war crimes in Ukraine

The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.


On events in Yugoslavia

A declaration of the Directorate of the ‘Memorial’ International Union, Moscow

Recent communications from the Balkans do not remain any doubts: ethnic purges carried out by the Serbian army and police in their fight with Albanian separatists have turned, since the NATO bombardments of Yugoslavia began, into large-scale crimes against humanity, such that Europe has not known since WW2.

The guilt of the present Belgrade regime is obvious and acknowledged by the whole world, except a number of Russia politicians and Russia mass media. But how can one assess the actions of Western leaders who publicly appeal that their goal is to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe on the Balkans, and who actually triggered such a catastrophe?

Before the bombardments, some NATO politicians supposed that the air raids in Yugoslavia may destroy the Albanian population of Kosovo. Now we see that the scandalous professional incompetence is massive.

If they wanted to ‘punish Miloshevich for his obstinacy’, then it is the scandalous irresponsibility, because first of all hundreds of thousands of Kosovo Albanians were punished. As to the position of Miloshevich inside the country, it seems to become stronger.

Another collateral result of the NATO military action is the growth of the probability of communist revenge in a number of countries, including Russia. The influence of anti-Western, fundamentalist forces on the internal and external policy of Russia is very substantial even now. In the current situation the new factor can overweigh the fragile balance. The events may develop into an unpredictable and very dangerous direction.

Certainly, the responsibility for the lot of the Russian democracy is born not by the NATO commandment, but by Russian citizens. Certainly, no general political considerations may cancel the necessity to stop massive slaughter. Yet, for the time being, without facilitating the state of Kosovo Albanians, the NATO politicians boosted the threat to the prospects of the mutual approach of the West and the East, of the ‘third world’ with the developed democratic countries.

The NATO was captured with the same trap, which four years ago trapped the Russian government, which tried to remove general Dudayev’s regime in Chechnya by force. The shameful Chechen war discredited the young Russian democracy. The new war on the Balkans threatens the authority of democracy as such.

The impotence of the international community to force, by peaceful methods, the Yugoslavian government to observe the norms of the humanitarian right in Kosovo testifies that the established system of international relations is very imperfect. The military action, which destroyed the imperfect system, appeared to be as impotent.

Several years ago it seemed that the fall of communism would lead to establishing a new world order based on the right. This has not happened.

The 20 thcentury is finishing in the same manner as it began: by a war on the Balkans. Does mankind remember that this war turned into the World one?

The only reasonable and moral policy today is to use every infinitesimal chance which would enable us to stop the military operation, to stop violence over the peaceful population, to return to negotiations whichever difficult and even humiliating this step would seem to some participants of the conflict. But it seems more plausible that neither side taking part in the conflict, directly or indirectly (in particular Russia), would lack the will, and courage, and common sense, and elementary philanthropy.

8 April 1999

Prohibition of discrimination

Painful problems of our society demand immediate solution

Because of the shortage of the budget that is given for the protection of health, all hospitals of Kharkov suffer, but an especially difficult situation is found in the psychiatric clinic No.15. The number of beds is reduced steadily, doctors and nurses are dismissed, there are no means for medicine and food for patients. One can only admire the courage of psychiatrists, who do what they should under such conditions. Meanwhile, Kharkovites could do something for the clinic, as it was done for those who suffered from the flood in Transcarpathia. Before the revolution it was a custom to collect money for charity, for the assistance to the diseased, for building churches, etc. And the church always played a leading role in such actions. It seems that now we have a deficit of organizers who could take the initiative of such actions. In Kyiv the organization ‘Hope’ is founded by relatives of chronically diseased, and this organization helps mental cases. There is a need to create in Kharkov such organization or a fund whose main task will be the support of clinic 15, one of the oldest hospitals in Ukraine.

Social and economic rights

Chernobyl: thirteen years, thirteen troubles

Thirteen years have passed since the Chernobyl catastrophe. This sad jubilee became not only the day of the national sorrow, but also a pretext to assess the state’s attitude to the former ‘liquidators’ — members of salvation teams. In Kharkov, we asked two persons to discuss this problem: Vladimir Kiyko, the deputy major, chairman of the Commission in charge of affairs of citizens suffered from the Chernobyl catastrophe, and also Maya Sheremet, the head of the Sector of social protection of citizens suffered from the Chernobyl catastrophe.

The Commission headed by Mr. Kiyko does not forget about the liquidators and assists them in any ways possible. Yet, it does not solve all the problems, because of the lack of finances and a large number of the liquidators: 13844 liquidators live in Kharkov.

Recently a control registration was held and 649 people were stripped of the status of liquidators, others were duly reregistered. However, their privileges are not realized. Pensions are permanently detained, ‘Chernobyl drugstores’ are not supplied with the needed medicines, auxiliary money for feeding Chernobyl children are not paid. All this causes protest and discontent. Maya Sheremet remarked that there were not open manifestations of the discontent, no tent camps near the building of the region administration, no pickets near the City Executive Committee, like in other towns. Nonetheless, the poor social protection, grave diseases and absence of any hopes for the future continue to kill those whom we thanked on 26 April for saving out lives.

The number of invalids increased dramatically during the last 13 years. In 1990 in Kharkov 11% of the total number of liquidators were invalids, in 1999 the corresponding number was 40%. Most of the invalids are in their late forties. They cannot afford to buy the needed medication and the drugstores which must give them the medication free of charge stopped to do it, since the state treasury owes them 10 thousand grivnas.

According to Maya Sheremet, the law, which has to protect the rights of the liquidators and other people who suffered from the Chernobyl catastrophe, is imperfect. Because of frequent diseases, the liquidators loose their jobs, they are devoid of prospects of professional growth, which makes our life full and useful. Some people became desperate. During the thirteen years 18 liquidators from Kharkov committed suicides.

Rigid legal acts do not take into consideration all the nuances that could permit the liquidators not to relate themselves to the ‘lost generation’. This is clearly seen by those who permanently held contacts with the liquidators and the representatives of their NGOs.

They see the problems, but there are no resources. This year 330 liquidators from Kharkov got material aid: ten thousand grivnas for all. This is a miserable donation, insufficient for buying medicine. Thanks to the municipal addition 40 children from Chernobyl, living in Kharkov, got 8 grivnas 50 kopecks per month. At the expense of the city budget 150 berths in Kharkov hospitals are kept for the liquidators. And their number is about 14 thousand and they fall ill very often.

Representatives of the city authorities patch the holes of the state system. They are sure that they do all possible. Is it so?

The demonstration on Independence Square

On 25 April 1999 on Independence Square and on Khreshchatik Street a demonstration was held under the motto ‘No to nuclear adventure, no to violation of citizens’ rights!’ The demonstration was organized by various ecological NGOs, by the ‘Spadshchina’ club and by the Kyivan Rada of citizens’ unions.

The goal of the demonstration was to attract the attention of Kyivans to the fact that Kyiv City Rada since November 1998 has been dodging from organizing public hearings about the closure of Chernobyl atomic station and additional construction of reactors at Khmelnitskaya and Rivnenskaya atomic stations. As to the latter project, it is illegal since no ecological expertise has been made. The reaction of the local authorities to the demonstration was swift. The staircase to the City Rada was occupied by the municipal orchestra in red coats. On the one hand, the appearance of musicians greatly increased the audience. On the other hand, the speakers could address the audience only during short intervals between musical pieces. Some people compared this to a new variant of jamming, with which we came across in the Soviet times, while trying to listen to the ‘enemies’ voices’. Other people compared it with the sinking of ‘the Titanic’ during which the orchestra played to the last moment. The mixture of merry melodies with funeral speeches did not seem to puzzle the audience.

