war crimes in Ukraine

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Politics and human rights

Declaration of the Ukrainian Committee ‘Helsinki – 90’

On 16 April the referendum was completed. The following questions were put out:

Do you support the proposition to add to Article 90 of the Constitution of Ukraine the new third item, which reads as follows:

‘The President of Ukraine may also suspend the power of the Supreme Rada of Ukraine before the proper time, if the Supreme Rada of Ukraine during one month could not shape the permanently acting parliamentary majority or if it did not adopt during three months the budget of Ukraine prepared and handed in the proper order by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine’

— which would establish auxiliary reasons for disbanding the Supreme Rada by the President of Ukraine, and the corresponding completion of item 8 part 1 Article 106 of the Constitution of Ukraine by the words ‘… and in other cases mentioned by the Constitution of Ukraine’?

Do you agree to constrain the inviolability of people’s deputies by deleting correspondingly part 3 Article 80 of the Constitution of Ukraine: ‘Criminal proceedings against peoples’ deputies of Ukraine may not be instituted and the deputies they may not be detained or arrested’?

Do you agree with diminishing the total number of people’s deputies of Ukraine from 450 to 300 and the corresponding change of part 1 Article 76 of the Constitution of Ukraine with the exchange of the words ‘four hundred and fifty’ with ‘three hundred’, as well as corresponding changes in the election laws?

Do you support the necessity of shaping the two-chamber parliament in Ukraine, whose one chamber should represent the interests of various regions of Ukraine and corresponded to their realization, as well as introducing the corresponding changes to the Constitution of Ukraine and in the election laws?

According to the data of the Central Voting Committee, more than 83% of Ukrainian citizens, who have the right to vote, took part in this referendum. Here are the results of voting for each question in percent:

Question No.















Observers of the Ukrainian Committee ‘Helsinki – 90’ attentively followed the course of the preparing and carrying out the referendum. Having summed up these observations, the Committee had to declare the following: the procedure of preparing and carrying out the so-called ‘all-Ukrainian’ referendum had nothing in common with generally accepted democratic norms.

The well-organized campaign of lies, which accompanied ‘the people’s will expression’ was striking.

The so-called ‘people’s initiative’, that is the collection of signatures for holding the referendum, was done by officials of local administrations by way of explicit administrative pressure: the officials threatened their subordinates by sacking from the state service in the case if they would not force (by the same method) their subordinates to put their signatures for holding the referendum. We observed many cases when the employees of state organizations did not get their salary until they collect the needed number of the signatures. Since the aim was to collect three million of signatures, the campaign of the ‘voluntary — coercive’ collection of signatures spread to all regions of Ukraine; directly or indirectly thousands of civil officers of various ranks took part in this campaign of arm twisting. However, the Presidential administration never officially confessed that they were initiators of the referendum, referring to the ‘voluntary initiative of groups of citizens’ our Committee tried to analyze the composition of so-called ‘initiative groups’, which collected the signatures. It appeared that these groups almost completely consisted of civil officers of the local administrations. These groups acted during the work-time of these officers, that is the campaign was paid from the state budget, that is at the account of tax payers.

All the time, when the signatures were collected, the agitation was carried out with the aim to convince the voters to give positive answers to all the questions. In many schools, hospitals and other budget establishments the agitation for the positive answer to the referendum questions was carried out in the form of official conferences, whose attendance was obligatory. In state-controlled mass media (in Ukraine they have the greatest audience) the opinions of the opponents of the referendum were not elucidated at all. What concerns the non-state mass media, they were under a great pressure from civil officers and state institutions, so the absolute majority of the ‘independent’ mass media reflected exceptionally the point of view of supporters of the referendum. In electronic mass media the very existence of the opponents of the referendum was not mentioned, to say nothing about presenting an opportunity to the opposition to make public their arguments. In printed mass media the point of view of the opposition was represented a little better, but it was done mainly in newspapers of those parties which opposed the referendum, and their circulation is very limited. The most of commercial publications were forced to support the position of the official power about the referendum or to keep complete silence about the existence of the problem. The reasons of such a position are quite understandable, if one recollects the unprecedented reprisals against independent mass media performed in Ukraine for the few latest years (closure of several newspapers, TV and radio stations, arrests of editors-in-chief, court proceedings against journalists, bankrupting newspapers by excessive libel claims, etc. — See Report of our Committee and international human rights organizations for 1998 and 1999). Thus, informing voters as to the meaning of the referendum questions and about the possible consequences of the referendum was one-sided. The absolute majority of voters were not given the opportunity to listen to a viewpoint different from the official one.

During voting the pressure on voters reached the scale never observed before in the independent Ukraine. Our observers noticed the massive application of the following trick: heads of state establishments (in particular, schools, higher schools, hospitals, state-owned enterprises, etc.) made their subordinates vote under the threat of sacking. Teachers of higher schools, under the threat of discharge, had to vote and to guarantee coming to the voting of their students. Thus university professors coerced students to vote, threatening them with discharge from the university! In the elementary and high schools the situation reached the top of absurdity: teachers, afraid to lose their jobs, had to organize parents’ meeting, where the parents were warned that if they do not vote, then their children will be punished at school. In villages the former communist chairmen of kolkhozes (now they are called heads of the cooperatives) threatened non-voters with not giving fodder for cattle, gas for heating houses, etc.

It should be noted that the process of voting was not controlled by public organizations. First, the process of voting actually lasted ten days — from 6 to 16 April, but representatives of public organization were admitted to the voting stations only on the official, last day of voting. The procedure of pre-term voting is permitted by Ukrainian laws as an exception for those people, who have mitigating circumstances not to come to the voting station on the day of voting. During the previous election of the Parliament and the President the proportion of people, who voted before the time, never exceeded 1% of the total number of voters. During the referendum the pre-term voting became the daily practice: entire collectives of state enterprises voted before the term. Our representatives observed cases when the oblast authorities distributed among heads of state-owned establishments special forms of reports, where the number of people, who have already voted, had to be reported daily. Owing to the brutal coercion and impossibility of the public control over the pre-term voting the majority of regions of Ukraine reported that more than one third of people voted before the time. On the last day the control of public organizations over voting was formally permitted, but it is difficult to call this control efficient: out of 30,000 voting stations only 1000 was controlled, as to foreign observers, their number was 70 throughout Ukraine. At the few controlled voting stations the observers noticed plenty of various violations: from the facts when one person voted for all members of the family to putting into urns faked bulletins. All the complaints of our observers were left without any official reaction. Another source of faking the results was voting at home, when representatives of voting commissions attended voters at their homes with voting urns. According to the law, this procedure is permitted for handicapped and the gravely ill, but actually this practice was applied on the massive scale and was uncontrolled.

Thus, summing up the referendum results, our Committee is obliged to draw depressing conclusions. The unprecedented large-scale farce has occurred in Ukraine, and it endangers the achievement of the Ukrainian democracy for the last decade. The control of the authorities over the mass media reached the absolute mark. The unprecedented administrative pressure was exerted upon voters, the voting procedure was completely removed from the public control. In fact, the referendum was initiated and exerted by the Presidential administration with the use of illegal methods. But all this chain of illegal pressures was labeled as the ‘democratic will-expression of the Ukrainian people’. Thus, authoritarian methods of people manipulation are planted in Ukraine as democracy. The main result of these activities is the disappointment of an important part of our population in democratic institutes and procedures. In fact, fear before officials, slightly forgotten during the recent decade, return to the population. The interrelations between the state and citizens return to the stereotypes of the communist times when a citizen feared to express any idea different from the official one, and all initiatives of the authorities were declared as ‘people’s initiatives’ and were immediately praised by everyone. The referendum is a great step to the side opposite to democracy.

