war crimes in Ukraine

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


On the anti-terrorist campaign in Afghanistan

The war against bin Laden’s terrorists and protecting talibs has begun. It is already obvious that the unprecedented crime against humanity committed on 1 September 2001 in New York and Washington will not remain unpunished. Sooner or later Usama bin Laden and his accomplices will be caught and tried or destroyed.

We endorse the declared goals of the anti-terrorist campaign.

At the same time we express our sympathy to the Afghani people, who became hostages of terrorists and fanatics. The leaders of the USA and their allies state that blasts of rocket and bombs, already launched or still planned, are pointwise and are directed against terrorists and talibs’ only. Well, we shall hope that it is the truth.

We hope that the negative experience of the ‘anti-terrorist’ campaign of the Russian government in Chechnya, where the peaceful population suffers most of all, will be accounted for in preparing the current operation. We also hope that the experience of the invasion of the Soviet army to Afghanistan will also be considered. The result of the mentioned invasion was the death of hundreds of thousands of Afghani people and many thousands of Soviet soldiers. Another result was that Afghanistan became the arena of the civil war that has not ended yet. Talibs’ rule in Kabul is nothing but a distant consequence of the Soviet aggression of 1979.

We would like to think that, making alliances with the states, which practice massive and rude violations of human rights, the political leaders of the developed democratic countries and the international public are not going to ‘pardon’ their allies. It is necessary to exert pressure on these states to make them change their internal policy related to their dissidents. It is necessary not only from moral, but also from pragmatic considerations. We remind that it was the cruel suppression of the peaceful political opposition in Uzbekistan that led to the appearance and rooting of terrorist fundamentalist organizations in the Central Asia.

The leaders of the anti-terrorist coalition declare that, along with the military component, the campaign envisages also the political goal: establishing peace in Afghanistan, and the humanitarian one: aid to the Afghani people with food and medical drugs.

These intentions are right and reasonable. Yet, they are not sufficient.

The declared goal of the Kosovo campaign of the NATO of 1999 was also noble: to prevent genocide. Yet, it was not completely achieved. An action that obviously went outside the operating international law, was not accompanied by any attempts to concord the international right and the system of international relations with modern requirements. The result was new splashes of violence on the Balkans and now in Macedonia.

Probably, the campaign in Afghanistan will lead to the destruction of terrorists and their accomplices in this country. It is also possible that the operation will bring peace to Afghanistan. But it is unable to finish radically the international terrorism. Terrorism cannot be defeated, if the struggle is limited by frontiers of a separate country. For the victory global and coordinated efforts of the whole world are needed and, first of all, a cardinal reconstruction of the entire international right.

Today there exists no definition of terrorism that is acknowledged by the international community. If such a definition existed, then it, together with well-developed tools of applying sanctions against endorsers of terrorists, would enable the community to efficiently fight the terrorism danger. And, which us as essential, to suppress the attempts of a number of states to solve their internal or external problems in the form of ‘fighting terrorism’.

The world community, and, first of all thew countries actively participating in the anti-terrorist operation, are obliged to set a goal: to develop the international legislation that would distinctly define the crimes, which demand an immediate international forceful interference, to create a super-national court organs determining the necessity of such interference and instruments determining the procedure of applying force. It is high time to begin the construction of the new system of international relations based solely on the right.

The WW2 became the war of mankind against fascism only after the allies defined and publicly declared not only military and political, but also international and legal goals of this war. As a result, the UNO was created, which, being imperfect as it is, became a great step forward in uniting mankind. It was the UNO that created the Great Charter of the 20 thcentury – the Universal Declaration of human rights; it was the UNO that adopted the Pacts of 1966 on human rights – the first step in giving the Declaration the force of a law.

Nowadays, as never before, actual is A. D. Sakharov’s thought that human rights are a necessary basis for building a just and stable world.

Directorate of the International society ‘Memorial’

Crisis of the Western democracy (Abridged)

The beginning of the third millenium was expected by many as the end of the world. The expectations, however, came futile. Even the change of the date in computers did not cause the expected havoc. Nonetheless, the world did change in the third millenium. It is not exactly known who of politicians told these words, but now politicians one after another repeat the maxim.

In order to understand these important changes, let us mentally return to the events of 15 years ago. The Chernobyl catastrophe became an event of the world scale. The catastrophe accelerated the disintegration of the communist empire, it elucidated the lying essence of its political system, which, regardless of the fatal danger, continued to fool the irradiated population and the world public. The Chernobyl catastrophe proved once again that atom cannot be peaceful. It showed how small is our planet, and how close are the ties of Ukrainians, Russians, Byelarussians, Swedes, Poles, Germans, etc. Peoples are in the same boat. Nothing else could cool the hot heads of ‘hawks’ on the both sides of the iron curtain.

Disarmament. The end of the cold war. The end of the dictatorship of proletariat. The blood-red ‘ghost’, who wandered in Europe, according to Marx, died. However, at the fringes of the red empire numerous military conflicts appeared, like mushrooms after a rain: Nagorny Karabakh, Abkhazia, Chechnya and now Abkhazia again. It is not difficult to place the conflicts – they happen on the boundary of the Christian and Islamic worlds.

The terrorist acts of 11 September in the USA, like the Chernobyl catastrophe, shattered the entire world. The world suddenly understood the deceptive impression of the safety and global stability, the imperfection of the ideas of humanism and steady progress. The Statute of the UNO and its functions were suddenly forgotten, as well as the right for territorial integrity and sovereignty, and benefit of the doubt. Only the right of the strong remained. And mankind for the umpteenth time acknowledged the right for retaliation, and the fact of existing camps for training terrorist became a sufficient reason for the retaliation (although camps for preparing people of the same profession exist in almost every country). The concept of terrorism that has no distinct juridical definition became the excuse for an aggression. The latter term up to now was used to describe the fact of attacking a sovereign country. The situation is understood quite differently by many Asian people, who never watched TV and know nothing about the events of 11 September. Western politicians, commentators and lawyers are at a loss: ‘It is necessary to gather the conference under the aegis of the UNO in order to define what terrorism is’. It is too late, gentlemen. ‘The process has begun’, as Gorbachev used to say.

In fact, the process is lasting. Since in the international policy that declares principles of humanism and in the so-called ‘Western democracy’ a double standard is being used for a considerable time. Honestly speaking this is similar to the total deception like that about the Chernobyl catastrophe. That is the picture seen from below, by mere victims and witnesses. The difference is only in the scale.

Now another military conflict has appeared, this time in the vicinity of the modern powder barrel – the nuclear potential of Pakistan. The irreconcilability of the hostile countries is especially disturbing. On the one hand we have Islam, which demands from its followers to wage a permanent war with giaours, and on the other hand we have the formal Christianity, which is the basis of the Western outlook. Centuries of peaceful coexistence of the two religions inside many countries may be explained only by the nominal Islam. Let us explain this phenomenon with the example of nominal Christianity. In one of his stories L. Tolstoi told about a soldier, who drove off a beggar from the porch of an Orthodox church. A passing gentleman tried to shame the soldier: ‘Have not you ever read the Good Book?’. ‘No, sir’, answered the soldier, ‘I kissed the Good Book, but never read’.

Baptizing children, wearing a cross on the neck, an icon in a special room corner, eating painted eggs on the Easter – here is the nominal religion. But the soul is empty at that. There is no Christ in the heart, no peace and love to fellow creatures, no tolerance. Will such an individual sacrifice his life for another person, will he let to slap him on left cheek, as Christ taught? No. As well a nominal Moslem will never sacrifice his life, disregarding the promised bliss for those, who fell at a djikhad (war with unbelievers). A principally different approach to suicide must be mentioned. The Bible affirms that self-murderer get to the hell, Islam, in its turn, promises the paradise for those, who consciously gave their lives for Prophet’s just cause. This inspired the kamikaze terrorists.

