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

How the international Convention against torture is obeyed in the Odessa oblast

Alla Korystovskaya, the deputy head of the Ukrainian Party of human rights protection, the head of the human rights protection fund „Rutenia“, Odessa; Aleksandr Orlov, a member of the Ukrainian Party of human rights protection, Krakow

„I ask to protect me from militia. I am not guilty… The militiamen of the Zatoka and Belgorod-Dnestrovski precincts forced me to confess: they beat me, hanged me by my handcuffed wrists on a pipe until I failed, threatened to kill me“. This is a quotation from the complaint sent to the Belgorod-Dnestrovski town organization of the Human Rights Protection Party by 15-year-old Ruslan Kulik, a dweller of the village of Shabo, the Odessa oblast.

On 14 August 2002, in the recreation zone of the settlement Zatoka, the dead body of Leshek Bendezh, a young Polish citizen, who disappeared on 5 August 2002, was found in the sewer system.

The boys detained on the day, when the body was found, told the following story. For many years the attractions in Zatoka have been controlled by Odessa administrator Aleksandr Abramovich and Czechs. The attraction „Solnyshko“ with children swing is situated in one hundred meters from the basic complex, rather far from the cafe, from where Leshek disappeared. Ruslan Kulik and several other minors worked at the attraction for 10 UAH (!!!) per week. They worked from morning to 1 a.m. They had to tidy up the territory. The administration even gave them the place for the night rest… in the toilet.

On 5 August 2002 Leshek Bendezh and his friend were sitting in the cafe. Leshek left the cafe „for a moment“ and disappeared forever…

The application about the disappearance of the Polish citizen was handed to the settlement militia by his friend, Ryszard Wiatr, in the evening of 5 August.

The body of Bendezh was found by the putrid smell, when he began to rot.

The boys, who worked at the attractions, were detained, taken to the settlement militia precinct and brutally beaten. The law-enforcers said to Kulik: „You know, who murdered the Pole, but you do not want to confess“. The boy could not endure the torture and agreed with everything. He and other boys got the status of witnesses and were transported to the Belgorod-Dnestrovski town precinct. The people, who were present there, heard the entreaties of Ruslan’s mother: „Sonny, they will maim you, tell them all they want, tell them that you are the murderer!“

Here is the story of one of the boys. „I was beaten on my head by three civilly clothed militiamen. Then I was handcuffed and hanged on the metal pipe. I hanged for several minutes that seemed endless; it was very painful and I asked district militiaman Vasiliy Vovchenko to release me promising that I should tell everything. They dictated me my evidence. I knew that this evidence was false. For example, I wrote that on the day of the murder (and I even did not know the date) one my acquaintance was near the cafe „Poseydon“, while I knew that this day he was in Odessa. Then I wrote something about Vova from Illychevsk, a former militiaman.

I was beaten by the militiamen from Belgorod-Dnestrovski, since they were sure that I knew where the weapon was, while I had no slightest idea of this. One of them told that somebody shot at their car and even proposed to show me the traces. But another militiaman said that they had to ask the permission from colonel Yankov and began to beat me again. The room was little and I struck against the furniture. When I was beaten in the building of the Belgorod-Dnestrovski precinct, I heard the cries of other boys. They were crying so awfully that I thought that my torturers were not the cruelest, although they beat me very painfully. Later I saw Vova from Illychevsk, his hands were black and blue. Vitaliy Kukhtia told that they handcuffed him through the bars and hanged the weight on his hands. Kukhtia was interrogated by officer Spotykaylo, who was especially cruel. Blood flew from under his nails. We (two guys from Odessa, one from Illychevsk and one from Shabo) were lined before the cops and each of them had to choose, whom he wanted to interrogate. I was chosen by a sergeant. Other boys, Vasya and Ali Shuknorov from Odessa, got to officer Solomonov from the Belgorod-Dnestrovski precinct and were brutally beaten by him. My sergeant spoke normally, but later an officer from Odessa came, who began to beat me. He asked: “Did you see the Pole?“ I answered no. He hit me on the head. After every my „no“ I was hit on the head or in the face. It was painful and I said that I would sign everything, but he retorted: „You will write everything with your own hand“. I wrote that I nearly saw myself, how somebody murdered the Polish guy. All this was a fib…

The cops transported me to the place of the crime. I know this area well, so they wanted to make a witness out of me. I was transported there with Ali. I asked him: „Do you know something?“ „Nothing, I even do not know what they want from me“, he answered. The militiamen said to me that other boys told everything, and that I had to do the same. So I wrote what they dictated to me. I gave evidence against my acquaintances and neighbors, against my schoolmates, against the people, whom I haven’t seen for a long time. Ali was made to sign the protocol that he pissed in a public place, and was left in the cooler for the night.

