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.


Odessa is a very expensive city

In April Odessa and Odessa region became champions of Ukraine as to the growth of prices for food.

These events are more tragic for the poorest layers of the population (especially for pensioners) since the price of cheapest food increased most of all: white bread went up by 12.9%, brown bread — by 11%, mixed bread — by 4.7%, oil, margarine, mayonnaise, sugar, eggs went up by 4.7 - 6.6%. It is noteworthy that in the nearest neighbor-regions (for example, in Vinnitsa and Kherson regions) the prices did not change and now are lower by 15 – 30% than in Odessa.

Certainly we can congratulate out neighbors with their successes. Simultaneously we can congratulate R.Bodelian, the former communist leader, the former governor and the present mayor of Odessa, with a very doubtful achievement. A year has not passed since R.Bodelian by hook or crook took the victory in the election from Gurvits. Now the new mayor surprises the inhabitants of his city. Odessa parted with free tram and trolleys: now people pay money but the city transport has not become better. The army of bureaucrats has increased under the new mayor form 832 to 1574, and they cost to the meager city budget 8 million grivnas more, to say nothing of the increased bribes. Nothing is heard in the city about the struggle with corruption. On the eve of May holidays the mayor signed the order to increase pays for communal services.

After the New Year eve the teachers of Odessa forgot about their salaries. Under the leadership of Gurvits, the former mayor, pay arrears were becoming less and less. R.Bodelian seems to destroy all the best which his predecessor built.

Now, before the start of the election race President Kuchma sternly demands from the Cabinet of Ministers and local executive power to do everything for stopping the growth of bread prices until the pay arrears are liquidated. In Odessa grows all: both prices and pay arrears.

Once President Kuchma pressed R.Bodelian into power. Have you made the correct choice President Kuchma?


Leonid Kuchma should go

Representatives of political parties, unions and public organizations of Odessa region directed an appeal to President Kuchma. This appeal was signed by 14 prominent politicians of the region. The authors of the document depicted the grave situation, which developed in Ukraine during the presidency of L.Kuchma. They ask President Kuchma ‘to behave honestly, with the feeling of responsibility for the destiny of the people, to be true to his word and to take the decision not to participate in the coming Presidential election’.

The authors remind the President that in the autumn of 1997, in his address to the people, the President declared that if the situation in the country does not drastically improve during his rule, then he will not put out his candidature at the next election. During the years of Kuchma’s presidency the situation deteriorated in all directions. This was a five-year period that led to a catastrophe, with which neither the host of prime-ministers nor the guarantor of the Constitution know how to fight. And the people in power must keep their word and must carry the responsibility for their decisions. That is why the best way out for the President and his team is to go and not to block the way to those who will really labor for the good of Ukraine and her people.

Politics and human rights

Kosovo: slaughter in Mezha

‘Human rights watch’ completed a three-day investigation of the slaughter of a group of men, ethnic Albanians, which occurred on 27 April in the village of Mezha, situated to North-West of Jakovice. On the basis of 19 separate interrogations of eye-witnesses the organization came to the conclusion that at least 100 and, maybe, 300 men aged form 16 to 60 were picked out from the column of refugees and methodically executed. The exact number of victims is unknown yet.

In the early morning of 27 April a special unit of Serbian police and a paramilitary unit together with servicemen of the Yugoslavian army were carrying out a methodical purge of all ethnic Albanians in villages between Jakovice and Junik, near the frontier with Albania. In the course of the operation, which started about 7 o’clock in the morning, the Yugoslavian security forces drove the inhabitants from the following villages: Pechazh, Nivokaz, Dobrazh, Sheremet, Jahoch, Ponashech, Rachazh, Ramoch, Madanazh and Orize. All the 19 interrogated witnesses are native inhabitants of these villages or came to them from other places in search of refuge. They told the ‘Human rights watch’ investigators that soldiers and special police troops surrounded the villages, caught the inhabitants and directed them to the road in the direction of Jakovice. Some of Albanians walked, others rode on tractors. Many villages were methodically burned down after they left.

One 18-year-old girl from Dobrazh told that two men from her family, Iber and Avdil, were detained by Serbians when the family was leaving the village. ‘Policemen ordered us to move on, and then we heard shots from Tommy-guns.’ At present these two men are missed. All peasants from this district were forced to move along the road to Mezha, a small hamlet near the suburbs of Jakovice. The peasants told that during the same day numerous policemen and servicemen staying in the village methodically picked out hundreds of men, ethnic Albanians, separating them from their families.

The refugees passing Mezha about the noon told that they saw ‘several hundreds’ of men standing with the muzzles of Tommy-guns pointed at them. Those who passed Mezha later, in the afternoon, tell that they saw ‘a big pile of bodies’, the number of which is estimated up to 300. This estimation could not be confirmed by independent sources and is based mainly on the observed number of men picked out from the column and missed in present.

Observers from ‘Human rights watch’ interrogated all 19 witnesses in Kukes, in the North of Albania, within three days after they came to Albania on 28 April.

Although several details differ, the agreement of the testimonies yield a reliable picture of the violent expatriation, systematic destruction of private property, intimidation and robbery, a violent separation from families and execution without investigation and court of a large number of men, ethnic Albanians.

Being under a strong stress, the refugees started to cross the Albanian frontier through the checkpoint Morina near Kukes in the early morning of 28 April. At 6:30 hours an observer from ‘Human rights watch’ interrogated several refugees soon after their crossing to Albania. The newly arrived refugees, consisting mainly of women, children and old men, told about the mass slaughter in Mezha.

