war crimes in Ukraine

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Politics and human rights

‘Kyiv Post’ publisher detained in Kyiv

In the evening of 11 April in the airport Borispol the American businessman and publisher of the English language newspaper issued in Kyiv Jed Sunden was detained, when he was leaving the airplane. According to Ukrainian mass media, Mr. Sunden arrived in Kyiv about 18:00 from Istanbul. When he was passing the passport control, he was informed that he is forbidden to arrive in the country; no official reasons were made public.

According to the German agency DPA, the authorities confiscated Mr. Sunden’s passport and informed him that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had forbidden his arrival in the country since 31 March. The press service of the Ukrainian MFA confirmed this information, but refused to give any comments to our correspondent.

‘Kyiv Post’ has been published in Kyiv since 1995 and is a most popular English language edition.

Next day, on 12 April, J. Sunden was permitted to step upon the sacred Ukrainian soil.

In Vinnitsa as everywhere

Inspectors controlling consumption of energy walked from one house to another and recommended… to take part in the referendum. Everything goes as in the recent presidential election, but there are new tricks too. For the first time the important part of the voting plan was voting before the proper day. Tram and trolleybus drivers appeared among the most active agitators. After a stop or two they announced by the intercom: ‘Citizens, we invite you to vote at the referendum held by the people’s initiative and support the questions put out to the referendum’. Then they gave detailed information where and how one can vote before the time.

In hospitals no new methods have been introduced. In the city hospital No. 1 they again ordered all doctors to vote at the place of their work, not residence. The voting among the patients was held as follows: a bulletin was read aloud to all the ward, and then the chairman of this improvised meeting said: ‘Well, we know that you support all these questions, so we shall fill in the bulletins for you’. Local chiefs competed for being the best yes-men.

Our informant

What will they take from us tomorrow? And what shall we give them next?

I am writing these lines on 16 April at noon. The radio has just informed us that the all-Ukrainian referendum is valid: 54% of voters have already come to voting stations. That is on the whole Ukraine. As to the Kharkiv oblast — about 40% have come to vote before yesterday. The highest proportion of those who already voted is in student hostels and military barracks.

The doorbell is buzzing. A young woman says that she is a member of the local voting commission. Why have not you come to vote? I answer that I do not want to participate in this farce. ‘Because of such people as you we have a low percent and will have troubles at our jobs. Is it so difficult to come to the station?’ She went away, I see her to the door and meet my neighbor, a schoolteacher. She has just come from the far away district, where her school is situated. By headmaster’s order she went around flats where her pupils live and checked if all the parents had voted. Ten days ago she held a parents’ meeting and all these ten days she had to report how many parents had already voted. ‘When my boss learned that very few parents voted, he was hysterical. And in the neighboring school schoolbags were taken from pupils>The pupils were told that the bags would be given back to those whose parents voted. And the oblast school administration made special lists of teachers and check, check, check’.

An acquaintance phoned. She is a philosopher, very soon will be a doctor of philosophy, spent a year on probation in the USA. ‘You are a right protection group, after all! Protect us! It is shocking: they demand me to vote and bring a written confirmation!’ I said: ‘Write a complaint and bring it to our group. Then we shall have a basis to start the complaint on the abuse of law’. — ‘No, that is too much for me. I refused to vote and said about this to the head of my department. That is all I can do’.

Ten days we have been receiving such telephone calls in the office. Teachers, medical doctors, students, officers of communal services and many other workers who are paid from the state budget phoned. All say more or less the same, though in different words. What is identical is the phrase: ‘Please, do not mention my name’. Everybody understands that the happening of the referendum is very far from being free. Many sabotaged the voting, but almost nobody decided to protest openly.

On 14 April a poetical concert was held by Marlena Rakhlina in the city lecture hall. She once was ‘published’ in samizdat . When she was asked to read some well-known samizdat verses, she read a desperate poem, which finished with the words:

What will they take from us tomorrow?

What shall we give them next?

The hall applauded. These words are not less actual now than in middle 70s. The banner is not red now, it is blue-yellow. But the mutual relations of individuals and the state have returned to the former counterposition: WE — THEY. THEY coerce us to behave, WE must obey. THEY want to drive us to market relations, WE must survive economic reforms. THEY do not believe that WE can organize our lives ourselves. An open society is a society of free people, independent of the state, first of all, economically. Such actions of the authorities increase the dependence on the state. In the more active proportion of the population they increase the desire to emigrate. I think that all these hysterics will not result in any positive changes.

Response to R. Romanov’s note ‘Will Kuchma become the Big Brother?’

R. Romanov’s article was published in the February issue.

I support the negative attitude of R. Romanov to the all-Ukrainian referendum. At the same time I would like to comment on the misunderstanding, which appeared, in my opinion, because of the deficit of information possessed by Mr. Romanov, who wrote that ‘in Lugansk the supporters of Ukrainian Rukh began to collect signatures for including to the referendum one more question: making Leonid Kuchma the President for life.’

The Ukrainian People’s Rukh never supported the mentioned referendum because of several reasons.

First, the Rukh considers unreasonable the introduction of changes to the Constitution of Ukraine for a few next years. Maybe, the current Constitution is imperfect, but we must permit the Constitution to function for some sizeable term, for example, for 5 – 10 years. For this period the Ukrainian people will elect two times both the Supreme Rada and the President. Only then we shall be able to objectively assess negative and positive sides of our Constitution.

Secondly, it is absolutely inadmissible to introduce the changes to the Constitution ad hoc, under the concrete situation in the society (when the President is ‘good’ and the Supreme Rada is ‘bad’). That will lead to the situation when the Constitution will have to be changed after each election, either of the President, or of the Supreme Rada.

Thirdly, it is illogical to include into the referendum the question about the present composition of the Supreme Rada, since the majority that took the responsibility on the state of things in the country has been already shaped. Besides, nobody can guarantee that the new composition of the Parliament will be better than the present one.

Fourthly, it is absolutely illogical to include into the referendum the question about the two-chamber Parliament, which is typical for federal states, whereas, as is known, Ukraine is a unitary state.

Besides, governors in Ukraine, in contrast to Russia, are appointed by the President and are not elected by the population of the region.

This will lead to the situation when one of the chambers will be actually appointed by the President, which is a step behind from democracy to the authoritarianism.

It is inadmissible to adopt the Constitution at a referendum. It is impossible technically to include into a referendum the entire text of the Constitution, and then a citizen who disagrees only with one statement of the Constitution will have to vote against the entire text.

Taking into account that every (or almost every) citizen can dislike several statements of the Constitution, the situation will appear when the state will not be able to adopt any Constitution.

What concerns the organization of gathering signatures in Lugansk for giving L. Kuchma the status of the life-long President, it was a political joke. This action was aimed at showing that in our society it is possible to bring to the common discussion any nonsense, and people will be found to support this nonsense. The sense of this action of the Rukh in Lugansk was to show people that they must think before suggesting the society this or that idea. Because the absurdity of the suggested ideas is not always seen at a first glance (as in the case of the referendum), and the absurd idea can be well camouflaged by the professional agitators who cloud the mind of the Ukrainian people.

Referendum: questions which remained without answers

The all-Ukrainian referendum held by the people’s initiative on 16 April may be rightfully called the most important event in the social and political life of Ukraine. The questions of the referendum have been positively answered by the majority of Ukrainian people, and that can cause fundamental changes in the political landscape of the country which are difficult to anticipate.

The most important word as to the correspondence of the questions of the referendum to the Constitution of Ukraine was uttered by the Constitutional Court on 29 March. The six questions which every Ukrainian voter had to answer were as follows: 1) On the distrust to the Supreme Rada and disbanding it by the President; 2) On the pre-term suspension of the work of the Supreme Rada if the latter did not shape the majority within one month or does not accept the state budget within three months; 3) On constraining the deputies’ inviolability; 4) On the decrease of the number of MPs from 450 to 300; 5) On creating a two-chamber Parliament; 6) On adopting the Constitution by an all-Ukrainian referendum. Having considered the questions, the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, according to Article 157 of the Constitution, decided: to regard questions 2 – 5 corresponding to the Constitution. The Constitutional Court also decided that the results of the referendum will be not consultative, but obligatory for the consideration and adoption of the related decisions by state bodies.