Every night the cops were drinking vodka in the precinct. We were very hungry. I asked sergeant Yuri (he was the only one, who did not beat me) to buy me some cookies, and he bought.

The militiamen did not return our things, so I lost my purse with the earned 35 UAH and the invitation card.

When my mother was taking me from the precinct, they told her that it was me, who killed the Pole. Mother asked me to confess, but I had nothing to confess about. At the confrontations I told the truth, but they did not beat me, since I came here with my mother“.

That is what we heard about this case.

Now the boy is treated by a psychologist. He comes back to the norm with great difficulties. Soon he must be recruited to the Ukrainian army, and it seems doubtful that he would be acknowledged as able-bodied for the combatant service.

Kuzma Legun, the 80-year-old manager of the attraction complex, was also taken to the Belgorod-Dnestrovski precinct. The old man felt unwell, but all the same he was transported to the town. In the town the law-enforcers understood that the man could die in their car or in the precinct and threw Legun from the car in 20 kilometers from his home. Of course, they did not care how the feeble old man would get home.

The law-enforcers showed Kulik the things he had never seen before, such as the lighter, which allegedly belonged to the Polish boy. Kulik vaguely understood what he was saying, so he confirmed that the things really belonged to the Pole.

The Human Rights Protection Party sent the telegram to the Ministry of Interior of Ukraine with the appeal to protect the minors, who suffered from the sadism of the militiamen. The officers of the internal service of the Odessa oblast militia directorate checked the described facts. How do you think, was anybody punished? Of course, no! One of the militiamen said to Kulik’s mother: „You turned to human rights protectors? You want to go to the court? Take care, you may lose your son!“

According to our information, the situation in the Baltskiy, Frunzenskiy, Nikolayev, Kominternovskiy and Ovidiopol districts of the Odessa oblast is not better.

So, who would investigate the actions of law-enforcers, the actions that are classified as torture by the new Criminal Code of Ukraine?

21 October 2002

The chronicle of the events around the beatings in the Chortkiv militia precinct

On 16 October the permanent deputy commission of the oblast council in charge of the questions of legality and legal policy held the sitting. The commission considered my request to Major-General V. Maksimov, the head of the militia directorate of the Ternopil oblast, concerning the cases of beating people by the officers of the Chortkiv district precinct in 2002. To be more exact, the request concerned the cases of: M. Burtnik, who, after being beaten by militiamen on 7 June 2002, was taken to the surgeon ward of the Chortkiv district central hospital with the complicated polytrauma; Ya. Skrynik, 44-year-old, similar case on 18 June 2002; I. Makar, who was brutally beaten by militiamen before the eyes of his wife and children on 12 July 2002; O. Podolchuk, to whom, as the letter of his father reads, the illegal methods of „physical influence“ were applied during the detention and investigation, now Podolchuk is condemned. It is interesting, but I was not invited to the sitting of the commission and appeared at the sitting accidentally: I visited the oblast council on other affairs. V. Maksimov, who, by the way, is the head of the mentioned commission, quoted the results of the „service investigations“ conducted by the oblast militia directorate and prosecutor’s office. In all cases the investigation issued the following resolution (verbatim): „After the consideration of the existing materials, explanations of militiamen and the complaints of the above-mentioned citizens the investigation could not uncover any violations of the operating laws by the officers of the Chortkiv district militia directorate“. The conclusions of the service investigation were reported to the commission. In my opinion, these materials purposely distort the real facts. The intention is obvious to make the other side responsible for the conflict. For instance, the information on the case of Yu. Skrynik is overflowed with the comments on immorality and dissoluteness of this man. At the same time, the fact that Skrynik was beaten in the precinct is not refuted in any way. It is obvious that the investigators did not even meet with the victim, who did not deny the fact of beating, although did not turn to the prosecutor’s office.

In the case of O. Osadchuk the „proof of the legality“ was the list of the accusation items, according to which he was condemned (by the way, the repeated trial will be conducted), but there were no information whether any methods of physical pressure were applied to him.