Yet, except the toothless nominal beliefs, there exists religious fanaticism among followers of different religions. Fanatics are united by their refusal from the idea of love to fellow creatures and blind belief in their religious leaders. However, it is not the religious fanaticism that came forward today. Even among fanatics there are few people, who are ready to sacrifice their lives without any personal motives; the fear of death is stronger.

In order to understand completely the motives of behavior of kamikaze terrorists, who became danger No. 1 for the Western civilization, it is worthwhile to pay attention to reports of some Christian missionaries from Moslem countries. They witness that the forte of Islam lies not in the persuasiveness of Mohammed’s doctrine and even not in the extreme intolerance to Christianity, it is in the occult practice of Moslem leaders. That is in their communication with the spirits of darkness, souls of the dead and spirits of evil. All this is disgusting and sinful in the face of God. Common Moslems, living for ages among poverty and hopelessness, are prepared to joyfully accept the ideas of the next world bliss for the ‘warriors of Islam’. Yet, the very idea is insufficient, since there exists natural, given by the Creator, instinct of self-preservation. That is the place, where the supernatural forces intrude, which subdue man’s will trough occult practices. In fact, it is zombification. That happens not without human participation, so not all Moslems are occult-dependent. The number of Moslems is immense, and even is a tiny proportion of them are subjected to these occult practices, the danger is great.

Are bombs and rockets is an efficient treatment in this case? The danger of solving spiritual problems with weapons is obvious. Here only the spiritual struggle can help. Military actions will anger nominal Moslems and increase the number of fanatics. Having begun, a military conflict has no chances to finish.

Gefreiter Schiklgruber, more known under the pseudonym Hitler, presents a bright historical example of an occult-dependent politician. Unprecedented hatred of mankind, treachery and cruelty united with power, fanaticism of the nazi idea – all this finished with the suicide in the bunker. Not only the German people, but scores of millions of Europeans became victims of his political ventures.

Blaming the USSR for 15-year war in Afghanistan, the USA, in my opinion, will learn how hopeless is the plan to set democracy in the tribal society of Pushtu, even if the military operation as such will be completed soon. And no containers with the humanitarian cookies will help. By the way, it is very simple for backers of Osama bin Laden or talibs to put some explosive to such containers, and thus they will achieve a quite opposite result.

It should not be forgotten that opium poppies are massively cultivated in Afghanistan. If the USA cannot destroy the drug mafia in their own country, they would hardly be able to do it in an alien country. The participants of military and criminal clashes are often drug addicts, and that turns them into bio-robots with periodic top-up.

Finally, let us suppose that the suspected bin Laden really was not the organizer of the terrorist acts of 11 September. Then the organization headed by him will certainly begin to revenge. And the revenge will be directed rather not against the USA, the country with a mighty police system, but against the weaker and poorer countries- satellites, since it will be simpler.

The common Americans, not implicated in big policy, suffered from the terrorist acts. The peaceful Afghani population, women, children and old people, suffered from the bombardments. Hunger, cold, diseases and death of relatives awaits them. But do politicians have any alternative? Yes, they do. Ending his speech to the American people, the President said: ‘God bless America’.

I do not think so. If one reads attentively the Sermon on the Mount, one will see that bliss awaits peaceful and gentle, who acknowledge their spiritual poverty, miserable and poor. Jesus Christ’s friends were simple fishermen and tax collectors, people disrespected in the society. God awaits from the American people not a wave of patriotism, but confession of their sins and pacification. Errors in the world politics appear because the politicians recollect God too late, when the decision has already been taken, thus they violate the third Commandment.

It is hopeless to fight with the Islamic terrorism with bombs and rockets. Violence leads to greater violence. Christian God, on the contrary, declares love. This Christian value always pacified people. A war always generates injustice, violence, hate and bloodshed of the innocents. Wounds are bleeding for decades. It is impossible to return the killed and to heal the maimed. The only way of peaceful co-existence with the Moslem world is not only the preaching Christian love, but its real embodiment in the affairs of mercy, aid to the hungry and sick. That is the real assistance to the developing countries on the side of Western countries. There is not other ways to win the love of the Moslem world, to isolate kamikaze terrorists and to stop the danger of appearing new ones.

PL commentary:We cannot agree with one thesis of Mr. Biloded. The author, in our opinion, is mistaken in understanding the canonical Islam, taking it for a religion, which is potentially aimed at terrorism. In fact, terrorist organizations are as a rule created by the left-wing Moslems, who contradict to letter and spirit of the Koran, which categorically prohibits suicide and killing peaceful people.

They support national-socialist ideas and use the Koran as a shield, treating it in a way to suit their ideas. The world, as we see, has encountered now a version of national-socialism, which, unlike the one in German of the 1930s, has no distinct boundaries and general approaches for realizing its pretensions.

The terrorists distorted the notion of djikhad, which is, according to the Shariat, is a sacred duty of every Moslem to defend his country and his Moslem world from the outer aggression. The so-called fanatical ‘Islamists’ had no canonic religious grounds for the terrorist acts of 11 September 2001. Yet, having trespassed letter and spirit of the religious canon on that day, the fundamentalists obtained the retaliation from the USA in the form of bombs and rockets. Now, and here we agree with the author, the Moslem world may unite on the base of the canonic Islam, forgetting about the reasons of the cruel response at the side of the USA.

Terrorism as a phenomena of culture

‘A terrorist act, i.e. use of weapons, carrying out an explosion, arson or other actions dangerous to the health or life of people, or inflicting grave material damage or other grave consequences, if such actions were committed with the purpose of violating public safety, intimidation of the population, provocation of a military conflict, international complications, or with the purpose of influencing on taking decisions or on activity or passivity of organs of state power or local self-rule, state officials, public organizations, juridical persons, or for attracting public attention to certain political, religious or other opinions of the criminal (terrorist), as well as the threat of the above-mentioned actions with the same purpose, -- are punished by incarceration for the term from 5 to 10 years’.

(Criminal Code of Ukraine, Article 258 1)

The common definition of terrorism in the modern international right is absent. In the Ukrainian legislation a terrorist act is defined as above, there are no other definitions ion the legislation. It is an urgent necessity to understand thoroughly what terrorism is.

Dmitry Korchinsky in his interview to the TV channel ICTV defined the events in the USA as the war of Allah against Mickey Mouse. I think that this definition is not quite exact. Modern terrorist acts are the war of misunderstood Islam against belligerent Mickey Mouse. Yet, Dmitry Korchinsky is one of a few political figures, who managed to define what is happening as a cultural and not a political crisis. On the edge of centuries mankind came across a new problem, which, as usual, has historical roots and, as usual, has a new stem. It would be possible to find similar phenomena, but this seeming similarity is deceptive. My profound conviction is that terrorism is a phenomenon of the new times, which is connected, first of all, with essential cultural and psychological changes in the consciousness of mankind. So, this phenomenon should be considered not ad a political factor, although terrorist acts immediately become facts of the big politics, but as a cultural factor.

There have been few events in history similar to those of the present day. Reasons for assassinating some politicians always existed, but the assassination of Julius Caesar by senators cannot be called a terrorist act, since the murderers had a concrete political goal – the change of power in the country.

A somewhat closer example is the Decembrists’ plot against the czar. Kakhovskiy, one of the Decembrists, had to shot the emperor, after which the rebels planned to seize power in the country. We will not discuss the quality of their plan. Kakhovskiy, though he had the opportunity, did not shoot at the czar, since his consciousness did not get rid yet of the idea that a czar is sacral. He did kill General Miloradovich, a hero of the war of 1812, who was persuading the rebels to disperse. Kakhovskiy committed an accidental terrorist act, since they did not plan to kill anybody except the czar. It is important that the Decembrists, trying to kill Nicholas I, had a concrete political goal, while their successors, members of the ‘Narodnaya Volya’, had not such concrete goals.