It should be separately noticed what President Kuchma declared after making public the referendum results. Some of his words may not be treated otherwise as direct threats to the opposition. In particular, he declared that ‘At the referendum the people unambiguously worded its relation to those parties which were against the referendum. Let these parties now reconsider their position and concord it with the position of the Ukrainian people’. The President called all arguments of the opponents of the referendum as ‘insinuations’ and said that he ‘was not sure if it is possible to call Ukrainians the authors of these insinuations’. Such a tone of political discussions we remember from the communist totalitarian times…

We believe that it is not needed to explain in our document the danger, which the authoritarian power might bring to Ukraine. We appeal to everyone to be vigilant and give an assessment of the anti-democratic farce now, until it is not too late to prevent its horrible consequences.

Head of the Ukrainian Committee ‘Helsinki-90’ Yuri Murashov

Executive director of the Committee Evgen Dykiy

Children’s rights

An independent commentary to the Decision of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine concerning the official interpretation of Article 10 of the Constitution of Ukraine

The present commentary is written to the Russian translation of the text of the Decision of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine that was published in ‘Rossiysko-Ukrainskiy bulleten’ (‘Russian-Ukrainian bulletin’), No. 5, 2000, p. 61. We shall also refer to the Russian translation of the votum separatum by the Constitutional Court judge O. M. Mironenko that is published on pp. 62-67 of the same issue of the bulletin.

1. In item 1 of the resolution part of the Decision of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine the interpretation of Part 1 Article 10 of the Constitution of Ukraine is presented, i.e. the following norm: ‘The state language in Ukraine is the Ukrainian language’. While interpreting this norm, the Constitutional Court came to the conclusion that ‘the Ukrainian language as the state one is the obligatory tool of communication on the entire territory of Ukraine when functioning as the language of the state power and bodies of the self-rule’.

This thesis arouses objections since the Decision of the Constitutional Court groundlessly forces the bodies of self-rule to apply the state language, whereas these bodies do not make a part of the state machinery. The local self-rule and its bodies are civil, not state institutes.

According to Article 2 of the World Declaration on local self-rule (adopted by the World Association of the local self-rule on 26 September 1985 in Rio-de-Janeiro), ‘the local self-rule this is the right and duty of local power bodies to regulate and conduct public matters under its personal responsibility and in the interests of the population’.

The European Charter on local self-rule of 15 October 1985 (see Preamble) notes that the local self-rule has also the right to take part in the administration of state affairs. Article 3 of the Charter points out that such participation must be realized in the interests of the local population. It is clear that any other activity would cancel the sense and function of the local self-rule.

It should be noted that the Constitution of Ukraine also treats the local self-rule as ‘the bodies of self-organization of the population’, whose aim is ‘to solve autonomously questions of local scale’ (Part 1 and Part 6 of Article 140). As to the connection of the local self-rule and the state, Part 3 of Article 143 of the Constitution of Ukraine stipulates that ‘the bodies of local self-rule may be given by law separate functions of the executive power’. The Constitution notes that the bodies of the local self-rule are controlled by the organs of the state executive power only in the questions of their execution of the delegated powers (Part 4, Article 143).

All said above enables one to draw the conclusion that the political and legal logic, which is fixed in the international legal instruments and in the Constitution of Ukraine, concerning the existence and functioning of the bodies of local self-rule forbids to treat the latter as state or quasi-state organs. On the contrary, such bodies have the status of public institutes that in separate cases and on the basis of law may participate in administrating state affairs. As is affirmed in Article 38 of the Constitution of Ukraine, the right to participate in administrating state affairs is possessed by all citizens of Ukraine. Yet, it does not automatically follow that they must communicate in the state language. Likewise, this duty does not follow for the bodies of the local self-rule.

It is undoubtful that delegating to local self-rule the control over state powers based on the Constitutional norm, the law comes from the suggestion that this delegating will be meaningful only when the powers are realized under the local conditions, including the local language and other local peculiarities. Yet, in the interpretation of the resolution part of the Decision of the Constitutional Court, it is de facto assumed that the bodies of the local self-rule must ‘attune’ to the state decisions. This attitude ignores and even cancels the opinion used in the democratic world on the mission of local self-rule. In fact, one sees here the conviction of the Ukrainian Constitutional judges that the top priority has the state and its rights instead of the normal in the democratic state conviction that the top priority has an individual and its rights.

Part 2 Article 3 of the Constitution of Ukraine stipulates that ‘human rights and freedoms and their guarantees determine the content and direction of state activities’. The right to use that language in which one can express oneself in the full and convenient way is an obvious elementary right of man (the list of human rights in the Ukrainian Constitution is not exhausting). It is natural that this right should be preserved on the level of the local self-rule. The rightful and democratic state is not the master, but a servant of the people. That is why it is incorrect to use the arguments forcing the master to communicate in the language of the servant.

As to the language in which the state machinery functions, it must be the state language, i. e. Ukrainian. It is so because the majority of Ukrainian citizens speak in this language. Subjecting to the majority, the state, at the same time, fulfils the function of the social pacification, because, in the opposite case, its language policy would generate much more conflicts than it follows from the actual ethnic situation.

It should be noticed that the use of the term ‘communication’ in item 1 of the resolution part of the Decision of the Constitutional Court is doubtful. This term has no distinct legal meaning (the Constitutional Court does not give the exhausting list of its applications either). In the everyday meaning this word covers a large number of communications (telephone conversation, a talk in a restaurant during the lunch break, in the halls of ministries and departments, in smoking rooms, etc.). It is obvious that forcing civil servants to ‘communicate’ in the state language, the Constitutional Court makes an attempt to regulate what is not regulatable in principle.

As to the statement of the Constitutional Court that ‘the Ukrainian language as the state one is the obligatory tool of communication… also in other public spheres of the social life’, one can agree here with the critical comments presented in the judge O. M. Mironenko’s votum separatum. If the expression ‘public spheres of the social life’ is a tautology, then the Decision of the Constitutional Court really interferes into the sphere of the private communication of the civil society and is therefore unlawful (in a democratic and rightful state). If one assumes that the Constitutional Court considers this sphere of communication belonging to the state, then it is not understandable why this state is written twice (in paragraphs 1 and 2 of item 1 of the resolution part of the Decision).

A more attentive analysis of the Decision of the Constitutional Court shows however that its authors actually tried to expand the duty of using the state language to ‘near-state’ and ‘quasi-state’ spheres. Having fuzzy notions of these terms, the Constitutional Court facilitated its mission by the reference that ‘the public spheres of social life’ must be determined by law. As a result, the Constitutional Court not elucidated but confused the situation. The Decision added to the state and non-state spheres of public life another semi-state or ‘publicly-social’ sphere.

2. What concerns the analysis of the text of item 2 of the resolution part of the Decision of the Constitutional Court, its legal and political logic clearly follows the logic of item 1.

Here the authors prescribe the use of the state language in the educational sphere, and again the Constitutional Court wrongly identifies the state schools with non-state (communal) ones. The Constitutional Court decided that communal schools of all levels must obey the same language regime as in state schools. Meanwhile, part 1 Article 143 of the Constitution of Ukraine says that the communal property is administrated exclusively by the local self-rule bodies. It is these bodies that, basing on the Constitutional and other legal norms, create, reorganize and liquidate communal enterprises, establishments and organizations; the local self-rule bodies have the right to control the work of such organizations.

To put it simply, communal schools are communal (and not state-owned) because their work must realize the local (and not state) cultural interests. There is no necessity to specially prove that the local interests in the educational sphere include the language of teaching, because namely in this sphere the local peculiarities are revealed, namely from this circumstance the norm of the local control of the objects of the communal property follows.

