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.

Politics and human rights

People’s initiative’ as it is

According to my observations, the inhabitants of Kharkov lately suffer from the brutal pressure on the side of administrators of budget establishments and state enterprises, due to the 16 April referendum.

At parents’ meetings at schools the school administration persuades the parents to use the existing opportunity to vote before the appointed term, certainly, agitating them to vote positively. The administration of enterprises makes their subordinates to sign under obligations to read some anonymous rather fuzzy explanations of the essence of the referendum questions and other agitating materials convincing to give positive answers. Dean’s offices require from their students to get certificates on their pre-term voting. The most shameful side of all these acts is the fact that the pressure is directed on subordinates, or, as for example, parents of schoolchildren, who imagine themselves subordinate. During the recent presidential election I was a secretary of an election station. I heard about similar tricks. Now this phenomenon has become so widely used that this or that trick was used on every member of my large family! Most my friends and colleagues tell me about these tricks too.

It is clear that all the petty administrators are forced to do it, and those who pull the strings are local authorities. Whoever pulls the strings are, pardon me, scoundrels, because it is mean to intimidate the dependable subordinates, and reactionaries, because they attempt to return to people the fear from the recent past.

Most probably, the disobedient will not be punished. Maybe some of them will be sacked to give an example to others. But the fear is pumped into the society, and woe to Ukraine if the fear is again rooted in the public consciousness. Then the authorities will have free hands in doing with us what they want. Everyone of us must comprehend this, when we choose our attitude to similar initiatives.

The referendum threatens superiority of the right

The International Helsinki Federation of human rights (IHFHR) supports the opinion of the Ukrainian partners ‘Helsinki-90’, as well as many other organizations representing the Ukrainian civil society, which express their anxiety that it is planned to change the Ukrainian Constitution by way of having the referendum to be held on 16 April. This attempt noticeably reduces the rights of the Parliament. Among other measures that can be taken in connection with the referendum is canceling the deputies’ immunity and the right of the President to disband the Parliament.

Besides, there exists a danger that the Upper Chamber planned to be created will be controlled by the President. Many key decisions, including amendments to the Constitution, may be approved by referendums in the situation when the executive power has an opportunity to control the people’s voting.

Changing important points of the Ukrainian Constitution by way of referendums contradicts to the principle of superiority of the right and the OSCE standards. Besides it violates the operating Constitution. Certainly, there are great doubts about the ‘people’s initiative’, which allegedly called for the referendum.

‘This referendum is a threat to human rights and the democratic distribution of rights among different branches of power, without which human rights protection is very problematic’, said Aaron Rodes, the executive director of the IHFHR.

Yuri Murashov, the chairman of ‘Helsinki-90’ declared that his organization analyzed the questions put out to the referendum and came to the conclusion that it uses manipulative simplified language, which resembles the Belarus referendum of 1996 that resulted in dictatorship.

A representative of the President’s administration informed the IHFHR and ‘Helsinki-90’ that the referendum is a result of the public movement aimed at the exit from the political dead-end, which does not enable the government to carry out reforms.

We are informed that nobody saw convincing proofs of the existence of the four million signatures collected in support of the referendum. Evidence is known that for collecting the signatures authorities used coercive measures which were applied to civil servants, including teachers and physicians.

Public organizations declare that the population do not know for what they will vote.

The Ukrainian ombudsperson Nina Karpacheva said that the statement that the referendum conforms with the Constitution is debatable and remarked that 45 MPs turned to the Constitutional Court urging it to consider this question.

Many Ukrainian organizations on human rights express their aversion to the referendum, suspecting that Ukraine may go the ‘Belarus way’, that it ‘may keep the MPs under the threat of persecution and disbanding, making them to be obedient and silent’. Thus, this process cannot be constitutional. Many organizations regard this process as the political juggling and as a deviation from the European integration.

In the situation when the Ukrainian state is unable to fulfil its duties, it is not clear how the referendum will be financed. If the referendum is held and the questions approved, this will result in noticeable additional expenses, which the Ukrainian state cannot afford.

Notes of a participant

On 18 March an all-Ukrainian conference ‘Referendum and we: from the public attitude to the public action’ was held in Kyiv in the Palace of art and culture of the National Technical University. The conference was organized by the initiative and joint organizational efforts of such public unions of Ukraine as the Fund of encouragement of rightful and political reforms, the Association of Ukrainian banks, the Association of young politologists and politicians, the Ukrainian Juridical Foundation, the all-Ukrainian charity fund ‘Citizens’ energy’, the Union of constitutional rights, and others.

The people’s deputies O. Moroz, A. Bilous, S. Golovaty, the former prisoners of consciousness L. Lukyanenko, E. Sverstiuk, scholars and representatives of the creative intelligentsia V. Skurativskiy, M. Tomenko, V. Musiyaka, V. Kampo delivered the main reports. Numerous public experts and other participants of the conference used the chance to turn to the public too.

The subject of the discussion and acute criticism became the referendum held on the people’s initiative, which was declared by the President’s Decree. The criticism concerned both the questions put out for the referendum and other political circumstances of its initiating and preparation. An especial interest was raised by S. Golovaty, who informed the participants of the conference on the results of the assessment of the coming referendum by so-called ‘Venice Commission’, a body of superior professional constitutional experts of the Council of Europe. The international experts considered that the referendum, as the form of direct imperative democracy is actually subversive to the legal procedure of introducing changes to the Ukrainian Constitution. So, in its actual version, it is anti-Constitutional. If to regard the referendum only as a form of learning the public opinion, then it follows that at the referendum people consults themselves. The Commission pointed out that the so-called ‘Presidential preamble’ in the Decree on the referendum is inadmissible, since it unambiguously urges people to vote for the questions, which presumably are initiated by the people.

The conference gathered about 500 participants, both the right and the left. One may say that the basis of the conference was intellectual and analytical resistance to the referendum. This attitude united such parts of the political spectrum, which are usually incompatible, for example, leaders of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) with leaders of the communist party. The document summing up the opinion of the conference will be given separately, so here I will confine myself to some current commentaries.

The conference had a subtitle: ‘The referendum phenomenon in the context of the internal and external being of the Ukrainian state and society’. Correspondingly, its main topic was political and juridical analysis. Many speeches pointed out that the referendum, in particular, is an attempt and the possible future test of a large-scale manipulation of the mass consciousness. The questions put out for the referendum are not typical for mass consciousness. Typical citizens do not think in such categories as ‘permanent parliamentary majority’, ‘two-chamber parliament’, procedural aspects of introducing changes to the Constitution or other comparatively complicated notions even for experts of the constitutional right.

Besides, separate questions of the referendum were harshly criticized. Speakers said about the ambiguity of the questions. In particular, it is very fuzzy, what an abstract parliamentary majority can mean, when this majority is shaped, because shaping the majority depends on the subject of the discussion. Besides, it is possible to imagine a permanent majority obedient to the President in spite of the topic, as well as the permanent anti-presidential ‘subversive’ majority. It is also possible to imagine a majority which permanently abstains from voting.

If to assume that the majority in the referendum means just the majority of President’s supporters, then it is not clear for what purpose such a parliament must exist — then it will play the role of the Supreme Soviet in the USSR. It is difficult to believe that such parliament is wanted by the President — reformer. Nonetheless, this is the only meaning which follows from the analysis of the referendum text.