The conclusion on the case of M. Burtnik is grounded on his own statement, in which he asserts that he got the traumas as a result of falling downstairs. Since I was present when M. Butnik was conveyed to the hospital, I may testify that this is a lie. The victim was received by two doctors having 20-year experience of practical work. Both of them were sure that it was impossible to get such traumas as a consequence of „falling downstairs“ – the man was beaten within an inch of his life. The fuss made by the militia at this night in the hospital was also rather transparent, and some of the militiamen honestly admitted: „our boys were too assiduous today“. That is typical that in any of these cases there are no references to medical case history. I want to quote a record from the case history of victim Ya. Skrynik made by doctor in charge Ya. Ratushniak: „the patient insists that he was beaten in the district militia precinct“. Further the description of the patient’s state is following: „The posture is forced, sitting… breathing is superficial, rapid, interrupted. Dried blood on the lips. Hemorrhage in the sclera of the right eye. Numerous injuries of the face. The external tissues of the thorax are painful with numerous haematomas and abrasions, the skin injury is present on the left side in the form of the boot sole. Harsh crepitation in the lungs… The abdomen is painful during palpation…“, etc. The similar state was established by the anesthetist, surgeon and traumatologist.

The investigation of the case of beating M. Makar is also based in this statement that he „has no complaints against the militiamen“. It is interesting that M. Makar does not deny that earlier he sent the complaint concerning the beating to ombudsperson Nina Karpacheva. I am sure that the fact that after some time the victims begin to deny the beating must not „amnesty“ the law-enforcers, who apply the physical violence to the people, whose rights they must protect. Moreover, if a person, who was beaten and humiliated, submits the impunity of his offenders, it means that he underwent not only the physical violence, but also the moral one.

And the question why the top militia officers are not interested in stopping crime in their agency is the topic for another, not less disturbing discussion. After all, the head of the oblast directorate satisfied, although only orally, the information request of the local correspondents of the bulletin „Prava ludyny“ concerning the cases, where law-enforcers where punished for the cruel treatment of the detained. V. Molsimov declared that there were no such cases during the last three years, although two officers were dismissed from the oblast militia for driving car being drunk.

However, if all the „service investigations“ are conducted as described above, there are serious reasons to have some doubts as to this idyll.

Freedom of expression

The Sevastopol USS suspended the work of the Internet provider „Alfa-Telecom“

On 20 August at 19:00 the work of the Internet providing company „Alfa-Telecom“ was suspended by the order of A. Lasitsa, a detective of the special squad for fighting corruption and organized crime functioning at the USS Directorate of Sevastopol. The equipment was switched off, the rooms of the company were sealed. The USS officer confiscated the accounting and other documents of „Alfa-Telecom“, Ltd., as well as 17 system blocks including the mail server. The law-enforcer justified his actions with the Resolution on the arrest and seizure of the equipment, goods and documents of 20 August 2002 and item 4 Article 12 of the Ukrainian Law „On organizational and legal foundations of fighting the organized crime“. The confiscation of the equipment was based on the materials of case No. 53 on obtaining great income with violating the license rules. The act on the seizure and arrest was compiled.

At 14:00 on 20 August 2002 the State Inspection of telecommunications of the Autonomous Republic of the Crimea and the city of Sevastopol conducted the check of the equipment belonging to the Internet providing company „Alfa-Telecom“. Senior inspector V. Viaziantsev compiled the report about the inspection and the Protocol on violating the rules of the production, purchase, installation, building and exploitation of radio electronic means and the use of radio frequencies. The Protocol reads that the inspection discovered the radio transmitting equipment without the permissions for its building and exploitation given by the State committee in charge of frequencies. Thus, „Alfa-Telecom“ violated Article 16 of the Law „On radio frequency resources of Ukraine“ and item 1 Article 146 of the Administrative Code of Ukraine.

The company „Alfa-Telecom“, Ltd. provided the services of radio Ethernet. The administration of the company turned to the State Committee of communications of Ukraine to obtain the needed license and paid the full price of this license, but the question was not solved for a long time. The officials of the Committee more than once confirmed orally that the license would be issued in the nearest future. To accelerate the process of getting the license „Alfa-Telecom“ turned to the Supreme Rada and the Cabinet of Ministers. Prime Minister of Ukraine Anatoliy Kinakh directed the letter to the State Committee of communications, in which he appealed to expedite the process of issuing the license to „Alfa-Telecom“, Ltd.

