• Topics / The right to health care
• Topics / Environmental rights
Lviv courts inundated by Chernobyl victims’ civil suits
People from the Lviv region recognized as having particularly suffered as a result of the Chernobyl Disaster have become much more active at standing up for their rights in court. However they have to wait years for enforcement of the court rulings.
The local and appellate courts of the region are virtually inundated with civil suits from Chernobyl victims. The latter are demanding that their pensions take their status into account and that they receive the concessions set out in law. This includes compensation to children who suffered for food, healthcare, medication etc. The victims of the Chernobyl Disaster complain that the Pension Fund and the Social Protection Departments are in no hurry to implement the first instant court rulings. According to the Head of the Lviv Regional branch of the Chernobyl Union, Vsevolod Smerechynsky, while the Pension Fund at least partially implements the rulings, the Social Protection departments don’t at all.
Concessions without budget allocations
The law envisages around 50 various concessions for Chernobyl victims, yet budget allocations allow for a tenth of what is needed. Vsevolod Smerechynsky notes a curious discrepancy: that there are twice as many Chernobyl victims in the Donetsk region as in the Lviv area, yet the Donetsk region receives four times as much for court payments. He adds that in virtually all cases where law suits lodged by Chernobyl victims are successful, the Pension Fund lodges an appeal, which he sees as a means of winning time. At the same time, there is additional expense on lawyers.
In the Lviv Administrative Court of Appeal we were informed that just in the last year there were rulings in 650 cases defending the rights of Chernobyl victims, with double that number awaiting court examination. The respondents are mainly the Pension Fund and the Social Protection Departments. The Head of the Lviv Regional Pension Fund, Oleksandr Druhov says that the rulings are implemented as they come in, while regular payments are planned for this month.
Prove you’re a Chernobyl victim
As well as what the victims of Chernobyl see as unfair calculation of the pension, they also run up against the need to provide proof that they are from the zone. This is demanded, for example, by the Pension Fund. This is mainly a problem for conscripts who during those days 25 years ago were sent to the contaminated zone. Vsevolod Smerechynsky explains that written orders were not issued and therefore there are no archival documents. He says that there were four thousand soldiers from the Sambir Regiment, and most of them don’t have archival records. One certificate, for example, has “trip to location – roof of the third reactor”. “You can imagine what that means when the fourth was destroyed. Yet at the Fund they say that we don’t have such an item”.
Due to the difficult situation in the country with paying money owed to Chernobyl victims, the region is planning to adopt its own strategic assistance programme. There are over 11 thousand victims of the Disaster in the region, this number having fallen by 20% over the last 10 years.