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.

Against torture and ill-treatment

Let everyone get what he deserves

The decision of the Frankivskiy district court about paying the compensation to the parents of Yuri Mozola, who was tortured to death in a USS preliminary prison in March 1996 (he was tortured to make him confess in a series of murders), makes a very important precedent.

The matter is that the application of torture for extracting confessions is massive and frequently used. According tot he statement of ombudsperson Nina Karpacheva, in 1998-1999 as many as 194 criminal cases were started connected with misuse of power, applying torture and degrading treatment; 285 militia officers were brought to criminal responsibility. Ms. Karpacheva also published the following data: during 11 months of 2000 the Lviv oblast prosecutor’s office started 14 criminal cases on applying torture to the incarcerated. Yet, only seven cases advanced to be considered by court. At the same time 129 complaints against the illegal actions of law-enforcers remained disregarded. And here is the data concerning the Kharkov oblast: during the first seven months of 2001 the oblast militia directorate received more than 500 complaints against illegal actions of militia. The oblast prosecutor’s office is considering 21 criminal cases against militiamen. Three former militiamen have been already condemned („Rabochaya gazeta“, No. 107, 31 July 2001). Thus, the majority of similar complaints are not satisfied. This may be also confirmed by the comparison of the data on the number of the complaints concerning illegal detentions, arrests, searches, physical violence and rude treatment of citizens mentioned in item 44 of the fourth periodic report of Ukraine to the UN Committee against torture (554 complaints in 1996 –99) and the data made public by deputy Minister of Interior Nikolay Anufriev, who informs that each week the Ministry of Interior receives about 40 complaints about violations of laws by militia staff. Nikolay Anufriev told that in 1997 as many as 2045 law-enforcers were brought to responsibility for violations during inquiry, investigation and application of administrative laws; in 1998 this number was 1921. 10 criminal cases were started, two militiamen were condemned („Molod Ukrainy“, No. 55, 25 May 1999).

Our organization, the Kharkov Group for human rights protection (the KhG), permanently collects information about applying torture during inquiry and preliminary investigation. During four years (April 1997 – July 2001) we collected and processed the data concerning 205 cases, where, in our opinion, the actions of militiamen had to be qualifies as torture and cruel treatment; in 26 cases the torture resulted in death of the suspected. We published these data in the book „Against torture. Review of the data on cruel treatment and applying torture“. Judging by the complaints against law-enforcing organs, the most frequent occasion, when torture is applied, is the stage of inquiry before formulating the accusation. It is very difficult to make militiamen responsible for their illegal actions. In the cases we mentioned the guilty were punished only in especially obvious and scandalous situations; only 17 militiamen were condemned.

The information about the real punishment, which threatens those few law-enforcers, who, after all, were brought to the court dock for their excesses, is not less striking than the torments applying to the suspected. „Zerkalo nedeli“ (2 December 2000) wrote about two militiamen, who, wishing to get confession, beat the suspected, broke his ribs, handcuffed his and several times nearly drowned him in a river. As it appeared later, this man was not involved in the theft, which was the reason for this „third-degree interrogation“. The law-enforcers were brought to criminal responsibility. They were condemned to three years of incarceration… conditionally. Alas, such examples are too plenty.

It should be noted that in the infrequent cases, where the complaint is satisfied, the affair is investigated and the guilty are condemned, it is next to impossible to execute the court verdict. Most frequently such a verdict consists of a conditional prison term and prohibition to work in militia. It is very difficult to execute the decision about the dismissal of law-enforcers, which is confirmed by numerous examples presented in the mentioned book. The KhG encountered the situation, when two militia officers, who had beaten a minor and had been condemned conditionally for this, continued to occupy their posts for a long time after the verdict came into force; they were fired only after we turned to the head of the oblast interior directorate.

It is possible make a sad conclusion from the above-said: torture will continue to be applied until it were strictly punished. That is why it is extremely important to punish pitilessly the law-enforcers guilty of torture and to demand the compensation of the moral and material damage.

Since, as it was demonstrated above, the investigation of the complaints against torture is inefficient, the decisions about recompensing the moral and material damage are taken by courts very rarely, and one must be dogged to achieve such a decision, as well as to get the recompensing sum appointed by court. That is why the seemingly individual question, whether Mozola’s parents will get the compensation and when is socially important.

Although the Ukrainian laws contain the norms about recompensing the damage inflicted by illegal actions of law-enforcing organs, and in the end of 1994 the special law was adopted about recompensing the damage inflicted to a citizen by illegal actions of the organs of inquiry, preliminary investigation, prosecutor’s office and court, the exact mechanism of paying compensation did not exist for a long time. It is noteworthy that, according to this law, the right for compensation appears only in the cases, where: a) a non-guilty court verdict was issued; b) the criminal case was closed because of the absence of crime event or corpus delicti, or because of the absence of proofs of participating in the crime by the accused; c) the refusal was get in starting the criminal case, or the criminal case was closed by the reasons listed in item b), or the case on administration violation was closed. Thus, this law does not stipulate any recompensing of moral and material damage to a victim of torture, if the victim actually committed a crime or an administrative offence.

Only in summer of 1999 the Cabinet of Ministers adopted the Resolution envisaging the unconditional payment from the accounts of law-enforcing organs, if there is a court verdict that came into effect. At the same time the Ministry of Finances put aside 637.5 thousand UAH for paying the compensations. This sum seems misery even under the comparatively small number of verdicts on recompensing. As the newspaper „Ukraina moloda“ (No. 136, 28 July 2000) wrote, the Cabinet of Ministers gave from its reserve fund 485.8 thousand UAH additionally for paying for claims satisfied in 1999. So, in order to get the proper compensation, one must wait for several years.

The procedure of recompensing looks more than strange. It is difficult to imagine a court decision about paying compensation from the budget sums intended for the maintenance of courts. The expenses for recompensing damage inflicted by illegal actions of law-enforcing organs must be separated in the budget. This was the reason of the constitutional presentation of the Supreme Court on the lawfulness of Article 32 of the law on state budget of Ukraine for 2000 and Article 25 of the law on state budget of Ukraine for 2001 that envisage such an absurd procedure. On 3 October 2001 the Constitutional Court of Ukraine acknowledged these articles as disagreeing with the Constitution and thus abolished them. This decision is just, yet any payments of compensations have been suspended.

The decision on the claim of Nina Karpacheva (by the way, her activities at the ombudsperson’s post becomes more and more fruitful) became one of the loud decisions, which testify on the tendency of the judicial power to achieve real independence from the executive power. Among those decisions are there are the decisions on the removal of all accusations from Yulia Timoshenko and her husband; on releasing from the courtroom of the suspected in Igor Aleksandrov’s murder because of the absence of proofs of his guilt and impossibility to procure new proofs by the prosecutor’s office; on recompensing the moral damage by the sum equal to 3000 UAH to advocate Sergey Salov from Donetsk (for „torture and humiliation during investigation“) [The accusation against Salov was not removed. On the eve of the Presidential election of 31 October 1999 Mr. Salov found in his mailbox a newspaper „Golos Ukrainy“, which the information about L. Kuchma’s sudden death. The newspaper was faked, and Salov was not involved in this falsification. Salov showed this newspaper to several people and was arrested. He was accused of violating Article 127 of the Criminal Code „Impeding the election right“. In July 2000 Salov was condemned to five years of incarceration with the postponement of the verdict for two years. Before this he was kept under custody in the Donetsk preliminary prison; he was kept in the only cell without bunks and had to sleep on the bare floor.]; on the refusal to satisfy several claims against journalist about protecting honor and dignity handed by militia top officers, as well as many other court decisions. These decisions more than once provoked anger and irritation of Ukrainian top authorities. The dependence of courts on the executive power and the facts of the intervention of the latter into judicial processes are often debated by Vitaliy Boyko, the chairman of the Supreme Court, his deputies and other judges of the Supreme Court. The real attitude of the executive power to the judicial one is also illustrated by the following numbers: for the reconstruction of the main Kyiv square devoted to the 10 thanniversary of independence and erecting the column with Khrystyna 52.4 million UAH were given during three months, whereas they gave out only 40 million UAH during four years for reconstructing and repairing all court buildings in the country. No comments are needed. Judges’ salary also leaves much to be desired. Thus, the institution of the judicial power needs active support and protection on the side of the society.