To sum up, the Constitutional Court took a Decision which in spirit and in letter contradicts the Constitution by expansion into the so-called ‘culturally sensitive zones’ (D. Easton) of the Ukrainian socium; the Decision invaded the spheres of the civil society which are not to be regulated by the state. Certainly, the actions of the Constitutional Court are explained not only by the juridical positivism, of which O. M. Mironenko accuses his colleagues. The reason is that in the consciousness of even Constitutional judges the idea of dominating the state over an individual is deeply rooted. The latter consideration permits me to conclude the commentary with several general notes.

3. As the analysis has shown, the resolution part of the Decision of the Constitutional Court is a visual and instructive example of the post-totalitarian syndrome in the mind of lawyers of the highest rank and qualification.

The Decision is a sufficient proof that in the mentality of the best barristers of the country the conviction dominates that the Constitution in its very nature is a document not so much of the civil society, but of the state. The top priority of the latter determines the main regulative constitutional potential.

Meanwhile, in the experienced and tempered by history democracies the Constitution for a long time has been regarded as the main law of the civil society, which constrains and delimits the state and its agents. The historical sources gave birth to the best Constitutional samples, which are connected with civil freedom. In other words, a modern Constitution is not a tool for ‘the consolidation of the nation’, but a guarantor of individual freedom and cultural diversity. According to the ideas of classics of constitutionalism, the main law is intended for constraining the rule. It is ‘the bridle for leaders and peoples’ (P. A. Golbach), its main function is the provision of freedom (A. Chayot).

According to the prevailing nowadays liberal constitutional theory, the state unites and restrains people as much as it is needed for their own freedom. From the viewpoint of the modern political science, a society is not an association of citizens with similar interests, it is a set of people whose only common purpose is to preserve and guarantee individual rights. An attempt to treat constitutionalism as a metatheory of social solidarity is a product of ‘enslaved reason’ (C. Milos).

Certainly, the circumstances, under which the Ukrainian Constitution was compiled and adopted, made it rather contradictory. Part 1 of Article 3 of the Constitution of Ukraine proclaims an individual the highest social value. On the other hand, part 1 Article 7 of the Constitution stipulates that the state ‘assists the consolidation and development of the Ukrainian nation’. This ambiguity had to be reflected in the Decision under analysis.

That ambiguity revealed itself both in the ideas and on the level of the legal technique. Yet, because the Decision is juridically contradictory, it is comparably ‘safe‘. If the first paragraph of item 1 of the resolution part of the Decision is penetrated by the idea of the language consolidation, then the second paragraph essentially narrows the prospect of the state language monopoly. After all, the local self-rule bodies are permitted to make exceptions.

A similar situation is presented in item 2 of the resolution part of the Decision. Here the second paragraph of item 2 permits the interested sides to ignore the demands of the first paragraph. On the one hand, the state language is declared as the language of education. On the other hand, the Decision permits to be educated in the languages of the national minorities.

To conclude, we shall speak only about the tendency. One should confess that the tendency to the state control over culture in the Decision of the Constitutional Court prevails over the tendency of protecting culture from the necessity ‘to kiss the metallic coolness of the state’ (S. Wayl). An implicitly expressed idea of the cultural submission of the non-Ukrainian minority to the Ukrainian majority prevails in the Decision. The intention is understandable as an intellectual product of the real past humiliation of a great people, but it is not liberal. Our society, the Constitutional Court and our Constitution balance on a thin edge between the past and the future, and with each day this equilibrium looks less and less justified.

On the language policy in Ukraine

‘Russian-Ukrainian bulletin’ published by the Central European Information Agency suggested to more than 20 experts from Ukraine and Russia, including 5 members of the Kharkiv Group for human rights protection, to answer some questions concerning the language policy in Ukraine. Various aspects of this problem, connected with interrelations of individual, society and state, were discussed by Nikolay Riabchuk, Sergey Naboka, Yaroslav Dashkevich, Viktor Dzereviago, Yuri Andrukhovich, Miroslav Popovich, Oleksandr Vinnikov, Georgiy Pocheptsov, Miroslav Marinovich, Evgeniy Zakharov, Viktor Yakovlev, Nikolay Shulga, Evgeniy Golovakha, Taras Makhrinskiy, Mikhail Beletskiy, Viktor Malakhov, Zinoviy Antoniuk, Aleksandr Rudenko-Desniak, Konstantin Zatulin, Viacheslav Igrunov, Liudmila Alekseeva.

Here we publish the discussed questions and answers given by members and collaborators of the Kharkiv Group for human rights protection. The questions were as follows:

How can you explain the negative reaction of public organizations, which express interests of Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine, to the Decision of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine on the interpretation of the Article 10 of the Constitution and to the draft of the Decision of the Cabinet of Ministers ‘On additional measures of expanding the sphere of functioning of the Ukrainian language as a state one’?

Do you think that the measures stipulated in these documents violate the rights of individuals and national minorities in Ukraine?

On which level and by which means must the problems of functioning of the Russian language in Ukraine be solved?

In which way, as to your opinion, must be determined the problems of state rule in the sphere of the development of the Ukrainian language?

Here are the answers.

Evgeniy Zakharov, Kharkiv

1 – 2. An administrative pressure in the language sphere may be assessed only as negative. The language is closely connected with human essence. Any attempt at the native language is as dangerous as the attempt at the freedom of thought — it strives to change the man’s nature. That is why the appearance of legal acts that regulate functioning of a language switches on an alarm signal independently of the contents. This reaction is also typical for Ukrainian-speaking persons when the city council of any East town council takes a decision on introducing the Russian language as an official language on this territory. Equally Russian peakers are troubled when they hear about the above-mentioned legal documents. The real result of such decisions is determined by the real contents of these documents and by the future character of their implementation. It is noteworthy that up to now all the measures intended to widen the sphere of the Ukrainian language, which by some authors represented ‘insolent ukrainization’, were actually mere recommendations and if such measures were aggressive, then it was the result of actions of local zealous bureaucrats.

In order to assess the new legal acts in the language sphere, the problem of observing rights of national minorities must be discussed in the more general manner. The cruel policy of rusification and uprooting of Ukrainian national consciousness had resulted in weakening the Ukrainian ethnos. That is why the typical for Western states model ‘national majority vs. national minority’ is applicable only for West Ukraine. In the East and South of Ukraine Russians cannot psychologically perceive themselves as a national minority: on the contrary, the national minority is Ukrainians, although formally, according to the census of 1989, made the majority. Thus, two sorts of abuses of national rights may occur in Ukraine: in the West the rights of national minorities — Russians, Jews, Poles, etc. may be abused (for example, in the employment policy), while in the other regions of Ukraine the rights of the ethnic majority, that is Ukrainians, may be abused (for example, when they try to give their children the education in the native language). The rights of the national minorities will be reliably protected only in the case, when the national rights of the majority are satisfied. The way out here lies in the harmonization of international interests, in guaranteeing civil and political rights to all citizens of Ukraine without exception. Beside the rights of cultural autonomy for the national groups the development of the Ukrainian culture shall be supported by the state in order to recompense its artificial detainment in the past. Thus, it is not reasonable to introduce Russian as the second state language, since actually it will mean the continuation of the policy of rusification (since the majority of the Russian-speaking population in the East and South of Ukraine are ethnic Ukrainians!). At the same time no coercion in the national policy must be admitted. Teaching in the Ukrainian language independently of the wishes of the pupils shall not be introduced. The qualification of teachers must not depend on the knowledge of Ukrainian and so forth. In general, the state interference into the national sphere should be minimal and limited by protectionist measures aimed at the establishment and development of the Ukrainian language.