During the consequent two days the refugees gathered in camps near Kukes told additional details of these atrocities. One of the witnesses told that she was forced to leave Sheremet about 8 in the morning of 26 April, and about 10 o’clock she and her family came on the tractor to Mezha. ‘They took off men from tractors. About forty people rode on our tractor and they led away 12 men. They did not leave a single man.’ Other refugees passing Mezha on that day confirmed that Yugoslavian security forces picked from the column all men between 14 and 60.

Ray Wilkenson, a representative of the UNO Supreme Commissariat in charge of refugees in Kukes, who was at the frontier when the refugees crossed to Albania, told a ‘Human rights watch’ observer that, according to his estimation, 60 tractors crossed the frontier and people ‘on 6 out of 7’ tractors told that their men were taken off.

According to the testimony of newsmen present at this time at the frontier, the refugees repeated that at least 100 men had been killed.

A 19-year-old man, who arrived at Mezha between 10 and 11 o’clock in the morning, told a ‘Human rights watch’ observer that many people were in the tractor column. Those who walked were mostly passed on. Policemen and servicemen stopped the tractors and beat people with wooden sticks. They also crashed tractor glasses. Some men, about one hundred, were detained and led aside, to the field near the road. We were forced to continue our movement, so we left behind those men, and we do not know what happened with them.

‘Human rights watch’ observers interrogated refugees who passed Mezha between 12:00 hours and 15:00 hours. They told that they saw a large number of Albanian men detained by the security forces. One eye-witness, a 38-year-old teacher, who passed Mezha about one o’clock p.m., told ‘Human rights watch’ observers the following: ‘I saw a large crowd of people where Serbians separated men from their families. I think that the number of the men was about 250. They were standing on their knees on the ground along the road near the coppice on a hill slope about 20 – 30 meters from the road.’

Another eye-witness, questioned separately, who passed Mezha approximately at the same time, confirmed the previous testimony and added that he saw a group of men kneeling, with hands on the back, surrounded by soldiers. Other witnesses, who passed Mezha about noon, gave somewhat varying testimonies. A 40-year-old woman, passing Mezha about noon, said that she saw ‘seventy or more’ men who squatted with hands on the back of their necks in a small ditch along the road. Another woman told that her husband was taken from the cart and led to a group of Albanian men at the roadside. The men were forced to cry: ‘Long live Serbia! Long live Miloshevich!’

All witnesses said that Mezha was full of policemen and special unit servicemen wearing the blue or green camouflage uniforms, respectively. Many servicemen wore black Balaclava helmets, others wore red kerchiefs on their heads. Some said that they saw red chevrons with the two-headed eagle, state symbol of Yugoslavia, on uniform sleeves.

One witness, passing Mezha about noon, told that she saw 15 dead men on the right of the road. A 18-year-old girl told a ‘Human rights watch’ observer the following: ‘The road was covered with blood. On the right side of the road 15 men were lying. I counted them. They lay with their faces down, all was covered with blood and they did not move.’

Refugees, passing Mezha in the late afternoon, said that they saw in the village many dead bodies. Interrogated together, a 18-year-old man and a 19-year-old girl, who walked through Mezha at about 17:30, said that they saw a big pile of bodies about three meters on the right of the road in the center of the village. According to their words, the disorderly lying dead bodies covered a plot of land about 12 by 20 feet with the height of the pile being about 5 feet. As these witnesses confessed, they were very frightened and they were hurried by police, so they could not count the bodies, but basing on the total number of men that were missed, they believe that the total number of the dead reached 300. They also said that 15 more men were sitting on the ground with their backs to the pile of dead bodies and with their faces to a group of Serbians.

According to the conclusion of ‘Human rights watch’, Serbian police and paramilitary units, maybe also servicemen from the Yugoslavian army, executed a group of Albanian men on 27 April in Mezha. The exact number of the killed men and youths will not be known until forensic experts are permitted to the place of the crime.

Urgent actions of the international community are needed for stopping the slaughter. the data on these crimes must be passed to the International Penal Tribunal in charge of Yugoslavia.

There are data that five Serbian policemen were killed in Mezha on 21 April. According to ‘Human rights watch’, some refugees from this district, unknown Albanians, maybe belonging to the Kosovo Liberation Army, shot five policemen when the latter searched Albanian houses, looking for firearms. However, no testimony about this was found.

The war in Yugoslavia and human rights The war in Yugoslavia and human rights

On 17 May in Moscow the press conference devoted to the topic ‘The war in Yugoslavia and human rights’ was held in the National Institute of press. According to the data of the UNO Supreme Commissariat in charge of refugees, about 1.4 million of people stay now in refugees’ camps. One third of all private property of the refugees is destroyed during the military operations. In refugee camps in Macedonia ten public organizations work, among them ‘Amnesty International’, ‘Physicians without borders’ and ‘Human rights watch’. The duty of the latter is to collect documents about human rights abuses.

Most questions the journalists addressed to Holly Cartner, the executive director in charge of Europe and Central Asia of the organization ‘Human rights watch’. ‘The scale of crimes against ethnic Serbians is impossible to estimate for the time being. Among refugees there are peaceful citizens from the districts supporting the liberating army of Kosovo. We interrogated 700 refugees, many of whom were eye-witnesses of executions without court decision, they witnessed the destruction of houses and attacks at members of humanitarian organizations. All this is a grave abuse of the rules of war. We are worried by the growing losses among peaceful citizens, especially from ‘cluster bombs’, which are so small and attractive, that it is impossible to prevent children to pick them up. The NATO violates humanitarian rights, we condemn bombardments and military actions, in the course of which peaceful citizens perish or loose their property. We also consider Russia to be the only country which can positively influence the situation in Kosovo’.