The speakers remarked that almost all questions of the referendum were aimed at the revision of the Constitution. But the procedure of entering changes to the Constitution is specially described in the Constitution in an unambiguous way, so the Constitution is protected from illegal changes (even by the people). The sense of constitutionalism, as it is understood in politically developed countries, lies in restraining the dictatorship and authoritarianism, including that of the people. That is why in the Western politology they use such notions as ‘simple democracy’, ’totalitarian democracy’ and even ‘super-democracy’. Under such terms the outstanding Spanish philosopher of our time J. Ortega y Gasset understood the direct and unrestricted will of simplified mass instincts.

Thus, from any point of view the referendum looks like a great and insolent fake. In fact, it is inspired by the executive power, is profitable for this power and corresponds to its modern intellectual level. If the Constitutional Court permits the referendum and it will be actually held, then it will not favor the progress of the Ukrainian society, but will inform the world that the Ukrainian democracy is of the same kind as the Belarus one, that the court in Ukraine is dependent on the power and that the Ukrainian people is easy to fool.

Summing up what was said at the conference, one must say that the referendum, in case of its successful (for the executive power) result, will actually harm the constitutional system of Ukraine, will make its Parliament devoid of any rights and will substantially increase the executive power and the President.

Appeal of the all-Ukrainian public conference ‘Referendum and we: from the public attitude to the public action’

Citizens of Ukraine!

On 16 April 2000 the President of Ukraine carries out the all-Ukrainian referendum, ‘initiated by the people’. This referendum has to change the fundamentals of the constitutional system in our country.

It is done when the stagnation of the Ukrainian economy continues, when pensions and salaries are not paid, when the multibillion external and internal state debts are not decreased, when in the mines and other enterprises workers are killed in dozens (because the power cannot find finances to sustain conditions of labor protection). The authorities convince you that it is the people, that is you, who initiated to waste tens of millions of hrivnias, which you earned and which you have not got.

We, participants of the all-Ukrainian public conference ‘REFERENDUM AND WE: FROM THE PUBLIC ATTITUDE TO THE PUBLIC ACTION’, are profoundly convinced that only the Ukrainian people, citizens of Ukraine of all nationalities, is the only source of power in our state. Only the people has to decide its destiny by consciously shaping the organs of the state power and local self-rule on free and democratic election, using the rules and procedures determined by the Constitution and laws of Ukraine. Nobody has the right to manipulate the people’s opinion and secure narrow clan and party interests by the hands of the people.

That is why we turn to all of you.

The President’s decree of 15 January 2000 ‘On declaration of all-Ukrainian referendum by people’s initiative’ causes profound unrest of politicians and artists, engineers and writers, journalists and teachers, workers and peasants, believers and atheists. This decree threatens the basis of bases of the young Ukrainian democracy, it endangers the Constitution of Ukraine adopted by the people.

Having analyzed scientifically the President’s decree, the contents of the questions put out to the referendum, having discussed the juridical, political, moral and other aspects of carrying the referendum and of its potential consequences, the conference states:

The referendum is declared by the President’s decree ‘by the people’s initiative’ with the aim of the alleged improvement of the current Constitution, but the question is whether the current power ever attempted to live according to the Constitution and to fulfil its norms in the interests of Ukrainian citizens?

The planned changes in the constitutional system of Ukraine will not improve the administration of economy, will not strengthen the fight with the corruption, but will make the power more oligarchic, since after the success of the referendum the President will obtain extreme and irresponsible power.

All the questions that are put out for the referendum have many ambiguous answers. The juridical meaning of the questions is confusing and it is not clear which will be the legal consequences of the positive answers, which testifies on incompetence of the authors of these questions, or even about the malicious intent aimed at destabilization of the situation in Ukraine.

The most dangerous is the positive answer to the sixth question on the adoption of the Constitution at a referendum. Do the authors of this question intend to cancel the current Constitution and put to a referendum their own version of the Constitution, which will be written as ambiguously as the questions of the referendum, for example, stating that the current President could be elected for all his lifetime?

The contraposition to the European community and anti-Western rhetoric of the top power officers, in particular of the President of Ukraine, of the first deputy of the Speaker, of the head of Presidential administration, which became the official reaction of the power to the anxiety of Europe about the lot of democracy in Ukraine after the referendum troubles the national supporters of democracy. The current referendum will be carried in Ukraine, the last state in the CIS which has not built yet the power according to the Russian pattern and the Russian script embodied through the debacle of the Parliament. Ukraine has to shape now an oligarchic regime, thus making uniform the political structure of the CIS and preparing the latter to blend into a state structure of a totalitarian type.

Dear compatriots! The authorities want to con us for the umpteenth time. Speaking about the referendum as about a tool of democracy, the authorities are cunning, since a referendum is an instrument of democracy only under the conditions of the freedom of speech, thought, free agitation and honest voting. If there are no such conditions (and they are certainly absent in Ukraine), the referendum becomes the tool of building dictatorship and authoritarianism. There are many examples of such use: from Germany in the 30s to Lukashenko’s Belarus in the 90s. Most authoritarian regimes were shaped and are shaped under the cover of the ‘people’s will’, from which the people suffers.

We are convinced that the referendum to be held is a shame of the power, is the shame of Ukraine. We will not take part in this shameful act.

We turn to people’s deputies of Ukraine, to the Government and to the President to stop this anti-people farce. Pass the money planned for holding the referendum to the families of perished miners and to mines, which endanger new deaths.

Citizens of Ukraine! We are being pulled into a filthy game. There are two ways out: either canceling the referendum by the authorities or its disregard by the people.

Do not take part in this game! Do not answer YES to the questions of the referendum. Take this bulletin home as a recollection about the ‘referendum held by people’s initiative’.

Let us show our citizens’ position to the President, let us prove that we are a people which is impossible to fool.

Kyiv, 18 March 2000

Freedom of expression

Freedom of speech as it is

Just think! For one year not a single printing edition has been registered in Ukraine.

In April 1999 our human rights protection union ‘Anti-mafia’ sent to the Ministry of Information the proper documents for the registration of our newspaper. According to the law, our application had to be considered within one month.

By the end of the month we got an answer: owing to a reorganization of the ministry to a state committee the consideration of our application is postpponed.

How do you think, how long must take the process of reorganization? Who knows. During four months we got no answer. In August 1999 we sent our application again, this time to the corresponding state committee. In a month we got another answer: the reorganization is proceeding. Now we have March 2000. We have not got any answer yet.

In the committee they cynically hinted to us that the reorganization had been started on purpose, in order not to multiply wild printing editions — at first due to the election of the President, then to a threat of pre-term election of the Supreme Rada.

This is the freedom of speech in Ukrainian manner. There is another aspect of the problem. Article 8 of the law of Ukraine ‘On printed mass media (press) in Ukraine’ gives the right to publish a newspaper to a physical person, a citizen of Ukraine. When we tried to do it, (a year ago in the former ministry), they answered: do not think about it, and added, grinning: you may go to court.

Until now people argue whether the election of the President was fair. This discussion is hopeless. It is sufficient to control all the existing mass media and not register any new ones due to a reorganization. Man in the street will believe everything which is printed in newspapers: we are conditioned so.

Commentary of the Kharkiv Group for human rights protection.
It is difficult not to agree with the indignation of the author. Really, the story of the reorganization of the state organs, which must register mass media, does not hold water. Moreover, refusing the registration since the declarant is a physical, not a juridical person, is really a violation of Article 8 of the law ‘On printed mass media (press) in Ukraine’. This is also a violation of Articles 10 and 14 of the European Convention of human rights and basic freedoms. I would advise to take the challenge and go to court and, finally (if you will not get a positive solution in Ukraine) go to the Strasbourg court.