Each generation of Russian revolutionaries has its own pattern. All these changes, plots and attempts occurred in a very limited population layer. Undoubtedly, the execution of the five Decembrists approached the future murder of Alexander II, named ‘the liberator’ (since he cancelled serfdom. Most of our historians up to the present day have not accounted that the revolutionary movement in Russia until the end of the 19 thcentury was a consequence of the European orientation of the majority of Russian intelligentsia. And this in no way corresponded with the state order in Russia organized an oriental satrapy with paradoxically westernized ruling class. Incompetence of social structures, the immense territory and the population diverse in the national and cultural features created the conditions for political instability. The opposing forces could hardly guess what profound cultural layers were concealed behind their political opposition.

I dwell on the Russian society of the 19 thcentury because it is there, where we see a broad terrorist movement as a way of achieving the loftiest social ideals.

Members of the ‘Narodnaya Volya’ and other similar organizations sacrificed their lives not for mere catching the power, but for punishing the existing power for immorality and cruelty. As a rule, these young people were belligerent atheists. Yet, they behaved as profoundly religious people. The belief in the social progress, European values of freedom and equality replaced the belief in God for them. In this case, it was the European system of values that formed the cultural whirlpool in the Russian society, in which young people were involved, eager to achieve the good and justice to such an extent that they became murderers and victims simultaneously.

The American Declaration of Independence and ideals of the French revolution made these people heroes-martyrs, ready to sacrifice themselves in mass. Elimination of this ideology was skin-deep. Dostoevski, Tolstoi and Turgenev wrote about this. Russian writers understood and told to the world that a Russian representative of the intelligentsia-atheist is a deeply believer, but belief presupposes the replacement of eternal values with public and political ones. Europe burst into Russia with explosions of bombs, which were thrown at the czar and his officials by the revolutionaries, and responsive gallows for these believing martyrs-murderers. Their deaths caused new terrorist acts, since the insulted religious and moral feelings demanded retaliation.

More than a century will pass, and Asia will satisfy its wounded religious and moral feelings with explosions and hijacking, terror directed at individuals and masses. Yet, this terror, in contrast to the Russian one of the 19 thcentury, will be faceless, as a rule, and directed at an indefinite target of representatives of the alien culture and civilization.

The activities of the Russian terrorists were absolutely incomprehensible outside the circle of the Russian intelligentsia. Russian philosopher N. Leontyev wrote that Russian citizens in Constantinople expressed perplexity about the attempts at Alexander II. The compatriots told Leontyev that it would be logical to kill the czar for the landlords, who lost their serfs. Foreign mass media of that time commented the events in the similar way. Than and now any terror was and is illogical, as well any responses to it. And this is not surprising, since what we see is an act of belief, but not of a political convictions or political actions. This belief is perverted; it replaced genuine religious ideals with its own conceptions, as well as in the case with Russian terrorists, here the belief in progress ousted the belief in God and demanded human sacrifices.

The scope of modern terrorist movement is incomparable with that of the 19 thcentury, as incomparable are their technical facilities. Yet, beside the technical facilities, the global scale of nowadays terrorist organizations and acts is caused by the facts that, first, the world becomes well-connected and united (so-called globalization effect), and, secondly, the contradiction between cultures became obvious because of the improvement in the information exchange: Mickey Mouse wants to drop into every house of the world. Those, who do not understand who is the Mickey Mouse, decided that he is a horrible monster capable of the ruining their traditional world and their future. Against this abstract symbol of the concrete culture the insulted consciousness of other culture rebelled, which is unable to counteract with something comparable in scale. Then the demon of destruction was resurrected. This demon demonstrates the mutual helplessness: helplessness of force and helplessness of weakness, and the mutual unwillingness to understand the source and depth of the conflict.

The historical experience demonstrates that illogicality and sacrifices of one epoch imply the cool calculation and mass victims of subsequent epochs. However, the world has changed. Maybe, the experience of many centuries will help the civilization to find the way to uniting without attempts of one culture to destroy another? The peaceful dialog of cultures is the only acceptable way out for mankind.

Today we observe how bombs drop on Afghanistan as peas from a sack full of holes. The USA, allegedly, set a reasonable political aim – to destroy the talibs’ regime, which created a theocratic Islamic state, even more rigid than in Iran some time ago. Talibs support Islamic terrorists in the entire world, and this seems to be a sufficient reason to wage war against them. The more so that the talibs’ regime is especially aggressive in culture: it is enough to recollect ruining Buddha statues, which were guarded by the UNESCO as memorials of the world culture. However, the bombs fall not only on talibs, but mostly on peaceful citizens. Moslems cannot help feeling this as a war against them all, even if they are opponents of talibs and the extremists supported by the latter. The so-called Northern Alliance and other opposition forces in Afghanistan, which now try to snatch power in the country, are also Moslems. Having reached their goals they all the same will recollect the bombs, and everything will begin anew. Bombs are a convincing argument in policy, but not in culture. Mickey Mouse is demonstrating the aggressiveness expected from him by the Moslem world. That is the case when, being separated politically, people unite on their cultural level. And all of them are prone to forget what namely caused such a rigid response from the USA. The West and East are far from each other today as never. And it awful to imagine where it may lead mankind.

The world anti-terrorist organization is necessary. Yet, in my opinion, it is also necessary to create at the UNO something like a cultural council, whose duty would be to study the cultural roots and consequences of political decisions. The necessity to have such an international council ripened long ago, since the problems, which were solved by military actions in the 20 thcentury, could be solved on the level of studying profound factors of conflicts and controversies. It is these factors that resulted in the rise of a number of communist, nazi and fascist states in Europe, the Latin America and Asia; but this is a topic for another article. Nowadays we helplessly observe how the controversy between the town worlds is growing, how it becomes firmer and more dangerous. All military power of our, Western, world becomes negligibly weak in comparison with a tiny envelope with white powder, even if it is merely chalk, since our minds are already hurt with terrorism.

Some time ago the League of Nations was created to prevent military conflicts. After the WW2, when mankind needed interstate dialog to survive, the League of Nations turned into the UNO – a really working structure. The urgent question of the agenda now is the search of the sources of controversies. This sets new problems before the world community.

Freedom of expression

Security is displeased

According to a correspondent of the agency ‘Interfax-Ukraina’, on 31 October the National Council of Security and Defense (NCSD) considered the measures of improvement of state informational policy and providing informational security of Ukraine.

The participants of the conference came to the conclusion that negative tendencies appeared in the informational area of Ukraine, which threaten national interests of the country in the external policy and are harmful to Ukraine’s international image. The participants noted that the national informational space is ‘fragmentary’ and has a low level of legal and physical protectability.

The members of the NCSD regard that the quality of the national informational production is unsatisfactory. The state organs, whose duty is to guarantee the informational security, do not take needed measures for preventing informational threats and their negative influence on political, social and spiritual areas.

The participants of the NCSD conference remarked that the national informational space is sometimes used for informational and propagandist aggression, discrediting Ukrainian state and public institutions, attempts to destabilize social and political situation and inflicting damage to international image of Ukraine.

In this connection the participants noted that dangerous tendencies of scattering doubtful, and sometimes obviously distorted and biased, information become more frequent in information networks.

In the opinion of the participants, the drawbacks of the state informational policy, especially in printed and electronic mass media, negatively effect shaping the civil society in Ukraine, its national and state identity. Insufficient attention is paid to the development and support of national and international agencies. Informative functioning within the Internet, mainly Internet-mass media, actually operate outside the legal field in Ukraine.

Besides, the participants of the conference consider that, because of weak integration of Ukraine into the world informational field and insufficient activity and competitiveness of Ukraine’s informational structures, the image of Ukraine abroad is formed by national, but by foreign mass media. As a result, a distorted image of internal and external policy of Ukraine is created, which negatively effects her international authority and the investment and credit rating.

It was also mentioned at the seminar that the technological base is considerably lagging behind the modern requirements. This leads to economic losses because of devaluation of progressive industrial and informational technologies.

On the opinion of the NCSD members, it is necessary to solve the problem of information protection concerning state administration and defense. International and national computer-related crimes present an actual danger to the informational security of Ukraine.