The opinion of Russian human rights protectors concerning the Yugoslavian question was verbalized by Oleg Orlov, the chairman of the human rights protection center of ‘Memorial’ and a member of the directorate of the international union of ‘Memorial’, and also by Liudmila Alekseeva, the president of the international Helsinki Federation and the chairman of the Moscow Helsinki group. Liudmila Alekseeva recollected the events of twenty years ago and defined her position as follows: ‘The international Helsinki Federation appealed then to representatives of 39 countries in order to ensure the security of European countries by the efforts of the alliance countries. It was assumed that all articles of the Helsinki agreement of 1975, including the articles listing all human rights, would be fulfilled. The members of the Federation promised to interfere into the relations between a state and its citizens if the state abuses human rights. Basing on this principle, the NATO started bombardments. Now we stand before a question: who is guilty, the principle or the NATO? Nonetheless, we cannot justify the situation in Serbia. On 7 – 8 May there was a meeting of the executive committee of the international Helsinki Federation. We were all astonished how harmoniously the representatives of Kosovo, Monte-Negro, Bulgaria, Serbia and Macedonia worked together, creating the appeal to the world community. I hope that journalists soon will have the chance to meet them’.

The directorate of the international human rights protection society ‘Memorial’ issued two declarations directed to their Western colleagues: ‘On events in Yugoslavia’ and ‘On double standards in the international policy’, where we explained our position of condemning both the NATO and Miloshevich’s regime.

The open letter of human rights protection organizations to friends and colleagues in the West

It seems to us that all the people for whom the term ‘human rights’ is not a meaningless sound, must try to understand each other, even if we have a different attitude to many problems. It must be confessed that unfortunately we have come to the opposite opinions with many (or rather, most) of you. We mean the assessment of the application of military force by the NATO countries in Yugoslavia.

In a number of questions, such as the assessment of Miloshevich’s regime and shameful role of Russian authorities in the escalation of the conflict, in acknowledging the priority of human rights over the territorial integrity, we quite agree with you. But we are of opposite opinions in some very important questions, and we must analyze what separates us.

What was the goal of the NATO military action? The answer is: in order to protect hundreds of thousands of peaceful citizens in Kosovo. That was an understandable reaction to the violence exerted by the Yugoslavian police, army and paramilitary units over the Albanian population. We believe that the majority of European politicians, who took the decision on the bombardments, had good intentions. But, there is a proverb, that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The bombardments did not protect the population. We have information that only during the first week of the bombardments Kosovo was left by as many Albanians as the total number for the previous half a year. Next weeks the flow of refugees (maybe, it is more correct to call them the deportees) did not diminish. Their houses were burned down. They lost many relatives. You would say that it is the criminal Miloshevich’s regime that is guilty. You will be partly right. But can you relieve the responsibility from those who started the military activities and did not think about how to defend the peaceful population from the abuses. This is like a situation with hostages kept by terrorists: may one begin the operation of extermination of the terrorists, not having done everything possible to save the hostages?

Perhaps, the initiators expected that Miloshevich would give up after a few days of bombardments. Why were they so sure? In fact Miloshevich did not give up, and the majority of the Albanian population is already deported. This means that the politicians, who took the decision on bombardments, either made a terrible mistake or had in mind other priorities that the protection of the peaceful population.

What must be done now? The retreat of the NATO would bring the victory of the criminal dictator and would have grave consequences for the whole world. But what about the victory of the NATO? What is the cost of this victory? We understand that, to our great pity, there exist no military conflicts without victims among the peaceful population. But awful news come from Yugoslavia more and more often. Houses of peaceful population, a passenger train and a bus, a column of refugees got under rockets and bombs. Victims among the civil population cannot be related to accidents. The NATO began to deliberately destroy civil objects. We see that the intensification of bombardments leads to the increase of victims among the civil population. The beginning of land operations may increase such losses by many times.

Did those, who initiated the military operation, try to estimate the ‘admissible number of losses among civil population’? We think that not. The politicians expected ‘a small victorious war’, and the military just carried out the orders. How alike it looks with the beginning of the Chechen war.

Certainly, the responsibility for all victims, in the present and in the future, can be put on Miloshevich, what many NATO politicians are just trying to do now. But we think that this is an incorrect approach. Those, who initiated the military activities are responsible as well.

However, it is becoming more and more obvious that for many politicians, as well as for the public opinion of the West, the main target was not liquidation of the humanitarian catastrophe, but the struggle with the criminal dictator Miloshevich. In this case it is not so important that Albanians are deported form Kosovo and that bombs ruin civil objects and kill civil population. After all, continuing the bombardments long enough, it is possible to achieve the retirement of Miloshevich from politics and retreat of Serbian armed forces from Kosovo. To this end, it will be sufficient to completely ruin the industry and communications of Yugoslavia, killing by the way many Serbian women and children. May this policy be justified?

And then what shall the united Europe (bar Russia) do with the beggarly angry Yugoslavia, headed by another extreme nationalist, for example, Sheshel?

Let us fancy the following ‘optimistic’ situation. The NATO troops in maximally brief time with minimal losses among the peaceful population will succeed: Miloshevich will capitulate; the absolute majority of refugees will return to Kosovo controlled by international forces; the population returned will be provided with food, shelter and jobs; the international police force will keep in check the terror of the Albanian liberation army. Disregarding the victims, it could be called a success, if there is no other danger.