To sum up, some general remarks. It is difficult for me to agree with Nina Karpacheva, who said that for the first time a claim was handed not against concrete law-enforcers, but against the whole system. Such a claim should be directed against the Ukrainian state, which preserves and supports the inhumane Soviet system of extracting confessions, one of whose founders was Vyshinskiy („Confession is the queen of proofs“), and which treats a human as a screw. Yet, claims against the state, perhaps, are impossible in Ukrainian legal system (it is only possible to hand a complaint against the state to international courts, for example, to the European court of human rights when the Convention on protecting human rights and basic freedoms was abused), since, according to the Constitution, courts are related to state organs, and the justice is realized from the name of Ukraine.

Such practices, in the case of a claim against the state, makes the state the judge in its own affair, and it is inadmissible. This means that the court considering complaints against the state may not be a branch of the state power, it must be a special type of power, which is a referee between the state and an individual, and it must take decisions from the name of Law.

Who is afraid of the truth about beating in precincts?

In November 2001 the correspondent point of the bulletin „Prava ludyny“ at the ecological NGO „Zeleny svit“ (Chortkiv) turned with the written request to the prosecutor’s office of the Ternopil oblast and to the local directorate of the Ministry of Interior asking for the information about the facts of bringing to disciplinary and criminal responsibility for service abuses of law-enforcers of the Ternopil oblast in 2000-2001.

A month later we got the response signed by K. Brochkovski, a senior assistant of the oblast prosecutor, which read that „the requested data are not reflected in the statistical reports of the prosecutor’s office“. Yet, we preserved the belief to get the needed exhaustive data from the militia directorate, since regional mass media widely advertised the statement by V. Maksimov, the new head of the oblast militia directorate, about the qualitatively new stage of the work of local law-enforcing organs. This stage will allegedly differ from the previous ones with openness, active contacts with mass media and participation in public dialog. We did not receive any response during two months, but we never lost hope. It also appeared that our volunteer sent the request as a common, but not registered letter. So we decided to correct the error and to disturb the officials for the second time in January 2002. We are still waiting for the response. At the same time those, who often have contacts with militia complain against rudeness and cruel treatment on the side of law-enforcers. Very often such contacts finish in brutal beating of drunk detained. Sometimes doctors on duty in hospitals, wanting to save the detained from the inevitable beating in a precinct, insist on their hospitalization, although it is not medically necessary. It is obvious that such victims got into hospitals only when law-enforcers appear to be too active. Unfortunately, such people try to complain against militia to the prosecutor’s office very seldom. The reason is obvious – they are afraid of the revenge.

Only in June 2002 and only during my staying on duty the Chortkiv hospital received two patients with grave injuries obtained from law-enforcers. That is what I saw with my own eyes.

The first of them, Burtnik Mykola Ivanovich, born in 1941, was hospitalized on 7 June 2002 in the surgery department with numerous grave traumas (case history No. 3068). The diagnosis was: Trauma of the thorax; traumatic brakes of the 5 th-8 thribs on the right side; open pneumothorax; hypodermic emphysema; acute pulmonary deficiency of the 2 ndstage; closed cerebral brain trauma; cerebral brain concussion. The patient was treated during 12 days. He did not complain again the illegal actions of militiamen.

The second patient was Skrynyk Yaroslav Mykolayovich, born in 1944. On 18 June 2002 he was taken to the casualty ward of the Chortkiv district hospital for the medical examination concerning the state of alcohol intoxication. After the examination he was transported to the district precinct, where he was brutally beaten. Then he was again taken to the hospital. The man was hospitalized in the surgery ward with the complicated trauma diagnosis (case history No. 3257). The diagnosis was: closed thorax trauma; closed trauma of peritoneum organs; intra-peritoneum hemorrhage; multiple injuries of upper body epidermis (in the from of footprints); contusion of soft tissues of the face; massive hemorrhage through nostrils; light alcohol intoxication. This patient stayed in the hospital during three days and was released on his own wish. He either did not complain against brutal treatment.

I doubt that absolutely all cases of beating by militia remain unknown. Top militia authorities must know about some of these facts. Why the militia commandment hush-hushes the cases and does not insist on investigation and adequate punishment of the guilty? Maybe, they do it to tie their subordinates with mutual responsibility and to have the opportunity to make them commit obviously criminal actions? One cannot help recollecting the notorious major Melnichenko’s audio records, where a voice similar to that of the former minister says: "I have now a very tough team, they will do everything I will order“. It looks plausible that such smaller „teams“ have been organized in every provincial town.

The number of complaints against militia has not diminished

It has become a useful tradition that each August the Kharkov Group for human rights protection (KhG) gives the interview to the Kharkov oblast TV channel, where the KhG members tell about complaint they get. This year newsmen from the TV channel also attended us. Answering the question what kind of complaint obtained by the group is more frequent, we told that the number of the complaints against the illegal actions of militia has not diminished. Unfortunately, these words were omitted in the feature. Our visitor explained that this is a topic for a separate feature. Yet, we have not received a proposition to create such a feature. So, we decided to make public the cases, about which we learned from letters and other personal addresses of citizen.

Here are some of such complaints, which were received by the KhG in the first half of 2002.

Volodymir K., an inhabitant of Myrgorod, addressed a letter to the Head of the Myrgorod informational and consultative center of human rights. In this letter Volodymir told that in January 2002 he and his minor son were detained and beastly beaten by militiamen from the Myrgorod town precinct. An acquaintance of Volodymir’s son came to Volodymir and told that his son was detained by militia. Volodymir ran to the district precinct and saw how militiamen were taking his son out of the car. The boy was handcuffed. A militiaman began to make the handcuffs tighter and to twist boy’s arms. The boy cried from pain. The father could not control himself: „What are you doing, you, sadists?“ but the militiaman before the eyes of the father started to brake the boy’s fingers. Other militiamen witnessed all this, they quietly observed what was happening, and nobody tried to interfere. When Volodymir decided to meddle, he was also beaten and detained. For some time longer Volodymir heard desperate screams of his son, who begged to stop the beating. Volodymir was not permitted to phone home. He spent behind the bars four days from 5 to 8 January, all this time he was not given food, they even did not pass him the food brought by his wife. When the next shift came to duty, their head, major Taratun, found out that Volodymir’s wristwatch, confiscated after the detainment, was missing. Strange as it is, but he reprimanded not his colleagues, but Volodymir – he was beaten again. A deputy of the militia head threatened Volodymir that „he had such people, which would kill Volodymir for a package of tea, and will make his son an invalid“. Volodymir’s son was take to a hospital with the cerebral brain concussion. As to Volodymir, a criminal case was started against him for his attack on militiamen.

Katerina Kucheruk, a Kharkov dweller, turned to the Kharkov Group for human rights protection with the complaint against the personnel of preliminary prison No. 27. Her son, Volodymir Kucheruk, born in 1980, was detained by the militiamen of Kominternovskiy district precinct of Kharkov, and on 17 April he was transferred to the preliminary prison. On 22 July V. Kucheruk was taken to the psychiatric hospital with obvious injuries. He said to his mother that militiamen often beat him. Volodymir had deep wounds on his wrists – traces of handcuffs, haematomas on the forehead and under his eyes, wounds behind his ear and on his toes, haematomas and several deep wounds on his buttocks. He could not take food without help and almost could not walk. It should be mentioned that is a 2 nd-group invalid because of a general psychic disease. In 1998 he was officially recognized as a debil, and in 2000 as a schizophrenic. However, the experts of the Kharkov psychiatric hospital, who examined him in April 2002, concluded that Kucheruk suffers only with slight debility. Now his psychical state greatly deteriorated, doctors found schizophrenia and do not guarantee that Volodymir will ever reach the previous level. On 13 August the head of the Kharkov oblast penitentiary department issued the order about conducting the thorough examination, but the result is still unknown. Katerina Kucheruk’s new complaint made the situation clearer. Representatives of the preliminary prison came to Vladimir to the hospital, but they could not question him: he was scared and did not answer their questions. His mother believes that this visit has worsened the psychic state of her son again.