The conference participants expressed their anxiety about the criminal situation that appeared in the sphere of the protection of information systems and intellectual property. Besides the question about the functioning of computer networks, corporation communications and the Internet is still unsettled. Norms and tools of prohibiting monopolizing this sector of the informational sphere and using the network contrary to legal interests of an individual, society and state, as well as the system of licensing providers and the Internet-mass media are still absent.

As Evgeniy Marchuk, the secretary of the NCSD, remarked at the briefing devoted to the conference results, the Council took the decision, which shall be put into effect by the corresponding President’s decree. Before this separate parts of the decision will be placed on the NCSD site ( for discussing it by public.

According to E. Marchuk, the decision, in particular, supposes to entrust the Cabinet of Ministers and some government agencies with ordering the Internet mass media. He told that this is necessary, first of all, for the protection of the national domain .ua.

Besides the NCSD secretary confirmed the necessity to establish the responsibility of a provider for the resources located in his zone and to equalize the rights of printed and Internet mass media.


A useful meeting

In the beginning of this week representatives of the public organization ‘Khartia-4’ (such well-known journalists as Mykola Veresen, Yulia Mostova, Taras Kuzmiv had been among founders of this organization) gathered at the invitation of the Poltava media-club and held a number of actions directed at the support of the Poltava mass media.

The situation with the freedom of speech in the Poltava oblast is critical: according to the results of an independent investigation, the oblast occupies the third from the bottom in Ukraine.

Kyivan journalists met with activists of the media-club, from whom they learned about numerous persecutions of independent mass media and journalists. On Thursday more than 60 representatives of the Poltava oblast mass media, who participated in the seminar, had an opportunity to communicate with Viktor Krivenko, a judge of the Supreme Court of Ukraine, and with Vasyl Ivanina, the head of the secretariat of the parliamentary committee of the freedom of speech and information. They also met with popular showman of the TV channel ‘1+1’ Mykola Veresen, Tetiana Kotiuzhinska, an advocate from Dnepropetrovsk, Valeriy Vorotnikov, the publisher of the Cherkassy newspaper ‘Antenna’, representative of the OSCE Gizo Grdzelidze and Oksana Volosheniuk, the manager of programs for mass media of the international fund ‘Vidrodjennia’. The information obtained at the seminar and the advice of professionals will certainly help Poltava journalists to protection their rights.

As to unpleasant aspects of the visit of ‘Khartia-4’ to Poltava was, as Mykola Veresen remarked, that, in contrast to the Crimea, Lugansk and Cherkassy, where the top authorities of met with the representatives of the journalists’ human rights protection organization, Poltava governor E. Tomin and Poltava mayor A. Kukoba did not condescend to the communication. This fact illustrates quite vividly the attitude of Poltava top authorities to the problems of mass media in the Poltava oblast.

A journalist can easily get into the USS cobweb

On 16 September a year has passed since Georgiy Gongadze’s disappearance. When recollecting Georgiy, one cannot help asking if his tragic lot protected other journalists, if they feel themselves safer after the so-called ‘investigation’ of Gongadze’s case? Unfortunately it is obvious that the answer is negative. A burst of public indignation caused by the events around Gongadze did not appear so strong that it could devoid the state power of levers of the pressure upon mass media and trigger cardinal changes in this respect in the country. Thus, everything resumed its normal course. Another journalist, Igor Aleksandrov, was murdered... Journalists continue working under the sword of Damocles: those, who do not service the ruling circles, risk their hides.

Young journalist Tetiana Chornovil, a correspondent of the well-known magazine ‘Politika i kultura’, felt a touch of the sword. Tetiana’s political sympathies led her to the Ukrainian National Assembly, where she works as a press secretary of the UNA-UNSO, simultaneously working as a journalist. In the beginning of 2000 Tetiana was one of those, who organized the Chechen informative center in Kyiv. The center was created by joint efforts of the UNA-UNSO and the human rights protection organization ‘Helsinki-90’.

The center intended to gather the data that would elucidate, in the objective and unbiased manner, the actual course of events in Chechnya, to publish the obtained data in mass media and thus to counterbalance the Russian ‘version’ of what is happening in Chechnya. At that time similar centers were already opened in the USA, the Great Britain, Holland, Germany and Baltic countries. In civilized countries such informational activities cause adequate reactions. Yet, a similar fact of opening the Chechen informative center in Kyiv irritated Moscow that got accustomed to look at Ukraine as at a vassal. And since the Ukrainian government is ready to fulfil any orders from the Kremlin, the USS began to be closely interested in the activities of the center and its members.

The pressure on Tetiana Chornovil began since her journey to the Caucasus, to the zone of the military conflict, which she visited in the capacity of a journalist. She met with the peaceful inhabitants of Grozny, communicated with Chechen commanders, interviewed Russian servicemen. ‘In the informational aspect the journey appeared very useful’, told Tetiana, ‘I have brought a lot of interesting data. Yet, an unpleasant surprise waited for me in my home-country.’ At once after her return, the USS phoned to Tetiana and ‘invited’ her for a talk. For some time Tetiana refused to visit the revered organization without getting an official summon, but later she had to obey for ‘oral’ invitation, after her parents got several phone calls from the same source.

According to Tetiana, the USS warned her that she could be blamed for the enlistment of mercenaries to participate in the Chechnya war. The evidence of those mercenaries, whom she allegedly agitated to serve in the Chechen army, could ‘prove’ the guilt. It is obvious that such evidence, if any exists, is a fake. The further ‘development’ of the case could have unexpected consequences for Tetiana.

It is not quite clear why this pressure on the journalist, then, in the beginning of 2000, was moderate. Maybe, the cassette scandal and the change of the USS administration switched the focus of attention of this organization to other problems? Maybe, the USS decided to put on a hook Tetiana Chornovil and the entire UNA-UNSO, to have the opportunity to deal with them some other time. It would be a convenient chance to blame, if needed, the most radical (and, hence, the most dangerous for the power) opposition organization for a crime.

As to the UNA-UNSO, the pressure upon is permanent, in spite the fact that its leaders are put behind the prison bars after the notorious events of 9 March. On 30 August the Public Russian TV-company groundlessly accused the UNSO members of the support of Chechen terrorists and in the participation in military actions against the Russian army. The Ukrainian power, which has a habit to mimic the ‘big brother’, hurried to blacken the UNSO having used as a pretext the tragic events of 11 September in the USA. The support by the UNA-UNSO of the terrorists, who caused so much suffering to the American people, was added to the list of sins of the organization. The UNA-UNSO is now weakened with the repressions against its activists, so the Ukrainian authorities should recollect that it is ungentlemanly to beat a lying foe. Yet, in the Ukrainian politics other moral (or rather immoral) rules are used...

‘Do not defame my deceased colleagues, Mr. Minister!’

(Open letter of the head of the Independent Union of Journalists of Ukraine, to Minister of Interior Yuri Smirnov)

Respected Mr. Smirnov!

Some days ago, while communicating with representatives of mass media during the ‘hotline’, you committed a brutal, to say the least, indiscretion. You declared that 80% of the 18 journalists, whose names are engraved on the commemorative plate opened by our Union, perished not because of their professional activities, but by their own guilt – from hard drinking.

Who are they?

Was it Vadim Boyko, an MP, the author of sharp social TV features, who commenced the tragic passional of our losses?

Or was it Volodymir Ivanov, the editor of the newspaper ‘Slava Sevastopolia’, killed by an explosive gadget?

Or Petro Shevchenko, the Lugansk correspondent of ‘Kievskie vedomosti’, the author of critical articles about the local authorities, who was found hanged in Kyiv?