The NATO decision to start the military operation against Yugoslavia contradicts the norms of the international right. We understand the arguments of those, who state that the modern international right is obsolete, that for the sake of human rights protection under certain conditions one can neglect the letter of international agreements and ignore the UNO statute. But who are the judges who must decide what may be done here and now and what may not be done there and tomorrow? Today the judges are the governments of a number of democratic countries of Europe and America. Thus we shall construct the paradise in the United Europe. But why tomorrow other countries from Asia or Africa may not start to establish order in neighboring countries, coming from their notions of democratic norms and human rights? Maybe, they will be prevented to do this, since they are not democratic enough. But who will give the verdict?

The UNO authority and role are undermined by the present actions of the NATO. Certainly the helplessness of the UNO Security Council set the world community helpless to solve difficult problems long before the military crisis in Yugoslavia. The supporters of the military action explain their decision to act without the UNO sanction just because of this fact. Who will coordinate actions with the UNO now, if the NATO did not? This means that instead of the recent imperfect order we shall have dictatorship of superpowers and blocks, the idea is being spread that the NATO must take the role of the ‘kind and fair policeman’ in the world. God save us from it!

In any case this precedent opens the road to the uncontrolled arms race, creating blocks, universal distrust.

It seems that the only justification of the current actions of the NATO countries can be real steps of the governments of these countries aimed at terminating the war in Yugoslavia and frank efforts to change the existing and obviously obsolete world order. The countries ought to develop new rules and to take firm obligations to follow them.

Yet, are the most politicians of the NATO countries prepared to serious changes, for example to cancel the veto right by permanent members of the UNO Security Council? A new consistent system of international acts must be developed in order to regulate the problem of interference in other countries’ affairs together with forming the criteria when such interference may be admitted. Another important international problem is to use, instead of political bargaining, a system of judicial or quasi-judicial procedures.

It would be good if the democratic countries will start energetic and insisting initiatives in reforming the international right. Yet, we are afraid that the most politicians of the NATO countries want to preserve the existing world order giving privileges to the NATO countries as most progressive and democratic, as ‘more equal among equal’, with the implicit permission to disregard the order now and then. But then it is not surprising that the relation to the Western countries will become more distrustful and irritated in many other countries, including Russia.

Freedom of expression

Attacks on journalists continue

Igor Grinshteyn, a leading journalist of the local TV, was brutally beaten in Odessa. He was beaten in the doorway of his friends. Those who beat him were obviously hired. Who would like to stop Grinshteyn is understandable to all Odessa inhabitants. He led the oppositional, with respect to city authorities, program ‘Oko’. He understood what he did after, when he decided not to turn to militia. Militiamen themselves were not interested either, although some newspapers wrote about it. We hope that another beating will not follow and that Odessa militia will at least pretend that it tries to search the culprits.

To Belorus association of journalists

We publish below a letter of the Russian Fund of protection of glasnost. We completely support this letter and we express hope that by common efforts we shall manage tp protect the freedom of speech in Belorus.

Co-chairmen of Kharkov Group for human rights protection E.Zakharov and I.Rapp

The Russian fund of glasnost is worried by consecutive violations of the freedom of speech in Belorus.

On 13 May 1999 the court collegium of the Supreme Economic Court of Belorus took a decision to refuse claims of six independent Belorus newspapers to the State Committee of press about canceling the notices. These notices were made for publishing materials related to the election of the President of Belorus, which was held by deputies of the Supreme Soviet of 13 thconvocation. The State Committee of press found in these materials an appeal to seize power. The way in which the cases were considered makes one doubt the objectivity of the court.

The cases about six independent newspapers were united into one case contrary to the wish of claimants and existing procedural norms. The information on uniting the cases and the time of the court session came to the newspapers’ editorial boards by fax one day before the trial. The advocates of some newspapers were absent or occupied in other processes. In this connection the newspapers directed to the Supreme Economic Court the petitions to postpone the trial and the protest against uniting the cases. The newspapers based their petition on the fact that the Economic-Procedural Code of Belorus does not contain the opportunity to unite cases under such circumstances. Besides, on claims of a number of newspapers political-linguistic expertises were appointed with the aim to determine whether the materials published in them contain appeals to seize power. The court rejected the petition and considered the case without representatives of the newspapers. This violated Article 62 of the Constitution of Belorus, which guarantees the right of everybody to have juridical aid in order to protect one’s rights and freedoms, and Article 115 which stipulates that justice is carried out as a competition of two equal sides in the trial. The juridical collegium headed by chairman of the Supreme Economic Court V.V.Boyko ended this complex case (that the case is complex was mentioned by the collegium, when they justified that several cases were united in one) during one hour, without considering a single argument of the claimants described in their petition. The court did not consider the question on obtaining an expertise, although both the respondent and the claimants insisted on carrying out the expertise.

Thus, all the claims were refused and the notice of the State Committee of press remained valid. According to the legislation of Belorus the repeated notice may lead to closing the newspaper.

This trial testifies on the further increase of pressure on the independent press and makes doubtful for newspapers the opportunity to protect their legal rights and interests in court.

Social and economic rights

We protest against the increase of power of atomic stations

The Chernobyl breakdown became a national catastrophe for Ukraine for many decades, but in contrast to the majority of other countries the Ukraine wants to develop her atomic stations. Finances are accumulated for completing the construction and starting to operation of new blocks at Rivny and Khmelnitskaya atomic stations, and the reactors there are of the old dangerous design. In Nikolayev region attempts are carried out to create the technical base for increasing the power of South Ukraine Atomic Station (SUAS).

To this end, disregarding a number of negative ecological expertises relative to the building of Tashlyk hydro-accumulating electric station (THAES), the Cabinet of Ministers put some pressure on state officials and got a long-expected positive expertise of the State Ecological Commission, which regarded the obviously profitless project of the THAES. This expertise was carried out with a number of violations of Ukrainian laws; that is why it is not valid, in our opinion.