To be exact, the process of voting began on 6 April. According to the law on all-Ukrainian and local referendums, the pre-term voting is permitted to those voters, who, due to good reasons, cannot vote on the appointed day. No confirmation of ‘good reasons’ was asked. According to the data of the Voters’ Committee, by 10 April, that is a week before the appointed day, 8–15% of voters had already given their voices (‘Vechirniy Kyiv’, 13 April). By the end of the work week in some regions of Ukraine above 35% had already managed to vote, and at some voting stations of Kharkiv the proportion of those who had voted before the term exceeded 90%. Mykhaylo Riabets, the head of the Central Voting Commission, said that on 16 April the 50% level that made the referendum valid, was reached by noon.

Thus, the all-Ukrainian referendum was not boycotted, although some political forces agitated for it. The boycott of the referendum was proposed both by leftish forces and by the nationalist right. Oleksandr Moroz, a leader of socialists, repeatedly declared that the fraction ‘The left center’ will ‘agitate to vote against all the questions or even to abstain from the participation in it’ (‘Molod Ukrainy’ of 31 March). This view was shared by Ukrainian communists. The communist party appealed the voters just to ignore the referendum. As Petro Simonenko, the leader of the communist party of Ukraine, explained, this appeal had the goal to prevent ‘deceive the people for the umpteenth time’ (‘Tovaryshch’, No. 14). The party ‘Ahead, Ukraine!’, which is not represented in the Supreme Rada and is centrist politically, appealed to the people to boycott the referendum (‘Silski visti’ of 4 April). Some local committees of ‘The Rukh’ and Ukrainian Nationalists agitated for the boycott.

Sociological polls showed that the appeals of boycott were vain. Ukrainian sociologists predicted the results of the referendum. Kyiv International Institute of sociology organized a poll on 16 – 27 March of 1900 pollees in all regions of Ukraine. By the results of the poll 63% of Ukrainian citizens intended to take part in the referendum, 26% intended not to participate and 11% had not made their minds yet. Other polls showed that the most difficult question was about creating a two-chamber Parliament. Only 23% of the pollees were prepared to answer this question positively. The ‘easiest’ question was the restriction of MPs inviolability: 83% of voters were ready to give the positive answer.

The results of the referendum after making them public amazed. Not only insufficiently informed skeptics, but the people itself. The level of uniformity of opinion and preparedness to drop the daily chores for taking part in the referendum appeared unexpectedly high. About 79% of voters took part in the referendum. The percent of positive answers to the four remaining questions was 85%, 89%, 90% and 82%, respectively.

Thus, the referendum has been successfully (for the administration) carried out. The happy end was correspondingly celebrated, but the main events seem just to be beginning. The matter is not only in the existence of difficult questions concerning the future organization of the system of the executive power. It is not clear whether the introduction of the two-chamber Parliament brings about the danger of separatism of the state. This is a topic of a separate complicated discussion. There is another difficult problem connected with the mechanism of the implementation of the referendum results into the space of the Ukrainian legislation. The correct correspondence with the constitutional norms in the process of implementation of the referendum results will determine the future rebuilding of Ukraine into the European structures and the internal organization and system of distribution of power within the state. Although, as some Ukrainian top figures affirm that ‘the Council of Europe is not the entire Europe’, the question of Ukrainian membership in the Council of Europe remains under danger. The reason is, for instance, that one of the main points of the resolution of the Council of Europe adopted at the completion of hearing on reforming power institutions in Ukraine, contains a recommendation to suspend the membership of Ukraine if the results of the referendum will be implemented by non-Constitutional means (‘Silski visti’ of 6 April).

Besides, it is very important to prevent use of the referendum as ‘a lancet directed against the responsible majority of the Supreme Rada’, as Stepan Gavrish, a vice-speaker of the Supreme Rada, expressed (‘Kievskie vedomosti’ of 7 April). It should not be directed against the Parliamentary minority too, we shall add from ourselves, protecting the entire system of the legislative power. Otherwise a system of distribution of power may appear with the Belarussian accent and we all know the consequences of Lukashenko’s style of government for his country.

So, we encounter a natural logical question: ‘What must be done with the referendum results, since, according to the decision of the Constitutional Court, the results are not consultative, but obligatory?’ The Constitution of Ukraine contains no statements about the consultative referendums, so the all-Ukrainian referendum of 16 April is not merely a sociological poll that cost Hr 30 million to the state budget. After the resolution of the Constitutional Court of 27 March: ‘The people’s will which will be revealed at the all-Ukrainian referendum proclaimed by the President of Ukraine after the people’s initiative, may not have consultative character. That is why if the people supported the statements of items 1, 2, 3, 4 of Article 2 of the Decree, then these statements have to be included into the Constitution of Ukraine’. According to the Constitution, as it is also pointed out in the resolution of the Constitutional Court, ‘the introduction of changes to the Constitution of Ukraine belongs to the power of the Supreme Rada of Ukraine’. It should be noted that, for instance, the referendum question about the introduction of the two-chamber Parliament has, as a consequence, introducing changes to at least 32 articles of the Constitution!

Such changes are very complicated from the juridical point of view. For example, in Article 44 of the law on the all-Ukrainian referendum it is stated that laws and decisions taken at a referendum after the official publication of the results by the Central Voting Commission must work immediately and be directly introduced into the legislation. Yet, nowadays most experts believe that all the decisions taken at the referendum must be approved by the Parliament, as it is written in the corresponding resolution of the Constitutional Court.

In this connection another important problem has a reason concerning the possibility of a constitutional crisis with the far reaching consequences. This very opinion was expressed by Roman Bessmertny, a permanent representative of the President in the Supreme Rada. Regarding the question of the implementation of the referendum results to the legislation of Ukraine, he remarked that the essence of the matter is such: ‘Today we have two positions. One verbalized by the resolution of the Constitutional Court and stating that the referendum results must be mandatory for all. Another — stating that the decision must be essentially adopted by the Parliament’. A similar position is shared by Viktor Medvedchuk, the first deputy of the speaker. In his opinion, it is impossible to give an unambiguous answer how to realize the referendum decisions (’Ukraina moloda’ of 12 April).

According to the decision of the Constitutional Court, the referendum results must be obligatorily considered and realized by the Parliament. The Supreme Rada has to take a decision by not less than 300 votes, since the matter concerns introducing changes to the Constitution. But it is very doubtful that such a number of supporters of changing the Constitution will be found. For today the Parliamentary (pro-Presidential) majority counts 276 MPs. The rest of MPs share a group with a negative attitude to the referendum in general and to each question of it. It is quite possible that the left, who appealed to boycott the referendum, will continue the boycott inside the Parliamentary walls. The communist fraction, the largest and , perhaps, the most disciplined fraction in the Parliament, counts 115 MPs, and they are ready to act against the introduction of the referendum results. One of the leaders of communists Stanislav Gurenko declared that ‘decision of the Constitutional Court about the referendum put the delayed-action mine. The referendum results are mandatory and must be introduced into the legislation and the Constitution. Such amendments must be introduced only by the Supreme Rada of Ukraine after repeated discussions and expertises by the Constitutional Court. For every decision not less than 300 MPs should vote, thus we expect a new stage of counterposition of the legislation and executive power.’ (‘Kommunist’, No. 14, April 2000). This prediction does not add optimism as to the fast and peaceful decision of the mentioned problems. On the other hand, the approval of all referendum questions by more than 80% citizens, who took part in the referendum, that is by a part of the electorate that voted for communists, makes communists to be careful.