Or Anatoliy Tanadiychuk from the Vinnitsa oblast, the author of the articles about Koziatin militiamen, who tortured the detained? The ‘heroes’ of these publications more then once threatened the journalist. He came to the personal reception to your predecessor. The commission was sent to Koziatin, which, instead of checking the facts made public by the journalist, collected compromising materials about him. ‘Well, if a journalist criticizes militia, must he die?’, asked Anatoliy in the newspaper ‘Ukraina moloda’. He guessed the truth – some days later he was killed. The official version was: a common death, on his own birthday party. The version suits the ministerial scheme very well. And what about the scandalous facts of torture of the detained and threats, about which the journalist wrote? Why did not the Ministry check the facts, give them a principal assessment and undertake the corresponding measures? It seems that an ancient Stalin’s times principle worked: ‘No person – no problem’.

The same can be said about all our colleagues, who figure in the list. Having not found the guilty in the death of these journalists, your subordinates try to prove that these murders were everyday deaths; the case of Igor Aleksandrov is also being squeezed within this frame.

But why do our colleagues, the most principal authors of publications and features, which have public resonance, die in such quantities in the ‘everyday’ way? No, we believe: these journalists perished for their professional activities until the court proves the opposite!

As early as in June 1999 I suggested to the law-enforcing organs to check all the cases connected with deaths of journalists, to meet with representatives of those mass media, where the perished worked, to dot all the i’s and to answer the questions of the journalists’ colleagues (there appear many such questions). Nobody followed my advice.

With your tactless phrase you offended all the journalist community and hinted to your subordinates: stop investigating journalists’ deaths – they are all drunkards!

By the way, militiamen drink not less than journalists, but you bring flowers to monuments of your perished colleagues, commemorate them on the special day.

I feel shame at your attitude to my colleagues, especially dead, who already cannot defend their honor themselves. And are not you ashamed, Mr. Smirnov?

11 October 2001
Igor Lubchenko, head of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine 

On what topics do our political journalists remain silent?

Larysa Ivshyna, editor-in-chief, The Day:

Perhaps, of course, the answer could be as follows: our journalists very often keep silent about new owners of enterprises privatized for pennies or supposedly for the repayment of debts. Or, about what decisions are taken in response to quite specific demands by one country or another. Our journalists do not have real access to certain serious facts. But on these specific topics we have begun to express ourselves more seriously, and the scope of political journalism is being seriously expanded. It is obvious, however, that we should not so much concentrate on WHAT topics are skipped by our political journalists as HOW they are presented by authors. Very often, our political journalists focus on marginal issues, ignoring the vital ones. Journalists are typically too emotional and prefer to concentrate on personalities, rather than be objective and impassive. They usually give priority to reporting rumors and intrigues, settling scores and pinning labels, instead of going by accepted journalistic standards. What matters here is not so much the political class that such journalists serve, instead of serving society, as the qualities of the journalists themselves.

When we turn to specific examples (such as the shooting down of the Russian Tu-154 airliner) it is clear that our journalists are often not aware of basic things — they are not interested in digging for substantive information and cannot assess the facts they have, choosing to rely on the first expert they can find. Here, incidentally, one can see the other side of the coin: many of those who can provide a comprehensive assessment are reluctant to do so, which cannot be said of laymen eager to get into the public eye. As a result, journalists deal with a political caste that is easily available but decides nothing. We have succeeded in establishing domestic criteria for our provincial life (covering up the specifics of our own mentality) instead of abiding by world standards of quality. In sum, I would like to stress that there are many things in Ukrainian political journalism which is not journalism as such, let alone the political journalism. What was regarded as bold before is no longer such any more. Boldness today must be displayed in unbiased thinking.

Lavrenty Malazoniya
, general producer, TET Television:

Let us assume that we retain only two dreadful secrets, state and commercial ones. And there are political journalists trying to uncover these secrets, understandably, with the exception of those who want to use journalists as skeleton keys. A state secret, that is HOW we live, is nonexistent for Ukrainian political journalists. Those more or less involved in the trade write, speak, and show everything about HOW we live. Sometimes, even more than everything — to a degree that the end result becomes zero. It becomes a quasi secret, for readers, listeners, and viewers know themselves HOW they live, HOW they would like to live, and HOW others live. A commercial secret, that is, WHAT we live on, is a well-guarded zone. The issue is not so much that someone wants to know WHAT somebody else lives on, while concealing such information about himself — this is unacceptable for any individual in any country, despite its seeming to be so natural. The issue is in WHAT the country lives on and WHAT it intends to live on in the future. One can engage in lengthy and eloquent explanations why all this is such a deep secret, but suffice it to state that it is a taboo for especially Ukrainian political journalists. And if any muckraking journalist starts to investigate this secret, certain interested parties will be all over him (and others) before he knows what is happening, showing WHAT the nosy scribbler lives on himself. And I don’t think the inquiring party would be happy about this, for it is its own small commercial secret. This is the secret of anyone involved in the unrewarding business of political journalism. The conclusion is simple: stay away from terrible commercial secrets, for they spell health problems for those who want to reveal them. You could encounter a major health problem and some physician might eventually order you covered with a sheet, including your face.

Oleh Medvediev
, journalist, political technologist:

There is no full-fledged genre of political journalism just as there is no community of political journalists. There are isolated journalists writing on political topics. They churn out interesting, captivating, and sometimes quite objective stories, but they are all underground, that is, on the Internet and sideline outlets. Thank God, things have not gotten so bad in Ukraine to have samizdat. Television channels and mainstream dailies with more or less substantial circulation are bereft from any serious political analysis. Perhaps this is because political analysis, not potshots by the opposition, requires an unbiased vision of the track records of the chief executive and other political heavyweights. It seems to me that in real life covering the activities of the head of state is a pain for the owners of mass media outlets. Given existing circumstances, writing on this topic is like walking through a minefield. Under the current situation it pays to shun them rather than utter words that might backfire, same as an unloaded gun goes off once in a while. That is, of course, if such words are taken out of their context, highlighted with a felt-tip pen, and put on the chief executive’s table. In fact, those isolated political journalists I mentioned are well aware that it is customary among the country’s most influential political figures to tell the chief executive about materials published by newspapers owned by their political rivals. Presented out of context, such quotes might seem simply murderous, with no one much caring about the wider context.

Such is a quite civilized form of informing. Hence, it pays to look the other way. I am not going to name anyone because editors will see red and say it is all untrue. I suppose that I understand them because I was once an editor-in-chief myself. As a rule, materials about the president published by these newspapers are merely slightly reworded Interfax reports or merely quotes from Interfax. The texts provided by this agency are treated as canonical, providing a good umbrella for editors against any possible charges.

Another serious hindrance to the development of political journalism in Ukraine is our political and business elite. The matter cannot be limited to the impact of a single person — the nature of this elite and the level of control it has over the mass media are more important. In our tradition, we have been taught to perceive the hand of an oligarch behind any material in a given newspaper, even on masturbation among truck drivers. Journalists do not belong here, no matter what they write, but the characters of their stories believe that media barons are behind them, although in many cases media owners have nothing whatever to do with such publications. Against this general backdrop a list of taboo political topics exists, topics best skipped by journalists. The best political media writers belong to the underground. Even in the Soviet period the authorities, while certainly not encouraging the underground, condoned its existence. I would specifically single out two quite good political web sites. Half a loaf is better than none. At least now, inquisitive members of Ukrainian society, those not indifferent to what is going on in the country, know were to find a wider span of opinion and make themselves heard. Still, the Ukrainian Internet cannot as yet be viewed as a mass media outlet, but a medium of group communication.

‘The Day, No. 31, 6 November 2001

At last the intimidation of journalists may be punished

Officials from the Prosecutor’s Office of the Crimea confirmed that a criminal case was started against Saki mayor Volodymir Shvetsov, who threatened a journalist. This is the first case in the Crimea, where a top official may be punished for the pressure on mass media.

We have already written about the scandal, which burst in the Crimea after making public some audio record by the Crimean Association of independence journalists. This record was made by Mykaylo Shishliannikov, a correspondent of a regional newspaper in the town of Saki. The cassette contained threats to the journalist on the side of Volodymir Shvetsov, the town mayor and a member of the communist party. The official, who did not like critical publications of Shishliannikov, promised the journalist ‘to maim’ him, ‘to starve’ him and, finally, ‘to destroy’ him. Then M. Shishliannikov turned for protection to law-enforcing organs.