Evhen B. complained that several militiamen from the town directorate took him to the countryside and brutally beat. B. turned to a hospital, where doctors found the closed cerebral brain trauma. Now B. is being treated. The Kharkov city prosecutor’s office did not find anything criminal in the militiamen actions and refused to start a criminal case. Only after repeated complaints from B. and from our Group to the General Prosecutor’s office and the oblast prosecutor’s office the additional investigation was ordered.

S. turned to the KhG with the complaint that he was beaten in the Leninskiy district precinct of Kharkov. Then he was threatened and forced to write the explanation that he was walking along a street being drunk and was detained by militia. After this he was released. He turned to a hospital, where he got the necessary medical aid. The diagnosis was: blunt traumas of the ribcage, injury of the shoulder joint, numerous haematomas and wounds on the face. The prosecutor’s office refused to start the criminal case basing on Article 6 item 2 of the Civil-Procedural Code, that is because of absence of corpus delicti.

Some convicts write in their letters that they were illegally maltreated during inquiry and investigation, but it is impossible to prove these cases.

Freedom of expression

Board of the communist party cut off in Krivoy Rog

The events, which are occurring these days in Krivoy Rog, shows, it seems, that the communist party joined the opposition. On the XXII CPSU Congress Street the board for placing the communist press was dismounted. The metal legs of the board were cut off on the ground level by a team sent by the authorities. The situation in the town is firmly controlled by the mayor, so it is obvious that the event was ordered from the top.

It should be noted that such boards for the press were owned in different places of the town only by the communist party. It is widely known that mayor Yu. Lubinenko is benevolent to the „former vanguard of the working class“. The former secretary of the district communist party committee did not permit to change a single name of streets and other town objects given in the Soviet times. He motivated this decision by sparing the town budget. Now the mayor has become a persona grata to President Kuchma. He spent a lot of efforts in order to overcome the resistance of communist deputies of the town council, who protested against the idea to nominate Leonid Kuchma as a honorable town citizen.

Poltava journalist L. Kucherenko vs. state officials

Ludmila Kucherenko, the editor-in-chief of the Poltava newspaper „Novy den“, turned to the oblast prosecutor’s office with the request to start a criminal case against state officials for impeding her legal journalistic activities.

As early as 20 May this year Ms. Kucherenko sent to the Poltava town council the request about the information concerning Anatoliy Kukoba, the town mayor. The journalist was interested if the mayor was going to retire from his post since he was elected to the Supreme Rada.

In spite of the legal limitation to answer such requests within 10 days, the request was not answered during a month. When, on 17 June, Ludmila Kucherenko together with Anatoliy Banny, the editor of the newspaper „Pryvatna sprava“, and Oleksiy Gavrikov, the head of the oblast committee „Pravozakhyst“, came to the town council to learn about the lot of the request. In the press service of the town council they got the answer that the officials did not intended to response.

L. Kucherenko believes that Mr. Zinenko, the head of the staff of the town council, and Mr. Kikt, the head of the press service, impeded her journalistic activities ignoring her request, thus violating the right of readers to learn the socially important information, which the information about the status of the head of the local self-rule organ obviously is. In this connection the journalist asks the prosecutor’s office to start the criminal case after Article 171 (part 1) of the Criminal Code (impeding legal professional journalistic activities) and to draw the guilty to responsibility.

Children’s rights

Crimean Tatars want to have their national court.

The Medjlis of Crimean Tatars intends to discuss the question about the restoration of kadiyat, the national court, whose duty is to consider civil conflicts between Crimean Tatars, such as family, common and similar conflicts. The information about this intention caused the negative reaction of Russian mass media in the Crimea, which wrote that the Crimean Tatars intend to introduce the Shariat courts instead of Ukrainian ones. Yet, as Emine Avamlieva, the head of the juridical department of the Medjlis, commented, such similes are impermissible, since Shariat is much broader than the consideration of civil affairs, and kadiyat is somewhat like a court of arbitration for solving various conflicts. Now the numerous petty conflicts, which arise among newcomers to the Crimea, are solved by councils of elders. People turn to the court only if they disagree with the decisions of these councils. The representative of the Medjlis is sure that the prior task for the Crimean officials must be not the creation of the kadiyat, but the restoration of political rights of Crimean Tatars and solving the problems of settling the former deported, who are now returning to their native land. „Deutsche Welle“ – Ukrainian editorial board

Lviv prosecutor’s office started a criminal case against the newspaper „Idealist“

The Lviv oblast prosecutor’s office began to investigate the criminal case concerning the publications that fan out the interethnic enmity and endanger the public order.

The June issue of the newspaper published a lengthy „list of Ukrainian Yids“, who, in the opinion of the editorial board, should be deported from Ukraine; among them there are many well-known Ukrainian politicians.

Our informant

Women’s rights

Again about Boris Feldman’s case

Press release of the attorney firm „Aggev, Berezhnoy and partners“

On 27 August 2002 the Appeal court of the Lugansk oblast started to consider the appeal of B. Feldman against the verdict of the Artemovskiy district court of Lugansk. We published the new version of the appeal on our site 20.08.02.htm. The appeal was changed according to Article 355 of the Ukrainian Civil-Procedural Code and handed on 20 August 2002. We also published the texts of the appendices to the appeal: 

Boris Feldman is defended by advocate Viktor Ageev, Maria Yeremeeva, Andrey Fedur and Vladimir Prikhodko. The state accusation is supported by prosecutors Sergey Burdeyny and Valentina Nudko. The case is considered by the collegium consisting of three judges of the appeal court: judge Zaporozhchenko (the chairperson), judges Kozhushok and Bozhko.

In the beginning of the court sitting Boris Feldman estoped against the prosecutors Burdeyny and Nudko. His motive was that the prosecutors committed procedural felonies, when the case was considered by the first instance. In particular, they endorsed the accusation of the actions, which are not crimes, thus committing a crime themselves defined by Article 372 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine: „bringing of obviously innocent to criminal responsibility. Feldman stated that he had expressed the demand to start a criminal case against these prosecutors in the court of first instance. The estop was supported by the defenders, who, in particular, said that the prosecutors fairly well understand what they were doing. The court rejected the estop.

Boris Feldman also addressed the court the petition about the preliminary consideration of the case by the appeal court in order to prepare the case for consideration. This petition was supported by his defenders, who also declared that, since not all volumes of the criminal case were passed by the first instance court to the appeal court, the consideration of the case is impossible until all the documents would be collected.

Besides, B. Feldman and his advocates handed the appeal court a copy of the decision of the Supreme Court of Ukraine of 30 May 2002 ( supremecourt30.05.2002.htm). This decision read that from 13 March 2001 to the present time the legal grounds for keeping Feldman under custody are absent. This decision of the Supreme Court was approved by the complete composition of the judicial chamber in charge of civil cases, is final and may not be complained against. The facts established by this court decision are regarded as proven. Thus, the Lugansk appeal court must release Boris Feldman immediately. The corresponding written petition has already been handed to the court.


On 28 August 2002 the appeal court of the Lugansk oblast rejected the petition of Boris Feldman about conducting the preliminary consideration of his case, in the course of which a number of questions must be considered concerning the proper preparation of the case for the court hearing, in particular the question about releasing B. Feldman.

In spite of prosecutor’s protests the court satisfied the petition of the defenders and permitted to carry out video filming, photography and audio recording in the courtroom. Thus, journalists at last got the opportunity to work in the courtroom and to fix the proceedings.

The court heard the explanations of Feldman and a representative of the state prosecution about releasing B. Feldman, then the break was announced till 29 August. At the sitting on 29 August the court must hear the speeches of the defenders.

Court process is lasting.

On 8 August 2002 the Kyiv appeal court satisfied the claim of Evhen Zakharov, a co-chairman of the Kharkov Group for human rights protection, against the decision of the Pecherskiy district court concerning the rejection of his claim about the passivity of the Kyiv city prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor’s office twice did not answer to the informational request of the plaintiff about its activities on the surveillance over the legality in the law-enforcing organs of Kyiv.