On 21 August 2002 „Alfa-Telecom“ handed the complaint to the General Prosecutor’s office of Ukraine, the prosecutor’s office of Sevastopol and the USS. The complaint concerned the illegal actions of the officers of the special department for fighting the corruption and organized crime at the USS Directorate of Sevastopol.

On 11 September 2002 the response was received from V. Ratsiuk, the head of the Main Directorate for fighting the corruption and organized crime at the USS. In his letter V. Ratsiuk informed that the arrest of the equipment of „Alfa-Telecom“ was imposed for the term of 10 days in the connection with the revealed violations. The investigation department of the Sevastopol USS Directorate and the city prosecutor’s office organized the check of the facts of violating the procedure of conducting business activities and legalizing money by „Alfa-Telecom“ and, as a result, started the criminal case for investigating the crimes described by Articles 202 part 1 and 209 part 1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. The case was started on 10 August 2002.

On 20 September 2002 the company received the letter from S. Gura, the senior deputy of the city prosecutor, who wrote that the equipment that was seized contained the information concerning the financial activities of the company. On 28 August all confiscated documents and equipment were passed from the special squad to the investigation department of the USS.

As a result of the actions of the USS more than 4.5 thousand clients of the Internet provider „Alfa-Telecom“ have no connection with the Internet since 20 August, they lost the access to the mail server and web-hosting. The USS officers got the codes and passwords of the cards for the anonymous access to the network, and now they may control the Internet traffic of the users and their electronic messages.

„Alfa-Telecom“, Ltd. is one of the largest Internet providers in the Crimea. At the expense of the credit given by the European bank of reconstruction and development the company purchased the equipment for transmitting the data through the satellite communication system. For the access to the Internet they used the external channels of their business partners in Norway. The providers planned to widen their activities throughout the Crimea.

Other Internet companies, who provide the services of radio-Internet without the license of the State committee in charge of frequencies, continue to work in Sevastopol.

Up to now the confiscated equipment has not been returned to „Alfa-Telecom“, and the company is on the brink of bankruptcy.


In the connection with the above-described events the Sevastopol human rights protecting group turned with the appeal to the General Prosecutor’s office of Ukraine, the prosecutor’s office of Sevastopol, the USS and the ombudsperson.

To the General Prosecutor’s office of Ukraine

To the prosecutor’s office of Sevastopol

To the USS

To the ombudsperson

10 October 2002

On 20 August the USS Directorate of Sevastopol suspended the work of the Internet providing company „Alfa-Telecom“, Ltd. The computer equipment was switched off and arrested. As a result of the actions of the USS more than 4.5 thousand clients of the Internet provider „Alfa-Telecom“ since 19:00 of 20 August cannot obtain the paid-up Internet services, they lost the access to the mail server. The USS officers got the access to the codes and passwords of the cards for the anonymous connection to the network, to the Internet traffic of the users and their electronic messages.

The financial damage was inflicted to the scores of Sevastopol enterprises that used the Internet in their business activities; thousands of private persons – clients of the company „Alfa-Telecom“ could not receive and sent their messages, their right for privacy of correspondence was violated.

We think that the meddling in the work of „Alfa-Telecom“ was inadequate: the damage inflicted to the interests of physical and juridical persons, to their rights and freedoms are noticeably greater than the abuses discovered during the check of the company.

We believe that the behavior of the USS violate Article 31 of the Constitution of Ukraine (privacy of correspondence), since the law-enforcers acted without court decision and did not apply any other methods preventing the massive and brutal violation of human rights.

Thus, in our opinion, the principles of non-interference in the private life stipulated by Article 30 of the Ukrainian Constitution and Article 8 of the Convention for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms were abused. The actions of the USS violate the privacy of correspondence, telephone talks, telegraph and other correspondence that are passed by means of communication facilities or through computers. These actions form the corpus delicti envisaged by Article 163 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.

R. Romanov, the executive manager of the Sevastopol human rights protecting group

The Kharkov Group for human rights protection supports their colleagues from Sevastopol and appeals to other human rights protecting organizations to spread the similar letters.

The Poltava officials allege that the political censorship in the oblast is invented by opposition journalists

The free mass media helped many great states to become great. Yet, the Ukrainian, and, in particular, Poltava authorities do their best to suppress and even to obliterate completely the free press. They do not disdain any methods to protect their own corporative interests.