There are many subterfuges. Our group had the same problems complicated by the absence in out statute of the clause that we intend publishing activities. When we turned with an application to register our new journal ‘Freedom of speech and privacy’ (FSP) to the Committee on information of the Kharkov oblast administration, we got a refuse because of the absence of this phrase in our statute. We asked how it could happen that the registration of ‘Prava ludyny’ was permitted, and got an answer that it was a mistake. Then we published two issues of FSP as supplements to ‘Prava ludyny’ and got a stern warning that we have violated the law since supplements must be registered separately. Then we changed out statute, introducing the above-mentioned phrase and got the same answer, as Miloslavskiy, that registrations are suspended because of reorganization. Then we registered FSP as a regional publication and we continue to print it as a regional material. When and if the reorganization is finished, we hope to reregister it as an all-Ukrainian magazine.

I believe that the main reason why independent mass media are absent is their economic dependence either on the state or on the founders, who usually have a quite definite political orientation. As to the complexities with registration, they, by hook or crook, can be overcome.

Evhen Zakharov

The draft of a model project ‘Covenant on protection of intellectual freedom’

The Project of the Covenant envisages the construction of an entire international legal mechanism for juridical protection of intellectual freedom in the conditions of democracy and modern law systems. The project concerns a wide scope of creative activities in the modern societies, from building new scientific concepts and non-standard approaches in business and finances to creating various symbolic patterns. Using Jean Boudrillard’s and G. Lipovetsky philosophical vocabulary, it may be said that the model project will touch upon the topic of „the spiral of simulation that preceded reality“.

If, as Z. Brzezinski wrote, debates concerning the social organization and optimal ways of reaching prosperity had dominated in the passing century, then nowadays we are present in the beginning of a grandiose discussions about the personality angle of human life. It is today that a special demand in intellectually free individuals has a reason: we need ‘guides of progress’, whose ideas will transform the surrounding reality.

Thus, the humanitarian vector of the present model document will touch a wide scope of questions on the growing role of the synthetic ingredient in the life of the modern societies, on constructing life strategies and styles, on creating new symbolic systems. It is intellectual activity that creates artefacts of civilization. At a first glance they seem like modest material objects, but, in the final count, people value them very high.

As to political and juridical aspects of the Covenant project, they are based on the fact that between creative activities and the modern democracy, as a system of taking decisions based on the consensus of the majority, rather complicated relations arise organically. As is known, creative activities are intimately related with the problem of the political freedom and irrestricted social communication, with the civil discourse, with the information freedom as a whole. Such relations must be regulated by ‘the right of freedom’ (R. Dworkin).

Many ways of guaranteeing intellectual activities and freedom are known to exist in the modern Western countries. These ways are rooted mainly in the traditions of the Christian civilization, and they are expressed not only in the written law. As to the post-totalitarian countries, such traditions and customs have not time to arise or were long suppressed. The regeneration of institutes of the intellectual freedom in this political region is carried slowly and with harmful mutations. That is why the goal of the planned Covenant is the codification of the best samples of the written and unwritten right concerning the intellectual freedom with the aim to efficiently spread its standards to the wider political and geographic space.

As early as on the brink of 19th and 20th centuries the exceptional relations between the industrial (technological) discipline and man’s alive will actually overcame the limits of political expression of the social reality. If in the former times, as J. Ellul wrote, ‘magic was a bridge connecting fantasy and technology’, than in the industrial society the struggle between the mega-machine of progress and the sphere of intellectual freedom of a personality became an inevitable element among juridical notions on justice. That is why such questions were repeatedly considered in the Constitutional aspect. Yet, nowadays it seems necessary to consider them in the context of peculiarities and possibilities of the international public and rightful regulation. Possessing the key to progress, typical of highly developed countries, must stop to be the cultural monopoly. In the 21st century the rightful guarantees of the intellectual freedom must be represented at the international market of juridical technologies in the adapted form suitable for different nations.

Besides, as the experience shows, in the modern Middle and East European countries the accumulated contradiction between objective regularities of the spiritual development of the society and rightful regulation of their intellectual and creative sphere becomes more and more noticeable. The redundant regulation of information processes (up to the state attempts to control the Internet) becomes almost typical. In some countries of this region (Russia, Ukraine) a massive system of laws on information has been written, where information is treated not as especially valuable for the social intelligence ‘quantity of unpredictable in a message’ (A. Mole), but as an important strategic resource of the state.

Formally censorship does not exist in most post-totalitarian countries, but actually attempts to control and to filter information become more and more noticeable, practically everywhere. Sometimes such control is imposed because of the excess of social discipline in technologically super-organized societies, but more often it is a result of the obscurantism of ruling groups, the effect of the ‘inner editor’ of intellectuals.

Possibly, behind these subjective effects and intellectual prerogatives of the power stands more profound misunderstanding by political elites and even experts of the essence of the processes, which cause the fast advance of modern societies. One must confess that the ‘free hands’ principle in economics, business and finances in many countries is applied too restrictedly. Standardized curricula and government-approved textbooks dominate in higher education. The sphere of science in the countries of Middle and East Europe has not an efficient market yet, which enables the activity to be indistinguishable as to quality. Such countries as Russia or Ukraine have a hierarchy of scientific and pedagogical staff; this system is notoriously unable to recognize and remunerate really gifted people. All this leads to explicit and implicit information jams on the international scale, lowers the level of the cultural exchange between countries and nations, generates great professional frustration of intellectuals, robs the society of information novelties.

In many post-socialist countries not a single normal bookstore, such as ‘Chapters’, ‘Waterstone’s’, ‘Borders’, has been opened yet, where scientific literature in foreign languages is sold. The translation program financed by Western charity funds is inevitably too weak and slow: it publishes the most selected samples of scientific literature, which value is undoubtable, but whose peak of actuality has long passed. It is here where the state bureaucracy still remains the only manager of economic and financial reforms, whereas non-sanctioned and non-standard intellectual activity is perceived as something marginal. Unfortunately, this attitude is supported by the national legislation too. For example, the Ukrainian Constitution of 1996 has 15 constraints on the fundamental freedom of speech. Such notions of the social solidarity as ‘interests of society’, ‘protecting rights and freedoms of other people’, ‘social direction of the economy’, ‘harmful for society’, ’motives of public necessity’, ‘interests of national security’, ‘information security’, ‘objective truth’ and the like are used too often. All of them implicitly or explicitly suppress, or essentially impinge upon the potential heuristic ability of an individual.

The problem of the intellectual freedom reveals itself in a broader sense, since public goals under democratic conditions are selected and pursued spontaneously, on the base of many badly predicted factors, while the traditional legislation reflects rigid values described in the terms of non-metaphorical language. It is assumed that the spontaneity and dynamism must be provided for by the rightful category of freedom. Yet, namely this most important guarantor of progress is either absent in many European countries or is fixed without due rightful guarantees.

For example, an attempt of independent experts to introduce the category of freedom into the official draft of the Ukrainian Constitution was later rejected consciously by the work group of the National Constitutional Commission. Something similar occurred in other countries. Instead of dynamic elements their legislation was filled with a multitude of immobile concepts. Little applied for the needs of the modern rate of life of the society, hence little applicable. From the viewpoint of the rightful policy this means the rejection of the liberal scheme of rightful regulation suggested by D. Rolls: constitutions fixed guarantees of freedom as a superior value, but tactical principles and rights, including economic and distributive ones, were left for the current legislation.