The start of work of the THAES together with the Aleksandrovsk river-bed reservoir on the river South Bug will turn the ‘live’ river into a ‘dead’ technical water reservoir, will lower aseismic stability of the SUAS, will destroy the cultural and historical memorial places in Ukraine. This was the expertise given by a number of institutes of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, by the Institute ‘Krymgeologiya’ and by a number of independent experts. The Chernobyl catastrophe and the late Carpathian tragedy must be a sufficient warning to us. We must understand that meddling into nature by building imperfect atomic stations and by building many objects in the Carpathian region where they should not be built, cost many human lives and can cost much more. Now Ukraine, according to the estimation of academician Yukhnovskiy, the vice-chairman of the analytical-consulting Commission in charge of development of productive forces, has more than 100 billion kilowatt-hours of excessive electric energy. Basing on this fact and on the other fact that 90% of Ukrainian territory are unsuitable for building and safe operating of atomic stations, the growth of power of atomic stations in Ukraine must be prohibited by Ukrainian laws. Ukraine will not survive another catastrophe, similar to the Chernobyl one.

In accepting the moratorium on building new atomic stations or separate blocks one should account for the fact that, due to economic reasons, Ukraine cannot have a closed cycle for nuclear fuel, so the growth of atomic stations is a threat to the state security.

Thus, if Russia stops the supply of nuclear fuel or terminates to accept our nuclear waste at the cost of 275 USD for one kilogram or will increase the price to the world level of 1000-1800 USD, then we shall have to close all atomic stations. This will be a national catastrophe. That is why our government must stop the growth of atomic stations and develop alternative sources of energy.

It should be taken into account that the energy produced by atomic stations, if to count all expenditures, including those for the utilization of radioactive waste, is one of the most expensive. Along with the danger this factor made the government of the USA stop building new atomic stations. During the cold war the main reason for building atomic stations was obtaining weapon plutonium. That resulted finally in the catastrophic overproduction of nuclear weapons. The only efficient way to control the distribution of the weapon plutonium is the steady reduction of atomic stations.

In the program ‘2010’ of developing Ukrainian economy the priority in modernizing generation of energy must be given to thermal electric stations, which will solve the problem of regulating the basic consumed energy over a day and will make the energy system of Ukraine safer.

Ecological activists of Nikolayev region turn to the President of Ukraine, to the Supreme Rada of Ukraine, to the Cabinet of Ministers, to deputies of all levels with the appeal to direct their efforts in order to achieve the following goals:

to close the Chernobyl atomic station immediately;

to declare a moratorium on the growth of the power of atomic stations;

to develop non-nuclear sources of energy and to increase their efficiency;

to develop the national program to spare energy as a strategy of the state technical policy.

The future destiny of Ukraine, its independence and security will be defined by the political will and acute responsibility when choosing the strategic direction of development of Ukrainian energy system in the new millenium.

Children’s rights

On returning Crimean Tartars from Uzbekistan

A letter from the Crimean Medjliss to the Uzbek ombudsperson S.Rashidova

On 31 July 1998 The President of Uzbekistan issued the edict on the temporary order of registration of the exit from the Uzbek citizenship of deported Crimean Tartars, their children and grandchildren. On 5 September 1998 an agreement on the simplified procedure of acquiring Ukrainian citizenship by the Crimean Tartars deported to Uzbekistan was adopted. The Crimean Medjliss analyzed the situation that resulted after the adoption of the above-mentioned documents and came to the following conclusions.

In Ukraine the questions of acquiring the Ukrainian citizenship are solved by a specially created working group at the President of Ukraine. These questions are widely reflected in mass media, whereas in Uzbekistan the very fact of the existence of the above-mentioned agreement is not published. The process of informing and explaining among the Crimean Tartars living in Uzbekistan is practically non-existent. Crimean Tartars who intend to return to their native land do not know that they may acquire the Ukrainian citizenship following the simplified procedure, which is operable only till 31 December 1999. This situation in Uzbekistan can bring to nothing the positive opportunities of the adopted documents.

The absence of the corresponding information is regarded by the Crimean Medjliss as a gross abuse of Constitutional rights for getting information, according to Article 30 of Chapter VII ‘On personal rights and freedoms’ of the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

The representative office of the Medjliss in charge of Central Asia asks you to pay attention to the given situation and asks for your cooperation in publishing the above-mentioned documents and explanations to them in the official Uzbek press.

Ali Khamzin

Representative of the Medjliss in charge of Central Asia

Bulletin ‘Crimean review’, No.7

The war of monuments

On the 1 May in Simferopol the secretary of the Crimean eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox church of Kyivan patriarchy Father Pavel sanctified the place on which the bust of the well-known human rights protection activist Piotr Grigorenko will be erected.

On 10 May the same place was sanctified by a Moslem priest.

On 14 May leaders of the party ‘Soyuz’ declared that side by side with the Grigorenko’s bust they were going to restore the monument of Empress Catherine the Great.

The initiative to erect the bust belongs to Crimean Tartars and representatives of Ukrainian public organizations of the Crimea. The bust was made in Poltava by Grigorenko’s grand-nephew Aleksandr Tarasenko. The bust was presented to the capital of the Crimea. Grigorenko’s supporters wanted to erect the bust in front of the movie theatre ‘Simferopol’. The city authorities were unwilling to erect the bust in this place and wanted to remove it, but the Crimean Tartars then threatened to remove monuments of Lenin, which abound in the Crimea.

However, the central Kyivan government sent a letter to the Simferopol authorities not to strain the situation. The city authorities, ready to conflict with the Crimean Tartars, preferred not to quarrel with their bosses. Thus, on 17 May, the bust was finally erected to commemorate the man who fought for the return of Crimean Tartars to their native land.