The Pecherskiy district court rejected the complaint under the pretext that chapter 31-A of the Civil-Procedural Code, which stipulates that only physical persons have the right to turn with complaints, and the request was printed on a blank of a public organization.

The appeal court returned the complaint to the Pecherskiy court for consideration by essence.

Our informant

Court practices

„Absence of a law does not free one from its execution“ (a proverb of the Soviet times)

The most interesting feature of the Ukrainian Law „On the alternative (non-military) service“ is that it directly and openly contradicts Articles 34 item 1 and 35 of the Ukrainian Constitution. For some reasons nobody pays attention to this fact. In comparison, the fact that the Law contradicts the European Convention on protecting human rights and basic freedoms looks negligent. Who would pay attention to some European Convention, when our legislators managed to ignore our own Basic Law? It is easy to prove what we have said by comparing the Law with the corresponding articles of the Constitution and by considering this problem practically, taking into account the complaints of the alternative servicemen. But the most striking feature of this law is that it reflects the intellectual and legal level both of our people’s representatives and our society as a whole.

Let us consider separate clauses, such as Article 8 of the Law on the alternative service and Article 55 of Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers No. 2066 of 10 November 1999 on the procedure of the alternative service. Article 55 of the Resolution reads: „The alternative service may be terminated before the term by a decision of the commission, if a citizen dodges the alternative service or commits other actions envisaged by item 43 of this Law (a belated information of the commission about shorter working day, giving a leave on the initiative of the enterprise owner, etc.), about which the citizen and the corresponding recruiting commission must be informed within 5 days. In such cases the citizen must be recruited to the conventional military service as everyone else“. It should be added that in such cases the time actually spent at the alternative service is not counted in the conventional service. The enterprise may have nothing to occupy the alternative serviceman with, and he must wait. And the law does not envisage the transfer of the alternative servicemen to another job.

In general, according to Article 30 of the Resolution, „a citizen, who is at the alternative service, may obtain a job requiring professions 2-9 from the list (ДК 003-95) approved by the State committee of standards“. But mostly the alternative servicemen are given jobs of street sweepers or constructive workers. Nothing can be added. One may only shrug and recollect that our country built and is building Potemkin’s phantom villages. We showed to Europe how liberal and democratic we are: created the Law on the alternative service. But if any European expert read this law attentively, he would be terrified.

One may oppose that the number of alternative servicemen is very little: during the monitoring in 2000 their number in the Kharkov oblast was only 70, this year – 72. And the number of those, who could not fulfil their work or admitted other violations such that their contracts were broken, is negligible. But we encounter mainly with such rare cases.

Alternative serviceman B., a Baptist, honestly worked as a street sweeper in Kharkov. But now, during the massive unemployment, even such a job is desirable for many, so there is a competition. We do not know, who pretended to the job of B. yet, the administrators began to find petty faults in B.’s work everywhere and finally wrote a complaint to the commission on the alternative service. The administrators were not lucky. The boy was so diligent that the dwellers of the neighborhood, where he worked, collected signatures and sent a letter to the Kharkov oblast union of soldiers’ mothers. The union passed the letter to the district executive committee. The affair had a happy end, but such ends happen infrequently. Under modern conditions any administrator may need any job for another person. And in these cases are almost hopeless for the alternative servicemen. Not every of them knows, to where he must turn, if his rights were violated.

Different cases happen in this respect. For example, this year alternative serviceman S., or to be more exact, his parents, turned to us. They turned to us when the boy’s case was already being considered by the commission on the alternative service of the Zhovtnevy district of Kharkov, the matter was about the pre-tern termination of his contract. The boy at this time was on the sick list. Doctors asked S.’s bosses to transfer him to an easier work because of spine disease, but the bosses answered that they had no such jobs. The representatives of the commission answered the same. The argument was that the district recruiting commission found S. able-bodied for the conventional service. This means that he is able-bodied for the alternative service even more. But the recruits are divided into 7 categories by their state of health: the 7 thand 6 thconsidered not able-bodied, the 5 thdemands the postponement of the conscription. The 3 rdand 4 thcategories demand individual approach to the recruit, especially the 4 thone. The latter category means that the servicemen shall not fulfil heavy physical work. That is why military commanders unwillingly take to their units recruits with the 4 thcategory.

Yet, the alternative servicemen are not divided into any categories and must fulfil all their duties. So, the boy with spine and nervous diseases loaded garbage containers, thus making his diseases more virulent. The Zhovtnevy district executive committee got rid of this case passing the boy’s documents to the district recruiting commission. In the recruiting commission they told us that the executive committee broke the law, but could not solve the problem. Finally, the oblast recruiting commission solved this problem on their responsibility and sent S. to the Kharkov military hospital for medical examination. And what would happen if they would decide that the affair does not concern them (having the legal right for this)?

We have two more similar complaints. Two more youths with chronic diseases cannot stand the strain of the alternative service, but they are afraid to complain to recruiting commissions, where they are usually treated in a rather rude way. Maybe, this is the reason why the number of alternative servicemen is so small? The adopted law does not stipulate the right for the alternative service to pacifists. By the way, in Russia, where the law on the alternative service was adopted only two months ago, pacifists have already won a number of claims, since the Russian Constitution distinctly stipulates that personal convictions (both religious and not) give the right for the alternative service. In the Ukrainian Constitution this is written rather vaguely, so our legislators used it. Yet, our greatest pain is not legislators, who only embody the mass state consciousness into their laws, but when during the adoption of this law a woman-MP loudly protested: „So my son will serve in the army, and somebody will stay home! It is absurd!“ Other women, whose sons must be conscripted to the conventional service, will protest in the same way. Which pacifism can be discussed, when people have such an outlook? MPs traditionally forget about the superiority of the right and the Constitution. So, there are no petty legal problems in Ukraine – there is general neglect of an individual. The Law „On the alternative (non-military) service“ is the brightest example of such neglect.

Р. S.When this article was already written, we received a letter from a military unit. It read:

„The commandment of the military unit informs you that an unregistered Baptist church functions in Kharkov. The church conducts anti-state religion activities directed for prohibiting to hold weapons and take the military oath for the members of the church community.

Private D., who got to our unit, lived in Kharkov and attended this church; now he categorically refuses to take the oath to be faithful to the Ukrainian people“.

The problem is even more acute in this letter. The Constitution of Ukraine does not restrict the freedom of consciousness by the registration of the church, to which a youth must belong to be permitted to go to the alternative service. This means that freedom of consciousness is a so-called general or inalienable freedom stipulated by the Ukrainian Constitution. At the same time the Law „On the alternative (non-military) service“ reads that the recruit must belong to a religion community, which is included to „The List of religion organizations, whose doctrine prohibits using weapons“ approved by Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers No. 2066 of 10 November 1999. Article 9 of the Resolution on the procedure of the alternative (Non-military) service suggests to a citizen to hand, if needed, at the sitting of the commission additional (?!) confirmation of the authenticity of his religion beliefs in a documentary or other form. That is, we again see a brutal violations of the Ukrainian Constitution.

Quality of the autumn recruiting campaign of 2001.

The Kharkov oblast Union of soldiers’ mothers and the Kharkov working group of the International Union of human rights (Ukrainian branch) continues to monitor the quality of recruits from Kharkov and the Kharkov oblast. The monitoring of the autumn recruiting campaign of 2001 was conducted with the financial support of the National Institute of democracy.

We sent questionnaires to all military units, to which recruits from Kharkov and the oblast had been directed. We present below the comparative diagram characterizing the number of the responses to our questionnaires and the desires of unit commanders to take part in our monitoring.


During the recruiting campaign of autumn 2001 as many as 2029 young soldiers were directed to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. In the military units, about which we have information, 768 soldiers of the autumn campaign-2001 are serving, which makes about 37.85% of the total number of the conscripted.