This question was discussed at the conference „Society, mass media, power: the freedom of speech and censorship in the Poltava oblast“. The conference was held in the framework of the preparation to the parliamentary hearings devoted to the problems of the freedom of speech, which will be conducted in the beginning of December in the Supreme Rada. The conference was initiated by the Poltava oblast media club. This public organization of journalists realizes the pre-court and court defense of journalists and mass media, carries out the permanent monitoring of the freedom of speech in the oblast and plans to publish the book „White book of Poltava journalism“ next year. About fifty journalists, political figures, representatives of power structures and „the third sector“ took part in the conference.

The results of sociological research showed that the Poltava oblast occupies the 22 ndplace among 25 oblasts of Ukraine by the level of the freedom of speech; it got only 2.1 balls out of possible 5.

The participants of the conference gave a great number of blatant facts connected with the violation of the citizens’ right for objective information, with impeding journalists in the access to the information sources and with harsh treatment of those journalists and mass media, who fulfil their professional duties honestly. The methods used by the authorities are time-proved: all printing shops refused to print the newspapers „Informbulleten“, „Myrgorodska pravda“, „Novy den“, „Pryvatna sprava“, „PoltavaRukhinform“ there were attempts to dismount the transmission antenna of the TV and radio company „UTA“ the activities of the loyal mass media are encouraged and the activities of those mass media that dare to criticize the power are hindered; the journalists of the opposition mass media are not admitted to the sessions of local councils, their informational requests are ignored; the prosecutor’s organs do not react to the complaints about impeding the professional activities of journalists; the courts satisfy the claims about enormous compensations; producers are privately prohibited to place their advertisements in the disobedient newspapers and salesmen are prohibited to spread such newspapers, etc.

When a round table on the problems of the freedom of speech was held in Kharkov, E. Kushnarev, the head of the oblast state administration, took part in this action. Yet, the top authorities of Poltava and the Poltava oblast, such as Tomin, Shemet, Grishko and Mykhayliuk, ignored the conference conducted in their town, although the heads of the oblast organizations of the political parties evaluated the conference as very important event in the life of the oblast. Ivan Ulitko, the head of the directorate of the internal policy of the oblast administration, and Yuri Dmitrenko, the head of the oblast directorate of the press and information, did their best to repudiate the obvious facts of the political censorship in the Poltava oblast, exciting the righteous indignation of the participants of the conference.

The speech of Yu. Dmitrenko became the apotheosis of absurd and the visual demonstration of the real image of the power. He probably forgot the topic of the conference and began, for some reason, to tell how many times the directorate of the press and information was reformed during the years of independence. He also read out the lengthy list of the newspapers, to which his agency sent the recommendations to remove the violations of the election laws. Then O. Rusin, the first secretary of the Poltava town committee of the socialist party, asked whether they sent such recommendations to the pro-power newspapers „Zoria Poltavshchiny“, „Poltavski visnyk“ and „Vechirnia Poltava“, who already for half a year deceive their readers calling MP A. Kukoba the town mayor. Yu. Dmitrenko answered the question in the manner of our President: „Oh, damn, we overlooked them!“

The heated discussion that lasted for four hours finished with the approval of the resolution that, in particular, recommends to restore in the oblast the permanent deputy commission in charge of mass media, which E. Tomin „forgot“ to create when became the governor, to conduct the deputy hearings on the state of the freedom of speech in the oblast and to organize the public reporting of the heads of the most influential state and communal mass media that are maintained at the expense of tax payers: the newspapers „Zoria Poltavshchiny“, „Poltavski visnyk“ and the TV and radio company „Ltava“. The resolution also recommends to introduce into the composition of the editorial boards of the communal mass media the representatives of the opposition parties, who got not less than 68% of votes at the last election in the oblast, and to institute the quotes for representing the local branches of the Parliamentary parties in the state and communal mass media.

The public committee for protecting the freedom of the press was created at the Poltava oblast media club. The members of the committee are journalists and representatives of the oblast and town branches of the parliamentary parties and public organizations.

Ludmila Kucherenko,

The president of the Poltava oblast media club

The authorities manipulate with our children

On 28 September 2002 President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma visited the ancient town of Chernigiv to participate in the celebrations devoted to the 200 thanniversary of the Chernigiv province.

The education directorate ordered to the town schools to send 10-12-year-old children (150 from each school) for forming the „alive corridor“ for greeting the President. The „alive corridor“ had to be organized in the downtown cordoned off by law-enforcers.

The groups of pupils had to arrive accompanied by their schoolmasters. The schoolmasters, in their turn, had to have their passports and the lists of children, which were used as a pass to the „prohibited area“.