Bulletin ‘Crimean review’, special issue of 21 May 1999

I am proud that we all involved

The Crimea mourns. Flags are lowered. 18 May is the day of mourning for all Crimean Tartars, for all who dislike national oppression. The black shadow of horrible crimes of 55 years ago, pain and unmeasurable love to their native land triggered the march of Crimean Tartars to the Crimean capital. 15 columns from all parts of the peninsula pooled together on the central square near the House of Government. More than 40 thousand of demonstrators gathered there. Every Tartar was proud when a new column under national blue flags arrived at the square. The inscriptions on the posters and slogans read: ‘Restore our national state!’, ‘Create conditions for returning all Crimean Tartars!’, ‘We demand juridical acknowledgement of our Medjliss!’, ‘If my language disappears tomorrow, I shall die today!’, ‘Down with national oppression!’. The most frequent slogan was ‘Motherland, people, Medjliss!’, the motto uniting all Crimean Tartars. The Crimean Mufti Nuri Efendi and Father Pavel (Ukrainian Orthodox church of Kyivan patriarchy) prayed for victims of the deportation. The Prime-Minister of the Crimea Sergey Kunitsyn read the edict of the President of Ukraine on the creation of the Council of representatives of Crimean Tartars as a consulting organ at the President’s administration. The Council consists of 33 representatives form the Medjliss and is headed by Mustafa Djemilev, the chairman of the Medjliss.

Beside the Crimean Tartars other public figures participated in the meeting, such as Gennadiy Udovenko, the head of ‘Rukh’, Genrikh Altunian, the human rights protection activist, Nikolay Rudko, the chairman of the State Committee of national minorities, Mykola Gorbal, a poet and the human rights protection activist, Gelal Ichten, a guest from Stambul.

M.Djemilev, the Medjliss chairman, thanked his compatriots for unity and activeness, saying ‘I am proud that we all involved’.

’Golos Kryma’, 21 May 1999

Protest actions of Crimean Tartars

In the end of March the Medjliss declared the beginning of protest actions dated for 18 May the anniversary of deportation of the Tartar people from the Crimea. In April a meeting was held near the building of the Supreme Council. At this meeting the manifesto on joining the Crimea to Russia issued by Empress Catherine the Great as well as the Constitution of the autonomous republic of the Crimea issued recently were burned in protest. This action was criticized by Leonid Grach, the speaker of the Crimean Parliament and the leader of Crimean communists. On 6 May, following the appeal of the Medjliss, protest marches of Crimean Tartars began. Tartars from Kerch started the campaign, planning to walk 220 kilometers to Simferopol during a fortnight. The second column, from Krasnoperekopsk, started on 12 May. On the following day the columns from Djankoy and Sudak started, on 14 May — from Yalta and Alushta, on 16 May — from Sebastopol and Bakhchisaray. On 18 May in the morning all the columns entered Simferopol.

‘Stolichniye novosti’, 18 May 1999

Interethnic relations

Some vital statistics

From the interview given by Georgiy Radov, the first vice-rector of the Institute of internal affairs, to the newspaper ‘Zerkalo nedeli’

The number of the incarcerated in Ukraine is 480 per 100 thousand.

The proportion of the incarcerated from those tried by court is 36% in Ukraine. To compare: in Japan it is 3%, in the Great Britain — 9%, in Sweden — 8%, in Moldova the proportion fast decreased to 20%.

In Ukrainian preliminary prisons 48 thousand are kept, and only 36% are condemned to incarceration.

The cost of upkeep of one incarcerated equals 120 grivnas per month. The food per day costs on the average 8 kopecks per head.

In January 1999 only 208 people died with the diagnosis dystrophy.

The prison economy produced up to 20% of the gross national product in the USSR. At present young able-bodied people stay in Ukrainian colonies. 47,3% of them are under 30 years of age, among them 52 thousand are younger than 25. Most of them do not work.

During the first six months of 1998 about 62 thousand were condemned to one year of incarceration, about 60 thousand — to two years. Most of them were sentenced to the conditional incarceration, some got the postponement.

Last year:

4.3 thousand were incarcerated for the term up to one year;

13.7 thousand were incarcerated for the term from one year up to two years;

26.6 thousand were incarcerated for the term from two years up to three years.

The total number of the incarcerated for the term of up to three years was 44.6 thousand or 27.3%.

In 1998 about 80 thousand criminals were released.

During recent four years 35 new establishments were open within the penitentiary system, 4 of them are preliminary prisons.


To protect the rights of their children the parents turned to militia and then to court

The family of the Yakimenkos turned to the Kharkov Group for human rights protection. The family is a typical Ukrainian one: father is a truck driver with many-year experience, mother is a housewife, she breeds two children: a 12-year-old daughter Mariyka and a 4-year-old son Roman. The case that made them to turn to our group is, unfortunately, also typical for our society — a 30-year-old hooligan interfered into the quarrel between two children and beat Mariyka Yakimenko so brutally that she got to the hospital. The behavior of the parents was, on the contrary, rather untypical for our society: instead of joining the brawl they turned to militia and then to court.