Meanwhile, in highly developed countries the object of the rightful impact is the social organism in all variety of its components, not an association of citizens with the same interests. That is why a modern rightful system must be a code of social interaction rules of free people, and not a list of articles on individual and collective priorities, for the sake of which these interactions are realized. From the point of view of modern public interests, the Constitution is a procedural and dynamic, not a material and static normative act. Nonetheless, as a result of conservative inertia and some other reasons, many modern constitutions remain indifferent to challenges of the coming century.

Although the social and economic prosperity assure creative activities and innovations, one must confess that rightful systems of too many countries do not assure such activities in a special well-planned way. Too often they contain preserving and stabilizing guards, thus suppressing ‘collective imagination’ (A. Toffler) and the ‘society of risk’ (U. Beck). Analysis shows that many basic laws are written not in the paradigm of modernity. Rather often they are impregnated with moderate virtues and are edifying in their political moral. Their external design and internal logic are intended not for supporting social passionarity of any kind; it suits governments ‘solicitous as a granny’ (T. Green). Yet, social, economic and cultural prosperity are not reached through paternalistic anxiety to protect the universal prosperity.

New ideas, cultural samples, novel types of professional and other behavior, unique psychological attitudes and approaches to solving problems of the surrounding world are created by sparse elites. The face of the world is transformed by a handful of people, at first unknown and scattered, said E. Ionesco. In its turn, the fact that progress is made by ‘a few who convince many’ (F. Hayek) requires the rightful protection of the culturally sensitive zones of the society. It is here where the consequences of the legislation expansion of the state and the ‘press of democratic decisions’ is felt most painfully. This is especially true for the former socialist countries, but in the rest of the world the zone where the problems cannot be solved in a democratic manner does exist and is expanding. It is not accidental that in the prognostic analyses made in the USA human imagination is considered as a main strategic resource. Bearing all this in mind, one may say that the main ideas of the given Covenant are generated by the organic contradiction between the letter of national legislation traditions and the necessity to resist the interference of power to the region of spontaneous creative activity.

Although the prediction of the Marxist theory that state will die out appeared, as everybody knows now, somewhat exaggerated, it becomes more noticeable that in the most advanced countries people want to live predominantly in the sphere of private interests, and they do not identify the surrounding political environment with a state. It becomes more and more noticeable that people in the Western Europe and the USA manage their property, cross geographic and political boundaries, work in creative professions somewhat disregarding national frontiers and rules. More and more people realize their interests directly in the civil society and not in a state, outside sanctions of the national bureaucracy. Thus, if such a tendency really exists, it obviously demands its adequate rightful guarantees.

That is why, and by virtue of other above-mentioned arguments, the project of the Covenant suggests a variant of a solution of the problem concerning the relation between the idea of progress, as a way and means of the fast advance of the society to the new manner of living, on the one hand, with necessary limitations of the possibilities of the social dynamics provided for by the modern democracy and the rightful systems existing in the most of European countries, on the other hand. Thus, the idea of the Covenant on the protection of intellectual freedom is universal since it is based on the recognition of insufficient possibilities of the traditional schemes of the rightful regulation of intellectual processes not only in the countries that lived upon the intellectual and moral glacier of totalitarianism.

According to the method of creating the Covenant, the international public right is considered not as a traditional apex of the rightful pyramid, but as a unique in its role rightful plateau — the guarantor of the intellectual freedom and cultural diversity. In this capacity, the regulating potential of the suggested Covenant must be assessed by its opportunities to generate the ‘artificial spontaneity’, i.e. some synthetic cast of the organic construction of nature. If one assumes that the vector of social progress is predetermined by

intellectual efforts of individuals, who create different kind of samples and models, styles, ways of reasoning and other intellectual seductions, then it must substantially differ not only from the vector of state policy, but also from the vector of directed democracy. Upon the whole, all the process looks as if the new samples and patterns of the future are exhibited on the intellectual market, where demand and supply are determined by an uncountable number of factors, including national peculiarities and regional traditions.

As is known, even the vector of liberal democracy in the modern society is determined, as before, by the majority will. By its properties this will looks as a collective or individual capacity to choose among the samples, models and attitudes created within the framework of the progress. Yet, in many countries such a scheme is hardly understood even by experts. On the contrary, the idea of democracy as of the only cause of the social dynamics becomes typical and more and more dangerous exaggeration on the side of young democratic regimes.

As to the most experienced and politically ripe societies, they demonstrate a strong interest to creating guarantees of non-interference into the intellectual and creative sphere; they made restrictions not only for the direct state agents, but for representatives of democracy too. The main result of these guarantees is the encouragement of providing the society with information, understood as a quantity of the unpredicted in a message. That is why creating and preserving the atmosphere of readiness of the society and its members to accept the unpredictable and novel must be considered the most important organizational, political and rightful precondition of the progress.

In other words, we must create (or reconstruct) the system of making the primary ‘pre-democratic’ decisions of an experimental type, which could later pre-determine the secondary ‘post-democratic’ decisions of a practical type. Obviously, we mean not a reduction of democracy, but only providing democracy with an efficient market of samples to be used in the future. The gift of democracy is not creative but selective: democracy is capable of selecting out of the created. Certainly, this system in its priorities somewhat withstands the usual functions of the state, such as securing social protection and order, political stability and sometimes even personal safety. Yet, if we prefer the progress, we have no choice. Anyway, every state must be kept on a leash; power, even not very conservative, suffers from the chronic will to regulate all. For instance, it demands the science to stay within the bed of the ‘normal development’. Nonetheless, science, this most organized man’s creative activity, resembles more a collage than a system (P. Feyerabend). This thesis seems to be applicable also to the state attitude to culture as a whole. As ideologists of liberalism reminded, the state even now continues to be an referee, remaining simultaneously the strongest player, who, to be sure of the positive result, changes rules during the game.

Thus, the cultural progress, as the main dynamic value of the modern society, must be protected from too much predicted organized stability by introducing special normative acts. A model of such an act in the form of an international Covenant on protection of intellectual freedom is planned to be created as a result of realizing this project.

The right to health care

‘Amnesty International’ on women’s rights

A special issue of news published by ‘Amnesty International’ is devoted to the observation of women’s rights. This issue was published to the International Women’s Day (8 March). The issue begins with a story about an11-year-old Sudanese girl, who was raped by an officer of the Sudanese police in the precinct with three other officers present. The story contains irrefutable proofs that the girl was really raped, but there is no hope that the guilty will be called to criminal responsibility.

‘The state of women throughout the world contrasts much with the common rhetoric of the international community’, the report of the ‘Amnesty International’ says. Unsuccessful attempts to protect women’s rights testifies that ‘governments of many countries lack political will for the real improvement of the state of women’, the report states. Many women are beaten to death, are burned alive, are circumcised, raped, or sold to slavery. On the threshold of the 21st century millions of women in all the world remain the people of the second sort who are treated with discrimination in the name of religion, traditions or culture. So, in Pakistan hundreds of women become victims of ‘murders in the name of honor’ every year. Although such practices are outlawed, but practically it remains a rather frequent phenomenon. In the opinion of human rights protection organizations this is a remnant of the prejudiced attitude of the Pakistan authorities to women, that is why the authorities are so lax in their fight with this terrible crime.

The risk of violating women’s rights grows especially during armed conflicts in the camps of refugees and displaced persons. Here humiliation of women is regularly observed.