Children’s rights

Word about the word

I believe that those who are worried with serious difficulties in distributing the Ukrainian language in Ukraine should listen to the attentive and benevolent opponent, in order to learn about the logical criticism of the arguments used by supporters of the distribution of the Ukrainian language.

It is clear that the questions concerning the language of communication, the language of breeding children, the language of scientific and artistic creative activities are rather delicate.

With these preliminary remarks we shall try to analyze L.Yashchenko’s article ‘A word to the Ukrainian’. First of all, the assessment of the real language situation in Ukraine is quite correct. During the last decade the law on the language did not work efficiently. The Ukrainian language is, as before, spoken in villages and in West Ukraine. L.Yashchenko appeals to people to use this language. This is his right and we respect it. But we do not find reasonable such appeals. The emotions around the language problem are strained enough. And active efforts to change the situation can lead to a destabilization of the society. Besides, many arguments by Yashchenko are shaky. Here are some of them:

1.‘There is no nation without a language and no vital state without a nation’. The argument seems to be wrong. From 239 states of the world only 37 operate with the concept of the ‘state language’ and in 32 of them there are more than one state language. So, one state language is a great rarity.

2.‘A language unites people even if they live on different sides of state frontiers, if they are separated by political and religious reasons’. The counterexample to this statement is North and South Korea, the USA, separated from Britain and not going to unite with it, or states of the Latin America, speaking Spanish and Portuguese.

3.‘It is obvious that unification of languages and cultures is degeneration’. With the growth of intensity of information exchange the variability of languages becomes an obstacle. This can be clearly seen on the examples in European history, on disappearance of languages and dialects in France, Germany, Italy and other countries. Whether it is good or bad we do not know. The evolutionary process determining large-scale social phenomena knows better. On the other hand, the English language serves for international communication in the British commonwealth and throughout the world, and it is certainly good.

4.‘Every single Russian word pronounced by them works for the rusification of the nation’. The author of the note, obviously a Ukrainian patriot, sins himself putting Russian quotations into a text.

5.‘We must breed Ukrainian engineers, businessmen, researchers, sportsmen, etc. Without that we shall not have the needed words born under natural conditions, in oral communication. This could be the only condition of generating a live professional language’. It is clear that now we have a live Ukrainian language, but all professional topics are usually discussed in Russian. To change the situation the author suggests to breed specialists who speak Ukrainian. This process is going on now. The town youth is forced to learn Ukrainian, since they cannot get higher education in their native language. As any coercion in the language sphere (and Ukrainians know that from their bitter experience) this action brings enormous damage to the culture of Ukraine, whose development is declared to be the main stimulus of the fighters for the Ukrainian language. To be consecutive, the fighters either shall change the rules of admission to the higher school or to frankly admit that this is a requital action, having nothing in common with culture and spirituality.

It can be easily explained, why the coercion in teaching Ukrainian to the town youth does such a great harm to the culture of Ukraine. Schoolteachers formulate the situation very exactly: a generation is growing that cannot write in the language they speak and cannot speak in the language they write. School studies cannot influence the language of communication either at home, or in the street, or even during breaks between lessons. Pupils perceive the Ukrainian language as a caprice of adults and learn it unwillingly. This attitude to learning certainly extends to other subjects. Just fancy which future professionals we breed.

6.‘Writers and linguists will not help in this process’. This seems to be a wrong argument. Only writers and other artists give the attractive force and expressiveness to a language, whereas the coercive state pressure is harmful and inefficient. The Ukrainian people is gifted and it can generate many talented authors. Then it will be possible to speak about the renaissance of Ukrainian culture and of the spiritual upsurge. Without this the administrative efforts will have the same effect and stench as the propaganda campaigns from our totalitarian past. This kind of propaganda is carried out now by illiterate figures from ‘Prosvita’, which is liked by the author.

7.In conclusion, I would like to remark that denouncing ideological adversaries to the security agencies, even in the form of collective complaints on nurses, teachers and headmasters, is not the first-rate manifestation of spirituality and morality.

I hope that the editorial board of PL will support the idea of exchange rational arguments around the problem of languages in Ukraine. This question seems to me an important element of guaranteeing human rights in Ukraine.

A word to the Ukrainian

We live in a very responsible period of our history: now the lot of our state, nation and language is being decided. This is really so for there is no nation without a language and no vital state without a nation.

We will not concern here questions of economy and culture, but we will focus on our personal contribution to the language question.

We know that towns in Ukraine, especially in East and South regions are rusificated. It happened because of the three-century suppression by the Russian Empire (ruled by czars and bolsheviks). During this time the language of the ruling nation was implanted forcefully, including such extreme methods as physical extermination of the Ukrainian intelligentsia. The bulwark of the Ukrainian language was village which passed the spiritual inheritance of their forefathers from generation to generation.

Nowadays the majority of the population, especially younger people, lives in towns, mass media, scientific and technological progress comes to the village again mainly in the Russian language (this does not concern West Ukraine, which lived under different historical conditions: there rusification is negligible).

When the Ukrainian people got its own state, it got an opportunity to make the Ukrainian language the state one, as it is proclaimed in Article 10 of the Constitution. Yet, it is difficult to notice any changes. After a short national activation in late 80s — early 90s there occurred a certain retreat, in particular, in education, mass media and publishing. Such phenomena depend, to a great expense, on the state administration, but much depend on ourselves. Ask yourself: which language do you use every day? Many would answer: and what is the difference? There is a difference, and I shall try to explain it. If a language were only a tool of communication, then it would be optimal to create one language, of the type of Esperanto, and forget national languages. Nonetheless, all the peoples, both great and little, guard their language as a sanctuary. They do it because the language is inalienable part of the national culture, the expression of the spirit of the nation, which cannot be expressed in any other language. A language unites people even if they live on different sides of state frontiers, if they are separated by political and religious reasons. Defending our national originality and culture, we, in the same time enrich the culture of the world. The world culture may be compared to a multicolor carpet, on which every people left its unrepeatable pattern. And now fancy that some time later this carpet will become uniformly gray. That would be terrible! It is obvious that unification of languages and cultures is degeneration.

The majority of our citizens, especially of younger generation, do not think over such questions following the motto: I act as all act. Their patriotic feelings are awoken maybe on the days of international football matches with the participation of Ukrainian teams. They have nothing against the existence of the independent Ukraine and Ukrainian language, but they have got accustomed to communicate in Russian and do not make any efforts to switch to their native language. They do not comprehend that every single Russian word pronounced by them works for the rusification of the nation.

When they say that the Ukrainian language is the language of village, this is true. It was in the village where our language lived and is living, fully expressing its precious features. The state of things is different in towns. The process of generation of Ukrainian words and expressions for city realia, in professional languages of engineers, scientists, sportsmen, etc., has lagged behind because of the historical conditions. Sometimes the Ukrainian terms look artificial, which could be expected since they are artificially constructed in armchairs. We must breed Ukrainian engineers, businessmen, researchers, sportsmen, etc. Without that we shall not have the needed words born under natural conditions, in oral communication. This could be the only condition of generating a live professional language: writers and linguists will not help in this process. Thus we see that our language has a great potential for development.

In order to improve the situation we must overcome the psychological barrier, which stands in front of us when we try to use the Ukrainian language in the Russian-language environment. That will require efforts of will, since to understand a language passively is one thing, and to use it actively is quite another. We shall have to go against the current, we shall lack the needed words during the conversation, we shall have to control ourselves and sometimes translate in our mind separate words and expressions from Russian. But later the process will become automatic, and we shall be able to communicate in Ukrainian without special efforts.