Viktor Medvedchuk developing these considerations remarked that ‘as a lawyer I cannot predict what will happen if the Supreme Rada and the Central Voting Commission do not fulfill what will be decided at the referendum. This responsibility is not anticipated in any operating law’. (‘Golos Ukrainy’, 5 April 2000). There is some hope that the situation with the insufficient majority will be improved after electing 10 new MPs, which will occur 20 June. However, if the majority parties will manage to get all 10 new deputies, this will not be the guarantee of the success. It is rather difficult to predict, what will happen if the Parliament appears unable to implement the referendum results into the Ukrainian legislation and Constitution of Ukraine. Maybe, the Parliament will be disbanded, which is not stipulated by any legal act. Yet, we would like to believe the words of Volodymyr Lytvin, the head of the President’s administration, who said that in case when the Parliament appears unable to implement the referendum results, then Leonid Kuchma, as a guarantor of the Constitution, would act ‘reasonably and responsibly’ (‘Ukraina moloda’, 12 April). The guarantor of the Constitution declared in his turn that the current referendum would not be the last.

‘Research update’, UCIPR, No. 169 of 17 April 2000

The Ukrainian referendum

The Ukrainian referendum held allegedly by the people’s initiative occurred on 16 April and has already brought its first fruits. Law drafts on amendments to the Constitution have been suggested by the President in the Supreme Rada. The transformation of the Ukrainian Parliament from one-chamber to two-chamber one is somewhat postponed, but the reasons are purely procedural, since it is not so simple to rewrite one third of the Constitution.

Mass media reacted to the referendum differently: the dependent ones — by victorious relations, the independent ones — by almost a refusal to serve ‘to such people’, in the future. A new favorite object to be serviced — a ‘conscious and autonomous individual’ — has appeared instead of the ‘people’. Yet it is stupid to wave fists after the fight, the political roles have been acted, the numerical results have been obtained, although everybody — the power, the population and the Big Brother — know for which price.

It goes without saying that the referendum violated the Constitution, not so much in particular procedural guarantees of the sovereign will expression, or in entering amendments to the Constitution, which frightened the politically active Europe, but rather concerning Article 3 of the Constitution that declared that man’s dignity is regarded in our country as the superior social value. It happened that to respect the dignity of a Ukrainian citizen in this case was unreasonable.

The coercion to voting and the intimidation of voters seemed to be idiotic: physicians earning money from the state budget pressed on their patients, teachers earning money from the state budget took away school bags from their pupils. The idea of the latter stratagem was that parents could return schoolbags of their offsprings by the pre-term voting at the polling station located in the school. Professors of higher schools, who learned democracy in the West, were ordered to bring certificates that they participated in the festival of democracy. They had to learn that the liberal theory is one thing, and the will of the people is quite another. The professors complained in whispers, but were not ready to protest aloud. Perhaps, their liberal instincts needed much longer tempering in the West.

Those, who were not coerced to vote before the day D, got the opportunity to vote not only for themselves, but for their less active families. Passports or some other IDs were not required at the voting stations. I happened to see my friend to his polling station at half an hour before the end of voting. On the page with the list of voters there were four signatures from 25 – 30.

In Kharkiv everybody knew how this happening was organized. I phoned to my acquaintances in Lviv to learn how the referendum was going. They answered that they were having the same happening with the moral and political unity based on similar tricks.

The state television was lying with a pleasant mien. The chairman of the Central Voting Commission looked as a favorite of the people, he pressed some buttons on the computer keyboard, showing pictures and diagrams; he answered the questions of polite journalists even more politely. S. Naboka, a showman of the night TV carelessly dropped several days ago that he personally was against the referendum and that he considered one of the questions ‘idiotic’. For this he was sent away on a leave. Certainly, the Central Voting Commission registered tiny violations of the procedure, but they certainly could not tell on the total result. If some active TV journalist in some interactive feature could ask the viewers to telephone whether they were coerced to voting, he would get very intriguing results. But who on our TV wants to go on a leave or on a pension? The position of a state TV concerning the referendum and the interpretation of its results was expressed by the showman V. Lapikur, who is given much better time than S. Naboka. V. Lapikur is an ideological junior brother of V. Dolganov, who made a breath-taking career in the TV war with P. Lazarenko. Now P. Lazarenko stays in a political exile and prepares to speak in the American Congress. As to V. Lapikur, he is busy of branding the Ukrainian parliamentary delegation in Strasbourg. The chief of the latter, S. Golovaty, permanently warns the Ukrainian democracy against ‘Belarusization’. He is opposed by V. Lapikur, and they make another, bantam-weight, pair, beside V. Dolganov – P. Lazarenko.

In the Ukrainian information space there are people, who say that the honor of the Ukrainian democracy and constitutionalism was saved by the decision of the Constitutional Court. Such people are partly right. Indeed, the decision of the Court somewhat smoothed the pogrom intentions of the people’s initiative. If the court gave in, Ukraine would not have either Constitution, or Parliament, or the Constitutional Court itself. Having understood this, the Constitutional Court deleted the first and the last (which was called ‘idiotic’ by S. Naboka) questions of the initial formula. Thus, the court not only supported S. Naboka, but it saved the Ukrainian Constitutional structure from an immediate collapse. To be just, one should mention that the initial draft of the decision of the Constitutional Court, according to sufficiently well-informed sources, hotly agreed with the people’s attitude and supported all the questions. Nonetheless, the Constitutional Court obliged the power to introduce amendments to the Constitution according to the procedure of Article 155 of the Constitution. A representative of the Constitutional Court almost at once declared that the correct attitude to the referendum is to treat it not like a consultative (the PACE believed in it with naive optimism), but as imperative expression of the people’s will. At least, that was the idea, which, with the reference to V. Skomorokha, was made public through government TV channels.

It seems that even distant thunders from the corridors of the President’s administration appeared enough to intimidate the professional consciousness of the juridical elite of the country. Academicians and corresponding members of the right, rectors and deans of juridical institutes and law schools ran a race to the TV cameras to convince compatriots that now voting in the Parliament is obsolete and that the Constitution might be changed on the basis of the people’s will, the superiority of the right or both. 
‘Some did it with a bitter look,
Some with the flattering word’. 

 The bravest even dared to say that voting in the Parliament would be necessary, but it must express the will of the people.

Meanwhile, the common sense and the elementary knowledge of jurisprudence tell that voting of the people may not be mandatory for MPs. The Constitution of 1996 canceled the imperative mandate since people’s deputies stopped to be simple mouthpieces for expressing the people’s will and turned to its shapers. Instead of the former system of retranslating people’s interests by people’s deputies before the authorities another constitutional model was established, where people’s deputies had to formulate the interests of the people according to the deputies’ understanding. Correspondingly, the recall of deputies by voters was canceled. As to the law ‘On all-Ukrainian and local referendums’, it was adopted in 1991, and that was why it followed from the logic of the Constitution of the Soviet Ukraine (1978), in which the imperative mandate was established for deputies. That is why the old law on the referendum and the new Constitution are incompatible, since they express contradictory juridical paradigms. In fact, one can see here the contraposition of the totalitarian and liberal democracy. It is annoying, but this collision was not noticed either by the judges of the Constitutional Court in their decision, or by lawyers in their interviews with political reviewers.

Commenting this circumstance, one may believe that, according to the logic of the new Constitution of Ukraine, an MP, as the Westernized son of Camal described by R. Kipling, has the right to destroy his house to keep his country quiet. In the context of modern ideas on the political evolution, such a system, in spite of its external weakness, is a much more advanced concept than the hypocritical bolshevist ideology of the direct control of the masses. More confidence always means greater freedom, and the latter leads to a greater self-dependence.

If to accept this idea, then the automatic parliamentary voting for the amendments becomes obviously absurd. It is consoling that the given referendum is absurd in many ways. At the very root of this national political adventure the executive power leans on law-enforcing bodies and the post-totalitarian fear of the population, thus demonstrating its confusing and insincere plan for the people’s initiative. Then, using a chain of humiliations, almost physical, the power forced the people to support itself after all. Then the victorious people’s will is ordered to break the spine of the Parliament and at the same time to kick the stool from under the feet of the Constitution. What will we have as a result?