Commanders of 8 military units responded to our questionnaires unambiguously: they have no claims to the quality of recruits. Here are some quotations: „All of them satisfy the demands of the Ukrainian laws on the conscription to the armed forces“ „The servicemen willingly fulfil their service duties and become healthier and stronger“ „We are satisfied with the results of this recruiting campaign, the servicemen are able to fulfil properly their service duties, they are have good physique. Some of them showed themselves from the best side and were awarded in different ways, some of them were raised in rank – they got the rank of first sergeant. Thus, we have no claims about the quality of the autumn-2001 call-up from the Kharkov oblast; on the contrary we notice that they are better than recruits from other parts of Ukraine.

Yet, such responses we got only from 33.3% of those, who answered our questionnaires or from 10.95% of the total number of the distributed questionnaires.

The answers of other commanders contain such data:

Table 1

768 persons were monitored  
Among them: Absolute number Percentage
1. Got into hospitals or medical units within the first month of service 101 13,8
2. Have chronic diseases, which got more acute in the beginning of the service 70 9,1
3. Have deviations in behavior, have criminal records, used narcotic drugs 14 1,82
4. Have suicidal inclinations 25 3,25
5. Recruited with violation of laws (have the right for postponement by Article 17 of the Law ’On military duty’) 2 0,26
6. Concealed chronic diseases from medical commission to get to the army 3 0,39
7. Declared their unwillingness to serve 4 0,52
8. Attempts of desertion - -
9. Suicidal attempts 1 0,13
10. Are essentially underweight 22 2,86

Below we present excerpts from some letters received from the commanders of military units.

„Private T. Diagnosis: long-lasting depressive neurotic state. Transferred to the reserve“. „Private P. (recruited by the Izium district commission) was transferred to the reserve after medical treatment in the psychiatric ward with the diagnosis „dissociative paralysis of the right lower extremity, … with some features of psycho-physical infantilism (Article 44.4) – mobilized 13 November 2001, dismissed 14 March 2002“. „Private B. (the Kharkov oblast, Kolomak district, village of Kolomak) – obvious disease of duodenum, transferred to the reserve after the state of health; private I. (the Kharkov oblast, village of Ch. Lozova) – chronic periodantit; private S. (the Kharkov oblast, Volchansk district, village Rubizhne) – chronic gastritis, esophagitis“. „Private G. (the Kharkov oblast, town of Lozova) – demonstrated cases of inadequate behavior and abnormal sexual behavior. Very difficult to communicate with, expresses his thoughts with short unlinked phrases. Is very secluded, sometimes speaks with himself. Now stays in a hospital for psychiatric examination“.

In one military unit, to where 143 Kharkovites were sent, two servicemen appeared, who have criminal records and used narcotic drugs; private P. was recruited having gonorrheal urethritis; for servicemen (2.8%) after a psychological testing were acknowledged as having the 4 thgroup of nervous-psychical stability; four servicemen are essentially underweight.

It seems that all these cases might be found before the conscription by recruiting commissions, especially by the oblast medical commission. We gave only several examples, but these examples testify of the unsatisfactory work of medical commissions.

According to Article 69 of Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine of 21 March 2002 No. 352 „On the approval of the Resolution on the preparation and conductance of the conscription of Ukrainian citizens to the conventional military service“, „each member of the medical commission must obtain a room completely equipped and provided with all needed medical tools and drugs“.

But up to now a room is given to several doctors. For example, in the Moskovskiy district recruiting commission a psychiatrist and a neuropathologist work in one room, what impedes some youths to confess their diseases. Especially it concerns the complaints at enuresis and some complaints of psychiatric character.

It is surprising to observe how psychiatrists receive their patients in recruiting commissions. The examination begins and ends with one phrase: „Show your arms“. They believe that if a boy does not use narcotic drugs by intravenous injection and never cut his veins then he is able-bodied. And if the boy does not complain, although he has difficulties in communication, blue moods and irritability, the doctor never tries to find his individual the boy’s individual features, which could be the signs of some internal psychic disorders. The doctors try not to notice all they can.

So, they do not „notice“ headache; neuropathologists of some commissions, when youths complain at headache, answer: „everyone has headaches“. At best the doctors diagnose vegetative vascular distonia, which does not free from military service. Only when parents are worried by the health of their offspring and meddle, the doctors read the recruit’s medical card (if it exists), direct him to medical examination, which, unfortunately, is also not unbiased. The latter statement may be confirmed by the examinations at „Turboatom“ plant medical department, after which the recruits were additionally examined in other medical establishments by our requests.

The situation concerning the diseases of gastrointestinal tract is also very complicated.

Article 55 „a“ of Order No. 2 of 4 January 1994 envisages the unsuitability to military service with taking off from the military lists altogether (CO-8); Article 55 „б“ envisages the unsuitability to military service in peaceful time and limited unsuitability in war time (CO-7); Article 55 „в“ for youths „with insignificant functional deviations and infrequent exacerbation“ envisages the unsuitability to military service (CO-4).

Doctors-therapists of the medical commissions, according to our observations, almost never use items „a“ and „б“. Only they find gastric ulcer or ulcer duodenum, they have to use these items. However, if a youth has erosive gastritis with frequent exacerbation and dysfunction of acid secretion, then the doctors again notice nothing.

So, mother of serviceman G. turned to us. G. was recruited to the army with gastritis with frequent exacerbation, in 18 months the gastritis developed to the gastric ulcer. The soldier stayed in hospital six times and returned from the army as invalid.

The question about the underweight was not included to the questionnaire concerning the spring recruiting campaign. In the autumn recruiting campaign-2000 51 servicemen were underweight (3.78%), 1n the autumn recruiting campaign-2001 this number was 22 (2.8%).

In our previous report we quoted the opinions of military unit commanders about the absurdity of conscripting the essentially underweight recruits, since they are not capable to fulfil properly their service duties. This time the commanders did not change their minds.

Order No. 2 of 4 January 1994 contained Article 87, which stipulated the unsuitability for military service in peaceful time and limited unsuitability in war time or temporary unsuitability for some categories of recruits. Unfortunately, this article was not included into Order No. 207 of 12 July 1999.

The Kharkov oblast union of soldiers’ mothers and the Kharkov working group of the International Union of human rights (Ukrainian branch) do not agree with the existing rules, since the abnormally small weight may be (and often is) an appearance of a disease, which can be unclosed only after a thorough examination. Yet, such examinations will hardly be carried out by the request of a recruiting commission, especially if the patient does not complain at his health.

The insufficient quality of medical examinations of recruits was discussed at the sittings of the oblast recruiting commission, which worked during the autumn campaign-2001. This concerns the Moskovskiy district commission, where the therapeutic ward is absent at all and, as a result, there is no opportunity to pass an adequate ultra-sound examination or gastroenteroscopy.

The unsatisfactory quality of medical examination was also observed in Valki and Zolochev districts; in the Volchansk district they had no equipment for electric cardiography and fluorography. Proper specialists are absent in the Zolochev district, and many recruits are sent to Kharkov for additional examinations. This demands additional expenses, and the proportion of such additional examinations reaches 30%.

The question „How many youths, in your opinion, appeared to be not completely prepared for the military service“ was answered in the following way: 23 servicemen, which makes 2.99% of the total number. We believe that this number is obviously underestimated. Analyzing the questionnaires we concluded that the majority of those, who were included to categories 1-10 of Table 1, cannot be competent soldiers.

Obviously, until the main problem of the proper examination of recruits and rehabilitation of ill recruits is solved, we will have these 18% of not able-bodied soldiers from the Kharkov oblast, which we have already for several years.

In what follows we present Table 2 comparing the recruiting campaigns of 2000 and 2001. 1999 was not included into the table, since that year we got the insufficient number of responses.