At first your speech will be clumsy, like the speech of most MPs now, but then the language will improve.

Certainly, we must turn to official resolutions. They are needed for the control of how they are executed. It is good when the director of a plant or a foreman in your place of work sets an example and speaks Ukrainian. Then subordinates will sooner start to speak this language. However, most representatives of administration are from the former nomenclature and party functionaries, and there are few Ukrainian patriots in this layer of the population. When they forget the law on the state language, you should tactfully remind them about it.

Certainly, the future of the nation and language depends on breeding of children, and this is the most painful problem. If in the kindergarten, at school and in the street the Russian language is domineering, then even the family cannot help. So the question is set as follows: if you want to have Ukraine, then do your best for the Ukrainian language to reign in the kindergarten and school. Do not restrict your troubles about your child by feeding and dressing it. Maybe in future the material living standard would become high, but then it would be impossible to recover spiritual losses. So you must demand the punctual execution of the law on the language from nurses, teachers, headmasters and headmistresses, you must organize collective protests to district and region departments of education, if the law is violated.

If you study in higher school, do not be ashamed to demand your lawful right to be taught in the state language. Do not retreat before the difficulties related to the absence of text-books, imperfect special terminology and, maybe, insufficient mastering of the Ukrainian language by teachers. Remember that if we loose the battle for our native language in the field of education, then our cause will be lost.

So let us sum up: with the goal of preservation and development of the Ukrainian state, nation and language we must build a reliable shield against the total rusification in Ukraine which is the mortal danger. We must execute the law on the state language on all levels, we must support the Ukrainian mass media, we must participate in public organizations, especially in ‘Prosvita’. We must learn from Israeli, who revived their ancient language, Hebrew, and made it a state one! That could be possible thanks to the efforts of the whole people.

Ukrainian! Stand up from your knees and demonstrate the force of your spirit! Recall of which tribe you are, do not trample your Cossack glory! Otherwise shame will fall upon you and your offsprings forever!

Read this article and pass it to others! If you can, make a copy!

Women’s rights

A human rights protection activist brings an action for material and moral damages

The name of the prominent human rights protection activist academician Anatoliy Rybalko is known to most readers of our bulletin. Perhaps, they remember the dramatic events of 1996, when Anatoliy Rybalko began to act as a public defendant of illegally condemned militiaman. He came to conflict with law-enforcing (rather, law-breaking) agencies of the Crimea, as well as with the Crimean judicial power. As a result, during half a year he was constantly threatened by representatives of the power. Many our readers wrote letters in defense of Anatoliy Rybalko demanding from the power to stop persecuting the man.

Few people know that academician Rybalko became a human rights protection activist when he personally came across with violence of law. In 1994, without any grounds, he was accused of bribe-taking, and a criminal case was started against him.. Anatoliy Rybalko was arrested two times, he passed a preliminary imprisonment, searches and threats. The case was absolutely ungrounded and all the proofs collapsed at the first consideration in the Supreme Court. But it was extremely difficult to break the way to the Supreme Court. Anatoliy Rybalko was helped by human rights protectors from Kyiv, from the Ukrainian-American Bureau of human rights protection. All the accusations were cancelled, he was acquitted and re-employed on his work: Anatoliy Rybalko is a physician, professor of gynecology, head of the gynecological department of Simferopol medical institute. Yet, when Anatoliy Rybalko was incarcerated and interrogated, he saw with his own eyes such cruel violations of the law that he could not live any more without the attempts to improve the situation.

Human rights protection became his second calling. Now he is the head of the working group of the International Union of human rights, a member of the presidium of this union; he also works in Amnesty International and in the Helsinki Civic Assembly. The group headed by Anatoliy Rybalko is very efficient — they manage to win many court cases that seemed hopeless.

At present Anatoliy Rybalko turned to us with the request to publish a number of documents concerning his civil suit. The suit is unusual, since the defendants are the prosecutor’s office, the security service and the Supreme Court of the Crimea.

The first suit application concerning the compensation for moral and material damages was handed by Anatoliy Rybalko to Kyivskiy district court of the city of Simferopol in 1996. A part of material damage was compensated, but Anatoliy Rybalko continued to insist on the complete compensation, including moral damage, by the defendants listed above.

In 1997 he handed the second suit application to the same Kyivskiy district court. The court refused to take the suit application since the Supreme Court of the Crimea was one of the defendants. The Supreme Court of the Crimea confirmed this decision and explained that if a suit is directed against the supreme judicial instance of the Crimea, then the decision to take this application must be given by the Supreme Court of Ukraine.

The Supreme Court of Ukraine passed the case to Odessa region court, and the latter passed the case further to the court of the central district of Odessa.

All this red tape has lasted since November 1997 up to the present. In particular, the case lies without consideration in the district Odessa court for one year.

Anatoliy Rybalko is a very busy and not very healthy man. He cannot visit Odessa too often. The general economic and social circumstances in Ukraine have led to the situation when the courts are overloaded and first of all consider criminal cases. A delay of 3-4 months in considering civil cases is quite usual, but the delay of one year is unusual and suspicious.

We hope that the region court of Odessa and the Supreme Court of Ukraine will take under special control this unusual for the judicial routine case. The Kharkov Group for human rights protection turned to the both above-mentioned instances with the request to explain the situation with Anatoliy Rybalko’s suit.

Interethnic relations

New approaches for the new age

An international conference with this name was held in April 1999 in London. 120 participants from 50 countries of Africa, North and Latin America, Central, Eastern and Southern Asia, Australia and Europe discussed the role of prisons in a democratic society. The number of regional reports describing the situation and problems in prison systems of various countries of the world were delivered at the conference. Ministers and MPs, judges and representatives of NGOs of different levels, which are involved in the prison reform and human rights protection, by joint efforts developed a draft of a reform for penitentiary systems for the next decade.

The participants of the conference have acknowledged the fact that prison systems throughout the world undergo a crisis. About 8 million people are incarcerated in the whole world, prisons in many countries are overcrowded, in a number of countries about 75% of all the incarcerated are suspects awaiting trial. In all the world prisons are establishments that are isolated from the society and forgotten by the public. Monitoring and inspection systems are not efficient. Overcrowdness, absence of hygienic measures, shortage of food and medicine, high level of infection diseases and high mortality rate, violation of human rights, coercion are common in prisons. The efficiency of prisons, in terms of preventing recidivist crime, is small and the percentage from the poorest classes is great.

The participants of the conference tried to find economical and realistic models of the prison reform, which would account for the cultural context and be oriented at the protection of human rights. In the new concept of the prison reform the stress is made on the reduction of poverty and facilitation of the access to justice.

The important principle of the new approach is that the criminal justice plays but a restricted role in any democratic society. It must not be used, for instance, for solving social problems. Prisons must be used by courts rather as an extreme measure of punishment, but not as one of the most frequently used measures.

The CIS was represented at the conference by participants from Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine.

Donetsk ‘Memorial’ intends to publish the abridged reports of the conference and its final document as a booklet in June 1999.

A complaint of the personnel of a preliminary prison

Here we print the text of the complaint to the Kharkov Group for human rights protection form Donetsk. The text is published verbatim.

We, workers of the preliminary prison No.1 of the city of Donetsk, turn to you, since there is no other organization to turn to. We are devoid of the right to take part in the democratic parties, public movements and trade unions. There is no one to protect our rights and freedoms.

Under current conditions, when the public opinion is focused on the needs and requests of the special contingent (convicts), we decided to turn your attention to the conditions of work and existence of the least protested category of toilers.