‘Amnesty International’, listing a few achievements in the protection of women’s rights mentions the agreement on creating the International Criminal Code, where raping and other forms of sexual molesting is considered as a crime against humanity and war crime in the cases when it happens during international or regional armed conflicts. Another important step in protecting women’s rights, by the opinion of ‘Amnesty International’, is the adoption of the auxiliary Protocol–1999 to the ‘International Convention on stopping all forms of discrimination towards women’. This Protocol grants women the right to hand complaints against governments, which do not fulfil their obligations worded in Women’s Convention. Up to now this auxiliary Protocol has been ratified by 23 member-states. ‘Amnesty International’ appeals to ratify the Women’s Convention, which by now has not been ratified by 165 UNO member-countries.

When one reads the report of ‘Amnesty International’, one can imagine that in Ukraine the situation with women’s rights is satisfactory. Unfortunately, it is not so. Our country remains one of the main sources of sexual slaves to black markets of Europe and Asia, hundreds of women die every year from criminal abortions, violence in the family became a Ukrainian national tradition, and the raping of gypsy women is quite regular. So, the way to creating the respectful attitude to Ukrainian women promises to be long and hard.

Women’s rights

Wail of a taxpayer

Here are some voices of taxpayers:

As a taxpayer I protest, I do not want to keep murderers, who are incarcerated for life.

Looking at this lady I suddenly felt myself a citizen, who upkeeps the bureaucratic machine. So I must demand something from it.

The first national TV channel showed the session of the Constitutional Court of 30 December 1999. At this session the death penalty in Ukraine was canceled as a non-constitutional method of punishment. Journalists wandered along streets in Kyiv and asked the opinion of passersby. The passersby expressed active protest. I watched the feature and recalled the letter of a woman, whose son was condemned to death on 27 December 1999. He pleaded guilty of several murders with rapes. Mother wrote that during the court session her son declared that he was not guilty, but he was forced to confess during the investigation accompanied by cruel torture. In her complaint mother gave some proofs that her son was tortured, but neither the court, nor the prosecutor’s office tried to analyze the fact.

I also recollected a phone call to our human rights protection group. It was from an elderly woman, who asked me what to do: her wages had not been paid for several months and the authorities promised to cut off gas in her house for the arrears of payment. ‘Is it true that newspapers wrote that I may pay for gas from the old bankbook?’, she asked. I answered that I also read something like that, but I was not sure that the order was executed, since reasonable decisions must not work in our country.

This very day I myself phoned to one of the recruiting commissions. I asked them how they formulated the document about the death of a young man, who hanged himself in the army barracks after serving for about two months. If the document is formulated: ‘Perished during execution of service duties’, then his parents will get a tiny addition to their pension. But if the document is worded: ‘Perished during service’, then they will get nothing.

Oh, God, why do we feel ourselves citizens and taxpayers only when we must denounce someone on behalf of the society!

Here is my voice, or rather wail, of a taxpayer. I pay my taxes and I do not want the government to upkeep for my money 226 thousand incarcerated! This is a little less than our entire army, to support which we have no money. As a taxpayer I do not want to keep in prisons and colonies those people, who did not commit violent crimes, who are not socially dangerous, who are condemned for petty felonies. Such people make, according to statistical data, more than half of the incarcerated. Preliminary prisons and other penitentiaries are overcrowded, they do not have medicine, they are the sources of TB. Even prison guards work under a permanent risk to catch TB.

I do not want to pay taxes for supporting the court machine, which condemns people as in the case I am going to describe.

On 2 October 1995 Melitopol town court presided by V. A. Fomina (and all the needed dignitaries) considered the case where five people, earlier never tried by court, and established the following. Three of them worked at one of the plants in the Zaporozhye oblast. They stole at the plant 38780 metallic rings, whose cost was more than 250 minimal wages, that is, according to the law, a large-scale theft. The rings were carried from the plant and sold to a Volodymir Maystrenko, who paid 800 USD. The fifth member of the gang was a charwoman, who was blamed by Article 187 of the Penal Code and incarcerated conditionally for one year. She was the only one who remained free.

V. Maystrenko in his letter to our Kharkiv Group for human rights protection asserts that he did not know that the rings were stolen; in the documents of the case there is no evidence of the opposite, except the evidence of the three thieves.

Thus, the court ruled out that all the four ‘members of the gang’ were guilty of the crime stipulated in Article 86-1 and, after listing extenuating circumstances (good characteristics from the plant, existence of little children, absence of previous convictions), ladled out ten years of imprisonment to each, except V. Maystrenko. Nobody proved that he participated in the theft or organized this theft, but Maystrenko got 10.5 years. Maystrenko complained, our Group complained to the Supreme Court of Ukraine, but nothing happened. We know rather many cases when criminals get a milder punishment for murder.

This case reminded us of the notorious Article 66-1 of the Soviet times — theft of state property on especially great scale, which was punished very severely and included death penalty.

Human life in totalitarian states costs very little. Although the death penalty has been taken out of this article, it is still very severe. Theoretically, all forms of property are juridically equal. Any lawyer will tell you that if Maystrenko and his accomplices stole the rings from a private firm, they would get shorter terms. I, as a taxpayer, am not enchanted that Maystrenko, who could work, feed his children and pay taxes, will stay 10.5 years idle in a penitentiary, wasting much more than 250 minimal wages.

Court practices

739 recruits have dodged the army in the Zaporozhye oblast

This year military commissariats (recruiting commissions) of the Zaporozhye oblast directed 3900 recruits for serving in the armed forces of Ukraine. At the same time, 739 recruits dodged their constitutional duty. This information was made public by general-major Evhen Gorbyliov at the sitting devoted to the results of the recruiting campaign of 1999.

General Gorbyliov also said that among recruits of this year 965 did not finish the secondary school, which is about three times more than in 1994. Petro Zubkov, the prosecutor of the Zaporozhye oblast said that such a large number of dodgers from the army appeared by guilt of recruiting commissions, which had not informed in time the Ministry of Armed Forces and the prosecutor’s office. He said that the prosecutor’s office has now reliable documents only on 15 persons. Four of them have already been called to account.


Seminar of librarians in Moscow

On 10-11 March the directorate of ‘Memorial’ organized in Moscow a seminar devoted to the work of libraries of NGOs.

The main purpose of the seminar is the preparation of librarians to the creation of a united library network of human rights protection organizations with a united electronic catalog and with transferring to electronic form the complete texts of the most demanded books, as well as with the organization of common completing the libraries.

Librarians from the regional branches of ‘Memorial’ in Russia and Ukraine were invited to the seminar. Ukraine was represented by the chairman of the ‘Donetsk Memorial’ A. P. Bukalov, the librarian of this organization O. A. Bukalova and the author of this note O. P. Zviagintseva, the librarian of the Kharkiv Group for human rights protection.

The seminar was held in a small conference hall of the Moscow ‘Memorial’ in Malaya Karetnaya St., 12. The seminar was opened by the executive director of the international society ‘Memorial’ E. B. Zhemkova and the manager of the Moscow ‘Memorial’ library B. I. Belenkin, who told about the agenda of the seminar and the problems to be solved. The participants of the seminar from Saint-Petersburg, Ukhta, Tomsk, Ekaterinburg, Perm, Bratsk, Kharkov, Donetsk and a tiny settlement Yagodnoye of the Magadan oblast made short communications about the work of their libraries and about the contingent of their readers. The report of V. S. Serbskiy from Bratsk was especially interesting. He created a unique in the world library of the Russian poetry of the 20th century. This library counts tens of thousands of books, many of which have autographs of the authors. The library is not catalogued, and a number of books in it is unknown. Serbskiy’s granddaughter measured only the length of bookshelves where the books of poetry stand in two and somewhere in three rows. The total length is about 300 meters. Beside poetry there are books on the development of Siberia, memoirs and big department of materials on Protopop Avvakum — the first great Russian writer and the first political exile to Bratsk. Another noticeable part of books in the library is devoted to human rights. The library works practically round the clock, without holidays.