Table 2

  % of the total number of the instigated
Among them: Spring 2000 Autumn 2000 Autumn 2001
1. Got into hospitals or medical units within the first month of service 11,73 8,5 13,.15
2. Have chronic diseases, which got more acute in the beginning of the service 3,94 2,01 9,1
3. Have deviations in behavior, have criminal records, used narcotic drugs 1,58 5,05 1,82
4. Have suicidal inclinations 5,52 5,57 3,25
5. Recruited with violation of laws (have the right for postponement by Article 17 of the Law ’On military duty’)     0,26
6. Concealed chronic diseases from medical commission to get to the army 2,46 0,74 0,39
7. Declared their unwillingness to serve 0,49 0,22 0,52
8. Attempts of desertion 0,29 0,074 0,0
9. Suicidal attempts 0,1 0,074 0,13
10. Are essentially underweight - 3,78 2,8

Our conclusions: unfortunately, after the autumn recruiting campaign-2001 the number of servicemen, whose chronic diseases, which got more acute in the beginning of the service, substantially increased. This fact convincingly testifies that the quality of medical examination of recruits got substantially worse, and that examination of minors when registering in military lists is very negligent.

At the same time the given data proves that the examination of servicemen in military units became more careful. Yet, this ought not to diminish the quality of medical examination in recruiting commissions.

Our propositions:

To tun to the State administration of the Kharkov oblast proposing the creation of the special medical center (according to Article 26 of the Resolution) provided with modern medical equipment for examination and, if needed, for the treatment and rehabilitation of recruits. Best-skilled doctors must be attracted to the work in this center, the examination must be conducted gratis. All medical data about youths from their birth to the recruiting campaign must be stored in databases of this center.

We sent this proposition to the head of the directorate of health protection of the Kharkov oblast state administration.

To raise the personal responsibility of the members of medical commissions for the quality of the call-up. Recruiting commissions must work so that only those youths, who can properly fulfil their military duty according to their psychic and physical state, got to the Armed Forces.

To resume the action of Article 87 of Order No. 2 of 4 January 1994 concerning the underweight recruits.

To introduce administration punishment for the doctors for the conscription of poor-health recruits. The matter is that negligent medical examination leads to the deterioration of the health of those, who were called to the army being not able-bodied and to their treatment in military medical establishments, which treatment is much more expensive than in civil establishments. And this makes a heavy burden to us, mere taxpayers. The Armed Forces, in their turn, suffer from the low combativity due to unsatisfactory health of servicemen and dedovshchina directed at young soldiers with poor health.

Murders, explosions and kidnappings are common in modern Odessa

After the murder of Evhen Zadorozhny, a security service colonel, Sergey Masagarov, one of his deputies, who retired from the service, disappeared when he was getting into his own car. It happened three weeks ago. Two weeks ago a businessman nearly perished from an explosion in the Primorskiy district of the city. In the Kyivskiy district of Odessa Mr. Budiakov, an executive of the firm „Sintez Oil“, was murdered with three shots.

Judge Igor Tkachuk considered the case connected with the events in the Odessa sea trade port. On the eve of the beginning of the consideration of this resonant case he perished. He knew too many scandalous facts.

Igor Tkachuk was found at his villa near Odessa. The official was handcuffed and hanged.

Some law-enforcers tried to present Tkachuk’s death as a suicide, asserting that „there may be no reference to a violent death“. Yet, the oblast prosecutor’s office started the criminal case after the article „premeditated murder“.

MP Yuri Karmazin is sure that Igor Tkachuk had no grounds for the suicide. „I have reasons to connect this uncovered murder with the murder of Boris Bikhrov, the head of the oblast arbitrary court, who was replace on the following day. Odessa is alarmed with this criminal situation“.

Igor Tkachuk, a Ph.D., the chief of a department in the institute of business and law, an honest judge, was deeply respected in Odessa. He had a wonderful family and was a sincere believer. He loved life and had many plans. In 1994 he worked as an assistant of an MP and was a deputy of the oblast rada. Before 1994 he headed the commission in charge of legality in the Odessa city council.

Law-enforcing organs began to investigate the reasons of Tkachuk’s death in a somewhat strange way. The place of the crime was examined very negligently. More than a hundred of people trampled the place that was not properly guarded. A dog was brought only after three or four hours.

The judge’s car was found opened at the place of the crime. His cell and city phones were switched off, although he himself never did so.

Yuri Karmazin told that „when the actual privatization of arbitration and appeal courts of Odessa began, Igor Tkachuk expressed his critical opinion. He was the most disciplined judge. The criminals imitated his suicide very clumsily“.

Mr. Karmazin reminded that on 5 August the fist anniversary after journalist Boris Derevyanko perished in Odessa will be marked. „The man, who did not kill him, was made responsible for the crime. Those, who ordered the murder, are not punished until now. The public prosecutor, who told that the actual murderers were not punished, committed a suicide…

The crimes that recently occurred in Odessa testify that the privatization of courts in Odessa walks knee-deep in blood. This process shall be stopped. Nobody in Odessa believes in the suspicious suicide of Igor Tkachuk“

Civic society

Again about the mysteries of the European Court

I was made to write this article having read the note by Viktoria Vasylyeva „The mysteries of the European Court“ published in the newspaper „Svoboda“ (No. 17, 7-14 May). The author of the note refers to a publication in the bulletin „Prava ludyny“ of the Kharkov Group for human rights protection (the KhG, in what follows), which bulletin I have the honor to be the editor-in-chief. Ivan Lishchina, our former juridical counselor and now a probationer of the Secretariat of the European Court of human rights (the Court, in what follows), told „Prava ludyny“ (PL, in what follows) readers about some changes in the Regulations of the Court’s work; this information was retold by V. Vasylyeva. In my opinion, we must be grateful to I. Lishchina for informing everybody interested about these changes that are very essential. Yet, Ms. Vasylyeva accused Lishchina of incompetence, since he allegedly misleads the readers stating that for the exhaustion of all internal means of legal protection one must turn to a cassation instance. „If the PL comment was absent, Ms. Vasylyeva wrote, „this misleading statement would have bad consequences. Do not you think that the European Court probationer has no sufficient qualification and does not know that the Supreme Court, that is the cassation instance, is now necessary and efficient only when the instance was an appeal one? May one hope for a just consideration of his case in the European Court, if our representatives there demonstrate the elementary professional ignorance? I do not want to admit the possibility of the worst variant – conscious misleading“.

I want to ensure Ms. Vasylyeva that Ivan Lishchina has sufficient qualification. If he had no fundamental knowledge in the area of the European right, Ukrainian laws and English language, he would not be invited to work in the Court. Five years ago this talented young man came to our Group being a student of the National Juridical Academy. Now he is a post-graduate of the same Academy, he wrote the monograph „International instruments of human rights protection“ (by the way, excerpts from it are now published in the newspaper „Yuridichny visnyk Ukrainy“). Along with his strenuous work in the Court, Lishchina finds time and efforts to continue his research work.

The problem lies in the other area. The question, if, since 21 June 2001, the cassation instance is an efficient tool of legal protection, is debatable and much more complicated than the question whether earlier one had to turn to the Supreme Court for the exhaustion of all national means of legal protection. The small court reform brought the Ukrainian court system to the classic European three-level system: local, appeal and cassation courts. So, it is quite logical to regard the cassation instance as an efficient tool of legal protection, as Ivan Lishchina wrote.

Yet, the real answer to the question whether the cassation instance will be efficient will be given only by practices, which now are scarce. The court system is now being reformed and it is impossible yet to say a priori what will follow. The new procedural law is not adopted yet, and the old one contains a lot of contradictions. Until now what one more often observes is a great number of tricks and refusals given by the three judges of the Supreme Court during consideration of cassation complaints, which was more than once described in the press. Our bulletin also mentioned such facts. If this practice becomes established, then, in my opinion, the Court will react correspondingly. Yet, for this complaints handed to the Court must convincingly prove the too high discretion rights of the Supreme Court judges, who refuse to consider cases. Nowadays it is impossibly to draw an unambiguous conclusion, so one may not assert that it is sufficient to pass an appeal instance and only after that to hand the complaint to the Court. I am sure that in such a situation the Court will send the demand to exhaust all national means of legal protection, but the terms of handing the cassation complaint may be already skipped! And then the claimant will loose the opportunity to protest against the unjust, in his opinion, decision of the appeal court both in the cassation instance and in the Court. Thus, I would advice that, if there are some doubts about the effectiveness of the cassation instance, to hand the complaint to the European Court accompanied with the reasons of the doubts, and parallelly hand the cassation complaint.