From this viewpoint the Decision of the Constitutional Court on the official interpretation of Article 10 of the Constitution seems to be unsatisfactory and harmful. One may agree with the votum separatum of judge Mironenko: the state cannot foist the Ukrainian language as an obligatory tool of communication in functioning the bodies of the state power and organs of the local rule, the introduction of the Ukrainian language as the language of teaching in nursery, secondary, professional and higher schools, both state- and community-owned, is a distortion of Article 10, and it threatens with the appearance of conflicts. At the same time, second items of part 1 and part 2 of the Resolution on the possibility of using Russian and other languages of the national minorities cancels, to a certain degree, the previous decisions on the obligatory use of the Ukrainian language and make all the decision senseless as a whole.

The draft of the Decision of the Cabinet of Ministers actually transfers the Decision of the Constitutional Court to the practical plane. Its realization in the spirit of the former Soviet administration may lead to serious abuses of human rights.

All the text of the Decision is written in the belligerent style; it treats as foes the people who hinder the establishment of the Ukrainian language as a state one: ‘They slowly transfer to teaching in Ukrainian academic subjects in higher schools… systematically violate the language regime in functioning electronic media, especially in privately owned TV and radio organizations’, ‘The negative balance in favor of the Russian language production is set on the market of the Ukrainian press and book publishing, where the situation is becoming sharper and sharper’, and at last, ‘some political forces insistently propagate the vicious idea of introducing of the two state languages, the attempt to hinder the establishment of Ukrainian as the main and obligatory tool of communication on the entire territory of Ukraine, they underestimate the role of the Ukrainian language as an important factor of consolidation of the society’. There is nothing vicious in the idea of the two languages, whereas the idea of ‘increasing the social consolidating role’ of a language looks, in my opinion, vicious and rooted in the totalitarian idea of the necessity of uniting all by the recipe of those ‘who knows what should be done’. A society may consolidate only for the protection of individual freedom. In all other cases the important factor is the variety of information and the free atmosphere of discussion. The unsatisfactory situation in book publishing is caused firstly by the state that does practically nothing to develop publishing ‘the Ukrainian press and books’, bankrupting publishers by excessive taxes. All other conditions being equal, the prime cost of a Ukrainian book is 30 - 40 % larger than that of a Russian one. Finally, ‘the establishment of Ukrainian as a main and obligatory tool of communication’ is nothing but a brutal interference of the state to the life of society. The fact that Ukrainian is a state language means that it is a working language of state bodies, the language of official acts and state documents. It means nothing more. It is undoubtful that the knowledge of Ukrainian must be obligatory for state servants, that its learning must be obligatory in secondary and higher schools. But to make this language the obligatory one in the public sphere is inadmissible. These efforts will result in the opposite effect: instead of the tool of uniting it will become the tool of separation.

The authors of the Decision make a serious mistake, when they rule to organize the network of nursery and secondary schools dependent on the ethnic composition of the population in various regions. Ethnic and language groups in Ukraine are quite different things! There are not few ethnic Russians whose native language is Ukrainian and, on the contrary, there are many ethnic Ukrainians (especially in the East and South of the country) who think and speak Russian. The groups in nursery and elementary schools must be shaped, as to the language, by the wishes of the parents. Reasonable administrators act so, and in Kharkiv, for example, the number of children in the first grades learning in Ukrainian grows steadily, independently of the ethnic composition and administrative zeal. By the way, the prescribed actions of state bodies would abuse the principle of the individual national self-determination, according to which the determination of one’s nationality is the private matter of each individual.

To sum up, one may conclude that the new normative acts describe a totalitarian model of solving the language problem. In this fashion, instead of respect to the Ukrainian language, it may result in irritation and other negative reactions, to say nothing about the increase of the political forces which use ‘the coercive ukrainization’.

3. The problem of the Russian language in Ukraine is, in my opinion, artificial: the problem does not exist yet, but it may arise, if the Ukrainian language is forcibly pushed in the public sphere in order to oust the Russian language. Correspondingly, we must exclude the artificial restriction of information channels in Russian, administrative measures of restricting the sphere of teaching in Russian against the wish of both students and teachers; the administrative pressure on users of the Russian language is quite inadmissible. The same should be said with respect to the Ukrainian language, whose carriers feel the discrimination in the East and South of the country: every negative pressure on those, who use Ukrainian or agitate for the transfer to Ukrainian, is inadmissible.

In general, I think strange the mutual relations of the Ukrainian-speaking and Russian-speaking intelligentsia in Ukraine, who seem not to notice each other. I cannot agree with those who believe that in the historical perspective one language will oust the other. I believe that the languages will mutually enrich each other, as well as the two cultures. But this topic deserves special treatment.

4. The state must support the Ukrainian language. It must develop and realize a program of support and development of the Ukrainian language and the Ukrainian culture in order to liquidate the consequences of the Soviet national policy that led to the artificial weakening of the Ukrainian language (the same is true with respect to the language of the Crimean Tatars). In many branches of science and technology the corresponding terminology in Ukrainian is practically absent, textbooks on many subjects do not exist, there are many ‘white spots’ in humanities: literature, history and so forth. Special efforts are needed to overcome this lagging behind.

It is reasonable to create gymnasiums and lyceums with the Ukrainian language of teaching and special profound study of separate subjects. Teachers of the corresponding higher schools must work there preparing future students. Books by best Ukrainian writers of the 20th century must be published, Ukrainian language resources in the Internet must be developed, the best world book in the humanities must be translated into Ukrainian. Competitions must be held for finding the gifted youth with the further support of the laureates.

The program of such state support must be discussed publicly to guarantee its non-coercive character. The realization of this problem must be controlled by the society to prevent turning it into privileges for certain organizations and persons.

Oleksandr Vinnikov, Kyiv

(All have the right for self-determination, but they do not wish it)

The discussion on the legal acts concerning the status of the Ukrainian language and the languages of minorities in Ukraine, which were adopted recently is interesting, first of all, by that feature that the discussion is conducted not only on the level of repeating the official point of view. The latter kind is easily recognized, but it is addressed to simple citizens, not to officials. It is possible that the discussion will acquire new facets, if some international legal documents which regulate the status of the minority languages will be taken from drawers and analyzed in some details. The Convention on the rights of individuals belonging to national minorities (signed by Ukraine in Minsk on 21 October 1994) relates to national minorities individuals who permanently reside on the territory of the state, have the citizenship and differ from the main population of the given state by their ethnic origin, language, culture and religious traditions (Article 1 of this Convention). If one follows this logic, then a Ukrainian according to his ethnic origin is a representative of the ‘main population’ may belong at the same time to several minorities: he may be Russian as to the language, an atheist as to religion (although atheists perhaps make the ‘main population’ of the post-Soviet state), and in culture and traditions he may be a worshiper of the Japanese antiquity.

All these features are considered to be questions of his individual choice (Article 2), the attitude which has already resulted in canceling any mention of his ethnic origin from official documents. At the same time the Convention points out that respecting the rights of such individuals presupposes that they must fulfil their duties before the state (part 3 Article 3) and that any measures directed at preserving and development of the originality of such minorities must not impinge on the rights of other citizens of the given state (part 2 Article 4), and representatives of minorities must respect the rights and freedoms of other citizens (part 2 Article 12). That is why the state is able to determine whether the ‘positive support’ will impinge on the rights and freedoms of representatives of the main population which, for example, has no access to books and newspapers in their native language contrary to their ‘individual choice’.