As Anatoliy Titarchuk, the head of the press service of the Crimean prosecutor’s office, informed radio ‘Liberty’, the conducted check showed that in the Article by M. Shishliannikov of 17 July this year really contained some criticism of Saki mayor, and on 20 July at the selector conference Svetsov threatened the journalist with physical violence, using bad language. This served the reason to start the criminal case according to Article 129 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine -- ‘Threat to murder’.

Since the mentioned events happened before 1 September, then, as the prosecutor’s office considers, the felony is not covered by Article 171 of the new Criminal Code, which qualifies such felonies as ‘persecution of a journalist for fulfilling professional duties and for criticism’. Yet, M. Shishliannikov considers that there are enough suitable articles to punish the local authorities. The journalist intends to prove at the trial that the threats of the mayor remained actual also after 1 September, that is after the new Criminal Code came into effect.

Meanwhile Volodymir Shvetsov asserts that he have never intimidated Mykhaylo Shishliannikov, practically does not know him, never met him and never spoke with him by phone. The mayor is sure that all this scandal is an intrigue of his political rivals and local criminal groups.

Anyway the investigation continues, in which security service and militia take part. If the case ever comes to court, this will be the first case in the Crimea, and maybe in the whole Ukraine, when an official of a rather top level is brought to responsibility for the pressure on mass media.

Social and economic rights

Much mercury from nothing?

On October 19, a special commission was established headed by Ivan Fomenko, the first deputy of the Kyiv City Administration, to examine the ecological situation at the Radykal Plant (Desniansky, former Vatutin district of Kyiv), UNIAN quotes Kyiv Mayor Oleksandr Omelchenko as saying during a routine session. According to him, this was done following the report in an Internet newspaper on October 18 that dozens of tons of mercury had spilled over the plant territory. The Kyiv mayor called this report an instance of ‘information terrorism’.

Ihor Krol, spokesperson of the Ministry for Emergencies (ME), stated categorically that ‘this information has nothing to do with reality and is an ordinary canard’. ‘Indeed, mercury is being taken out of the bankrupt Radykal enterprise by the Kharkiv salvage service. Yet, no emergencies have so far been noticed. The level of the inevitable evaporation and quite is rather insignificant and presents no danger’, he emphasized.

The Day
’s correspondents, who arrived at the place of the potential accident on the same day, heard the same opinion from Mykola Boyko, chief of the emergencies department of the Desniansky district. He stated that the first source of misinformation about the spillage of mercury was a New Channel television comment that ‘quicksilver is being shoveled at the plant’. Yet, Mr. Boyko did not deny the very fact. ‘The point is that the journalists should have consulted with experts. This gathering of mercury is part of production technology’, he said. ‘Over many years, the floor of the caustic soda shop has been soaked with mercury (the latter being a component of caustic soda — Author). Thus there is no other way to remove it than to gather and carry away all these construction vestiges’, Mykola Frediuk, deputy chairman of the Desniansky district administration in charge of industrial matters, explained.

However, despite the assurances of safety by ME representatives and other governmental officials, it is completely clear that such a deposit of lethal metal next door has done more than a purely informational damage to the Ukrainian capital’s image and to the nerves of Kyivans. It is planned to finish the gathering of liquid mercury, now being done by an ME Kharkiv salvage team, which won a special tender by November. Ten tons of mercury have been extracted as of October 20. ‘It will be packed into 42-kg cylinders and sent to the Nikitrtut Combine of the Donetsk oblast’, Mr. Krol told ‘The Day’.

No one knows how much lethal metal still remains in the smokestacks of the plant, which, incidentally, has been idle for about eight years. According to ME officials, ‘Mercury is being carried away daily in compliance with the plan. It is impossible to exactly identify the remaining mass... There’s so much talk that there are 120 tons of mercury at the plant. This is not really so. 120 tons include not only the liquid mercury but also what is in the concrete and in the building structures’, Mr. Frediuk said in a less than convincing manner.

As he put it, practically all the liquid mercury ‘is now contained in pipelines and tanks... It presents no danger because it is not oxidized and can be stored in these special pipes for years’, Mr. Frediuk says. Let us stress again that mercury has been stored ‘for years’. ME experts claim that ’the liquid metal cannot while being exhumed’. ‘Those, who are carrying out the necessary procedures are well-trained and well-equipped specialists’, Mr. Boiko reiterates. But, what is very important, he did not exclude the possibility of a disaster in case of an act of terrorism.

But what causes a far greater anxiety among Desniansky district administrators, who have to dispose of the USSR’s legacy (‘Soviet standards allowed building such enterprises within the city limits. Now it’s different’, Mr. Frediuk said), is the next stage of work. ‘After the liquid mercury has been removed (which, incidentally, has already cost UAH 500,000), we will have to decide what to do with the enterprise structure’, he added. What will hardly please Darnytsia residents is also the fact that ‘there is a likelihood of burying on the spot’ the mercury-permeated segments. Yet, according to Mr. Boiko, the hazardous evaporation of mercury does not exceed the maximum permissible limit even around the shop structure.

It is no secret that this assessment of the ‘maximum permissible limit’ is typical of not only the capital of Ukraine. Various sources claim that about 35 million of Ukrainians reside in high-risk manmade-disaster-prone areas. The population of Dniprodzerzhynsk, Zaporizhzhia, Kremenchuk, Kryvy Rig, etc. are under a daily threat of chemical and radiological contamination. And enterprises with clearly outdated equipment seem to have got used to the likely emergencies. According to Mr. Krol, Ukraine has almost 7000 facilities prone to manmade disasters. A part of them are situated within populated areas in close vicinity to residential neighborhoods.

October 22 Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources Serhiy Kurikin confirmed to journalists at a press conference that the extracted mercury will not be buried on the territory of Kyiv’s Vatutin rayon reported earlier. At present the level of mercury vapors concentration at the plant exceeds the permitted concentration by thirty times.

‘The Day’, No. 29, 23 October 2001


Students – yard sweepers

So, you have passed the entrance examinations and are enlisted to a higher school. You are a student at last! You are invited to the first meeting with your faculty dean. The remembrances of the entrance examinations, fears inspired by rumors about common corruption among teachers and impossibility of entering the institute without bribes remain behind very fast. You are physically sense the great victory and are full with exhilaration that you spared money for future bribes…

Now the dean takes the floor and tells the freshmen about the achievements of the faculty, the history of the institute, advises how to learning and gives some precious hints for the future. From this speech students of the budget-paid departments learn that they must work 1-2 weeks (and sometimes more) at common works. Students and even their parents mostly do not understand that the students’ rights are brutally violated by sending them to coercive labor. If someone dared to ask for any legal justification of this demand, then they will never get a legally grounded response. The answer would be ‘You must’, and the habitual fear imbibed at school and developed during the entrance examinations will prompt awful repressions on the side of teachers and administration up to expelling from the institute.

The rule that only the budget-fed students must work for the education, and their more fortunate paying students must not, is a certain form of social discrimination. Here many rightful and just questions may be asked.

There is another opportunity: to pay off the coerced labor with a modest sum. That is the routine way out for students from other towns, who would spend more for bed and food during this work.

As a rule, students clean classrooms, wash windows, assist in repairing and building, fulfil other cheep and dirty works. The technical personnel, whose duty is to do these works, get wages for occasional instruction of students.

When the educational process begins, you will learn that some acute students were ‘sick’ or escaped to other places, but nobody tried to punish them by paying the money or doing similar works. It shows that the administration has no legal levers to make students work.