Viktoria Vasylyeva and her colleagues more than once wrote with great assuredness in „Svoboda“ and other editions about their experience in contacting the Court and that the reason why their complaints were rejected was the guilt of Ukrainian representatives in the Court – see, for example, the article „Ukrainian root in the European Court“ („Svoboda“, No. 13, 9-16 April). „only eight (!) complaints out of five thousand were accepted during three years!“, wrote Ms. Vasylyeva, „Only 10% of the total number of the complaints were registered (this does not mean that they were accepted), but it is unknown, when these complaint will be considered. Mist and mystery… Who is interested in such enigmatic situation? Why so many cases appeared to be rejected? Why this red-tape accompanies many court procedures?“

I shall risk to elucidate this mystery. The Ukrainian claims share the lot of the claims from other countries in the first years of their joining the European Convention: these complaints are ungrounded and badly prepared. I want to remind that in 1960, when the Court just began to work, 710 out of 713 complaints were rejected. The KhG has already being consulting citizens about the preparation of such complaints for several years, and we not a single time (!) we saw a professionally compiled complaints. Almost every time they were too lengthy (sometimes 50-60 pages!) and, as a rule, they told about unimportant details. The complaints left out the essential information, information on the applied laws, etc., although they were often compiled by professional lawyers. I am sure that the lion’s share of the refusals of the Court is due to the insufficient professionalism of the complaints’ authors. What concerns the too long terms of considering the complaints in the Court, this is a real problem. The number of complaints is very great (by the way, Ukraine occupies not the first place by the number of complaints, as the Vasylyeva asserts, but only the eighth), and their thorough consideration demands much time, and the rejections of the complaints are meticulously checked. A court process is in general a long procedure, and especially a process in the European Court. One must patiently wait for 3-4 years until the case passes all the stages. It is noteworthy that now the Court attempts to somewhat accelerate the consideration of cases. The perfection of the procedure of considering complaints is being discussed, the personnel is increased. Now six Ukrainians work in the Court Secretariat over the Ukrainian complaints.

I shall uncover one more mystery (I hope that their right for privacy will not be violated!): all they are quite young people having unburdened with the experience of working in Ukrainian state organs, and they are not representatives of Ukrainian bureaucrats, as Ms Vasylyeva and her colleagues think. All the Court staff passes through the contest directly in the Court. When they send the letters to claimants asking to send some additional documents, they try to correct the drawbacks of the complaint and to make it more convincing. They must be thanked for this, not reproached! It should be remarked that our experience of communicating the Court is quite positive.

Ms. Vasylyeva and company demand from the Ministry of Justice to resume the work of the Information office of the Council of Europe in Ukraine, which has no opportunity to function normally, since it has no room for work (see the article „Caesar’s share to Caesar, and Ukrainian share to Ukrainians“, „Svoboda“, No. 20, 28 May – 4 June). I support this demand and am very grateful to the authors for they publicly raised this question. However, this question must be addressed not only to the Ministry of Justice but also, maybe in the first turn, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The absence of an adequate office for the informational representation of the Council of Europe in Ukraine – this is just shame upon Ukraine!

Deported peoples

Meeting in Kharkov

Vasyl Ovsienko and Zorian Popadiuk came to Kharkov for several days to meet their old friend Mykhaylo Kheyfets, with whom they together did the term in Mordova concentration camps 28 years ago. All of them are former dissidents, who got in the Soviet times lengthy terms for their activities.

Mykhaylo Kheyfets is now a citizen of Israel. He, a historian, philosopher and journalist, came to Kharkov on the invitation of the Sohnut for the round of lectures about his country. The lectures had to be held in several towns of East Ukraine.

In order to meet his friend Zorian Popadiuk came from the distant Lviv oblast, Vasyl Ovsienko – from Kyiv, and the third former political prisoner, who did the term with Kheyfets, Igor Kravtsov, lives in Kharkov.

The meeting of Mykhaylo Kheyfets with representatives of Kharkov cultural community was organized with the assistance of the Kharkov Group for human rights protection in the culture center of the Kyivskiy district, more known to Kharkovites as the memorial center of well-known Kharkov poet Boris Chichibabin. The three friends of Kheyfets were also given the floor at the meeting.

Mykhaylo Kheyfets told that he got his term, 4 years of incarceration and 2 years of exile, for a copy of a preface to the 5-volume collection of Iosif Brodskiy’s works. It happened in 1972 in Leningrad. At that time Mykhaylo Kheyfets did not regard himself as a dissident and was not going to fight against the regime. He was an honest and brave historian and specialist in literary studies. It appeared sufficient for the power and the KGB to regard him as their bitter enemy. And they were not mistaken: an honest, brave and very talented historian could not help being their enemy. In spite of the unexpected arrest Kheyfets understood at once the roots of his conflict with the power and did not agree to any compromises with the KGB. On the contrary, being a man of letters, he promised the KGB-men that he would revenge upon them by pen: he would write a book for every year of his captivity. M. Kheyfets kept his promise: he wrote five books, one for every year of incarceration, and one book for two years of exile. Our guests Vasyl Ovsienko, Zorian Popadiuk and Igor Kravtsov were heroes of one of these books – „Ukrainski siluety“.

It is strange, but Kheyfets as nobody else could understand goals and essence of the Ukrainian national movement. Being a Leningrad Jew, he did not believe in the common Soviet image, which was indoctrinated by propaganda during decades, that any Ukrainian, who wishes his country to be independent, is a Bandera follower, accomplice of fascists and anti-Semite.

Maybe, Kheyfets was the first, who compiled the historical and psychological portrait of the Ukrainian national movement. And this portrait appeared to be very attractive. This portrait consists of separate features, and we see manly, wonderful and kind Zorian Popadiuk called by the author „a dissident without fear and reproach“, brave, but sensitive to any lie Vasyl Ovsienko, born leader Viacheslav Chornovil and the great Ukrainian poet Vasyl Stus murdered by the Soviet power, whose verses the author managed to pass beyond the prison walls.

Unfortunately, only several scores of Kharkovites were present at this of Kheyfets with his friends. Next day, during the meeting dedicated to the second announcement of Ukrainian independence in 1941, which meeting was held in Molodezhny park, only few people gathered. Ovsienko and Popadiuk took the floor at this meeting.

We are sure that Ukraine will recognize herself and learn her history only when „Ukrainski siluety“ will become a part of curricula in Ukrainian schools. The youth must know national heroes and antiheroes of the Soviet times. Maybe then we will stop to repeat the myths about abominable nationalists, and will learn the truth about the people, who shaped our history and about whom Mykhaylo Kheyfets told as early as in the distant 80s.

"Ukrainskiy Visnyk" from underground

These August days of 1987 the first issue of the magazine „Ukrainskiy Visnyk“ („The Ukrainian Herald“) was the light in Lviv. This was the first uncensored edition in the republic, where „uskorenie“, „glasnost“(„acceleration“, „publicity“) and other new-fashioned perestroyka tricks were absent. And if in Moscow newspapers „Izvestiya“ and „Pravda“ („News“ and „Truth“) already appeared the fragments of news and truth, in the Ukrainian press the life was as before, as in Brezhnev’s times.

„Ukrainskiy Visnyk“ was for the history of the Ukrainian press as important and significant event as Lenin’s „Pravda“ for several generations of bolsheviks. The authorities did not permit the actually free press yet, but they were already unable to prohibit it.

The samizdatmagazine published in August 1987 was not printed on glossy paper. These 360 pages were type-written on different type-writers. The paper was different: from flimsy to Bristol board. It was typed through violet and black carbon paper, with different spaces. It was a typical samizdat. Coining of the term „samizdat“ is ascribed to a Russian dissident Vladimir Bukovskiy: „ Sam(by myself) izdat(edit), I myself censor it, distribute it, and do the term for it“.

People, who made samizdat, unlike modern editors, understood the genuine value of free word. There were no fines, no tax and prosecutor’s checks then. One had to pay with his liberty for honesty and critical views.