It is obvious that if the President’s right to disband the Parliament which could not shape the majority within a month will penetrate the Constitution, this will mean practically complete subordination of the Parliament to the President. The term ‘majority’ here is just a synonym of the political subordination. After the introduction of this amendment to the Constitution any unacceptable for MPs law developed by the President or the cabinet of Ministers could be turned into a club that will disband the Parliament as policemen clubs disband demonstrations. After this amendment it is enough to suggest to the Parliament any law of the type ‘On the use of toad-stools’ and then disband it for the non-constructive difference of opinions.

Actually, the presidential demand of the efficient majority hides an implicit demand of the President to the people to be more agreeable and ‘homogeneous’. Unlike any unique ruler, the Parliament is always a political reflection of a rather complicated structure of people’s representatives. This fact does not suit the President, as well as the executive power consolidated by him, most of all. One way or other, but reducing the idea of the ‘people’s referendum’ to its elements, one has to come to a simple conclusion: bureaucrats believe that they are insufficiently obeyed. Thus, the obedience to power must be essentially increased, and the power is meant to be the ‘real’ one, the presidential power.

From the viewpoint of the philosophy of the right the matter looks so: the Ukrainian professional authorities, as well as their Belarussian counterparts, dodge real economic and political reforms, and it became clear that they feel themselves uncomfortably in the political suit made by European and American fashions. In the beginning the authorities thought that the suit suited them, but in the course of time it became obvious that the suit did not fit because it hindered the movement of leviathans of the power. In other words, the actual intellectual level of the Ukrainian executive power appeared to be catastrophically small compared with the own Constitution. The power appeared to be unable to reach the level of the national Constitution and decided to decrease this level to its own. G. Soros used to say quite rightly that the modern democracy and the open society combined is a very complicated machine.

Opponents would say that people’s deputies are not sinless and even prone to theft. That is right, Ukrainian MPs are far from being perfect. To be sure it is enough to look at Article 33 of the law ‘On the status of people’s deputies of Ukraine’ where it is said that ‘remuneration of labor of people’s deputies of Ukraine is done according to the norms established by the Supreme Rada of Ukraine’. In such countries as the USA, Great Britain and Germany the deputies’ remuneration is approximately equal to the salary of a professor of a prestigious university, while in Ukraine an MP’s salary is 5 – 6 times greater than that of a professor. The higher the power, the greater is this discrepancy, which is the favorite topic of Ukrainian mass media. The salary of the President of the USA is about two times greater than that of a university professor, while in Ukraine the ratio will be about ten times. Similar arguments can be easily applied to the considerations of inviolability. The President of any country needs the inviolability not more than MPs. A purely arithmetical argument shows that the President’s inviolability is more dangerous. In order to get a tyrant the people must make a mistake at the presidential election only one time, while a corrupted deputy will be dissolved among its colleagues, who are statistically honest. One may think that the potential danger of a single MP is developed by a fraction where the numerator is one and the denominator is the total number of deputies. In the case of the President the denominator is one.

A reader, who was sufficiently patient to read to this place, may say that I exaggerate, and all said above is not very essential, since the main problem of the Ukrainian politics is quite another, starting with the Central Rada, Directory, M. Grushevskiy, P. Skoropatskiy or even S. Petliura. For example, the problem is that, knowing well the Ukrainian history, the current President just tries to overcome the age-old political lack of discipline of the Ukrainian society. Maybe, the President, while risking his international reputation, tries to direct his motherland to the way, approved by his almost prosperous neighbors. For many not indifferent citizens it is quite clear that Ukraine needs a civilian Pinochet, who will without hesitations and compromises protect democracy and market freedoms. I am sure that in the modern political or — wider — intellectual spectrum of Ukraine we see figures who think so: Ukraine is not a very complicated state, and we do not need to confuse ourselves in political and juridical mazes of the Western liberalism. It was not accidental that V. Vinnichenko, living in Paris, compared Ukraine to a naive provincial woman. V. Gombrovich, living in Argentinean emigration, was sorry that in Poland there was not a single writer of Balsac’s or Dostoyevskiy caliber. We, in Ukraine, should rather be sorry that we had not an author of V. Gombrovich’s caliber. In the modern Ukrainian periodical literature it is easy to find such an argument that, unlike Lukashenko and Central Asia shepherds of nations, L. Kuchma tries to consolidate not a feudal socialism, but almost classical capitalism. And for such a sacred goal one must be prepared to suffer.

Of course, for the sake of good goal one may suffer a little and even sacrifice something. Yet, the prospects of fast coming capitalism on the post-Soviet space, as I. Valerstein believes, are very dim. Instead, Ukraine has much stronger chances to become a passable semi-periphery of the modern civilized countries. Frankly, no one knows, which ambitions we can realize. But to make us to apply some efforts, we previously must get rid of insulting efforts applied to us by the authorities. I am sure that it is worthwhile to begin with providing some guarantees of the inviolability of the dignity of the still ‘lost Ukrainian citizen’.

28 April 2000

Freedom of expression

What to fight against: the corruption or the Internet?

On 29 March a trustworthy Ukrainian service of internet news UA – TODAY, with the reference to the UNIAN agency, informed that the head of the Ukrainian Security Service Leonid Derkach declared that the USS was going ‘to control the Internet providers’. This decision is caused by the suspicion that ‘the campaign in the newspaper ‘The Financial Times’ about the incorrect use of the IMF credits by Ukraine was prepared in Ukraine’.

According to Leonid Derkach, the information published in ‘The Financial Times’ was obtained by an informational agency in the Supreme Rada and distributed in the informational network of the Internet, after which ‘The Financial Times’ published the response. Leonid Derkach did not give the details from which sources this compromising material leaked to the press. It is interesting and indicative that the USS head sees the danger for the state not in the fact of the incorrect use of foreign credits, which now nobody tries to reject, but in the leakage of this information, which can harass the ‘cooperation’ of Ukraine with her present and potential creditors. It is obvious that the USS, whose duty is to protect human rights and the state security including the observation of laws in the economic and financial spheres, searches those who made it known. Such a gradation of priorities by the highest officer of the USS is indicative and alarming. Leonid Derkach did not explain which measures will be taken by his organization to those who distribute in the Internet the ‘harmful information’. It is also not clear what will be the methods of search of the guilty. It is not necessary to remind the reader that this is not the first attempt to restrain the freedom of information and privacy for Ukrainian users of the Internet. So, on 7 September 1999 the Supreme Rada rejected the draft of the law of Ukraine ‘On the introduction of changes to Article 4 of the law „On entrepreneurial activities“’. This draft was suggested by Leonid Kuchma and intended to oblige providers of the Internet to install the special equipment for the interception of information. Then only 20 MPs voted for this draft, while 252 voted against.

Nonetheless, the attempts to restrain the privacy of the Internet users are continuing.

Can we stop the hunting season in Zhytomir?

In ‘Prava ludyny’ for December 1999 we published the article ‘The simplest way of building a party system’. This article told that in Zhytomir V. V. Shundrik, the head of the oblast directorate of justice, issued order No. 749/3 of 20 October 1999, in which he, without explaining any reasons, liquidated the record on the legalization of Zhytomir regional organization of the Constitutional Democratic Party (CDP). This party was, since the moment of its foundation, in opposition to the ruling regimes of Ukraine.

By his illegal actions V. V. Shundrik not only violated the operating law ‘On the order of legalization of unions of citizens’ and Articles 15, 36 and 37 of the Constitution, but also exercised a function of justice, thus trampling Article 124 of the Constitution asserting that justice in Ukraine is realized only by courts.