We shall begin with the absence of elementary conditions of work:

The rules of internal service are rudely violated and we carry out the continuous observation over the special contingent without observing shifts for 12 hours on end, after which we work 4-5 extra unpaid hours, searching the contingent or attending special preparation, we have no breaks and no canteen.

Our posts are not equipped with johns and wash-basins which rudely violates sanitary and hygienic conditions of labor.

The guards who carry out their service on the posts of TB-infected, AIDS-infected and infected with VDs, are not given disinfectants. The disinfection of posts and cells is not carried out, so the personnel often catch TB. No money is given for treatment. The extra pay for harm is 10 grivnas for a month. We must search chambers where VD and TB patients are locked, and during searches the workers are not given any protection from infection. The posts of the sick are not isolated from the healthy.

Rations are given at increased price, with delays, by food products that are not necessary (juice). The bosses exert pressure on those who refuse to take rations, some were even sacked. Biased attitude, deprivation of personal additions to wages, ungrounded dismissals of the workers who do not agree with the administration, who are not afraid to speak about their democratic convictions, who try to protect human rights.

The personnel is forced to buy uniforms, photo-materials and stationery for their own money. Identification cards were illegally taken away, we lost the privilege for free transportation.

The money for our wages is sent to the prison in time, but the pay is given with delay.

The administration conceals facts of attacking the personnel by convicts. The attacked are fired by false reasons. We ask you to pay your attention to the above-listed violations in order to avoid massive acts of protest from our side. We ask you to regard our letter not as the demand to have a privileged position among the toilers of our country, since we understand the hard and complicated situation under modern economic conditions. Our letter is that of people in despair, we want to find lawful ways in solving our conflict situation. We believe that to satisfy our demands is possible by forces of the Penitentiary Directorate of Ukraine in the Donetsk region.

A sheet is appended with 174 signatures of the personnel.

PL commentary.
During the last 18 months the Kharkov Group for human rights protection received several letters from the workers of the services without which no society can exist. The first complaint came from the motor ambulance service of Kharkov district of Kharkov region. The doctors do not get their salary for months on end. The salaries are reduced, the service cars are shabby and their number is clearly insufficient for servicing a large district, most of the medical equipment is obsolete and imperfect.

We managed to assist the motor ambulance service a little: the pay arrears were partly shortened, but the most problems have unfortunately remained. When one reads such collective letters, one is desperate because of the impotence, since thousands of the diseased health and life depend on a hundred of the doctors.

This complaint is from the personnel of the preliminary prison. A lot of painful problems are listed in this letter, among which are the inevitable pay arrears, inadmissible labor conditions and so forth. We shall do our best to solve the problems of the penitentiary system personnel, because, after them, there are many citizens who are most of all deprived of any rights, whose existence depends on those who guard them. The state has no right to leave such people alone with their problems. Chaos and disorder make us cruel and indifferent to other people’s suffering. For, if a doctor can start to his patient after several hours after the call, then what is his professionalism worth? A stupefied from disorder prison controller cannot be cool-headed and just in executing his duties, the guard’s hardships may cause more suffering to his ‘customers’, still not proved guilty, but already incarcerated. Among the prison inmates there are many persons who entered prison because of the imperfection of our law and cruelty of relations in our society.

Kharkov Group for human rights protection turned with the letter to the General Prosecutor’s office asking to check the above complaint and employ proper measures.

Court practices

The balance of interests of the army and society

Working group of Kharkov Union of soldiers’ mothers

Lately our organization have turned with their suggestions about reforming the army to many instances, because we firmly believe that the changes in the army are necessary and timely.

Newsmen from various mass media often turn to us with a request to comment some events and to express our opinion on the state of the armed forces. Yet, neither our assessments nor problems which we raise were reflected in the central press. That is why we decided to express our opinion ourselves.

At the meeting with the President of Ukraine the working group of our union suggested a number of measures on reforming the armed forces. We did it because of the following reasons.

According to our observations, the quality, that is the health and intellectual level, of recruits is steadily deteriorating. We do not want to blame the Ministry of Defense. On the contrary, the present Minister of Defense, the Central Medical Directorate and the Central Indoctrinating Directorate took a rigid and implacable position relative to recruiting not able-bodied young men and to dedovshchina. There are exemplary units both in the armed forces, in the Ministry of Interior and in the National Guard, but the general situation is unsatisfactory, and such a state is the result of the crisis of the entire society.

Let us take, for example, a complicated problem of recruiting to the army not able-bodied young men. The reason of this phenomenon is the general crisis of medical aid and the fall of the living standard of the majority of the population. Doctors for adolescents, which, in principle, must know all about the health of young men, know next to nothing. It is caused by steady staff reductions, which result in overloading doctors who hardly manage to do the necessary vaccinations. The draft of the new order on medical service of adolescents stuck somewhere in ministries and agencies, owing to which the loads of adolescent doctors grow, the pay diminishes and the efficiency falls. Because of this young men come to recruiting commissions with clean medical cards. This does not mean that they have no diseases. On the contrary, rather often they have the diseases absolutely incompatible with army service. Now it often happen that a sick youth was never treated in official medical establishments. The parents (sometimes a single mother), having no money for drugs and analyses, treats her son turning to quacks. Youths with psychic deviations often do not suspect that they are ill, as well as their parents. A doctor from the medical commission, having heard no complaints and having looked in the clean medical card, can sincerely make a mistake. In our organization we more often come across with such mistakes than with the facts of corruption, maybe because poor people turn to us. Besides, young men often conceal that they are on the books in a militia precinct; certainly they conceal if they use drugs. Drug-addicts and people with incorrect behavior or with the criminal past may not be recruited, but the control of the psychic and physical health is absent. A young mobster often has no previous conviction, and he brings to the army the laws of the mob. Such recruits make a very difficult material for officers to reform. They must like their work very much, getting no salary by months on end, to work successfully in reforming such recruits. Contrary to all declarations and laws, medical examination and treatment in our hospitals stopped to be free of charge. That is why sons from poor families get to the army having many diseases. In the most developed countries and even in many Asian countries, people have insurance medicine which enables even the poorest to be examined gratis. Instead we have infinite discussions on reforms in our medicine. We have come across with the cases when medical establishments demanded pay for the examination of recruits directed to them by recruiting commissions. This is an explicit violation of law.

In recruiting commissions, as a rule, there are no qualified psychologists, because they were reduced from the staff the first. There are no psychologists in the hospitals as well. The school stopped to be the main controlling organization which bred the children. The first reason is that adolescents from poor families now usually leave the school after the ninth form or even earlier. Later they try to earn their living by doubtful deals. But even if the adolescents finish their secondary education, and they are given reference from the school, then these references, as a rule, are similar and formal.

We have spoken about the social reasons that force not able-bodied youths to the army. The same reasons plus the negligence of unpaid officers leads to so-called dedovshchina. Very often the parents of soldiers who deserted from the army because of dedovshchina tell us: ‘We thought that the army would correct him.’ As a rule, they are parents of sons who had led asocial life and were on militia books before recruiting. During the forensic medicine expertise doctors often find psychic deviations. When such youths get into the military unit with a very strained psychological climate, they break.

Corruption is a horrible vice, but incompetence and irresponsibility is no better. For example, recruits are examined from year to year and no one from the commission wants to risk to say firm ‘yes’ or firm ‘no’. Especially often it happens with neurological cases, with youths having endocrine troubles or immunodeficite. We have the case when a patient with the immunodeficite has been investigated for two years and is neither recruited nor considered not able-bodied.