After a short interval E. Zhemkova showed the participants of the seminar the building of ‘Memorial’, whose walls are decorated with a great number of photos of well-known dissidents, including A. D. Sakharov, P. G. Grigorenko, V. Stus. There are also copies of documents from concentration camps since the times of building the Belomorkanal. The participants also visited the library, which contains a lot of books on the history of the totalitarianism, samizdat, memoirs, periodical editions.

Then we met with J. Brown, a cultural attache from the US embassy, as well as with E. Johnson, the attache on libraries of the US embassy. We also heard short speeches of M. Levner, the director of the Congress Library Bureau in Moscow. The participants of the seminar with great interest heard the information on the work of this largest library in the world. When the seminar resumed its work, we heard the report of M. D. Afanasyev, the director of the public historic library in Moscow.

Then we kept a ‘round table’. During it we were discussing the problems of perfecting the system of acquisition books and tried to develop a joint project of acquisition books by libraries of ‘Memorial’ and related organizations. Agents of the publishing house ‘Vozrozhdenie’ offered a list of literature that can be bought from the stores of the publishing house.

E. Liushin, the director of the CAF library, gave a lot of useful information, giving contact addresses of the largest organizations, which specialize in publishing reference literature about grant-giving funds. He told about reference books kept in his library, on opportunities to obtain grants for supporting libraries, on the rules of compiling applications for taking part in a competition to obtain grants. The problem of library fund rising was concerned also in the speech of E. B. Zhemkova, the executive director of the international ‘Memorial’.

In the conclusion of the first day of the seminar Aleksandr Kostinskiy, the deputy head of the department of electronic libraries, gave an emotional report on the role of electronic libraries in the future. He told that the avalanche growth of information will make librarians unite their efforts for creating a network of electronic libraries. Then practical studies were held on the topic ‘Library sites in the Internet’.

On the second day the round table was held again. The organizers of the seminar offered a questionnaire with the following questions to be discussed:

For whom do you work?

What is the attitude of the local community to you?

What is your experience of successful unions and conflict situations?

On the second day we also exchanged the opinions on the topic: ‘Conceptions of activities and ways of development of ‘Memorial’ libraries’. The leading reporters were the head of the department of sociological and psychological studies of the Russian state youth library and a researcher of this department. Professor of the chair of library science of the Moscow State University of Culture and Arts V. K. Kluev delivered a report on the juridical guarantees of library activities, their rights and duties. The assistant professor of the same chair E. M. Yastrebova told about library marketing.

Representatives of the youth center of human rights and juridical culture told about their work and those books which they use in teaching at elementary and secondary schools. These textbooks are published by the said center. They presented some of these books to the participants of the seminar.

Some participants gave interesting reports, describing their libraries. They were: D. A. Brodskiy, the director of Moscow independent library (this library is situated in his own apartment); I. A. Shchekotova, the director of the library of the museum named after A. D. Sakharov; L. Staniukovich, a librarian from the ‘Holocaust library’. The ‘Holocaust library’ library counts about 1000 items on the holocaust on the territory of the former USSR, only one third of the library is in Russian. The library works only as a reading-hall.

During the round table all the participants spoke on the questions suggested in the questionnaire. It appeared that comparatively few people use ‘Memorial’ libraries, mainly they are students and teachers of law schools and humanitarian institutes, school teachers and older people, who suffered much from the totalitarian regime.

In the end of the seminar the computer program ‘Library-2000’ was demonstrated to the participants of the seminar. Then questions concerning the creation of joint catalogues and databases of the united computer network of ‘Memorial’ libraries were discussed. In conclusion the participants of the seminar were asked to tell their opinions on the seminar and wishes for perfecting the work of similar seminars in the future. It was decided that the organizers would send to the participants detailed questionnaires. These questionnaires will, in particular, contain questions on other topics to be discussed and on the forms of joint work and cooperation.

NGO activities

The military harass the work of TV channel ORT

An ORT journalist Roman Perevezentsev told that the military in the uniform of the Ministry of Interior destroyed a videocassette filmed in Chechnya. According to the words of the journalist, the filming group tried to learn the number of the killed and wounded in the recent clashes in Pervomayskoye. To this end, they came to Mozdok in order to meet those who remained alive.

‘When I tried to learn if I shall be able to speak with them’, Pereverzentsev told, ‘an armed man in the uniform came to our car’. This man demanded the cassette. The cameraman tried to explain something, but he was kicked, the cassette was taken from him and trampled, and the military man advised the TV operators ‘to scram while you are alive’.

It should be noted that the group had an official accreditation.

Authorities are dissatisfied with free press

Vladimir Putin’s assistant and press secretary in Chechnya S. Yastrzembski in his interview to the TV channel ORT reproached a number of Russian mass media in their biased attitude to the Chechen war. He mentioned as the examples the TV channel NTV and the newspapers ‘Novaya gazeta’ and ‘Noviye izvestiya’. According to his words, ‘it is obvious that the attitude of these newspapers to the actions of the federal powers in Chechnya is a priori negative.

An anti-war picket in Moscow

The picket against the Chechen war was held in Moscow downtown on Pushkin Square. The Committee of anti-war actions, created during the first Chechen war of 1994–96, organized the action. Representatives of ‘Memorial’, of the Union of soldiers’ mothers of Russia, of the radical party and related organizations participated in the picket.

Two participants of the picket were detained by militia for distributing leaflets where Vladimir Putin’s policy in Chechnya was criticized. Later they were released. On 19 March the Committee of anti-war actions plans to carry out another action protesting against the Chechen war — from the Far East to Kaliningrad in the West.

Andrey Babitskiy invited to the Council of Europe

The European Parliament has invited Andrey Babitskiy to take part in the Parliamentary plenary session in Strasbourg on 16 March. He is invited to speak to the workgroup on problems of the Middle and Eastern Europe. In the letter of invitation the PACE emphasized that Babitskiy’s reports on the Chechen war were a sample of free and independent journalism.

Hard state of refugees

In the neighboring Ingushetia there are many refugees from Chechnya. In the camps for refugees there is a shortage of food, medication and fuel. Many of the refugees, mainly old people and children, are sick of flu. An old woman has recently died because of heavy complications after flu. The sick woman aged 80 lived in a summer tent and she had not enough wood for heating the tent.

Who wants the war to be continued?

On 1 March Russian business consulting agency published the results of polls carried out by this agency.

If to believe these data, then more than half of Russian citizens (54%) believe that the Chechen war must be brought ‘to the victorious end’, disregarding possible victims from the peaceful population.

The opinion that the war must be continued to the complete destruction of the Chechen extremists, disregarding any victims, is mainly shared by the inhabitants of the European North and North-West, of the Eastern Siberia and of the Far East. The carriers of this opinion are men, supporters of Putin and Zhirinovskiy.

Point of view

Return of insurance to Ukrainian citizens, who suffered in holocaust

The work on the organization of recompensing the suffering to victims of genocide and to so-called Ostarbeiters has been carried out. Several programs concerning recompensing of property pretensions are already realized in Ukraine.