In December 1999 I handed a complaint against the illegal actions of V. V. Shyndrik to Bogunskiy district court of Zhytomir. I did not hope that the court would accept my complaint. The subsequent events confirmed my fears. On 20 December 1999 A. M. Timoshenko, the judge of Bogunskiy district court, considered my complaint and did not accept it because there were not enough proofs to give me the right to act on behalf of the CDP, although I did not pretend that I acted namely on behalf of this organization: I acted on behalf of the Zhytomir oblast organization headed by me. Not wishing to conflict with the court, on 27 December I handed to Bogunskiy district court the documents confirming my rights. The court considered the documents as insufficient. On 16 January 2000 in my mailbox (from which the correspondence is taken every day) I found a letter from Bogunskiy district court without a date. Inside there was a document dated 5 January, that is the document was delivered eleven days, the distance between the court and the mailbox being 15 minutes drive by trolleybus. I think that the delay of delivery was organized on purpose, to prevent me to hand a cassation complaint. The decision of the court read as follows: ‘According to Article 248-1 of the Civil-Procedural Code of Ukraine a citizen has the right to complain about the actions of civil officers; it follows that the CDP under the existing circumstances has no right to complain and the complaint may not be accepted’. In its ruling the court violated Articles 8, 15 and 36 of the Constitution, as well as Articles 4, 5, 121 of the Civil-Procedural Code. This ruling violated the fundamental right, stipulated in item 2 of Article 4 of the Civil-Procedural Code: ‘refusal of the right of turning to court is invalid’.

On 19 January 2000 I handed a cassation complaint about the ruling of Bogunskiy district court of 5 January to the collegium on civil cases of the Zhytomir oblast court. My complaint was considered at the meeting of the collegium on 11 and 16 February. The court satisfied my cassation complaint and cancelled the decision of Bogunskiy district court of 5 January. The oblast court obliged the district court to accept my complaint about illegal actions of V. V. Shundrik. More then a month passed, but Bogunskiy district court is not in a hurry to execute this decision.

A Crimean Tatar newspaper under the threat of closure

On 31 March Eldar Seitbekirov, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper ‘Golos Kryma’ (‘The voice of the Crimea’), was summoned to the prosecutor’s office for interrogation. The cause of this summon to the Central district prosecutor’s office of Simferopol was the complaint of Oleg Rodivilov, an MP of the Crimean Parliament, who regarded some materials published in this newspaper as inflaming the national enmity to the Russian people. Among other materials the complaint concerns the article of a writer Erik Kudusov. This article titled ‘Bolshevik cruelty and its roots’ was published in ‘Golos Kryma’ on 10 March.

The deputy did not specify what part of the article may be qualified as inflaming the national enmity to the Russian people. Eldar Seitbekirov thinks that the pretext of the complaint could be the following quotation: ‘The hypothesis of the doctor of history V. Vozgrin about the source of the cruelty of Russian people (sea of blood and absolute insensitivity in deciding peoples’ destiny) flows out from the people’s mentality. I also intend to put out a hypothesis a out what causes brutal cruelty in people’s interrelations. In contrast to doctor Vozgrin, I do not believe that cruelty is typical only to the Russian people’.

Eldar Seitbekirov does not exclude that the pressure on the side of pro-Russian political forces of the peninsular upon his newspaper will become stronger. The reason of this will be the attitude of ‘Golos Kryma’ to the Chechen war.

The newspaper ‘Golos Kryma’ is a supplement to the newspaper ‘Golos Ukrainy’ published by the Supreme Rada of Ukraine. This supplement is intended for Crimean Tatars and is published in Russian in Simferopol. As to Oleg Rodivilov, he is a deputy of the Supreme Rada of the Crimea and he heads the youth branch of the Russian community of the Crimea.

The Committee of monitoring the free press at the Crimean Center of independent politologists and journalists

A declaration of pressmen from Lviv

The freedom of speech is endangered in our country today. Mass media, as a special institute extremely needed for the existence of democracy, stop to execute their duties before the people and before the country.

Newspapers, journals, radio and TV stations may not objectively elucidate the current events. They stop to be a free tribune for elucidating quite different attitudes; they stop to be the tribune without which it is senseless to dream of shaping well-balanced public opinion.

Our most acute problem is the unsatisfactory legislation. It does not contain elementary guarantees for the press to execute its duties. The law actually permits to infringe the press by unreasonable fines that result from groundless libel claims. That is why the court became the place where disobedient newsmen are punished and free newspapers are closed. The law does not guarantee equal rights of mass media. The law does not constrain the authorities’ rights to interfere into the professional life of newspapers and magazines.

Such a practice should be immediately stopped, and imperfect laws changed. We do not want to live in the country, where journalists have no right to think and no right to write what they think.

That is the reason why we cannot keep silence any more. We cannot observe without protest how, before the eyes of the disappointed public, one of the most fundamental elements of democracy — the freedom of speech — is being destroyed. That is why we began the action ‘The wave of freedom’, which is based on the principles declared in the Declaration of principles of free journalists of Ukraine.

Our goal is simple and honest — to shape, by using all constitutionally admissible methods, such legislation in the country which will enable us to develop mass media which correspond to our advance to the open society.

What is the action of free newsmen?

The action of free newsmen (AFN) is a non-party ad hoc union. Its goal is the decision of urgent problems — the introduction of changes into the legislation, which will make impossible the pressure of power, courts and control organs on mass information. The AFN is not a movement of journalist functionaries, who try in this way to make their career in case of success. The action of free newsmen is an element, is an outburst. Nowadays we are separated by many reasons: the necessity to compete, distrust, pessimistic feeling of impotence. We must overcome all these reasons and we must support what is needed by all of us. Then we shall win.

A message to the public

What initiated the action ‘The wave of freedom’? On 31 March one of the district courts of Lviv, acting on the hint from above, took one of the most absurd decisions in the history of claims against mass media in the independent Ukraine. For a publication of a short critical review (12 lines on the page ‘Culture’) the court forced the newspaper ‘Express’ to pay on the libel case Hr 150,000. This case illustrates in the best way what is happening with the freedom of press in the post-Soviet Ukraine.

There is no doubt that this court decision was taken in order to put on the knees the most popular regional newspaper for its principal attitude. The decision was taken just when the counterposition between the newspaper and the local power reached its peak. The magazine was not even given the opportunity to defend: the case that rested in the drawer since 1997 was considered behind the closed doors.

The decision was taken by the head of the district court A. Goretskiy, who even does not possess the life-long judge’s status. In December 1999 the Supreme Rada of Ukraine, when it considered personal cases of judges, did not vote for this. Judge Goretskiy, being afraid for his position, became a mere tool in the hands of the authorities, who just decided to punish the newspaper. This decision filled the journalists with such indignation that they decided to begin the protest action on 13 April and started to build a barricade.

Why did journalists decide to build the Barricade in downtown Lviv?

The Barricade is a symbol of resistance. The Barricade is a boundary between the wide world of free journalists and narrow world of Ukrainian bureaucrats. The Barricade is a challenge to nomenclature, who again considers that the freedom of speech can be manipulated from their comfortable offices of from their Mercedeses. The Barricade is a start of the movement of free journalists who set before them the goal to change the existing order by any price.

What is our goal?

Our strategic goal is to introduce into the legislation of Ukraine the changes, which will make impossible the pressure on mass media by authorities, courts and controlling bodies. Our tactical task is to achieve the change of the decision in the case against the newspaper ‘Express’.

What do we believe in?

We believe that in the nearest time barricades of solidarity in the framework of our action will appear throughout Ukraine.

We believe in support of the people of good will.

We believe that together we shall win. 

On 13 April in 8:45 another action began in Lviv called ‘The wave of freedom’ by journalists. Journalists of various editions, which protest against the permanent infringements and interference on the side of the authorities, united and decided to declare their attitude to the problems of freedom of speech in Ukraine and to the democratic current power as a whole. Now this action is passing without excesses and with the powerful support of the population.

In the nearest several days the attention of the world and Ukrainian mass media will be attracted to our city, since the action was started in our city, during 5 – 10 days. 35 TV companies will report on the course of events. More than 30 FM stations will inform the listeners about the demands of ‘The wave of freedom’.