We have been disappointed with the new draft of the law on military service which passed the first reading in the Supreme Rada. This draft does not solve a single urgent problem. Moreover, it can generate new problems. We need to raise the intellectual level of recruits, but certainly we must not recruit students, as it is suggested in one variant of the law. It goes without saying that the idea of recruiting students is extremely unpopular among students, among teachers and in general among the city population. The idea is not only unpopular, but it is harmful, since, objectively, we shall lower the strategic ability of defense. It is understandable that the higher school should prepare qualified specialists who will be able to develop new technologies, in particular in the military field, the technologies that Ukraine needs so much.

According to the data of the sociological poll published in the newspaper ‘Den’, 76% of the Ukrainian population support the creation of the professional army. Yet, the draft of the law on the conscription does not mention anything of the kind. The measures aimed to improve the quality of the army, such as conscription of students, will not improve the situation. Such measures will certainly increase the corruption and will not exclude recruiting unhealthy young men. The attempts to change Article 17 of the operating law are aimed at diminishing mitigating reasons for postponement. We have always considered that Article 17 needs to be corrected, but on the other reasons, since it does not agree with the present social conditions. Under the present economic situation the conscription of the only provider in the family which includes other children, invalids, even if mother works, puts the family into a catastrophic position. We come across with many such situations, when a family, having remained without the only provider, must turn for aid to the state local administration. As a result, it turns out that not to take such young men to the army is more economical. By the way, such young men, as a rule, are eager to serve in the army, since their domestic problems are much heavier than the army service.

This means that army problems must not be solved without the account of social problems. That is why we suggest to solve such problems by counting the balance of interests between the society and the armed forces.

All these problems could be solved by the creation of the professional army. Instead of the laborious search of healthy recruits, instead of providing reasons for the corruption and then fighting with the corruption, instead of overcoming the incompetence of the corresponding agencies, the army would be able to select the best, psychologically and physically the healthiest young men. To select the best from the volunteers is many times easier than to exclude the unfit recruits from the common mass. Then military doctors can be used for the selection, because they are most of all interested in the quality of the recruits.

Even now, when the state lacks the finances for the creation of a completely professional army, it is high time to start a step-by-step transition to the professional army. The defense tax must be introduced, as it was done by our pragmatic neighbors in Poland and other countries of Europe. The defense tax consists of the money which any young man of the conscript age must pay to the budget if he cannot or does not want to serve in the army. Certainly, the defense tax must be differentiated, since a young businessman and a youth, who helps his poor parents or other close relatives, must not pay identical sums. In a number of countries the starting sum of the defense tax per year makes one minimal salary per month.This is a sort of the standard. Those people who are not conscripted by the law are freed from the defense tax. They are young men, who are related by our laws to the 6, 7, 8 degree of poor health, those who have invalid parents or who are the only providers in families with many children.

The defense tax is used for the needs of defense. There are other suggestions: to increase the work among adolescents before the conscription, to introduce into recruiting commissions psychologists with the necessary qualification and experience. Until all these amendments are introduced, all physicians, parents and members of recruiting commissions must understand a simple truth: all children are ours.

Suggestions of the participants of the round table devoted to ‘Military legal reform in Ukraine and ways of the improvement of military legislation’

On 19-20 February 1999 the USMU jointly with the Ministry of Defense in the framework of the TACIS project held the round table on the military legal reform in Ukraine and ways of the improvement of military legislation. Specialists in legislation suggested a number of amendments to the Articles of War and to the Ukrainian law ‘On the total military duty and military service’. Besides, the problem of coordination of the Ukrainian legislation and norms of the international right was discussed. Among other amendments the participants suggested some measures for closer cooperation of NGOs and military agencies and for the public control over force structures.

The most principal of them are as follows:

Like in Bundeswehr, they proposed to establish the post of the ombudsman in charge of military affairs.

Organizing the institute of legal counselors in the army and organizing consultations in social and legal questions in military units and recruiting commissions.

Mandatory discussion of drafts of Articles of War and laws concerning the military in public organizations and military units.

To give the legal expression to the really existing restrictions for servicemen’s Constitutional rights and freedoms, formulate explicitly servicemen’s privileges as a compensation for these restrictions.

Cancel as a non-Constitutional the norm of the disciplinary statute which sets such a measure of punishment as an arrest and incarceration in guardhouse.

To increase the mandatory personal insurance of servicemen in case of death, making it equal to the one of members of the Ministry of Interior (nowadays the former sum is 20 times less than the latter).

Include to the statute of internal service a part titled ‘Duties, rights and responsibilities of servicemen’, including there the main rights which servicemen have.

To coordinate the Ukrainian law ‘On citizens’ complaints’ in the part concerning servicemen with the Constitutional norms. The same must be done to the Articles of War.

To include to the Articles of War the mandatory availability of shower-rooms in all military units.

Create in the army the professional ODA service, which must be independent of the commandment.

A preliminary analysis of legal rights in the Articles of War enables us to affirm that the level of guaranteeing Constitutional rights for servicemen is lower than that for the incarcerated. For example, according to Article 36 of the Penal Code, the incarcerated have two hours free of work every day, which they may use for their own needs, whereas soldiers have only one hour, which is mostly occupied by indoctrination lectures or some other work. Any restrictions that can guarantee that this free hour can be used by servicemen for rest are not stated in the Articles of War. Also, according to Article 9, the Penal Code stipulates the participation of Public organizations in the prisoners reforming, whereas any relations of the military with public organizations are not even mentioned in the Articles of War.

Top priorities in the work of USMU

PL publishes here the materials of the conference of the Union of soldiers’ mothers of Ukraine (USMU) which was held on 4-5 March in Kyiv and Chernigov, as well as materials and propositions of the round table devoted to army problems and materials from USMU regional branches.

We believe that these materials are rather important, since they determine the priorities of the USMU as a human rights protection organization, which must protect human rights of servicemen on the basis of the Universal Declaration of human rights, of the Constitution of Ukraine and other Ukrainian laws.

PL considers that the information about the legal aid to servicemen will be interesting and useful for all readers and especially for USMU regional branches.

Top priorities in the work of USMU

V.Artamonova, Head of the USMU

The USMU and all its local branches have taken an active part in the process of democratization of our country during the last decade. Important changes have occurred during this time at all levels of the state power and in Ukrainian policy. The Ukrainian army shall not stand aside the road of reforming and democratization. Hundreds of thousands of human destinies have passed through our hands and hearts, and, as a rule, pain and tears dominated.

Analysis shows that at the bottom of all these problems there lies the legal nihilism, which reigns not only in the armed forces, but in our state as a whole. About 90% of elementary abuses of human rights could never occur if our sense of justice were different. Having become a member of the OSCE and of the Council of Europe, having signed a lot of the UNO international instruments, having adopted the Constitution of Ukraine, our state must find ways to solve new military, political, and legal problems. All the above-mentioned documents are aimed at forming a new attitude of the state to the citizen and of the citizen to the state. This attitude should be based on the respect of human rights and freedoms, on the attitude of the citizen (both civilian and military) to the state as to an executor of the public will. All these moral and ethical ideas are rather new and unaccustomed to us.

I turn to the respected audience with the following idea: the main force in the society are citizens, that is we ourselves. We elect the supreme legislation organ, the Parliament, and the President for executing laws, and we hire for our demands the army, the government, the court. All that is done to guarantee the top priority of protecting our rights: the right for life and health, the right for respect of human dignity, the right for inviolability, etc. All the governmental structures exist just for the protection of our rights and freedoms. they serve to us, not we to them. Thus we must change the consciousness of our people. the legal enlightenment of a citizen is one of the main basic elements of constructing a law-abiding state.