Starting from this March the work of the international Commission has begun on insurance pretensions concerning the period of the holocaust. This international organization was created in the end of 1998 in the United States of America. Nowadays several large European insurance companies, which worked on the territory of Poland and Romania, joined this commission. The territories, where they had worked, later was added to the USSR, and now have become a part of Ukraine. In half a century it became clear that on the accounts of these insurance companies large sums figure, which must be now returned to depositors or their heirs, according to the rules of inheritance. The Commission was created for recompensing Jews, who suffered during the holocaust, but now it is agreed that the Commission will also consider pretensions from all former depositors or their heirs, independently of the nationality. Although the Commission represents five European insurance companies, the decision is taken that a recompensing insurance fund would be created and this fund will cover the obligations of the insurance companies, which already do not exist. The preparation of the needed documents has already begun in all regions of Ukraine and will last to the end of May.

Pretenders must bear in mind that recompensing in no way concerns duties of the former ‘Gosstrakh’ of the USSR.

People who are interested in this information may telephone to Kyiv, the contact numbers are: (044) 216 – 53 – 96 or 224 – 07 – 28.

General Vivat Beloborodov remains belligerent

On 28 February Leninskiy district court of Sevastopol satisfied the claim handed by the former militia chief in Sevastopol Vivat Beloborodov to the newspaper ‘Slava Sevastopolia’. The court ruled the defendants to pay the alleged moral damage. According to the ruling, the newspaper must pay to Beloborodov Hr 30,000; the journalists must pay Hr 7,000. The journalists intend to appeal to the cassation court.

Deported peoples

Oleksa Tykhiy is not forgotten

Recently Ukrainian patriots commemorated a sad 10-year anniversary of the reburial in the native soil of the three glorious sons of Ukraine, three poets: Vasyl Stus, Oleksa Tykhiy and Yuri Lytvin. Since early 90s much has been written about those who gave their lives for the independence of Ukraine, as well as those who remained alive and continue the political fight of their brethren.

Unfortunately, the public begins to forget the pioneers of the fight. Yes, Vasyl Stus’ creations are published, but, in spite of all the efforts of the local ‘Prosvita’ and democratic public of the Donbass, where Vasyl Stus had lived his childhood and adolescence, there are not a single memorial in his honor. Vasyl, the great son of the Ukrainian people, is respected throughout the world, but the local power is still hesitating whether to mark Vasyl’s memory.

What is the destiny of Yuri Litvin’s inheritance? The question is seldom discussed in public.

It seems that careless silence has set around the name of Oleksa Tykhiy, one of the first fighters for national dignity. He was one of the three above-mentioned martyrs. He was born in the Donbass, he was arrested there. Maybe, he did not have such a poetic talent, as his brethren, but he stood at the very source of the modern Ukrainian state, and he was the precursor of the fight.

I shall remind that Oleksa Tykhiy was born in 1927 in the hamlet of Izhevka near the town of Druzhkovka. First he was arrested in 1957 for his protest against the Soviet intervention in Hungary. The punishment was fierce, but it did not break Oleksa’s fighting spirit. Having been released, he, together with ten associates, protested against non-fulfillment of the Helsinki agreements on human rights in Ukraine by the Soviet empire. Again arrested, again sent to a concentration camp in the North of Russia. In 1984 Oleksa died in the prison hospital.

Enemies of the autonomous Ukraine did much to destroy the memory of Oleksa Tykhiy, but they failed. The people always remembers its heroes. Not only in Kyiv or Lviv, but in the red, rusificated Donbass.

In the town of Druzhkovka where O. Tykhiy lived and worked, a charity fund in memory of Oleksa Tykhiy was created three years ago by the initiative of Sergiy Bazanov, the director of the ‘Prima-press’ publishing house. The other founders were the insurance company ‘Asko-Northern Donbass’ (the general director is Evhen Matushevskiy), Druzhkovka center of ‘Prosvita’ and several private persons.

The new fund soon became known. Among others, it was visited by the president of the American Committee of assistance to Donbass schools professor Vitaliy Case, our Ukrainian academician, writer and public figure Ivan Dziuba, the well-known human rights protection activist Nadiya Svitlychna, and others. And the people’s artist of Ukraine sculptor Oleksandr Skoblikov, having visited Druzhkovka, decided to sculpt Oleksa Tykhiy’s monument and erect it in the native town of the poet.

The charity fund did much for the propaganda of the activity of the Ukrainian Helsinki group. For the fund’s finances several books were published. Last year the fund organized the competition for the best publication about the Ukrainian human rights protection movement. At the end of January, on the day of memory of Oleksa Tykhiy, the results of the competition were made public. The winner of the competition became the editorial board of the newspaper ‘Donetchina’, and other six authors won encouragement prizes, among them well-known men of letters Ivan Kostyr and Yuri Dotsenko.

The decision to give the main prize to the newspaper ‘Donetchina’ (editor-in-chief is Igor Zotz) is quite fair: this newspaper has been describing the activities of Ukrainian patriots since 1990.

We must be thankful to the founders of the fund. They are genuine patriots of Ukraine. they set the goal to erect the monument of Oleksa Tykhiy in Druzhkovka and publish his selected poems. We wish then success.

70th birthday of Sergey Kovaliov

Sergey A. Kovaliov was born on 2 March 1930 in the Sumy oblast of Ukraine, in a family of a railroadman. In 1954 he graduated from the biological faculty of Moscow University. He lived and worked in Moscow, doing scientific research. He published more than 60 research papers, in 1964 he defended the candidate’s dissertation (analogue of a Ph.D. degree) in biology.

In mid-fifties he took part in the struggle with Lysenko’s theory — an antiscientific doctrine that dominated in the Soviet biology and was supported by the communist party.

In 1966 he organized a letter from researchers of the institute of biophysics, aimed at protection of the writers A. Siniavskiy and Yu. Daniel, condemned for the ‘anti-Soviet propaganda’. In 1968 Kovaliov joined the just appearing movement in human rights protection in the USSR and soon became there a noticeable figure. When in May 1969 the initiative group of human rights protection in the USSR was created, Kovaliov was one of the group. Sanctions from the authorities followed and Kovaliov was fired from the post of the head of the Department of mathematical methods in biology.

Kovaliov was one of those who organized the struggle of Soviet dissidents as an open and non-violent activity. As most of his colleagues, Kovaliov regarded the observance of human rights, first of all the observance of civil rights, to be the key condition of the development of the society.

In 1971 Kovaliov became one of the editors of the ‘Chronicle of current events’ — a typewritten informative bulletin of Soviet human rights protection activists; it was published since 1968 each 6 – 8 weeks. Observers of that time and our time wonder how, in spite of being a semi-underground edition, the ‘Chronicle’ was extremely accurate and complete when depicting violations of human rights. A. D. Sakharov, who did not participate directly in publishing the ‘Chronicle’, more than once declared that the ‘Chronicle’ was the main success of the human rights protection movement. The ‘Chronicle’ and the initiative group, as Helsinki movement later, was the center around which human rights protection and related movements consolidated. In particular, Kovaliov’s role was decisive in setting contacts with the movement of Lithuanian Catholics and Georgian dissidents.

In the end of 1972 the publication of the ‘Chronicle’ was suspended under pressure of the KGB, but a year later its publishing was resumed. On 7 May 1974 three members of the initiative group: S. Kovaliov, T. Velikanova and T. Khodorovich called the press-conference for foreign newsmen, where they declared that they refuse to obey the blackmail and resume the publication and distribution of the ‘Chronicle’. Three new issues of the ‘Chronicle’ were presented to the newsmen.

Kovaliov had time to participate in the preparation of the four further issues of the ‘Chronicle’. One of them, No. 33, was a special issue devoted to political prisoners; here the date of 30 October was declared the Day of the political prisoners in the USSR (since 1991 this holiday has become official, it is called ‘the Day of memory of victims of political repressions’).