Funeral of freedom

At 8:45 more than 50 journalists and mere supporters of the action ‘The wave of freedom’ gathered near the Franko district court of Lviv in the General Chuprinko street. Journalists organized the picket near the courthouse and passed to the court administration the letter, where they protested against the court decision concerning the newspaper ‘Express’. It is interesting that on the previous day judge Goretskiy, who ruled out the verdict, went on leave.

The picket was accompanied by the symbolic action ‘Funeral of freedom’. A funeral march sounded and the journalists lit candles and bent their heads to mark their condolence to the dead freedom in Ukraine and in Lviv. The main slogan of the picket was ‘Lie is a weapon of officials’. Lviv citizens actively supported the journalists and called out with them various slogans in protection of the press.

A large group of militiamen observed the actions of the journalists with the great interest, but could not find a pretext to interfere.

Turning to the city administration

In 20 minutes after ‘Funeral of freedom’ an appeal of representatives of the action was read to the deputies of Lviv city council. In this address the facts of the infringement of the freedom of the press were described, as well as the demands of journalists and a request to support them. 50 deputies of the city council put their signatures under the appeal.

It is possible to rebel esthetically

The symbolic Barricade of freedom the participants of the action ‘The wave of freedom’ erected at night of 13 April. Next morning citizens and guests of Lviv assured themselves that journalists intend to seriously protect the freedom of the press.

The Barricade was constructed after the project of the well-known artist Vladimir Kaufman, who without hesitations supported the just demands of the free journalists.

‘A barricade is an eternal attribute of struggle’, said Vladimir Kaufman. — ‘All freedoms were won on barricades, and, although the Barricade of journalists is somewhat symbolic, it has all the attributes of a real barricade. The skeleton of the Barricade became the constructive scaffold on which journalists hung slogans with their demands. Besides, there are usual elements of a barricade, such as bags of sand, fuel barrels, cable bobbins, etc. The Barricade made a great expression on the spectators — they stood for hours staring at Kaufman’s creation.

March to the Barricade

Since the building of the Franko district court (as well as its functionaries) did not cause any positive emotions of the participants of ‘The wave of freedom’, the participants of the action did not stay too long near this gloomy house. After finishing the picket the journalists went on the march along the downtown, where the Barricade had been already constructed near Taras Shevchenko’s monument. This Barricade symbolized the line of counterposition of supporters of the democratic development of Ukrainian state with the reactionaries, who would like to govern the people and the country without leaving their comfortable offices and glamorous Mercedeses.

On their way from General Chuprinko Street to the Freedom avenue several hundreds of passersby joined the column of the participants of ‘The wave of freedom’. Those, who joined the column, expressed their support of the free press. On the square near Shevchenko’s monument the journalists and their supporters together declared the main principles of the ‘Wave of freedom’: ‘Free world to free people’ and ‘We shall not permit to trample the free press’. At the improvised meeting, which began near the Barricade, many well-known in Lviv figures gave their speeches: the poet Igor Kalinets, the researcher Roman Kys, the orchestra conductor Myron Yusypovich. Poet and diplomat Roman Lubkivsky approved the action over telephone.

Inhabitants and guests of the ‘Western capital’ of Ukraine get acquainted with the journalists’ demands and get leaflets in which the position of the participants of the action is described. Before the tables, where signatures in protection of the freedom of the press are taken, great queues are lined.

Tell us what you think

All the people of good will may join to our action. To keep mass media in the course of what is happening the press service of the action ‘The wave of freedom’ has been organized. It can be reached by telephone (0322) 64-64-58. We shall present all the information available, in particular, daily press releases on the course of the action.

Besides, everybody, who wants to support the independent journalists and say what he thinks about the freedom of speech in Ukraine, the hot line works daily. Call us by the number (0322) 97-07-64, and tell us what you think about our initiative.

If a newspaper does not write truth — the readers are devoid the right to know the truth.
We shall win only with your active assistance.

PL commentary.
Good words, a nice well-organized action, rather a campaign. It seems that one may be happy that at last journalists fight for the freedom of speech. But I feel protest. It seems to me that such actions must be carried in the legal field, that one must observe a letter and spirit of legislation, even if it is imperfect. One may object: how one can obtain justice in the rightless state by rightful methods? Yes, this is difficult. Nonetheless, I do not see another way for asserting the rightful consciousness in the society. By the way, the Ukrainian legislation for this category of cases is rather complete, one must only to be able to use it. Yes, that is true that libel claims keep newspapers in check, limiting journalists in their freedom of self-expression. But do you know any other way to protect an individual from libel in mass media, especially if the libel is paid? There is a problem how large must the libel claims be. If they are too low, they will not protect the victims. The newspaper ‘Express’ blamed an author in plagiarism — within the notorious 12 lines. Is it not an insult? Yes, the libel claim of Hr 250,000 is too large and not justified. Maybe, the decision of the Franko district court is unjust. But is the pressure on the court in the form of pickets and hunger strikes better than the notorious telephone right? I cannot in principle support picketing courts, even if their decisions are unjust. We must not press on courts — we must breed in our society respect to courts. Only then court will become a really independent structure. The journalists of the newspaper ‘Express’ have a strong position for protecting their interests in cassation instances. The district court violated the law when it considered the case without defendants. If the cassation fails, the case may be directed to the Supreme Court and then to the International Court, since Articles 6 and 10 of the European Convention of protection of human rights and main freedoms were violated. But the journalists have chosen a loud and doubtful way of the direct pressure.

The freedom of speech really needs protection, but, in this concrete case, by other methods.

Evhen Zakharov

Court practices

Responsibility of the state before the parents of the servicemen perished in peace time

Vladik Kharuta perished on 2 August 1986 during a training flight. It happened above the village Velyky Khutor of the Cherkassy oblast. His age was 18 years and 9 months.

From early boyhood he wanted to be a military pilot and did everything to realize his dream. At school he learned excellently and revealed capabilities to exact sciences. Friends called him ‘Professor’. He could easily enter any institute, but instead he went to a military pilot school. His first flight he made when he was 17 years and 10 months.

Everybody, who knew Vladik — teachers, classmates, army fellows and commanders — recollect him with love and sympathy. For example, here are the words of Vladik’s schoolteacher L. P. Ronenko:

‘…You must agree, this is a happy destiny when surrounding people early, very early feel that you are needed to them. Few of younger men can organize their time so that they manage to perfect their physique and mind. It is difficult to state when he found time to draw. His drawings present a surprising mixture of technical perfection and profound thought.

…It is unjust that the best boys perish so early.’

Unjust. Unjust and bitter. In this article we shall tell about the best boys. Unfortunately, they cannot be returned. Their parents remained.

We did not try to find especially tragic and short biographies. Vladik Kharuta’s teacher was quite right: the best perish.

When Kharuta’s plane was falling, only his commander understood that the young man perished because of his bravery and responsibility: he could catapult when he understood that the airplane was defective. But instead he tried to the last moment to master the machine. The assistant of the regiment commander said to Vladik’s parents that their son had died because of his mistake — let it be on his consciousness. The majority of those, who knew Vladik, recollect him as a hero.

As is usual, nobody told Vladik’s parents why the plane had broken. The day before another pilot found a fault in his plane and forbade the flight. But Vladik’s parents at least can console themselves that their son had perished executing his civil duty and his favorite work. Other parents about whom we want to tell, have not such a consolation.

Sergey Bykov dreamed to enter the Military Medical Academy. His way to the Academy started from the barracks: he had to be directed to the Academy from his military unit. Sergey was recruited in 1988 and billeted in Baltiysk of the Kaliningrad oblast. Before joining the army he finished with distinction a medical school. His parents got praises of their son from the medical school. He had many friends.