I want to remind that almost a year before the adoption of the Constitution, on 29 May 1995, the Cabinet of Ministers adopted the resolution ‘On the programme of the legal education of Ukrainian population’ signed by the then acting Prime-Minister E.Marchuk and Minister V.Pustovoytenko. Then the All-Ukrainian Interagency Coordinating Council of legal education was created headed by the Minister of Justice and including representatives of twenty other ministries and agencies.

What concerns the army, then from the very beginning of reconstruction of the armed forces a proper attention to legal education of servicemen was paid. In June 1993 K.Morozov, the Minister of Defense, issued Order No.136 ‘On the organization of legal education in the armed forces’, and, correspondingly, the Resolution ‘On the organization of legal education of servicemen of all categories’ was prepared.

As far as I know one of the principal tasks of the preparation of servicemen is the improvement of their legal education. Yet we know that a goof right is the right that is realized in practice. In Article 34 of the Constitution of Ukraine it is stated that everybody has the right to be informed about one’s rights. Thus, the first step is the distribution of information on human rights. A serviceman is a citizen under the uniform. Take for example the recruiting campaign. Young men, who yesterday were civil citizens, put on the uniform and at once they are subjected to a lot of duties with cruel punishments if they are not fulfilled. And what about the servicemen’s rights?

The military commandment was very hospitable and we, soldiers’ mothers, were shown barracks, a museum, etc. We were shown many posters and stands which explain the duties and the punishments, but there was not a single stand about servicemen’s rights. We think that the Ministry of Defense with other interested organizations should write and distribute booklets about the rights of young people before, during and after recruiting. Now we have a lot of problems in the army, but the situation of ignorance of their rights by servicemen demands the immediate solution.

In principle, all the complex of soldiers’ problems — this is the violation of inviolability which is followed by abuse of dignity. To solve these problems, it is necessary to work with officers, to think and to find ways out. It is necessary to give soldiers the opportunity to leave the barracks much more often for communicating with their relatives and friends. That is why it is necessary to realize, as fast as possible, the territorial principle of completing military units.

Maybe, it will be useful to introduce new forms of discussing life in the military collectives by organizing officers’ and soldiers’ and mixed meetings for solving current problems. This all is a long and complicated work, and it must be started at once, because we have already lost seven years.

A typical history of a deserter

This is a complaint of a soldier’s mother Zezekalo L.A. This complaint was handed to Kharkov Group for human rights protection.

In the beginning of April 1995 my son Dadashyants Sergey Gervandovich (a Ukrainian, born in the town of Chernigov in 1974, has grown without father since two years of age), came home on leave from the army in a very strange state: with a black eye, with scars on eye-brows, with the broken and deformed nose. Besides, he had a bad cold. When I saw him, I was frightened and started to question him. At first he was silent, and then he confessed that he tried to stop another soldier, who was cutting his veins. The scars were the result of Sergey’s attempt to stop the suicide. I wanted to go to his military unit, but he persuaded me not to start anything, if I wanted him to finish his service normally. I took him to a hospital to treat his nose, since he hardly could breath through the nose and suffered from headaches. In the hospital they put him the diagnosis: acute antritis. Having passed the course of treatment he remained very nervous, and it was obvious that he did not want to return to his unit. Before the army he was anxious to enter the military university, but now he was doubtful.

On 25 April 1995 he started on his way back to the unit and disappeared. In several days a friend of his came to me and said that Sergey all this time had been hiding in the Kharkov Polytechnic Institute hostel. Then he borrowed some necessary things and a passport from one of his acquaintances and promised to return them back by post. Since that day a week passed, but there was no information about Sergey. I was frightened and asked his friends to write an application to the district militia precinct on the loss of a bag with things and the passport. It was written in the application that he had stolen the things and the passport. I thought that militia would find him soon, and we should settle the rest.

In a week the bag and the passport were found. As it appeared, he even did not come to the railway station. The reason was that he looks like his Armenian father. That was why he was detained on the way to the station. So, militiamen took his things and documents and told to follow them to the precinct. So he was practically forced to run away. When I learned about this, I thought that he was killed in the militia precinct.

Several times I came to the Kyivskiy district precinct and wrote an application to organize the all-Union search. They laughed at me, but, finally, took my application and Sergey’s photo. I did not turn to the district military commissariat. I thought that he would be found by militia, and then I should smooth the matter in the military commissariat.

And Sergey, as it appeared, went after his nose and came to Volgograd. Here he lived for some time under the surname Zezekalo, since he did not want people to think that he was a Caucasian. (‘Caucasian’ does not mean ‘white’ or ‘Arian’ in our language, it means ‘an inhabitant of the Caucasus’, who are disliked by simple folks and militia. – Translator’s note). In October he was detained in Volgograd as a man residing without a passport. The Volgograd militia learned Sergey’s place of residence (from Sergey himself) and sent a request to Kharkov, but they got no answer. Similar requests were sent in 1996, in 1998, and only in 1999 a request accidentally got to me. During these four years Sergey committed no crimes either in Russia or in Ukraine. He was detained in Volgograd, checked and released several times. He was detained because he several times tried to return to Ukraine. He wrote letters home and to his friends, but he did not mention his Volgograd address. Neither of these letters got to the addressee, because letters without a return address are thrown away at the frontier. So he decided that nobody at home needed him. Several times representatives from his military unit and from the district military commissariat came to me and persuaded me to tell about thereabouts of Sergey. They said that if Sergey returned to the army by his own will, he would be permitted to end his service. They showed me the orders of amnesty. I believed them and promised that when I saw Sergey, I would lead him myself to the district military commissariat.

On 25 March an acquaintance of mine, a militiaman, phoned to me and said that a teletype message about Sergey came from Volgograd. On 31 March I already was in Volgograd, and the next day we were at home. Immediately after his arrival Sergey came to the regional military commissariat and gave himself up. From there he was sent to the district military commissariat. From there he was sent to the military commissariat of the town of Lozovaya for interrogation. From there he was returned to Kharkov and placed into the guardhouse. They explained to me that the case was given to a very young investigating officer (23-year-old) and the latter arrested Sergey. Later the officer said to me that the case was such that Sergey could get from three to five years of prison, not of the disciplinary battalion. He said that Sergey was a deserter and guilty of high treason. You, if you have children, must understand my state, the more so that Sergey said at our last meeting that he would finish the army service and then would try to enter the military university. How naïve he was!

If Ukraine needs good clever soldiers, then military bureaucrats must permit my son to serve the remaining eighteen months. Sergey has become more grown-up, now he would certainly be a good soldier. At school he was a good pupil, additionally studied the English language, then finished successfully the vocational school of electric and radio equipment, he knows computers well, after the school he entered the institute, but had to leave it. I could not support him for my wages of 80 grivnas, I fell ill and he went to work. He said, I’ll go to the army and complete my education. He dreamed to launch rockets to the cosmic space.

He lived in Volgograd without documents and without parents for infinite four years. He thought that he was not needed by either his mother nor Ukraine. Is it not a sufficient punishment? People say to me: you should pay. But what can I pay? My salary is 80 grivnas, and I have not got it for the last four months. His classmates want to write a petition to the President, and I am desperate.

Help me for God’s sake! My son is not a threat for society, and he may become a good military engineer.