The acute reaction of the minority supporters may be caused by their suspicion that public organizations headed by them may have difficult case in the use of public buildings, TV and other mass media (item 2 part 2 Article 5); may be they will have difficulties in getting aid from state and public organizations of other countries (Article 9). The Convention regulates practical measures of preserving the languages of minorities. The Convention lists the measures to make possible contacts with official authorities in the language of a minority, where it is possible and necessary (part 2 Article 7). The Convention treats the measures of learning the state language and the conditions for learning by minorities their own language, as well as getting education of every level in their own language. The Convention also describes the measures of cooperating with other states in the questions of providing educational materials in the language of the minorities (Article 10).

The framework Convention on protection of national minorities (Strasbourg, 18 April 1995) demands not much from state members of the Council of Europe. These are guarantees of equality before the law, as well as some encouragement where it is needed and possible (Article 2). Another demand is to refrain from the policy or practice directed at the assimilation of the minorities against their will (part 2 Article 5). It also recognizes the right of the minorities to exchange information in their native language without the state interference. The top of the care of the language rights of the national minorities is the policy of the state in the regions, where national minorities live in mass, to provide the opportunity for the use of the minority language in the relations with administrative bodies (part 2 Article 10). This norm is accompanied by many reservations about the possibility of the state to meet these requirements.

How well does it look in the concrete case of the treatment of the Russian language?

I willingly acknowledge that the Ukrainian state does not use ‘all the opportunities’ for preserving and developing the Russian language in Ukraine. Yet, it does not mean that the Russian language is discriminated.

First, ‘the real needs’ in this support are satisfied much worse with respect to other languages, spoken in Ukraine, including Ukrainian. To any ethnic group, such as Tatars, Gagauses and Ukrainians, no state in the world may help in preserving and developing their languages.

Secondly, human rights in the negative meaning (that is in the defense from state interference) are protected most for the Russian minority. there are no laws which are directed at restraining or some other discrimination of using the Russian language in Ukraine, if one does not count fuzzy declarations on the intentions to expand the use of the Ukrainian language.

Thirdly, any demands of the ‘positive support’ of a minority language, under Ukrainian conditions, is the least founded with respect to Russian. According to the UNO data, the Russian language is the second in the world (after English) which is spoken by other ethnic groups. Russian is one of six official languages of the UNO, it is the only official language of Russia and has a lot of the ‘positive support’.

This demand is especially unattractive since the expenses will be put not on loud-mouthed defenders of the Russian language, but on the Ukrainian tax payers.

The supporters of Russian also suggest a legal compromise: just to declare that the Russian language is the second state or official language. They base this suggestion by ‘historically formed conditions’. There was the coerced assimilation of the Ukrainian minority in the USSR. This idea is rather far from human rights and form the obligation of each not to impinge on the rights of others, as it is declared in Article 68 of the Constitution of Ukraine, as well as in many other international documents. The practice of having many official languages is not so idyllic even in Switzerland or Belgium, which are referred to so many times. The public use of one of the official languages on the other language territory is often understood as a tactless action. One can use the native language without any constraints only in one’s head.

For example, one of the two literary languages in Norway is a dialect of Danish, and this is not a cultural catastrophe. A catastrophe is rather the fact that only 20% f Norwegians can write in their native language. In a ‘bilingual’ Ireland the result, because of the natural reasons, is about the same. We speak about autonomous countries that develop as democratic during a century. One may expect that similar results will be obtained after introducing the official two languages in one-two generations. Yet, our human rights protectors often support the idea of Slavic unity. Let us look at the peoples, which ethnically and mentally are close to us. I mean our Slavic neighbors. The official bilinguism did not prevent the division of Czechoslovakia. Carriers of very close Serbian and Croatian demonstrated a lot of respect to each other and to speakers of minority languages. In Belarus th ere are two official languages too, but the usage of one of the official languages is often assessed like a demonstration of a political opposition with all consequences following. The conditions permitting to use the native language for non-Slavic minorities — Albanian in Macedonia or Turkish in Bulgaria — leave much to be desired. In any case, a certain Slavic unity may be observed in the intention to set an hierarchy in some respects, including the language sphere. But it does not concern any cultural pluralism and the equal respect to the rights of all people. Let us not deceive ourselves: Slavic ethoses, especially in the countries where the Christian Orthodoxy prevails, is a minority in their legal traditions and culture in the relatively democratic Great Europe, and the question, when and where the voluntary assimilation will occur is still open.

Here we pass to the fourth dimension, that is to the so-called human rights of the third generation. The latter, to be exact, has group rights, which a separate individual cannot realize. Among them the most important right is the right for self-determination. In our case this is the problem of establishing a political status and free cultural (mainly lingual) development. Such problems are too large for separate human rights protectors. People grown on paternalistic cultural traditions must realize that they must unite. But what must they unite for? In my opinion, the keyword in the Decision of the Constitutional Court is the term ‘state forming applied to the Ukrainian nation’. When the army of the Piedmont king occupied Rome, count Cavour said: ‘Well, we have created Italy. Now it is time to create Italians’. The problem seems to be that the judges of the Constitutional Court believe the Ukrainian nation to exist as a group of individuals, who identify themselves as a state forming stable element.

Is it so? Let us suppose that the answer is positive. Then we can identify us with such a nation, beside the trivial fact that we reside on the Ukrainian soil. Do we have a king we are proud of? No, and we are not proud of the elected chieftains. Do we respect our Constitution as a modern version of the Holy Scriptures? Do we have a traditional religion or a unique church like in England and Scandinavian countries? No, and we have an infinitesimal state budget for reconstructing similar features. Any state regime in its right mind would not try to unite our compatriots on the mentioned shaky ground.

May be, we have the common origin. Yes, Ukraine is basically a mono-ethnic Slavic state (about 98% of the population are Slavs), but Slavs make not anthropological, but a lingual group. As German romanticists used to say, the first frontier of a nation is sea, and the second is language. The secondary character of the polemics on the rights of the Russian-speaking minority in the countries of the ‘near abroad’ (i. e. in the countries without Russian military basis) is seen from a larger-scale discussions on the autonomy of Russians as a political nation (namely as a political nation, not as the Russian ethos). The pragmatic elite from the very beginning stepped aside from the movement supporting the principle ‘Russia for Russians’, since the elite understands the absolute absence of prospects of this movement under the conditions of poly-ethnic and poly-confessional Russia. But the language is quite another pair of shoes. Perhaps, with some difficulties everyone can master the Russian language. Ideologists left Zhirinovskiy to defend the first frontier (we remind that he appealed soldiers to wash their boots in the Indian Ocean), and the real Decision-taker concentrated on the second frontier. They take concrete measures for preserving the Russian language as the main attribute of the ‘state-forming nation’. They ascribe to this nation representatives of any ethos and residents of any place (Brighton Beach is a fully Russian-speaking territory), who mastered Russian on the level of a secondary school. The fact that these people could not master other languages is disregarded.

And, as it often happens in the heat of a discussion, a substitution of notions occurs, which makes the discussion senseless. For example, they confuse a national and lingual minority. The national minority is identified with their compatriots, who have legal ties with the state that must protect their rights and freedoms. This view, if the political cards fall in the needed way, will be able to turn the ‘near abroad’ into the nearest one; the zone of influence may turn into an ordinary province.

Yet, if the Russian elite solves traditional problems by using traditional methods, then the Ukrainian elite, with its traditional conservatism, just drifts in the same riverbed. The choice of the Ukrainian language as the main attribute of the Ukrainian nation under the existing conditions seems to be the only acceptable way out for the majority of the ruling elite.

Certainly, in any policy (including the language one), there exists an element of probability. In the large-scale perspective the most probable scenario will be realized. But this does not mean that the individual choice, that is the individual self-determination, is inessential. We must determine our future individually, otherwise the result will be usual, that is nil.