Unfortunately, using gratis the coercive work of students does not finish here. If a new building is erected in your institute, you will become a constructive worker. If no building is erected, then you will clean classrooms or sweep the territory or, in or climate, shovel off the snow. The dean’s office may make a student work because it may punish. Insufficient financing from the budget is, in the opinion of administration, the main reason to make students work. In some institutes this practice of making students work gratis has become a routine, as well as the frequent demands of money, which is never known where they are expended, since there are no financial reports.

Let us evaluate this practice from a legal point of view. Article 8 of the Ukrainian Constitution reads: ‘The Constitution of Ukraine has the highest juridical force. Any laws or legal acts must be based on the Constitution and must agree with it’. Article 19 stipulates that ‘the legal procedures of Ukraine are based the principles, according to which no one must be enforced to do what is not stipulated by laws’. Article 43 of the Constitution unambiguously confirms: ‘The use of coercive labor is forbidden’, i.e. the acts of higher school administrations are illegal and contradict the Constitution of Ukraine.

The further detailed elaboration of the phenomena ‘coercive labor’ and the necessity of abolishing these practices are determined in Convention No. 29 of the International Organization of Trade Unions (IOTU) ‘On coercive labor’ and in Convention No. 105 of the IOTU ‘On abolishing coercive labor’, which were ratified by Ukraine on 9 June 1997 and 5 October 2000, respectively. The situation described contradicts Articles 112, 121, 14 and 17 of Convention No. 29 and Article 1 items a, в, e and Article 2 of Convention No. 105.

What can a student, who is rather ignorant in juridical instruments of protecting human rights and freedoms, do in such a case?

The simplest tricks used by students to dodge the work are complaints at maladies, family problems, etc.

We believe that there is a better way out. First, one must demand the explanations from the administration, on the ground of which documents the students must work (the explanations must be demanded in writing), if this order agreed with the trade union, is there a permission from an inspector of labor protection, and which conditions exactly are listed in these documents: the duration of the work, work hours, temperature in the room, which working clothes will be supplied. And the name of the person in charge of safety labor, which is very important. As a rule, it will appear that there is no written order, and, even if it exists, then the above-mentioned conditions are skipped.

Secondly, if there is a human rights protection organization in your town or institute, you must turn to such organization. It is well known that trade unions are obliged to deal with such cases. Unfortunately, trade unions have become a continuation of the administration, and it is not worthwhile to turn to them.

It should be remembered that protection of your rights and freedoms mainly depends on yourselves, on your understanding that it is necessary and on your insistence.

PL commentary:
We are publishing the article by B. Bondarenko, who is the head of the Zhovtnevy branch of the Students’ brotherhood of the Lugank oblast. We hope that in the nearest future we shall be able to tell our readers about concrete activities of the Lugansk youth community.

Women’s rights: step by step.

The public humanitarian consortium ‘Geneza’ organized and held the round table on the topic ‘Women’s rights: step by step’. The round table gathered representatives of public organizations, in particular, women’s NGOs, whose activities are not restricted by Lviv and the Western region, but extends throughout Ukraine (such NGOs as ‘Vzaemodiya’, ‘Zhinka dlia zhinki’, ‘Zhinka i suspilstvo’, ‘Zhinochi perspektyvy’, ‘Vesta’, Association of the guides of Ukraine, League of women-voters, International Zonta-club’). Representatives of mass media and those research institutes, which carry some intellectual responsibility for solving the problem participated in the round table too. The round table was moderated by Diana Irash, analyst-researcher of the public humanitarian consortium ‘Geneza’. The media projects were coordinated by Taras Andrusiak, the head of the juridical commission of the NTSh, the head of the legal commission of the society ‘Prosvita’, the president of the foundation ‘Pravo dlia Ukrainy’, and Oksana Kis, a junior researcher of the Institute of national studies of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, a co-chairperson of the scientific research center ‘Zhinka i suspilstvo’.

Our informant , 5 October 2001

Starting the network of VCU public reception offices in the Kharkov oblast.

The Kharkov oblast branch of the Voter’s Committee of Ukraine (VCU) continues to create the network of its public reception offices. Now there exists two VCU public reception offices: in Kharkov and in Izium. AS the work of these offices shows, citizens do need legal consultations. They are especially needed in small towns. So, the need is great to create the network of the reception offices and to cover with it district centers of the oblast.

The general problem is the absence of the principles of the civil society. The general goal is the construction of such principles. To this end, it is necessary to activate the participation of the population in social, public, economic and cultural life of their regions.

The current problem is the absence of permanently operating public consulting centers working gratis. The current goal is the creation of the network of the permanently operating public consulting centers working gratis.

The current tasks: -- to determine the districts, where the legal aid is needed most of all; -- to find active individuals and make them interested in the idea of creating the public reception offices; -- to find consultants for the reception offices to be created; -- to spread the information on the consulting centers among the population through the local mass media, public organizations, state officials, etc.; -- to organize permanent work of the public reception offices.

The consulting centers to be created are expected to: -- render free legal consultations to citizens, help to compile claims to the organs of state power and local self-rule; -- render free legal consultations to citizens by telephone (in general questions); -- activate the desire and ability of citizens to protect their rights; -- collect the information about abuses of citizens by authorities, and to work out propositions of fighting with such violations; -- organize holding public reports by the elected officials; -- increase the public influence on official decisions; -- distribute enlightenment printed matter on legal and other related topics among the population; -- create reference database of the organs of state power and local self-rule, social services, public and human rights protection organizations, etc. (names, addresses, phone numbers); -- to carry out enlightenment programs to encourage the creation of territorial communities and to familiarize citizens with the Ukrainian laws; -- cooperate with local public organizations for solving concrete local problems.

Partners are all interested sides: common citizens, public organizations, trade unions, social services, local authorities and organs of local self-rule.

Expected result: the creation of the network of public reception offices of the VCU will promote the development of the civil society in the region.

The results will also encourage: -- legal enlightenment of the population of the region; -- forming active civil position of common citizens; -- activation of the institutes of local self-rule; -- strengthening the ties between the population and the elected authorities; -- activation of the work of the organs of state power and local self-rule; -- activation of participation of population in public life.

The results will useful for: -- population, especially the poorer layers of it; -- organs of state power and local self-rule; -- public and human rights protection organizations, in particular, the VCU.

Integration of Ukraine into the European system of human rights protection is accelerating.

On 13 September the Supreme Rada of Ukraine approved the law drafts suggested by the President about the ratification of Protocols 1 and 2 to the European Convention on preventing torture, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment.

The mentioned protocols were signed on behalf of Ukraine on 26 January 1998 in Strasbourg.

Ukraine, according to her obligations taken when joining the Council of Europe, ratified the European Convention on preventing torture, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment on 25 January 1997. The Convention came to effect on 1 September 1997.

The Protocols mentioned introduce changes into the procedure of forming the European committee for preventing torture, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment. In particular, the broadening the circle of eligible participants of the Convention and re-electing the members of the committee every two years is stipulated. The Protocols also introduce changes into the order of delivering annual reports about its activities to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.

As Georgiy Udovenko, the head of the parliamentary committee in charge of human rights, national minorities and interethnic relations, pointed out, the ratification of the documents and their implementation, as well as the execution of the clauses of the Convention, will assist the acceleration of the integration of Ukraine into the European system of human rights protection and will improve the image of Ukraine as a democratic law-abiding state.

Besides, the parliamentary committee in charge of human rights, national minorities and interethnic relations considered the documents, handed by the ombudsperson, about the elimination of abuses of the constitutional rights of detained or arrested persons during their captivity inside local organs of the Ministry of Interior.

Taking into consideration the importance of the mentioned problems, which directly concern human rights, the committee approved the decision to organize parliamentary hearing on these problems with the participation of public human rights protecting organizations.

* * *

President Leonid Kuchma signed the laws adopted by the Parliament on the ratification of Protocols 1 and 2 to the European Convention on preventing torture, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment.

Our informant

Ukraine: human rights are still abused

‘Torture, cruel treatment and restriction of the freedom of expression occur in Ukraine even ten years after she declared independence’, Amnesty International stated in its report ‘Ukraine before the UNO Committee of human rights’.