PL commentary.
Young men, who left their military units because of dedovshchina, or, more often, their parents, frequently turn to Kharkov Group for human rights protection or Kharkov district Union of soldiers’ mothers. In April-June 1998 the General Prosecutor’s office together with the Ministry of Defense started a humane campaign: they turned to deserters with the proposition to give up and return to the army; if the causes to desert were mitigating, the deserters would be freed from the criminal persecution. This campaign was rather successful, for example, 17 deserters gave up only in Kharkov region. Deserters and their parents who turn to Kharkov Group for human rights protection naturally put the same question: what would happen with the deserter when he gave up. Lately we answered them that the deserter who left his unit because of dedovshchina and gave up voluntarily would not be prosecuted. Yet Kharkov military prosecutor’s office recently started to prosecute a deserter and informed us that the campaign lasted for two months and was terminated in August. Meanwhile the Ministry of Defense continues to appeal to deserters to give up.

We are sure that this campaign must be continued because the majority of deserters hide in various countries of the CIS and do not know about the campaign. This action will diminish the level of crime, since young men without documents is an easy prey to criminals. Nonetheless, the new wave of prosecutions has begun and we have no moral right to advise deserters to give up.

We ask the General Prosecutor’s office to give us an official response: what will be with young men who, without committing any crimes, left their unit because of dedovshchina and later gave up. It seems to us that the actions of the Ministry of Defense, of the General Prosecutor’s office and of Unions of soldiers’ mothers should be coordinated, since neither of the sides wants deserters to stay in hiding.


Breeding youth

The political outlook of young people is shaped not only by educational measures and practical activities, but also by meeting with older people who fought in the near past with the totalitarian regime.

In Ukraine we have many such veterans, who principally and heroically fought with the cruel state machine during the communist regime. The younger people believe those whose past was stainless.

During two days, on 27-28 April, a member of Kharkov Group for human rights protection and a deputy head of the republican Christian party Vasyl Ovsienko met with young people.

When Vasyl Ovsienko was a student, he produced and distributed samizdat, then he became a member of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group, then he got into prison and concentration camp where he all in all stayed for 14 years.

Vasyl Ovsienko had eight meetings with students of Kherson University, with lyceum students, with high-school students, with philologists at the courses of improving qualification. He also spoke by radio and TV, met with the intelligentsia of the town. The topics of his talks were the movement of the 60s, Helsinki movement in Ukraine, his meetings with Vasyl Stus, the famous poet and human rights protector.

In recent years Ovsienko had about 200 meetings all over the Ukraine, and everywhere he was a success.

The meetings in Kherson were organized by Mykola Olenkivskiy, an archeologist, the acting head of Kherson organization of the Congress of Ukrainian intelligentsia.

Our informant

Ukrainian committee ‘Helsinki-90’ wrote a list to the President of Ukraine

The Ukrainian committee ‘Helsinki-90’, the oldest in Ukraine non-government organization devoted to human rights, and the National Committee of International Helsinki Federation for human rights turn to you with the request to do your best to save two people whose lives are endangered. On 15 March 1999 two citizens of Uzbekistan, Mukhammad Bekhchanov and Yusuf Ruzimuradov, well-known Uzbek politicians, members of the Central Council of the opposition party ‘Erk’ were arrested in Kyiv with rude violation of the legal juridical procedure. Since 1995 they have stayed in Ukraine actually as political refugees, because members of opposition groups in Uzbekistan suffer from cruel repressions, and their life is under permanent danger.

On 15 March 1999 Ukrainian and Uzbek militiamen, without a warrant, broke into the flat where Mukhammad Bekhchanov and Yusuf Ruzimuradov stayed and took them away to a place unknown. It is very probable that they will be extradited to Uzbekistan.

Without touching the question whether Mukhammad Bekhchanov and Yusuf Ruzimuradov are guilty or not guilty of the ‘subversive activities’ in Uzbekistan, we have to remind the following statements:

First, the detainment of Mukhammad Bekhchanov and Yusuf Ruzimuradov was done with the violation of the procedure stipulated by the Ukrainian laws. So, juridically, it can be qualified as illegal kidnapping, which is one of the most shameful crimes condemned by the world public as a kind of international terrorism. We believe that we must not explain to you to which political and juridical results it can lead: it is sufficient to recollect the recent events connected with Odzhallan (although Odzhallan’s extradition was incomparably better grounded than the kidnapping of Mukhammad Bekhchanov and Yusuf Ruzimuradov) — to call this procedure ‘arrest’ means to completely ignore the operating law of Ukraine.

Secondly, the extradition of Mukhammad Bekhchanov and Yusuf Ruzimuradov may be realized only by the court decision. There must be a request from Uzbekistan about their extradition after an open court session, according to the conventional procedure; they must be given the opportunity to use an advocate and, if need be, to protest the verdict in courts of all instances, including the Supreme Court of Ukraine and the European Court of human rights. Only a Ukrainian court must consider any accusations from law-enforcing agencies of Uzbekistan, it is the Ukrainian court which must decide whether the proofs are valid, since the international law stipulates extradition of criminals (and a criminal is determined as such only by court) and not some other persons which are wanted by law-enforcing agencies. To compare, let us recollect a prominent recent case about the extradition of Pinochet. This case was considered by all court instances of the United Kingdom during many months, although his participation in the incriminated activities is obvious. It must not be explained how will Ukraine look on this background. The world will see that in Ukraine similar problems are solved outside the court framework by mysterious agreements between special services.

Thirdly, here we have the extradition of political emigrants from the country, which is a member of the Council of Europe, to another country, whose authorities according to many international organizations regularly punish members of the opposition, where more then one thousand of the ‘Erk’ party activists (and Bekhchanov and Ruzimuradov belong to the administration of this party) are kept in prisons for their political activities, where they are tortured and refused to have advocates and to be tried fairly and in time. It is not difficult to predict how this act of extradition will tell on the reputation of Ukraine in the eyes of the civilized world community. We risk to enter the ranks of the notorious countries with fascist and communist dictatorships, and this is done just when Ukraine with great difficulty preserved her membership in the Council of Europe.

Last but not least, it is impossible to ignore the fact that after extradition Bekhchanov and Ruzimuradov may be executed, which is a wide practice in the present Uzbekistan. There is absolutely no hope that they will be able to defend their rights in an Uzbek court. The last supposition is confirmed by the lot of other ‘Erk’ party members: they all were condemned with brutal violations of not only international laws, but even imperfect Uzbek laws.

The illegal extradition of Bekhchanov and Ruzimuradov sets a very dangerous precedent. Nowadays thousands of political emigrants and refugees fled to Ukraine from Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Belorus, Russia, Georgia, Chechnya and so on. The extradition of Bekhchanov and Ruzimuradov would mean that all these people will be devoid of political asylum , that every moment everyone of them may be captured and passed to hangmen for torture. We believe that this is a brutal trampling of not only the letter, but also the spirit of international agreements on human rights. The extradition shall be stopped immediately. We beg you to understand how serious is the situation and interfere personally. We ask you to act at once, because every moment Bekhchanov and Ruzimuradov can be passed abroad, and then there would be no chances to save the life of the two people. We beg you to use your authority and pass the solution of Bekhchanov and Ruzimuradov’s lot to court instances.

Remember that the life of two people and the lot of those who would have to be captured in future depend on your interference.

The fair solution of the Bekhchanov and Ruzimuradov’s lot will determine the international prestige and authority of Ukraine as a law-abiding state, and thus it will noticeably strengthen the stability and security in Ukraine. To sacrifice this for the sake of doubtful ‘friendship and cooperation’ of Ukrainian and Uzbek security services is a too great price, both from the standpoint of morals and common sense.

Hoping for sympathy and support,

Yu.Murashov, Head of the Ukrainian Committee ‘Helsinki-90’

E.Dikiy, Executive Director of the Committee

PL commentary.
Unfortunately, the top administration of the country did not pay attention to the appeals of international and Ukrainian human rights protection organizations. The Uzbek dissidents were passed to Uzbekistan, and their families became the object of the brutal pressure from Ukrainian law-enforcing agencies. These shameful events convincingly demonstrate the real, not the declared attitude of the top power of Ukraine to the protection of human rights.

