered by new measures from the government. For example, the Ministry of Transport and Communications has obliged coach companies to make lists of passengers on routes between cities in Ukraine and agree them with the traffic police and local authorities.

We can recall recent events when traffic police officers did all they could to prevent coaches with supporters of the opposition, then in July believers from the Orthodox Church under the Kyiv Patriarchate. Now the traffic police and local authorities have received the possibility to agree or not agree such trips.

Nor should we forget the efforts of the Ministry of Internal Affairs to introduce named railway tickets. This year, under pressure from the public, the Ministry’s idea of introducing full name, date of birth and passport number on railway tickets was put on hold. However there is no guarantee that officialdom will rest with this, and that there will be no continuation to the story.

Planes, coaches, trains … It would seem that the authorities have taken efforts to ensure that movement by any form of transport is under the eagle eye of the State.

They need only issue an order obliging ordinary drivers to receive written permission to transport a passenger, providing his or her passport details. We suspect this can be anticipated in the near future.

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