The army seemed to be interested in using a well-prepared specialist, but the unit commander thought otherwise. If such a healthy guy will write papers in the aid station, who will dig trenches? And he transferred the boy from the chair-born troops. Sergey had nothing to do but to ask parents to send him medicinal textbooks. In six months he took his entrance examinations, but did not pass the contest. It appeared that a representative from the Academy came with the list of four servicemen — Sergey Bykov was not in the list. Well, Sergey returned to his unit and began to prepare himself to the next year examination.

Unfortunately for Sergey, who was respected in his unit, his former commander captain Troaynenko was transferred to the unit, where Sergey got after the examination. Sergey’s unitmate told the following:

‘When Troyanenko beat privates or shouted at them, they were standing silently, while Sergey could object and describe what had really happened. Troyanenko was often wrong and hated both Sergey and his manner to explain.’

This is an extract from a letter to the editorial board of the newspaper ‘Komsomolskaya pravda’, which 15 comrades of Sergey Bykov wrote:

‘…Sergey wanted to become a military physician. Captain Troyanenko in all ways possible prevented him to do it…’

From a letter of Sergey’s parents to Kharkiv Union of soldiers’ mothers:

‘…Much about the last days of our son’s life remained unknown. The version of the commanders is suicide. But this version does not hold water…’

Sergey’s parents came to Baltiysk after Sergey’s death and tried to prove to the investigating officer of the military prosecutor’s office that Sergey was never prone to suicide: he considered it a weakness and used to say that every situation has a way out. Besides, on the head of her dead son mother saw two incoming bullet holes. The investigation could not answer this question.

From a letter of Sergey’s classmates: ‘Sergey had to live because such people are needed to all!’

They all had to live: Vladik, Sergey, and Dima Donchenko, and Sasha Glushchenko, and Maksim, and 300 more young inhabitants of the Kharkiv oblast.

Sasha, Dima and Maksim perished not in the army of the former Soviet Union, but in the army of Ukraine, and we have nobody to blame except ourselves. That happened because the society and the army are communicating vessels. Chaos and irresponsibility which we permit ourselves in the civil life must have cruel consequences for the armed forces of Ukraine.

Before I shall tell about untimely deceased Ukrainian soldiers, I would like to make a little digression.

Heroes of this story are still surprisingly alive, although one of them is now an invalid of the second group. We shall call them Seva and Andrey, but these are not their real names. They were called to the army at the same time: Andrey from a village near Chernigov, Seva from the Zaporozhye oblast. The unit where they served was far from their native places. Their unit was a platoon of guards, that is they stood at their posts with Tommy-guns. It needs not saying that to such service only absolutely cool-blooded and psychically healthy young men should be taken. Andrey was not very healthy, neither physically, nor psychically. He was growing very closed, very quiet, very incommunicable boy. It is true that he learned well and read very much. Maybe, if he complained in the proper time to a neuropathologist of the recruiting commission at his headaches and bad sleep, if his parents came to a psychiatrist and tell him that their son is incommunicable and strange, their son would be better investigated. But Andrey thought his duty to serve in the army. His characteristics from school described him as the best pupil. Thus, Andrey got to the army and got a Tommy-gun. It was later, after the tragedy, that the psychiatrists of the military hospital, where Andrey was taken, said that he must not be taken to the army, since he has inherited psychic deviations, not so grave that he could not lead a normal way of life, to get an education, but his psyche could not survive stresses.

Another participant of this story, Seva, was active and strong, he also went to the army willingly. In their unit ‘deds’, who usually are encouraged by officers because they held in check greenhorns, were also lazy and they appointed a greenhorn Seva the superintendent over greenhorns. Seva was afraid of ‘old soldiers’ and he beat his subordinate greenhorns. Andrey was from those who were beaten. Unlike physics, he was not much successful in physical training. Once Andrey was on duty together with Seva, and they both were armed. Andrey, desperate from previous beatings, first fired at his tormentor and then at himself. Seva was badly wounded: he survived, but remained an invalid for the rest of his life. Andrey also remained alive. Everybody, who knows Andrey, assure that he is a very reticent and kind man, and a long succession of insults and torments was needed to make him shoot. The recruitment of a psychically unstable young man and the situation in the unit resulted in two broken young lives.

Unfortunately, we come across dedovshchina all the time, and it often results in tragic events.

We, members of the Union of soldiers’ mothers, know that a suicide of a young soldier is always preceded by the chain of crimes against personality by the violation of civil rights, by the neglect of human moral norms and, certainly, by the violation of Articles of War. As in the case with Sergey Bykov, this chain was not investigated to the end, by negligence or disability of investigating officers.

Young and psychically healthy boys do not commit suicide, that is a fact.

Sasha Glushchenko was the only hope of his mother Tatiana. Her life was grave: she divorced with her husband and she had sick parents. Tatiana worked a nurse in a kindergarten. Her wages just permitted her to make the ends meet and her son Sasha dreamed to get a good education, after the army service he wanted to become a barrister. He went to the army willingly. There was no dedovshchina in their unit, because all the soldiers were from one shipment of recruits. Sasha had not a single reason to commit suicide. That is why Tatiana did not believe and will never believe that at night, being a sentry, her Sasha shot himself. What happened in fact, is unknown, but the bullet, which took Sasha’s life, actually killed his mother, who lost any wish to live.

As well as in the case of Sergey Bykov, nobody explained to her what had happened, why a young, strong and hopeful youth, able-bodied and religious, suddenly decided to commit suicide. The day before his death mother received a letter from Sasha, in which he asked to sent some audiocassettes with musical records. In the letter he passed his best greetings to his fiancee too. On the day of his death he discussed with his comrade from a neighboring unit what will they do when they get leave warrant. Can a mother, knowing all this, believe that her son committed suicide?

Dima Donchenko was brutally killed by deds. It happened in a military unit billeted near Odessa. He was killed because he was the only one who tried to resist deds.

During the recruitment campaign his mother came many times to the district recruiting commission and to the district council, trying to prove that her son Dima ought not to be called to the army. According to her, he was a very good boy, clever, gifted, but he was not communicable and seldom contacted even with his classmates. He had two friends, both as serious and calm as Dima. He could not stay noisy companies, did not drink alcohol and did not smoke. Certainly, mother’s efforts were futile. To what atmosphere he got in the army can be imagined from the evidence given by witnesses during the court that tried Dima’s murderers. It became clear that the deds in this unit often drank alcohol after the retreat and, having got drunk, beat younger soldiers (thank God, this unit has been disbanded long ago).

Several years passed after Dima’s death, his parents practically became invalids (although officially both of them are not invalids), they need wages, but they are on the sick list very often. During the court a compensation was ruled to Dima’s parents. This compensation had to be paid by the murderers, but they stay in a stern regime colony, are jobless and would hardly be able to pay anything. The claim to the military unit was rejected by the court, although the chaos in the unit was the reason of the murder.

Now we again have learned about three suicides and again a woman sits in front of us and I pray that nobody from our Union of soldiers’ mothers would have such eyes. And the woman tells that her Maksim was a very good boy, he was an excellent pupil. His school friends and teachers, as well as teachers of the technical school say the same: ‘He was a clever boy, an optimist and he wanted to enter the Academy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs’. That was why he went to the army willingly.

Having finished the technical school with a ‘red diploma’ (with all excellent marks), Maksim could enter any institute, except the MIA Academy. He was not a greenhorn in the army — only several months left to the demobilization. As well as in the case with Sergey Bykov and Sasha Glushchenko, nobody can explain to Maksim’s mother what has happened. Thank God, the investigation was prolonged, and so we have no right now to give the real name and place.

The tragic inability to learn the truth about the death of the own children in the peaceful time once made their parents to unite. We remember the pickets in the late 80s and early 90s near the Kremlin. V. F. Zybina, a member of the Kharkiv Union of soldiers’ mothers, took part in these pickets (her son Yuri Zybin died in the army of pneumonia). L. A. Bykova, also a member of our organization, actively participated in the movement. She wanted to learn the truth about her son’s death, but contacts with other unfortunate parents convinced Bykova that the majority of tragedies in the Soviet army was accompanied by irresponsibility and impunity. Unfortunately, this tradition is continued in the army of Ukraine.

