Ukraine: Reality vs. Façade
Oleksandr Stepanenko from Helsinki Initiative XXI writes about the opportunity Independence Day gave residents of the town of Chortkiv in the Ternopil region to clearly observe the divide between the reality of their lives and the façade presented by officialdom.
In one half of the square everything and everyone was spruced up for the occasion. It was all there - the flag, embroidered shirts, solemn prayers, dances and songs, the laying of flowers, etc.
At the other end of the square there were far more people holding a rally. This was organized by pensioners protesting over the failure to enforce court rulings ordering payment of supplements to the pitiful pensions they receive.
There was no contact between the two groups. Not one official dragged himself from the festive ritual to either put the authorities’ point of view or to invite the pensioners to their offices to air their grievances. Oleksandr Stepanenko suggests that perhaps the pensioners material concerns were deemed inappropriate for this higher occasion, somehow discrediting the Flag and Independence. He adds drily that it would be hard to say who discredits the country’s symbols more.
The authorities lay on all the pomp and fanfare throughout the country yet work primarily to forward their own business interests.
At the same time, people are living in abject poverty. For pensioners, those supplementary payments – for children of the War or people who particularly suffered from the Chernobyl Disaster - are absolutely vital. According to information from the Pension Fund, just in that district there are around 24 thousand people who need the supplementary payments to which, according to the law, they are entitled. For several months now pensioners have been waiting for enforcement of 8.5 thousand court rulings ordering that the claimants be paid the money due them. Around 900 are people who fall into the most serious category of people who suffered from Chernobyl and people who are disabled. Each has had to spend months of traipsing around the authorities, going to the court, to get what is lawfully theirs.
And the court rulings remain on paper.
What is more, the author writes, since the Law on Amendments to the Law on the State Budget for 2011 came into force, the courts have stopped allowing claims from pensioners for money calculated as per the Laws on the Status and Social Protection of People who suffered from the Chernobyl Disaster, on the Social Protection of Children of the War; on Pension Provisions for People demobilized from Military Service and some others. This has led to additional social tension between citizens and the authorities.
The situation was discussed at the last session of the Ternopil Regional Council. It was only discussed since nothing will be resolved until the Constitutional Court has considered whether the reductions in money specified by law are constitutional.
The problem, however, reported here many times is that even the Constitutional Court judgments in the last two or three years finding Cabinet of Ministers instructions suspending social payments for certain groups, despite laws in place, unconstitutional are ignored. People take the State to court and win. Or not exactly since as seen the court rulings are not enforced.
Summarized from Oleksandr Stepanenko’s report published at: http://helsinki.org.ua/index.php?id=1314349820