In January and February 1999 the Moskovskiy district court of Kharkov, headed by judge Krylova T.G. and with the participation of prosecutor Kashliak K.V., considered the case and pronounced the sentence. What had happened is described in the verdict as follows:

The accused Mashtalov S.R. on 27 June 1997 about noon was present in the yard of house No.191, where he resides, in Moskovskiy avenue of Kharkov. From hooligan motives he brutally violated the public order and worded his disrespect to the society with especial insolence, which was revealed in causing grave injuries to the minor Yakimenko M.M., born in 1986, because of an insignificant pretext, which was a childish quarrel that started between the minor Mashtalova M.S. and the minor Yakimenko M.M.. Understanding the inability of Yakimenko M.M. to protect herself, he hit Yakimenko M.M. on the head with a toy metal bucket full of sand and toys; as a result Yakimenko M.M., according to the conclusion of the forensic expertise No. 3471-o of 18 December 1997, received a closed cerebral brain trauma in the form of the concussion of the cerebral brain with liquor hypertension, astenic syndrome, abrasions on the face and left forearm, which can be estimated as bruises of middle grade.’

To our great pity we often come across in everyday life with brutality and disregard of elementary moral norms. And very seldom the victims find forces and courage to protect their rights in court. But the parents of Mariyka decided to follow the letter of the law and turned to militia. But the investigating officer did nothing and very soon made a resolution to close the case. After this the Yakimenkos turned to Kharkov Group for human rights protection. Our lawyer studied the case and assisted in writing the complaint to the city prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor ordered to resume the case and appointed another investigating officer. Soon the case was completed and passed to court.

Kharkov Group took a decision to direct a public observer for participating in the court session. The appearance of our representative in the judge’s office caused surprise and even some protest.

The difficulty of the case lay in the fact that the eye-witnesses were children of pre-school and early-grade schoolchildren. Judge Krylova T.G. very quietly and tactfully interrogated them. Teachers of Mariyka from her school and teacher of the Sunday school at Ukrainian autocephalic church were invited as witnesses too, and they gave the best characteristics to the girl.

The accused Mashtalov pleaded non-guilty, and his lawyer explained, that the act of Mashtalov was caused by the brutal behavior of the girl. Judge Krylova did not agree with the arguments of the defense and pronounced the sentence which was well-grounded and adequate to the crime.

According to Articles 323-324 of the Penal-Procedural Code of Ukraine the court found Mashtalov S.R. guilty in a crime defined by Article 206 Part 2 of the Penal Code of Ukraine. The verdict was to incarcerate Mashtalov S.R. for two years and six months with the postponement of two years and to pay the fine of 300 grivnas as court expenses. Besides, Mashtalov S.R. had to pay to mother Yakimenko I.V. 5235 grivnas 38 kopecks as a recovery of damages. Now it is essential to make Mashtalov to pay the compensation. It is not so easy because officially the culprit works at a plant where he does not get any wages for months on end. As to his property, it can be easily passed to his relatives. That is why Kharkov Group for human rights protection continues to monitor this case.

We have told this story as an example of the correct behavior of the victim and the objective behavior of the judge. The contribution of Kharkov Group was also important, since the group has the professional lawyer and has the opportunity to send a public observer to the trial.

It is very convenient when a human rights protection organization has professional lawyers who can render the professional assistance free of charge. Since the population is very poor, it happens so that trials go on without advocates. For example, a criminal case by Article 241-a (deserting) was considered without an advocate (whom the parents of the culprit G. could not afford) in the court martial of Zhytomir garrison. There were plausible grounds for defense, since the culprit was mentally retarded.

A network of human rights protection organizations is being extended in Ukraine; this organizations render citizens juridical aid. The information about these organizations is known by a little proportion of the population. That is why in our opinion one of the top-priority directions is further creation of such organizations, where the citizens can get juridical aid, and further spread of knowledge about such organizations in the population.

European Court on human rights started to consider claims from Ukraine

From an interview of Professor Vladimir Butkevich, a judge of the European Court on human rights

Question: How many Ukrainian claims was received by the European Court on human rights and how many of them have been considered?

Answer: By the state on 10 May 1999 the European Court on human rights received 1132 claims, 255 of them are registered, 95 of them are considered incorrect (82 by the Court and 13 by the Commission on human rights). Two cases are considered to be admissible, for five cases the Ukrainian state will be asked to render additional information.

Point of view

Circumcision in extreme circumstances

Some immigrants who came to Israel from the CIS countries come across the problems typical for a state with domineering religious ideology. In particular, it concerns the procedure of divorce.

Because of the priority of the religious legislation, registrar’s offices are absent in Israel. The divorce between a Jew and a Jewess is resolved by Rabbi’s court, the divorce of mixed marriages is done by region courts of Israel. The divorce between citizens of Israel who are both not Jews is not envisaged at all.

A young Ukrainian couple emigrated to Israel from Ukraine: they had the right because their fathers were Jews, but since they had no Jewish blood in their mothers’ line, they were not considered Jews in Israel. Then they decided to divorce.

They could not divorce in their former motherland since they had no internal Ukrainian passports. The young people turned in the Ukrainian Consulate in Israel. They got a refusal.

In this extreme circumstances the young people had no way out but to become Jews, which is a very long and cumbersome procedure, including some well-known religious rites. Another way out was to pay a huge sum to a lawyer, who could attempt to divorce our heroes in distant Argentina.

The procedure is going on, the Supreme Court of Ukraine and a number of similar quickly acting organizations are involved.

Distorted consciousness

An attack on human rights and freedom of speech is going in Ukraine. Ukrainian history is distorted, long periods of the tragic Ukrainian history are cut off. Nobody mentions the great famines of 1922 - 23 and of 1947; executions in Bekivnia, Vinnitsa, Lviv, Drogobych, arrests and trials of 50s-80s. This is an expected consequence ordered by the new rulers of Ukraine, repainted communist aparatchiks, this will continue and develop until we try in court the communist ideology together with communist functionaries.