The Union of soldiers’ mothers is one of the efficiently acting public organizations in the former USSR and in the countries formed after its disintegration: in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus. In the Kharkiv oblast parents of the perished servicemen organized the Kharkiv Union. Later recruits’ parents, who awaited maltreatment of their children, joined the Union. Mostly they are the people who sympathize with troubles not only of their own, but of other children too.

Let us analyze how well does our society and our state execute its duty towards the parents, who lost their children.

On 20 December 1991 the Supreme Rada of Ukraine adopted the law ‘On social and legal protection of servicemen and members of their families’. According to this law, the families of servicemen perished in peaceful time have a number of privileges, such as improvement of living accommodation, discount of communal payments and taxes, etc. On 9 April 1992 another law was adopted: ‘On pensions to servicemen of the army and Ministry of Interior’. This law stipulates auxiliary privileges: retirement on a pension of the parents of the perished servicemen five years before the usual age and 50% increase of the minimal pension in old age. On 23 November 1995 the Ukrainian law ‘On the status of war veterans and guarantees of their social protection’ was adopted, and on 22 December 1995 the addenda to this law were confirmed.

And here the most interesting trick was played by the authorities. According to the latter law (Section 10 of Part II), the action of the law is applied ‘to families of the servicemen killed or missed in action or died because of wounds, contusions and severe injuries obtained during defense of the motherland or executing duties of the military service, and also as a result of diseases caught at the front, or obtained during military service, or on the territory of other states during military actions and conflicts’.

We have quoted this item of the law verbatim because it is this item that has become a stumbling block in obtaining privileges for many parents of the deceased servicemen. The fantasy of bureaucrats led them so far that they began to ask from the parents a death certificate; if the certificate reads ‘perished at execution of his service duty’, then the privileges are given, and if it is worded ‘perished during the execution of his service duty’, then no privileges are granted at all. The latter formula is mostly used for the boys who committed suicide. Every normal person must feel how amoral is this play on words. Someone’s indisputable guilt stands behind any suicide: either of recruiting commissions who called to the army sick youngsters, or officers of the unit who encouraged dedovshchina or victimized the soldiers.

If the society is incapable of keeping order, then it must be financially responsible to the victims of the disorder in the army. But our state is sly. The reader, perhaps, noticed that the families of the perished because of the chaos in the army are not separated as a special category in either of the listed laws. In all these laws they are mixed with some other category, so it seems that we have not such a definite separate problem. This archness, initially put to the legal acts, enables local bureaucrats to distort laws.

Now all the privileges of the parents of the perished servicemen are very shaky because it is bureaucrats who decide which servicemen may be identified with victims of military actions and which may be not.

We have already named one guilty side of the untimely death of young soldiers: this is our society. That is our society, who stands the chaos and disorder in our economy, as a result of which our officers earn a beggarly salary and get it with great pay arrears, so it is difficult to demand the real work from them. This is we, who are guilty that MPs elected by us do not adopt the law on the insurance medicine — without it not a single more or less developed state can exist. That is why not able-bodied young men get to the army, and they must be immediately treated. The Ministry of Defense has no money for this charitable activity.

Nobody is responsible for anything. That is, perhaps, our main trouble. The responsibility

for the life of the young, who have to defend the country, is a test for vitality of the young state. That is why, if we could not preserve the life of our young defenders, then we are in the immeasurable debt before their parents. We cannot return them their children, but we must tell them the truth how and why their children have perished and who personally is guilty. And we must do one more thing: to provide the parents and not to allow them starve. That is why it is grossly immoral to take the privileges from those who lost their providers by the guilt of the state. If, instead of the privileges, our state would be able to pay the parents a normal insurance, which would be paid to the parents in any European country, where they preserved mass armies, then the parents would not need privileges. Yet, the main task is to adopt the law on the social protection of the parents of the perished. Until now we have not a separate law, which would cover this special well-defined category of the citizens.

In Russia the legislators had enough courage to confess that there exists such a category of citizens — parents of the servicemen who perished in peaceful time. The Russian law recognizes the responsibility before these people. The Russian law is called honestly — ‘The law of Russian federation on social provision of the families of servicemen perished in peaceful time’. The sense of this law is formulated quite clearly: ‘Parents of the servicemen listed in Article 1 of the Law (i. e. perished in peaceful time) have the right for the double pension (except the case when the death of a serviceman was the result of the serviceman’s criminal actions).

Nowadays, according to the information sent by the Union of soldiers’ mothers of Russia, a draft of the law lies in the Duma and it stipulates the triple minimal pension. Perhaps, Russia is a richer country, but in any case the Ukrainian practice to divide parents according to ‘at’ and ‘during’ is horrible and contradicting the Constitution of Ukraine that makes all citizens equal in their civil duty of serving Ukraine in the armed forces.

The mother of Sergey Bykov, the father of Vladik Kharuta, the mother of Georgiy Bogachev, the mother of Andrey Poliakov, the mother of Yuri Zybin and other parents, who lived through their tragedies, have managed to create in Kharkiv the organization, which became the kernel of the oblast Union of soldiers’ mothers.

Recently T. Glushchenko has joined this Union. The members of the Union do not want other parents to go through what they had gone. And they want the state and the society to defend the parents of their defenders.

NGO activities

Uzbekistan prepares to the visit of the US State Secretary

The US State Secretary will arrive in Tashkent on 17 April and will stay in Uzbekistan for three days (as the US embassy informed). On one of these days she will receive human rights protection activists. All these days in all Uzbek mass media certain topics became popular: they tell about prisons, colonies and zones. The mass media praise the conditions of upkeep. Several days ago a deputy Minister of Internal Affairs spoke on TV. He said: ‘People at home do not eat meat, and we feed prisoners with meat’. After this some people understood the paternal care of our authorities to simple folks: they are sent to prison for improving their diet.

Ombudsperson Ruz Sayera Rashidova has recently visited the Zhaslyk concentration camp, and now she gives numerous interviews that the camp is almost the paradise. It seems that she was shown the special prison, which the authorities organized in November before the elections after our publications on the Zhaslyk concentration camp (20 September). After this, according to the President’s order, several buildings situated near a military unit in 7 – 8 kilometers from Zhaslyk were quickly repaired and 250 incarcerated from the basic camp were transferred to the new place. The resettlers were given new clothes and three meals a day. The President ordered to organize visits of the relatives and parents. Sarikov, deputy head of the penitentiary directorate, sent about 250 telegrams, in which the relatives of the inmates of the new establishment were permitted to visit the convicts for 24 hours.

Our colleague Vasyla Inoyatova went on such a visit on 16 December and saw everything with her own eyes. Yet, few people know that on the plateau Ust-Yurt, where the new branch of the paradise is situated, the USSR army, as well as the Russian army, tested binary chemical weapons and three immense subterranean cavities were dug under army barracks. Sayera Rashidova either does not know about this or is forced to keep silence. Rather the latter supposition is right.

On 31 March the question of the conditions in penitentiaries was considered in the Commission on human rights of the Mazhlis (local parliament). We still do not know what was discussed in the Commission, since no reports have been published in mass media. If they took any decision, I think it was not in favor of the incarcerated. In any case, this attention to the lot of the imprisoned is a great victory of human rights protection movement in Uzbekistan. Previously neither Mazhlis nor its commissions ever considered the problem of the penitentiaries. At least, there have been no reports on it.

One of the questions that will be considered in the negotiations between the US State Secretary and I. Karimov will be, perhaps, the question of the penitentiaries, on possible visits of international experts from humanitarian organizations (such as the Red Cross). We have got information that in several concentration camps (Tavaksay, the ‘Red zone’ 64/49 in Karshi and some others) the repairs have started. Perhaps, the authorities will also wash down blood from the walls in the torture cells in the basement of the Ministry of Interior, the cells about which we have recently written.

“Prava Ludiny” (human rights) monthly bulletin, 2000, #04