Open and insolent trampling of human rights by Uzbek powers came to Kyiv

On 16 February 1999 in the center of the capital of Uzbekistan, Tashkent, a series of explosions occurred. There were explosions on Mustakillik square, where the administrative building of ministries and government enterprises, as well as the Cabinet of Ministers are situated. Others mines exploded at the National Bank of external trade, as well as in the Zavodskaya street. Several hours later after the explosions (according to the official version there were six explosions) without careful and many-sided investigation Islam Karimov, the president of Uzbekistan, declared that the explosions were managed by Vakhabites, an extreme fringe of Islamists, which dislike the stability and ‘prosperity’ in the country. President Karimov threatened to chop off their hands. Ten days later Karimov and his camarilla, without any proof, began to blame the democratic party ‘Erk’ and its leader Mukhammad Salikh, the founder of the democratic movement in Uzbekistan. More than a thousand of people were arrested in the country, suspected of participation in organizing these explosions. Among them was Mamadali Makhmudov, a well-known writer, a member of the party ‘Erk’. Another victim was Rashid Bekchanov, an activist of the ‘Erk’ party, Mukhammad Salikh’s brother. Representatives of religious groups and democratic opposition, both in Uzbekistan and outside, declared that they were not connected with the explosions. The powers and the law-enforcing agencies did not demonstrate a single fact that would prove the contrary.

Now the Uzbek powers stretched their feelers to Kyiv. On 15 March in Kyiv members of the Central Council of the ‘Erk’ party Yusuf Ruzimuradov and Mukhammad Bekhchanov, another brother of Mukhammad Salikh, were arrested. Without showing any documents, confirming their rights, Ukrainian and Uzbek militiamen rushed into the flat where Ruzimuradov and Bekhchanov stayed. The militiamen searched the flat and took away books and cassettes concerning the activities of the ‘Erk’ party. Militiamen behaved themselves rudely and they took a solid sum of money earned by commercial activities. There is a danger that Yusuf Ruzimuradov and Mukhammad Bekhchanov will be extradited.

Society on observance of human rights in Central Asia states that the open and insolent trampling of law and human rights by Uzbek powers has reached dangerous scale; the society considers the accusations to the address of the religious groups and the democratic ‘Erk’ party quite groundless. The society appeals to human rights protection organizations and democratic mass media to denounce the actions of Uzbek powers. The Society demands immediate and unconditional release of all illegally arrested, in particular Mamadali Makhmudov and Rashid Bekhchanov, arrested in Tashkent, as well as Mukhammad Bekhchanov and Yusuf Ruzimuradov arrested in Kyiv.

Point of view

The UNO Commission on human rights adopted the resolution about the complete abolishment of the death penalty in the whole world

Amnesty International believes that the adoption of this resolution will force the world to make another step in the abolishment of the death penalty. The resolution was adopted by a considerable majority: 38 votes for, 11 votes again and 12 abstained. Ukraine did not take part in the voting, since she is not a member of the UNO Commission of human rights.

Amnesty International steadily supported the abolishment of the death penalty, since the organization regards it as a kind of torture, cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment. Our organization more than once appealed to the Ukrainian government to fulfil the international obligations and abolish the death penalty for all kinds of crimes, regardless of the time (peaceful time or during a war) when it was committed. In spite of the fact that death verdicts have not been executed in Ukraine since March 1997, the judicial machine continues to condemn to death. In the past year not less than 146 death verdicts were given. This year the Ukrainian courts have condemned to death about a dozen of criminals.

The resolution in question was suggested by Germany on behalf of the Council of Europe. In particular, the document confirms again the obligation of all member-countries not to condemn to death people who were younger than 18-year-old at the moment of committing the crime. Another statement points out that the death penalty cannot be applied to people who suffer from psychic troubles.

The Amnesty International believes that the latter prohibition more than once was violated in Ukraine. In particular, the human rights protection organization appeals to carry out an independent psychiatric expertise for Anatoliy Onoprienko, who was condemned to death by Zhitomir region court. Amnesty International declares that it possesses information which testifies against the psychic health of Onoprienko.

Amnesty International considers that the state power must be responsible for guaranteeing human rights with respect to all citizens. That is why our organization is worried by the irresponsible statement of the speaker of the Supreme Rada Mr. Tkachenko, who said that Anatoliy Onoprienko ‘has lost the right to be called a human being, and so he cannot be a subject of the moratorium on executing the death penalty’.

The resolution in question stresses that it is not admissible to extradite people to the countries where they can be executed. In this connection Amnesty International declares that it was a violation of the international obligations given by Ukraine, in particular it was a violation of Article 3 of the Convention against torture, when Ukraine gave out to Uzbekistan four people suspected of the organization of a terrorist act in Tashkent.

Amnesty International is convinced that thew world progress in the field of human rights and, in particular, the abolishment of the death penalty must be followed in Ukraine.

Editor in charge of the issue - Evhen Zakharov

Statement of the UNO Superior Commissar of human rights

UNO Superior Commissar of human rights Mary Robinson warned the NATO that this organization can become respondent in the International Tribunal for Yugoslavia, if the bombardments of civil population are considered military crimes. Mary Robinson pointed out that she considered incomparable ethnic purges in Kosovo and deaths of civil population during air raids of the NATO aviation. Nonetheless, Mary Robinson warned the NATO that it may not consider itself outside the jurisdiction of the international right. ‘It seems to me’, she said, closing the 55 thsession of the UNO Commission of human rights, ‘that it is necessary to attract attention of the world community to deaths of the civil population because of the bombardments’.

Our informant

Award to the Cuban dictator

An open letter from the SebastopolHumanRightsProtection Group
Leonid Kuchma, President of Ukraine
Boris Tarasiuk, Minister of Foreign Affairs

Revered Mr. President!
Respected Mr. Minister!

A message made public yesterday by mass media forced us to turn to you. The message reads that the Cuban leader Fidel Castro was given a state award — the order of Yaroslav Mudry of the first degree.

We have no objections to the official motives of this step of the Ukrainian government, and we acknowledge the great help given to Ukraine by Cuba, when the latter took for cure the Ukrainian children who suffered in the Chernobyl catastrophe. Nonetheless, we regard the decision to award Fidel Castro as erroneous and damaging the international authority of Ukraine, since it can be interpreted as support of Castro’s regime. In our opinion, an admissible form of expressing our gratitude could be not awarding the head of the state, but some other acts of economic, humanitarian or other character dealing with the Cuban people.

You cannot help knowing about terrible violations of human rights which are systematically carried out in Cuba. The dictatorial regime of Castro transformed Cuba to an island of prisons. Political repressions, persecution of dissidents, a continuous flow of refugees — all these are real features of the present Cuba. We must also remark that the President of Ukraine continues the shameful Soviet practice of handing out state orders, prizes, etc. This is a sure way to discredit Ukrainian state awards. We believe that any person, for whom democratic principles and human rights are not empty words, may not wear the same order as the Cuban dictator.

Basing on the principle of the restricted sovereignty of a state and bearing in mind that violation of human rights is not the internal affair of one country, the Sebastopol human rights protection group condemns the decision of the Ukrainian government about awarding Fidel Castro with the state order of Ukraine.

With the feeling of anxiety

Roman Romanov
, Executive Director of Sebastopol human rights protection group

“Prava Ludiny” (human rights) monthly bulletin, 1999, #04