Myroslav Marynovych: There is an element of political repression

30.12.2010 |

As well as the former Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, who faced her 9th interrogation at the Prosecutor General’s Office on Thursday, the present regime is investigating allegations of corruption and abuse against around 15 associates of the former Prime Minister, 10 of whom are in custody.

On Thursday a Kyiv court remanded in custody for two months the former Deputy Minister of Justice, Yevhen Korniychuk who is accused of exceeding his official powers.

Former Minister of Transport, Viktor Bondar who is accused of misusing his official position is under a signed undertaking not to abscond.

The Prosecutor General has initiated criminal proceedings against the Director of the State Ukrainian Medical Supplies Company, Mykola Petrenko and detained him. The charge is of embezzlement on a particularly large scale, the sum allegedly involved being half a million UAH.

The Former Minister of the Interior, Yury Lutsenko is being held in the Lukyanivsk SIZO [remand unit] and is facing several charges.

Myroslav Marynovych, former Soviet dissident and one of the founding members of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group said in an interview to the BBC Ukrainian Service that “there is an element of political repression”.

Myroslav Marynovych:   I am prompted to this view not by the fact in itself that former officials are being prosecuted, that is entirely possible. I would not exclude the possibility of some violations on their part and would not immediately call prosecution of public officials, per se, political repression. It is the very nature of how they are being called to answer which forces me to think that this is in fact reprisals against political opponents.

This is aimed at filling others with fear that it could happen to them. The attempt to elicit fear is in my view a very important indicator that this is in fact repression and not efforts to establish the truth and punish those guilty of misuses.

BBC:    When a number of arrests were made after the Orange Revolution, when there were armed personnel carriers outside Renat Akhmetov’s offices and planes transported witnesses in the case from Donetsk, do you think that political repressions were involved? Now members of the present regime are rejecting all accusations of excessive use of force on their part, and saying that the previous regime acted in the same way.

Myroslav Marynovych:   I wouldn’t exclude such things, I remember both. There were things that you talk about, that always create the impression of a demonstration of force or wish to intimidate. On the other hand there were cases, and I remember that very well, when on television they announced that on the next day they would be summoning specific people to give evidence, and the next morning they’d gone abroad. I agree that the former regime also used the factor of just prosecution as an element in the political game with their opponents.

BBC:    You were in prison and the camps specifically for your political convictions, because of your rejection of communist ideology. Yet now when we speak of members of the regime, present or former public officials, their ideology, their politics, political views, in many people’s eyes differ very little. They simply change industrial – financial elites, other elites, but their ideology is not much different, and therefore some feel that the very term “political repression” used here sounds simply insincere.

Myroslav Marynovych:   The words “political repression” can have different shades. The economic component was missing in the case of dissidents however the society was completely totalitarian. Nowadays ideological groups have a strong economic link. I can’t conclude just by virtue of there being such an economic link that there is no political repression. Harassing a group based on economic interests the regime eliminates or tries to eliminate the opposition.

I would criticize the previous regime for having played with their opponents and not honoured the main calls of Maidan (the protests on Maidan Nezalezhnosti against the vote-rigging, and the Orange Revolution as a whole – translator), namely to establish the rule of law. After all, what was the essence of that more primitive slogan “Bandits to prison!? It was: finally establish law in the country! That was not done. Instead some kind of show was organized, just as we’re seeing now: I don’t know how it will end.

Whether they will have their fun in the same style as the former regime and release them, or whether they will actually sentence them to long terms of imprisonment is not yet clear. For the moment however there is a game with the law and not rule of law.

At present the public actively react to what those in power are doing however every day the regime violates either the law or normal logic, or those traditions which have become entrenched.  The nature of this regime is that it is beginning to systematically change the attitude to the law, attitude to the normal logic of the development of the state. It is doing this systematically and on a day-to-day basis. I therefore don’t believe that protest directed at the President can have any effect, and there is already no sense in appeals.

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