In September 1974 a Soviet section of Amnesty International was created in Moscow. It was the first case of opening on the territory of the USSR a branch of an international organization independent of official powers. Kovaliov was in this group.

On 28 December 1974 Kovaliov was arrested on the accusation of ‘anti-Soviet agitation and proganda’. The main concrete accusation was his participation in the publication of the ‘Chronicle’. He was also accused of the distribution of the informative bulletin of Lithuanian Catholics and of A. Solzhenitsyn’s book ‘GULAG archipelago’. In December 1975 the court in Vilnius (Lithuania) condemned Kovaliov to 7 years of strict regime colony and 3 years of exile. Kovaliov did not plead guilty and was forbidden to pronounce the final speech.

The arrest and condemnation of Kovaliov caused a lengthy protest campaign both in the USSR and abroad, where a public committee for Kovaliov’s defense was organized. Prominent biologists, mathematicians and lawyers from various countries entered this committee.

Kovaliov did the term in the Perm colony and was sent to exile on the Kolyma. He left the exile before the term and settled in Tver, since his return to Moscow was forbidden and dangerous.

During the perestroyka he took part in various public initiatives, in particular in constituent congress of ‘Memorial’ (in 1990 he was elected a co-chairman of this organization). Then he also joined the Moscow Helsinki Group.

In December 1989 Kovaliov, by Sakharov’s advice, put out his candidature to the Congress of people’s deputies of the Russian federation, and in March 1990 he was elected.

The 1st Congress of people’s deputies appointed Kovaliov the chairman of the Committee on human rights. Working on this post, Kovaliov, jointly with his colleagues, wrote the Russian Declaration of human and civil rights — a framework document that determined the related constitutional norms. This Declaration was adopted by the Congress in the beginning of 1991. Basing on this declaration, Kovaliov, as a member of the Constitutional Commission, formulated basic articles of the corresponding part of the operating Constitution of Russia.

At this period he also promoted a number of laws. The most important of them are the following:

the law ‘On rehabilitation of victims of political repressions’ (October 1991);

the law ‘On the state of emergency’ (1991);

the laws ‘On refugees’ and ‘On the forced migrants’

amendments and supplements to the Reforming-Labor Code (1992).

On Kovaliov’s initiative the President of Russia signed in 1991 the Decree on amnesty; according to this decree remaining prisoners of former political colonies were released.

Since the autumn of 1991 Kovalev is the head of the Russian delegation in the UNO Committee on human rights. In February 1993 he was appointed a member of the Presidential Council.

In 1993 Kovaliov took an active part in creating the political movement which later became the party ‘Democratic choice of Russia’ and was elected a member of the political council of this party.

After disbanding the Superior Soviet in September 1993 Kovaliov was appointed the chairman of the Commission on human rights at President’s administration. This Commission jointly with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs created the ‘Federal program of actions concerning human rights’, prepared and published reports ‘On observance of human and civil rights in Russia’ (for 1993, 1994 and 1995) and created the draft of the law ‘On the ombudsman’.

Kovaliov more than once came to the ‘burning points’ of the CIS and Russia. In December 1993 Kovaliov was elected a deputy of the State Duma. In January 1994 the Duma elected Kovaliov the first Russian ombudsman.

In December 1994, when the military operations began in Chechnya, Kovaliov harshly protested against the Kremlin policy in this region. He headed a group of MPs and representatives of other public organizations and went to Chechnya. There he gathered information and spread it. During the attack of Grozny he was in the town, and his information was distributed throughout the country. The actions of Kovaliov and his colleagues shaped anti-war attitude in a noticeable part of Russian population. In December several leading Russian newspapers declared him ‘the man of the year’.

At the same time Kovaliov sent to the government and the President several appeals and memoranda, trying to convince them to stop the war and to pass to the peaceful solution of the crisis.

Up to March 1995 he remained in Chechnya, inspecting the so-called ‘filtration centers‘, informing the public on the situation of the civil population. Supported by ‘Memorial’ and several related public organizations, he created the ombudsman’s mission in the Northern Caucasus.

Simultaneously Kovaliov supported Russia’s entrance to the Council of Europe, considering that it would promote the international control on how Russia fulfilled her obligations in human rights protection.

In March 1995 the State Duma dismissed Kovalev from the ombudsman’s position, accusing him of the ‘pro-Chechen attitude’. Mass media decreased his support and somewhat criticized him. Yet, he still remained the chairman of the Commission on human rights, a member of the Presidential Council and the head of the Russian delegation in the UNO Committee on human rights.

In June 1995, when the crisis with hostages in Budionovsk happened, Kovalev arrived in the Northern Caucasus. On the instruction of the Prime-Minister Chernomyrdin he actively participated in the negotiations with Basayev: they agreed on the conditions of releasing the hostages and on the beginning of the peaceful settlement in Chechnya. Together with several MPs and journalists he gave up to terrorists as a guarantor of their safe return to bases.

In December 1995 Kovaliov again was elected a deputy of the State Duma. In January 1996 he became a member of the PACE from the party ‘Yabloko’. On 5 February 1996 Kovaliov asked for the demission from all presidential structures and published an open letter to President Eltsin, in which he accused the President of anti-democratic actions and declared him responsible for a stupid and bloody policy in Chechnya. Since that time up to 1997 he did not occupy a state positions, although remaining a member of the State Duma and the PACE.

Since spring 1997 he became the president of the public Institute of human rights.

In April 1997 the German translation of his book of memoirs ‘The flight of a white crow’ went out of press in Hamburg. In December 1999 he was again elected to the State Duma inside the party list of the Union of right forces. Since the beginning of the second Chechen war he has become one of a few prominent politicians who tried to stop the war.

Sergey A. Kovaliov is a political figure causing in the Russian society very contradictory assessments. The polarity of views on his activities increased with the beginning of the second Chechen war. Up to now Kovaliov was not a very noticeable figure in the big politics. During the putsch in August 1991 the putschists prepared the list of outstanding democratic politicians who had to be interned. The list contained 24 names. It is characteristic that the name of Kovaliov was the last.

Since the first Chechen war Kovaliov has become an idol of the democratic Russian intelligentsia. In some publications he was named ‘the conscience of the nation’ — the epithet which was given only to academician Sakharov. On the other hand, numerous supporters of the ‘state’ and ‘pragmatic’ approaches to the problem of human rights in Russia consider Kovaliov to be a rootless idealist, whose unwillingness to compromises brought to the society more harm than use. A. Kiva, a well-known politologist and Kovaliov’s colleague in the Commission on human rights at the President’s administration, published an article confirming the above-mentioned estimate. Nationalists of different descriptions regard Kovaliov as an enemy of the nation: they point out that he hated everything Russian and was a stubborn supporter of the Western approach in human rights and politics, he denied the idea of the specific Russian way. In 1995 P. Grachev, the then Minister of Defense, called him, in a TV feature, an enemy of the nation. A little later a Vedenkin, a nationalist, expressed his desire, in a TV interview, to shoot Kovaliov personally.

Such are the views of the politically active citizens. As to the ‘silent majority’ of the Russian population, it is difficult to determine their attitude to Kovaliov. If to believe some polls of the public opinion held in Moscow in 1995 – 96, he is trusted more than most leading politicians. This is confirmed by the easiness with which Kovaliov won the election to the Duma in December 1995. Yet, there are no data at all whether Kovaliov is popular in the provinces now, or even if his name is known at all.

“Prava Ludiny” (human rights) monthly bulletin, 2000, #03