Protection of human rights in Ukraine is partly the right for obtaining objective information and also the right for protection one’s honor and dignity in court. This opportunity is weakened by the passivity and sometimes by a direct betrayal on the side of so-called human rights protectors. To see that it is true one may recollect the work of the Commission on human rights protection of the Supreme Rada of Ukraine.

In 1993 in Kyiv in the so-called October Palace (once it was the Institute of noble maidens, and in the thirties communists carried out a slaughter there) the Congress of Ukrainian political prisoners was held. In the presidium of the Congress well-known public and political figures: V.Chornovil, L.Lukyanenko, S.Stetsko, M.Lebid, E.Proniuk, D.Shumuk, L.Taniuk, M.Goryn and others were sitting. According to the decision of the Congress, a stone was laid in the yard of the Palace, and it was carved on the stone that a monument to commemorate the people perished during the communist terror will be erected in this place. The inscription on the monument was also voted and confirmed: ‘To victims of the communist terror’.

Now, when this monument is erected on the appointed place, knowing people are astonished because the inscription on the monument is ‘To victims of repressions of the 30s - early 50s’. There is no mention of communists — maybe the repressions were carried out by Martians? The time interval is unexplainably narrowed. It is not clear. Where there repressions in 17 – 30s, or in 60s – 80s?

And what is most interesting — this shameful fact of distorting the text, which was confirmed by the Congress, does not worry those who sat in the presidium and delivered passionate speeches about the necessity to form the international court Nurnberg-2 for condemning communists.

Declaration of the Directorate of the international society ‘Memorial’

The decision is taken by a group of German firms to create the fund whose goal would be to render material support to the people who had been coercively moved to Germany for slave work during the WW2. This decision is humane and fair. We approve the wish of the constitutors of this fund to render the assistance.

As far as we know, the firms-constitutors are inclined to restrict the assistance to those who worked in the industrial sphere. We understand this attitude, although, in our opinion, it would be fair to extend the assistance to all foreigners who were forced to work in Germany. Yet, even if the assistance is restricted to industrial workers only, we hope that those who worked in mines, on transport, etc., will be related to this category.

We also know that the firms-constitutors discussed the question of the size of the pension, depending on the present place of residence of the former worker. This approach seems to us unfair. In our opinion, the people, who spent the same number of years under equally unpleasant conditions at coercive work during the war, deserve equal pensions today, independently of the place of the present residence. We understand that there is an immense difference between the cost of life, say, in New-York and, say, in St. Petersburg, but a still greater difference in the cost of life exists between St. Petersburg and a village, say, in Smolensk region. That is why the cost of life in this or that region of the world cannot be an objective criterion for determining the pension size. A better criterion could be the standard of living of the former coerced workers. But the estimation of the latter could not be realistic, taking into account a great number of the coerced workers and, on the other hand, the wish of the constitutors to pay the pension soon. Thus, the fairest principle would be the principle of the common past.

A very important question is that of the mechanism of payments. What concerns Russia, Ukraine and Belorus, the payments could be done by the government-created funds ‘Mutual understanding and pacification’, which already have some experience of similar work. Although there are some pretensions to this funds, upon the whole they acted efficiently enough. Certainly, the work of these funds must be made more transparent to guarantee the public control.

PL commentary.
Communications on the second wave of compensations to the former Ostarbeiters appeared in mass media. The money will be paid only to industrial workers. In fact, it concerns not a compensation, but rather a humanitarian aid to some of them. The reasons of this decision are rather prosaic. Jewish organizations in the USA initiated a number of court claims of the former Ostarbeiters to German firms where they had worked. Several American citizens won the processes. In order to avoid lasting and numerous scandals which undermine the reputation of German firms, twelve largest German enterprises that used slave labor during WW2 created a non-government fund, from which the money will be paid to the former slave-workers. The pensions will be directed not only to the workers who had worked in the twelve firms-constitutors. Upon the whole it is planned to pay about 3 billion of German marks.

In my opinion, we must be thankful to these firms, which decided to help to industrial workers. It is well known that industrial workers lived under heavier conditions then agricultural workers, whose life depended on the farmer, for whom they worked. The mortality rate among the industrial workers was several times higher than the average. That is why it is difficult to agree with the demands of some our compatriots to pay money to all. We must understand that this is a typical public action since the money belong to private companies and not to the state. Yet, the plan to take account of the standard of living in different countries seems to be incorrect. The former slave-workers lived and worked under the same conditions.

Evhen Zakharov

Deported peoples

In memory of Irina Yakir

At night from 1 to 2 May 1999 Irina Yakir passed away. She was born on 7 May 1948 in the Siberia, where her mother lived in exile after the concentration camp where she got as a ‘enemy of the people’. Meanwhile her father Piotr Yakir, the son of the legendary commander Iona Yakir, still continued his term in the concentration camp, to which he was put when he was 14-year-old.

In 1956 the survived members of the family settled in Moscow. Very early Irina joined the activities of her father, first concerning the restoration of the true history, and then to human rights protection. She actively participated in creating and distributing ‘The chronicle of current events’, she did much as an organizer of aid to families of political prisoners, in particular, she worked in Solzhenitsyn’s fund. It was from this fund that many dissidents and their families got aid. She was expelled from the institute, she was interrogated many times for many hours, but she never stopped her human rights protection and charity activity. Recently she has looked after children sick with cerebral paralysis in one of the closed schools of Moscow.

We are infinitely sorry that a young, good-looking, temperamental and wise from early age woman left us so early.

The Kharkov Group for human rights protection expresses condolences to the family of Irina Yakir: husband Yuliy Kim, daughter Natalya Kim and granddaughter Xenia.

Irina Rapp

Editor in charge of the issue - Evhen Zakharov

“Prava Ludiny” (human rights) monthly bulletin, 1999, #05