Viktor Dzereviago, Kharkiv

I want to point out that my opinion on the language situation in Ukraine is based on my personal observations made in the cities of the center and east of the country, that is it is not exhausting. Yet, it is from these regions the declarations continue to come on the ‘coercive ukrainization’. I want to present an alternative point of view.

Leaders of the organizations that imagine themselves protectors of the Russian-speaking population are well-known in Ukraine. They often appear in the regional press and on commercial TV and radio channels that are mainly Russian. They actively do not want the renaissance of the Ukrainian language and culture, their reason being either the fear of being punished for what the empire did with our culture and its carriers, or the fear that it will hinder the reanimation of the empire. They believe that the best defense is an attack and they make declarations that the Russian language and culture are trampled whereas the Ukrainian culture is coercively instilled. These declarations are obviously untrue, so the majority of my compatriots (including the Russian-speaking) believe them to be fanatics. It is confirmed by the election failure of the protectors and political parties which support them, such as ‘Soyuz’ or ‘The party of Slavic unity’. These parties got 1 - 2 votes from about 2000 at each election station in Kharkiv. And that happened in one of the most rusificated cities of Ukraine!

The authority of such organizations is very low, and their complaints that the poor citizens of Ukraine ‘are forced not only to speak, but to think in Ukrainian’ is rancid nonsense, as well as another popular complaint that ‘if our children read Pushkin, then they will have to do it in Ukrainian translations’.

Discussing on the ‘linguistic rights’ of people, they always forget that Ukrainian-speaking citizens also live in this region, and their right to communicate with the authorities in a language convenient for them is not less than the similar right of the Russian-speaking population. This right of the Ukrainian speakers, according to my observations, is abused by state authorities of all levels, as well as administrations of the state-owned enterprises. In Kharkiv courts a judge may demand the witness to speak Russian, since the secretary does not know Ukrainian, or they suggest the witness ‘to hire a private interpreter’. The documents of the Constitutional Court must put an end to the arbitrary actions of civil officers. The documents issued by the Constitutional Court insist on the demand stipulated in the Constitution and in Ukrainian laws to civil officers (and only to them!) to know and apply the Ukrainian language. The Russian language, as well as the languages of other national minorities, are not prohibited. The draft of the resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers introduces the measures which will enable everybody (including civil officers) to perfect their knowledge of the state language. It is true that some statements of the draft may be treated as containing elements of coercion, but they are not more coercive than, say, the measures introduced by the road militia in order to decrease the number of road accidents. Yes, drivers are coerced to learn traffic rules and apply them on the roads. The draft contains some doubtful statements like ‘derusification of sport and tourism’ or ‘concordance of the network of nursery, elementary and secondary schools with the ethnic composition of the population in a region’. But this is only a draft which serves for correcting lame places.

I do not see any problems of the Russian language to function among private individuals or their unions. The Russian language mainly sounds in the streets of most cities of Ukraine, including Kyiv. It is used in establishments and stores. I often observed that passersby, who were speaking Ukrainian among themselves, passed to Russian when they have to address a stranger or if a stranger addressed them in Russian. According to our press, about 95% of printed matter in Ukraine is in Russian, published in Russia or in Ukraine. This is explained principally by the tax policy that makes publishing in Ukrainian economically unprofitable. Non-state-owned electronic mass media also demonstratively use Russian, the similar situation is observed in the Ukrainian show-business. Concerts of Russian stars are free of tax, so Russian stars seem to pass more time in Ukraine than in Russia. Certainly, they perform in Russian. Our own stars are ousted by high taxes from Ukrainian to Russian scenes. Higher education is predominantly in Russian. Sometimes the administration of the higher schools orders to pass to Ukrainian, but then a teacher addresses his audience, and the class unanimously or almost unanimously votes for teaching in Russian. The higher school again and again produces a generation of specialists who do not know the Ukrainian terminology. It is possible to be born in Ukraine, to get the education, to make a successful professional career without reading a single line in Ukrainian. The fact, that a private individual has this right and can realize it, is a feature of the civilized attitude of our state to the Russian language. Nonetheless, active protectors of the Russian language and culture are not satisfied. They believe that they have the right not to hear Ukrainian around them, as it was possible in the Soviet times. Otherwise, how can one explain their crazy reaction in all the cases, when the state or public organizations make timid attempts to assist the Ukrainian language, whose situation is objectively more difficult than that of Russian. Subjective problems are the most difficult to decide, to overcome them one needs to make substantial efforts. The Ukrainian society with the traditional Ukrainian kindness waits, when at last the professional protectors of the Russian language will begin to treat Ukrainian as tolerantly as most of their compatriots.

I believe that the operating laws of Ukraine concerning the language sphere are mainly based on the common sense and sufficiently just. The laws, without impinging on the rights of other peoples in Ukraine, permit the Ukrainian language to take its lawful place of the ‘genetic code of the nation’. But this is possible only if the laws are observed. Unfortunately, nowadays they are abused and completely ignored by the significant part of civil servants.

At the same time, the erroneous tax policy puts the languages in Ukraine to unequal and unjust states: the prosperous Russian language has economic advantages, while the Ukrainian language, just standing up from the knees, is robbed.

I expect from the state that it will, at last, force its bureaucrats to obey the laws in the language sphere; the state must also correct the economic treatment of the languages in Ukraine.

Summing up, I assess the Decision of the Constitutional Court and the draft of the Cabinet of Ministers to be necessary and sufficient for today measures of the state administration in the sphere of the development of the Ukrainian language.

Roman Romanov, Sevastopol

1. First of all, I want to point out that various organizations which express the interests of Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine, almost always express its negative reaction to any initiatives and decisions which tend to change the status quo in the state of languages, and the status quo fixes the domination of the Russian language.

It should be noted, however, that this reaction does not take the form of an active protest. It is clear to me, a resident of Sevastopol, which is, perhaps, the most sensitive region of Ukraine to any changes of the language regime. I think that the Decision of the Constitutional Court would be unnoticed, if this topic did not get great attention by Russian mass media that traditionally exert a great impact on the political events in Ukraine. The TV feature by Natalia Kondratiuk, where children tell how they are made to learn Pushkin’s verses in Ukrainian, certainly may not leave calm any Russian TV viewer.

If mass media did not pay attention to the adopted documents, the interest to them would hardly exceed the level of intellectual discussions and scientific conferences. There are several reasons of this passivity. I would single out the following.

First of all, a noticeable change has appeared in the attitude of the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine to the state. In the first years of the Ukrainian autonomy a great part of the population in South and East of Ukraine, and especially in the Crimea, in general did not identify themselves as Ukrainians. They observed with some enmity how the state authorities marked their passports with the stamp of Ukraine, and then the exchange of passports. Now, in my opinion, it is possible to affirm that they got accustomed to their Ukrainian citizenship as to a sad coincidence of circumstances. This certainly does not exclude that many people have a negative attitude to Ukraine, her state, her language and her state symbols.

Now the question of the status of the Crimea and Sevastopol stopped to be discussed by Russia and Ukraine, and this, in fact, obliterated the Russian movement in the Crimea as an active political force. Most such organizations, that presumably protect the interests of the Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine, in fact fight for joining Russia. Their main goal is to make Moscow their capital and to make Russian their language.

Another factor which caused the slack reaction of the Russian-speaking population to the last decisions of the Ukrainian state concerning the languages — this is a very difficult economic state of the majority of the Ukrainian population. Under normal conditions the mentioned decisions could lead to a burst of public activity, but in Ukraine people are busy with survival. Such questions as cuts off of electricity, growth of the cost of communal services, more expensive tickets in the public transport, growth of food prices and the like occupy the mind of a man in the street to a greater extent.