Thank God, in 1987 in Ukraine the authorities did not send to prison for mere words. After „Visnyk“ was published, the Lviv and Kyiv communist press were overfilled with indignant letters from „common readers“, who demanded to throw away from he country with depriving of citizenship such renegades as Viacheslav Chornovil, Mykhaylo Goryn and other authors of the magazine. The political system that ground the lives of Oleksa Tykhiy, Yuri Litvin, Valeriy Marchenko, Vasyl Stus and Ivan Svitlychny was just imitating threats.


The flyleaf of „Ukrainskiy Visnyk“ informed the reader that it was a literary and political magazine. The first issue of the „restored“ edition published in August 1987 was dedicated to the memory of Vasyl Stus. On the cover of the magazine the list of editors was printed: Ivan Gel, Mykhaylo Goryn, Pavlo Skochok, Viacheslav Chornovil (editor-in-chief). There were only first-rate contributions. Osadchiy, for example, published his essay about Ostap Vishnia, Gel – memories about V. Stus, his camp friend. „Lyrical digression from the poem „Mazepa““ by Volodymir Sosiura was published, which had not been printed before. Besides, many creative works of other authors were published, such as Evhen Sverstiuk, Atena Pashko, Oles Gonchar, Paruyr Ayrikian, Bogdan Goryn, Yuri Badzio, Yaroslav Lesiv, Ivan Sokulskiy, Mykola Rudenko, Stepan Sapeliak, Yaroslav Dashkevich.

According to the underground traditions, the run of the magazine was not indicated, but it hardly exceeded fifty copies. Very often the run was limited by the number of copies, which the typewriter could produce for one time. Nevertheless, the set of people, who new about such magazines was considerable owing to Western radio stations and publications abroad. The publishing house „Smoloskyp“ owned by Iosif Zinkevich published especially many such editions.

The program of „Ukrainskiy Visnyk“ compiled in December 1969 stated that the magazine was neither anti-Soviet not anticommunist edition, so they „did not intend to print the documents, which negate the democratically elected Soviets or anticommunist documents, that is such which do not accept the communist ideology as such“. The editors did not regard the criticism of individual persons and organs as anti-Soviet activities, but as a right and honorable duty of every citizen guaranteed by the Constitution and socialist democracy.

The first five issues of the magazine were published in 1970-71 by efforts of Viacheslav Chornovil. In January 1972 the all-Ukrainian purges initiated by the KGB tore the thread of the 60s. It seemed forever.


Chornovil managed to create such a successful magazine that there were at least three attempts to resume its edition.

The sixth issue of „Ukrainskiy Visnyk“ was published in 1972 by efforts of two friends Mykhaylo Kosiv and Yaroslav Kendzior (now they are elected to the Supreme Rada for the third term). They, with the advice of Slavko Pashko’s wife, Atena, tried to pull the leg of the crime investigators. The idea was trivial: Chornovil was indicated as editor, but staying in the preliminary prison he could not be responsible for the magazine that continued to be issued.

Kosiv wrote the preface about the latest repressions in Ukraine; all technical part of the work – printing, distributing and passing abroad – was made by Kendzior. They planned to issue the magazine in future too, but Chornovil passed a note for his wife from the prison. The note read: „Knitted socks are not needed any more, I have enough“. This meant that the investigation would son trace the publishers, and there inevitably would be new repressions.

A year later the Moscow underground „The Chronicle of Current Events“ fixed still another attempt to continue the edition of Chornovil’s „Visnyk“. „In 1973-75 the Ukrainian samizdat was replenished with the 7 th-9 thissues of „Ukrainskiy Visnyk“. These issues substantially differ from the previous ones. Its compilers did not act anonymously, but used a penname Maksim Sagaydak. The issues are not just compilations of informational messages and samizdat documents, they contain topical materials, for example, Maksim’s Sagaydak’s verses dated by December 1972-Ocotber 1973, his article about secret diplomacy and anonymous article „Ethnocide of Ukrainians in the USSR“. The latter article is a well-founded statistical investigation on physical extermination of the Ukrainian people from 1918 to 1950 and on the russification, which lasts up to now, on the suppression of the national self-consciousness and the destruction of the Ukrainian culture“.

Only several years later, at the Kyiv trial of 1980, it became known that under the penname „Maksim’s Sagaydak“ medical doctor from the Lviv oblast Stepan Khmara and his friends, Kyivan journalists Oles and Vitaliy Shevchenko (they were not relatives, but namesakes), published their creations. The editors, who issued Nos. 1-6 and Nos. 7-9, did not work jointly, they even hardly knew each other.

And, at last, the third attempt to publish „Ukrainskiy Visnyk“ (Nos. 10 and 11) was made by the members of an underground organization „Ukrainian national front“. Mykola Kraynik, one of the heads of this organization, was condemned for samizdat in August 1980.


After the August putsch of 1991 was suppressed, former KGB officers began to come to Viacheslav Chornovil, the head of Lviv oblast council, offering their services: they assured that the new power would need reliable and capable to keep secrets people. Among the gifts there were several typewritten sheets. So, we accidentally learned the contents of several unique documents of the Fifth directorate of the KGB, which, as it is known, was fighting „Ukrainian bourgeois nationalists“, „uniats“, „zionists“ and other anti-Soviet elements.

It appeared that in 1976 a case having the code name „Blok“ was developed by the Lviv oblast KGB directorate of the Council of Ministers of the UkrSSR against the editorial board of „Visnyk“ and the people, who distributed samizdat. It becomes obvious from the note that the main idea was to destroy the circle of editors, distributors and readers of the magazine edited by Chornovil.

„Foreign nationalistic centers popularize the personages of the case „Block“ in radio features and the press, they tried to create the illusion of the existence of the „opposition“ to the Soviet regime and the organized nationalistic underground. Separate personages maintain contacts with the so-called „Group on the fulfillment of Helsinki agreements in the USSR“. In 1975-76 32 emissaries of the Organization of Ukrainian nationalists visited Lviv. The KGB fixed the contacts of these persons with some personages of the case „Block“, some of whom continue to conduct their hostile activities, although in deep secret“.

The Lviv KGB, basing on the special decision of the collegium of the KGB of the UkrSSR of 24 July 1996, realized a number of measures „directed at splitting of the nationalist groups“. In particular, a campaign of compromising „Boris“ – Mykhaylo Goryn, „Semen“ – Bogdan Goryn and „Sviazistka“ – Liubomira Popadiuk (mother of Zorian Popadiuk) was started. The KGB also „initiated operative contacts“ with „Lector“ (Sviatoslav Maksimchuk, an actor of the Zankovetskaya theater), „Krot“ (Mykhaylo Kosiv), „Sportsman“ (Yaroslav Kendzior) and „Giena“ (Chornovil’s wife). A „Khameleon“, who „had numerous contacts among so-called „Moscow democrats“ was made an agent. He presented important information“.

The special term „operative contact“ means tailing, wiretapping, perlustration of letters, etc. The KGB knew much, but not all. Kendzior has the nickname „Sportsman“ not in vain – he passed the magazine with the Lviv sportsmen, who were going abroad to some competition.

Now some necessary words about politics. During the election campaign-2002 the activists of the project „National Rukh of Ukraine for unity“ and Andrey Chornovil (Viachesav’s elder son), who, alas, joined them, blackmailed Taniuk, Kosiv and Kendzior, friends of the editor of „Ukrainskiy Visnyk“, with some compromising materials. The hysterics concerning the „KGB agents“ finished without any result. It is strange that in the heat of the fight the unmaskers did not declare Chornovil as a stool-pigeon. In the secret KGB documents Chornovil had the nickname „Restless“.


A year after the first publication of „Ukrainskiy Visnyk“ a real samizdat boom began in the republic. Independent magazines, newspapers and bulletins were distributed in dissident boiler-houses, intelligentsia salons and miner’s barracks. In Kyiv „Golos Vidrodjennia“ was published, in Lviv – „Postup“, in Kherson – „Plug“, in Kharkov – „Slobidska Ukraina“, in Nikolayev – „Chornomoriya“…

“Prava Ludiny” (human rights) monthly bulletin, 2002, #08