As Amnesty International Association report, issued by its Ukrainian office, states that on 16-17 October Ukraine will be in the focus of attention of the international community. On Monday in Geneva the UNO Committee of human rights will commence to analyze the report about the achievements of Ukraine in the area of human rights protection. The UNO Committee against torture will analyze the report in the middle of November.

‘These two influential human rights protection organization must convince Ukraine that it is necessary to achieve greater progress in the area of human rights protection’, ‘Ukraine must regard these two events as a well-timed opportunity to grant a higher political priority to the problems of human rights’, declares Amnesty International.

Amnesty International is worried by the fact that persons kept under custody are often imposed to torture and cruel treatment on the side of law-enforcing officers. Victims of torture and cruel treatment suffer from injuries that sometimes cause death.

The detained and arrested are often refused to use legal aid from the very beginning and to inform their relatives about the detention or arrest.

‘It seems doubtful that Ukraine actually fulfills her obligations about human rights protection, Amnesty International states. ‘When the complaints are handed and the criminal cases are started against law-enforcers about applying torture and degrading treatment by them, the investigations are conducted very slowly, they are often careless and fruitless. Many of such investigations are obviously biased’.

Cruel treatment is a routine in the Ukrainian army, where servicemen abuse other servicemen’s rights, and it is regarded as a form of punishment. This is known by officers, and sometimes is applied by them to the younger soldiers (dedovshchina). As a result, young boys are beaten, tormented and sometimes commit suicides or are plainly killed.

During recent years the freedom of expression in Ukraine has been more and more restrained. Editors of independent newspapers and TV companies complain that the authorities often conduct revisions formally connected with tax paying, with checks of sanitary conditions and fire safety. In fact, the obvious purpose of all these checks is to impede their activities.

‘The freedom of the press is sometimes obstructed with open intimidation. Journalists are attacked by strangers, which often ends in death. The circumstances of many of such attacks remain obscure. The guilty are caught and brought to responsibility very infrequently’, Amnesty International declares.

Last year the suspicions that the state may be responsible for the ‘disappearance’ of journalist Georgiy Gongadze and the obvious incapability of the state authorities to conduct a fast and unbiased investigation of this case caused the alarm inside the country and abroad.

Along with Gongadze’s case Amnesty International also mentions the murder of Igor Aleksandrov from the Donetsk oblast, attacks at Vinnitsa journalist Anatoliy Zhuchinski, Cherkassy journalist Valentine Vasylchenko, editor of a Lugansk independent newspaper Mykola Severin and Lutsk journalist Oleg Velichko. The guilty have not be found in all these cases.

Amnesty International notes that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe repeatedly appealed to Ukraine asking to stop the practice of criminal accusations of journalists. The new Criminal Code is expected to introduce changes to this practice. Yet, the conviction of editor Oleg Liashko, which occurred at the eve of the adoption of the new code, testifies how the laws were used to restrict the freedom of speech.

‘Ukraine must guarantee the complete fulfillment of various international obligations on human rights and thus to demonstrate the final break with the past’, Amnesty International states.

Amnesty International hopes that the international attention to these problems will encourage the improvement of the situation. ‘The experience shows that Ukraine positively reacts at the international pressure. Recently Ukraine has abolished the death penalty thus showing the respect to her obligations. And we certainly hope that the Ukrainian government will comprehend that in the course of coming closer to Europe the attention to human rights becomes a necessary condition for the completion of this process’. The Ukrainian government must apply many efforts to improve the state with human rights protection in the country’, Amnesty International adds.

Point of view

The reason of the social strain in Ukraine is the imperfection of power organizations

That was the main thesis of the international scientific seminar, which was held this weekend in Lviv. ‘The final goal of the administrative reform is approaching of the executive power towards needs of the society and any separate individual’, told MP Igor Koliushko, one of the organizers of the seminar. In his opinion, up to now the reforms of the system of power concerned only structural and functional improvement of the administration. Otto Luchtergandt, a professor of Hamburg university, presented a comparative analysis of the administrative systems in Ukraine, Germany, Austria and France. Summing up his report, he stressed the urgent need of decentralization of power in Ukraine. In his interview to ‘Deuthche Welle’ Dr. Luchtergandt did not exclude the prospect of turning Ukraine into a federative state. In his opinion, to begin with, the two-chamber parliament should be created. ‘Various advantages and peculiarities of a region could be made operative through its representation in the upper chamber of parliament’, Dr. Luchtergandt remarked. But the first step, he thinks, would be granting the right to each oblast of Ukraine elect its governor.

The procedure of coming to Ukraine by foreigners is simplified

Some changes were introduced in the Rules, approved by resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine of 29 December 1995 No. 1074. The changes were made to fulfil President’s Decree of 15 June 2001 No. 435 ‘On additional measures to realize the human rights for freedom of movement and free choice of residence’. According to this Decree, since 1 July 2001 the registration of foreigners (and their passports), coming to Ukraine in the established order, and of their passports is made only in frontier checkpoints by the organs of the State committee of guarding frontiers. Any further registration of foreigners (and their passports), who legally and temporarily stay on the Ukrainian territory, in bodies of interior are not made.

A foreigner may be refused in entering Ukraine, basing on Ukrainian laws, as a result of an interview held in a frontier checkpoint by an officer of frontier guards.

Liga Online

Deported peoples

Stus’ commemorative plate is opened in Donetsk.

A memorial plate was opened on the building of the philological faculty of Donetsk national university to commemorate Vasyl Stus, who studied here in early sixties. Less than ten years have passed since the all-Ukrainian society ‘Prosvita’ and other public organizations of Donetsk initiated this event. Many guests from Kyiv, as well as representatives of the oblast administration and Donetsk city executive committee, took part in the happening, although the authorities pretended not to notice the insistent efforts of public organizations for ten years. Now they shamelessly uttered the proper words about the ‘inflexible spirit’ of the poet. Academician Mykola Zhulinskiy pointed out that Stus became an example how one must love Motherland. The event has also become an example of how the authorities behave: they did not notice the efforts of the public for decades, and now they pretend to be the initiators. The local mass media have not found space and time merely to mention those, who did their best to commemorate the poet. Yet, since now the process, as Gorbachev liked to say, ‘has started’. At the press conference representatives of city and oblast administrations declared (in 2001!) that the poet’s memory must be respected; the conference ‘Creative activities of Vasyl Stus in the context of European culture’ was held in the Opera theatre.

Maybe, these ‘initiators’ would recollect that in Soviet times in the Donbass tens of thousands of innocent people became victims of repressions. The city authorities, suddenly fallen in love with poetry of the dissident, may now make one step further and open the memorial plate dedicated to these victims, which was made by the initiative of ‘Donetsk Memorial’ as early as in 1992.

News from the CIS countries

The collection of materials ‘Reforming the system of preventive measures in criminal court procedures: recent changes, new ideas, comparative materials’ was compiled and published.

In the framework of the project of reforming the criminal right of the USA Department of Justice jointly with the Program of Legal Initiatives in countries of Middle and Eastern Europe of the American Association of Lawyers (ABA/CEELI) collaborated with the Supreme Court of Ukraine the collection of materials ‘Reforming the system of preventive measures in criminal court procedures: recent changes, new ideas, comparative materials’ was compiled and published. The authors of the edition expect that this book will be of use for judges, prosecutors, investigating officers and advocates in the course of their practical application of norms of the Criminal-Procedural Code of Ukraine, the norms, which regulate the questions of using the preventive measures.

In any case, the more extensive and systematic use of the new legislation depends on legal knowledge of the participants of legal relations, correct understanding by them of the essence of juridical novellas and proper order of their practical application.

The book may be obtained gratis in the library of the Resource center ‘Gurt’ by the address: м. Київ, вул. Бiлоруська 8, офiс 10.

Person in charge: Svitlana Skakun; tel.: (044)2139804

“Prava Ludiny” (human rights) monthly bulletin, 2001, #10