Yet, the Decisions of the Constitutional Court and the draft of the Decision of the Cabinet of Ministers contain a lot of legal constructions and interpretations, which are very doubtful from the viewpoint of the observance of individual rights. One may expect a new attack on the position of the Russian language in Ukraine.

2. If one studies attentively the documents in question, one can conclude that individual rights are violated.

It is possible to assert that lately one may observe in Ukraine the wish of the powers to interfere in the language situation. This processes are directly connected with the appointment of Ivan Drach and Nikolay Zhulinskiy on the key positions in this sphere. They regard and will regard the broadening of the sphere of the use of the Ukrainian language as their main goal as state officers. ‘I shall do all what I can to make the information sphere as Ukrainian as it is possible’, declared Ivan Drach (‘Kyiv Post’, 23 March). Ukrainian national-democrats (who are represented in the government by the above-named people) are convinced that the Russian information expansion is the greatest danger for Ukraine and her independence.

I know some cases when Russian citizens of Ukraine complained that in the new passports their Russian names are distorted. For example, instead of ‘Sablin’ the authorities wrote ‘Shablin’ (‘sablia’ in Russian and ‘shablia’ in Ukrainian is ‘sabre’. — Translator’s note). The internal passport contains information both in Russian and in Ukrainian, but in the foreign passport two languages are used — English and Ukrainian, and the names are transliterated from Ukrainian. As a result, many Russians do not identify themselves with their new names. I think that Ukrainian authorities should guarantee the free choice of names (which, by the way, is stipulated by Item 5 Article 10 of the European Charter on regional and minority languages). This sphere seems to be such that the state should not impose its will.

I think that the regulation of the usage of Ukrainian ‘in other spheres of public life’ set in the Decision of the Constitutional Court contradicts the European Charter. A state has no right to set forms and language of communication of citizens outside the limits of activity of its bodies. Article 10 of the Charter prescribes the state’s duty ‘to provide the population with administrative documents and blanks of general use in the regional languages, or in the minority languages, or in a bilingual version’. Actually, we observe a clear tendency of remaking blanks and documents only into Ukrainian. On the other hand, I believe that the demand to examine civil servants in Ukrainian is quite correct.

Instead of facilitating the tax press from book publishing in Ukraine the draft of the Decision of the Cabinet of Ministers suggests to use new ‘taxes on the printed matter that comes to Ukraine from abroad’.

The attitude of the power to the civil society and to relations in the non-state sector is convincingly shown by the inclusion of the society ‘Prosvita’ to the organizations responsible for the execution of the Decision of the Cabinet of Ministers. ‘Prosvita’ has a status of the public organization. Although it is partially financed by the state, the society’s activity must be free, voluntary and be outside the sphere of the direct state administration.

The text of the draft contains inadmissible, in my opinion, characteristics. For example, the idea of the two state languages is called ‘vicious’. The Ukrainian language is called ‘the main and obligatory tool of communication on the entire territory of Ukraine’. So, the coercive character of the suggested measures is not concealed.

The draft of the Decision of the Cabinet of Ministers is written in the typical Soviet spirit. I do not understand in which manner the government intends to realize, as it is stated in item 11, the derusification in the sphere of tourism. The authors of the document use an inadmissible, in my opinion, approach of the protection of the ‘national cultural informative space’. It should be said that this point of view is rather common among the authorities. Another draft has been already introduced into the Supreme Rada. This draft suggests measures on the protection of the ‘informative sovereignty and security of Ukraine’, brutally violating the freedom of information guaranteed by Article 34 of the Constitution.

3. I am sure that nowadays, not counting rare exceptions, the Ukrainian-language informative products are unable to compete with Russian-language ones.

This fact is a result of many causes, and they lie in different planes: the set of potential customers is less for Ukrainian language products, the financial resources are poorer and so on. Here the results of the long rusification are revealed. This means that special measures for supporting the Ukrainian language are needed, but these measures can be of different character. One way is to turn the process and exchange rusification by coercive ukrainization. Yet, this approach does not answer the priorities that are determined by the Constitution: freedom, democracy, observance of human rights. What could be used by Soviet rulers may not be used in the modern Ukraine. The support of the Ukrainian language is needed, but it must assume such forms which do not violate personal rights of citizens.

I cannot agree with the viewpoint that the struggle with the consequences of the absence of independence of Ukraine may justify the violation of individual rights as to using languages. All the people have human dignity and equal rights, so if we speak on the impingement on the so-called ‘homo sovietcus‘ — that community which was artificially bred on 1/6 part of the mainland during many years — we must observe their rights and freedoms as well.

I think that the well-known ‘expert’ Servey Karaganov, who said that ousting Russian will obligatorily result in the cultural delay and isolation of Ukraine, is utterly wrong. One can demonstrate examples of highly intellectual informative products in Ukrainian. Living in Sevastopol, I always enjoy reading the Lviv magazine ‘Ї’, the Kyivan magazines ‘Дух і літера’, ‘Політіка і культура’. The information products from Russia, which are consumed in Ukraine, mostly belong to ‘mass culture’. In this respect there is a great difference between the Ukrainian language weeklies which are not intended for the mass consumer. That is why all Ukraine listens to primitive Russian songs, reads endless Russian detectives and cries over novels for women.

4. Ukrainian citizens must determine themselves in which language they will communicate, and the duty of the state includes creating conditions for this. In this case I mean not only the minority languages, but the state language. Several years ago I voluntarily translated documents of our public organization into Ukrainian. We observed that state servants in Sevastopol were unable to work with the Ukrainian documents. The preamble to the European Charter on regional and minority languages stipulates that ‘protection and development of regional or minority languages must not hamper the official languages and the necessity to learn them’.

The efficiency of the state administration lies not in the practice of forcing people to obey the rules invented by some bureaucrat. Good administration must create a system of stimuli to make citizens, who realize their own rights and interests, follow the state policy. That is why the use of the Ukrainian language must be profitable and prestigious.

I would suggest to create in traditional Russian-language regions several schools, where the students could get the education of the top level.

It is important to develop Ukrainian Internet resources. The delay here will certainly throw back the information sphere in Ukraine and will constrain the use of Ukrainian. the state must make the Internet as accessible as possible.

It is necessary to break the prejudice that the Ukrainian language is unpromising dialect used by badly educated rustics. This can be done by the civil society supported by the state. Recollect successful musical festivals like ‘Chervona Ruta’. The Russian-speaking youth of the Crimea, Donbass and Kharkiv competed in the knowledge of Ukrainian, and that was done by their free will, without any pressure from the state.

Court practices

Are there privileges for the parents of servicemen perished in the army?

In 1991 under the pressure of desperate mothers of servicemen who returned home in zinc coffins in the peaceful time, the Supreme Rada of Ukraine adopted the law ‘On social and legal protection of servicemen and their families’ of 20 December 1991.

According to this law, some privileges to the members of families of the servicemen, who perished, died, missed in action or became invalids during their military service. The privileges were not granted if the servicemen perished or died during their military service as a result of committing crimes by themselves.

The law stimulated privileges in the following spheres:

in the improvement of their living accommodation;

in reducing payments for the communal services;

in building individual houses;

in privatization of flats;

in paying for intra-town and inter-town transportation;

in taxes.

The Ukrainian law ‘On pensions of servicemen in the army or bodies of internal affairs’ of 9 April 1992 the following auxiliary privileges were stipulated:

the parents of servicemen perished during their service had the right to retire on a pension five years earlier than usual;

their pensions were raised by 50% of the minimal old-age pension.

