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10 subjects the authorities are concealing

09.05.2012    source:
A year into the Public Information Act, the public are still prevented from learning about the highly controversial sumptuous residence of President Yanukovych at Mezhyhirya, the incomes, privileges, of MPs and high-ranking officials and more

The above is part of the luxury complex for high-ranking officials at Koncha-Zaspa, the photo below of the President's residence at Mezhyhyrya

At a press conference on 8 May to mark the first anniversary of the coming into force of the Law on Access to Public Information, Natalia Sokolenko from TV STB revealed 10 facts about which Ukrainians were still unable to gain information during the last year.

These are:

  1. How President Yanukovych lives at his reportedly sumptuous residence at Mezhyhirya
  2. How much National Deputies [MPs] are paid
  3. how much goes on their aides;
  4. Why MPs turned to the Constitutional Court so as to not have to declare their income for 2011;
  5. How much public funding is going on reconstruction of the homes of high-ranking officials in the complexes outside Kyiv at Pushcha-Vodytsa and Koncza-Zaspa;
  6. The general plans of cities (with isolated exceptions);
  7. What the biggest State procurer Naftohaz Ukraine buys;
  8. Why the State share company Chornomornaftohaz overpaid 330 million USD for two drilling installations;
  9. Whether there are State guarantees to Russia for debts allegedly incurred by the United Energy Corporation of Ukraine (this is part of the new criminal prosecution launched against former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko immediately after her sentencing over the gas deals with Russia and international condemnation of the trial and sentence as politically motivated – translator)
  10. How the State Tax Administration works with Ukrainian financial and industrial groups

Civic organizations also analyzed how central authorities and local bodies of local self-government   are implementing the Public Information Act.  The view was that a year after the Law came into force, many bodies are still not fully implementing it. Problems identified:

-          open resources of public information have not been created;

-          the official websites of authorities, especially bodies of local self-government  , do not provide full information;

-          they refuse to provide information citing the law on personal data protection.

Subjects most concealed by local bodies of local self-government  :

1.                 local budgets and expenditure;

2.                 public procurement;

3.                 decisions taken by communal property and land relations administrations’

4.                 general plans of cities and green areas;

5.                 reduction of wooded areas.

Speakers pointed to lack of confidence that the Public Information Act could actually change anything.

Taras Shevchenko from the Media Law Institute presented statistics regarding court rulings. He said that you can only win court suits regarding access to information if the information in question does not touch on politically important topics.

“Unfortunately, where it’s a case against the Verkhovna Rada, or concerns the land site at Mezhyhirya (the President’s highly controversial residence – translator), judges close their eyes to norms of the law and use other principles in resolving the case. We can only counter this by turning to the European Court of Human Rights”. 

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