The Ukrainian law ‘On the status of war veterans and guarantees of their social protection’ of 23 November 1995 (together with the changes introduced on 22 December 1995) stipulated that, according to point 10 part 2, the action of this law was extended to the families of servicemen perished (missed in action) or died as a result of a wound, contusion or injury inflicted during defense of the motherland or the execution of other obligations of the military service (service duty), and also as a result of a disease caught during the military service or on the territory of other states during military actions and conflicts there.

The words ‘service duty’ separated the families of the perished servicemen into two categories: perished ‘during the execution’, when they are granted some auxiliary privileges, and perished ‘during the military service’, to which the privileges are granted according to the laws of 20 December 1991 and 9 April 1992. The new law on the status of war veterans did not cancel the privileges; it only separated the families of the perished into two categories. Cases of suicide are related to the ‘during the service’-category. What is the true cause of their death, was it really a suicide, what were the reasons of it? All these questions are usually unanswered. The sons have perished and the authorities, without any grounds, began to cancel the privileges for the parents.

The authorities refer to the Ukrainian law ‘On pensions’ of 5 November 1991, but the law ‘On pensions of servicemen in the army and bodies of internal affairs’ was adopted later, on 9 April 1992, and it is this law that stipulated the privileges to the parents.

The Ukrainian law ‘On the status of war veterans and guarantees of their social protection’ stipulates a number of privileges for the families of the servicemen perished during the execution of service duties.

As the result of numerous decisions and resolutions of the Cabinet of Ministers and local state administration, practically all the privileges do not operate now, to say nothing about some of them which never operated.

So, all the privileges concerning the medical service are inoperable. The privileges concerning the communal services cost and the cost of living accommodation are practically equivalent to getting subsidies by other categories of the population. The parents of the perished could get subsidies.

The privileges for the transportation in the intra-town transport are real in trams, trolleybuses and subway, but not on buses, since they are all privately owned, or, otherwise, are renamed as root taxis. As to the privileges for inter-town transport, lately many cashiers refuse to give tickets referring to the fact that the privilege has been canceled. And what concerns the 50% discount in spring and autumn, most ticket offices refuse to give tickets. It is worthless even to mention out-of-turn reparation of private houses and state flats, or out-of-turn installation of telephone, or granting living accommodations.

As to increasing the old-age pension to 150% of the minimal one, it looks like a joke, since it makes Hr 24 (about 4 USD), that is less than one third of a normal pension.

The state also established an auxiliary pension for small children born after the death of the perished servicemen. The state hands out a tremendous sum of Hr 7.5 per month. The school takes for every child about two times more. We even do not mention the soaring prices for communal services, electricity, city transportation, food, clothing, medical service and so on. Thank you very much, our rulers, for your financial aid!

The introduction of the parents of perished servicemen into war veterans made it possible for different instances and levels of bureaucrats to shamefully throw out these new quasi-veterans in writing numerous instructions and resolutions. As a result, we are loosing the former privileges, since the new instructions mention the war veterans and lack the words ‘other citizens having the same rights’.

We are not ‘other citizens’, we are those who are doomed to the solitary old age, since the state killed our future.

Our state must stop to be shy and confess that in the country there exists a category of people, to whom the state is infinitely indebted. The state must adopt an honest well-balanced separate law ‘On the status and social protection of the families of servicemen perished in peaceful time’.

This law must guarantee normal living conditions for members of the families of servicemen perished during the execution of military service, it also must guarantee the care of the graves of the servicemen and their protection from the present and future vandals.

The law also must stipulate the free ritual services for the parents.

PL commentary.
When this material was being prepared for press, we have learned from the new state budget of Ukraine that the parents of the perished servicemen lost all their privileges! Every day the parents of the perished servicemen, who hardly make the ends meet, phone to the Union of soldiers’ mothers. These people do not know how they can live further. About 300 families, to whom, as V. Kharuta writes, the state is infinitely indebted, have lost the infinitesimal bits of support. What public moral can we speak about?

I. Sukhorukova

Point of view

A seminar in Donetsk

The Department of human rights of the Council of Europe, jointly with the NGO ‘Donetsk Memorial’, held on 26 – 27 April a regional seminar ‘Human rights and the Ukrainian penitentiary system’ in Donetsk. Workers of the penitentiaries of the Donetsk oblast and their colleagues from five neighboring oblasts took part in this seminar, as well as scientists from leading law schools of Ukraine. It is the second seminar held by the mentioned organizations. The first one was held in May 1997 and was devoted to the court reform in Ukraine.

The main topics at this seminar were the European prison rules concerning the personnel of the penitentiaries and the mechanism of work of the European Committee against torture. Yagoda Polontsova, an expert of the Council of Europe, told that the conclusions of the Committee after two visits to Ukraine are still confidential, until the government of Ukraine agrees to their publication. The deputy head of the State Department on penitentiaries, general-major Vladimir Liovochkin and a number of other speakers told about the problems of the upkeep of the prisoners.

The participants of the seminar were acquainted with a number of recommendations of the Council of Europe on the upkeep of prisoners, in particular, on the education of prisoners, on their leaves of absence and on the problem of the overcrowded penitentiaries.

Unfortunately, as well as three years ago, representatives of the Donetsk court and prosecutor’s office, invited to the seminar, did not come.

On unconstitutional postal mice

Many letters and other mail are sent to the information center of the Council of Europe in Ukraine from abroad, mainly from the Council of Europe headquarters. Rather frequently we can read on the envelope a note in the native Ukrainian language that testifies that on the long way from the sender to our center (our postal index is 01001, which is the main post office in Kyiv) an unexpected trouble happened — the envelope was opened, perhaps, by inquisitive mice. The opened envelope is decorated by the inscription: ‘The letter has come to the Kyiv central post office in a damaged form’. At first this note was written by a ball-point, but lately a special stamp appeared. Sometimes the postal clerks even put the torn envelope into an accurate plastic bag. Certainly, one cannot blame the overloaded postal clerks: they are not responsible for malevolent mice. Nobody doubts that they together with Article 31 of the Constitution guarantee the privacy of mail.

I do not know whether the General Secretary of the Council of Europe knew about the peculiarities of our postal service, but he sent the New Year congratulation to the information center without gluing the envelope. The mice evaluated his tact and did not spoil the envelope. Moreover, the letter arrived in time, not with a month delay as the rets of the mail sent from the same place at the same time. People learned how to fight with cockroaches and bedbugs, now a way of fighting the postal mice has been found.

Ukrainian authorities systematically abuse rights and freedoms of citizens

Ukrainian authorities massively and systematically abuse rights and freedoms of citizens of Ukraine, Nina Karpacheva, the ombudsperson of Ukraine declared at the press conference. Nina Karpacheva considers that the authorities abuse human rights by delaying payments of salaries and pensions, which sometimes results in public suicides. According to the ombudsperson, political rights of Ukrainian citizens are abused too. Nina Karpacheva expressed the hope that the Ukrainian Parliament will hear the monitoring report of the ombudsperson on observing rights and freedoms of Ukrainian citizens.

She said that by the present time the Constitutional Court of Ukraine received three Constitutional propositions of the ombudsperson. One of them concerns the protection of orphans. She added that her office prepares one more Constitutional proposition on the Constitutional acts of the government of Ukraine with respect to the money deposits to the Savings Bank of the USSR. These Constitutional propositions concern the protection of rights of a large number of citizens. According to Nina Karpacheva, during 1999 she directed 84 propositions on the abuse of rights and freedoms; during eight months of 1998 she directed 44 propositions to various organs of power.

“Prava Ludiny” (human rights) monthly bulletin, 2000, #05