Every third pupil had to bring a small Ukrainian flag. These flags had to be provided by the schools. It is obvious that the schools could purchase the flags only from the so-called „school funds“, which are formed nowadays by parents (they collect these money for repair, guard and other primary needs of the school and children).

The officials ordered to bring the children at 9 a.m., although the exact time of the arrival of the President was unknown. All this was happening during the school hours.

The „alive corridor“ had to take place independently of the weather conditions, which, at this season, are not especially auspicious for keeping children outdoors for a long time. When the parents learned about this, they were very worried. The authorities promised that if the weather was too bad, they would not bring the children out.

Unfortunately, we learned about this story only on 27 September, since, according to our sources, the orders were given only orally.

We present our apologies that we spread this information too late. Yet, in our opinion, such problems exist not only in our region and must be discussed.

We are disturbed by the fact that the rights of children are violated in such cases, in particular, the right for education (since at this time the children had to be in school) and the right for rest (if they learned in the second session). The situation is created that endangers the health (or even the life) of the children, especially if to take into account the chosen age. The authorities also did not ask advice from the parents. So, it is a mere manipulation with the children!

We love our country and our people, but we do not want the state authorities to satisfy their ambitions in such a manner.

The similar use of children occurs, maybe, in other towns too. In Chernigiv it happens very frequently. For instance, on some weekend the oblast administration decided to organize „The Day of public organizations“. It appeared that each school had to send 30 pupils each to the expositions, where the NGOs presented their work!

It seems that in such way our „very clever“ bureaucrats try to influence the development of the civil society.

We turn to our colleagues for the advice concerning our actions for protecting children. How do you think, what else children rights were abused in the described situations?

Henceforth we will try to control such situations. We will ask the parents, children and teachers to share their impressions with us, and we will pass this information to you. We are ready to act, but we ask you: „What to do?“

Yours faithfully, the Coordinating council of the public organization „The youth alternative“ (Chernigiv)

PL commentary:Our colleagues ask, what children rights were abused by the actions of the Chernigiv authorities.

If to speak about concrete rights, the authorities violated the rights for the freedom of expression and the freedom of peaceful gatherings. Yet, there was not only the violation of some concrete rights, situation is much worse. This is an insult to honor and dignity and the abuse of the rights of the children and parents. In general, this is the total pressure on an individual, brutal violation of all moral criteria and common human norms, which was possible only in the times of the Soviet totalitarianism. This is a sign that we have not leave our past yet and, at any time, obeying an order of some bureaucrat and having no wish to assert out individuality, we are ready to agree with the authorities, who force us and our children to take part in the meetings supporting the existing power having negligible rating among the population or to endorse the referendum that would introduce the changes openly limiting our freedoms again. Why we are not afraid that our children will learn these lessons of servility and will lose their individuality like their parents did? Then what may we wait from the future? Welfare? But welfare and freedom are tightly linked with each other. Nothing will help us to reach the welfare without reaching freedom, except Ukraine would have the oil in the quantities comparable with those in the Saudi Arabia.

However, even this hypothetical wealth of our state will not help us, the common people, since the Ukrainian power will never share with us its reaches. We can help ourselves only by our own efforts. We may not permit to transform our children into slaves. Otherwise the Ukraine will not exist as a state, irrespective of how this geographic territory will be called. The indignation of some parents and teachers, as well as the article of our correspondent are the good signs. I hope that by and by more and more people will say „I“. „I want“ or „I do not want“ is not egoism, this is the necessary condition of our survival as a nation.

Inna Sukhorukova

Legislative regulation of the freedom of gatherings in the system of the Ukrainian legal sources: a collision, a misunderstanding or a joke?

The time that passed since the independence of Ukraine was declared (11 years) and since the new Constitution was adopted allows to put the question about the effectiveness of the system Article 39 of the Constitution of Ukraine of 1996 reads: "Citizens have the right to gather peacefully and without weapons and to conduct meetings, rallies, marches and demonstrations, about which the executive organs or organs of local self-rule must be informed beforehand. This right may be restricted only by court and only in the interests of national security and public order: for preventing clashes or crimes, for protecting health of population or for protecting rights and freedoms of other people".

Answering the request of the Ministry of Interior of Ukraine concerning the official interpretation of the provisions of part 1 Article 39 of the Constitution of Ukraine, the Constitutional Court of Ukraine issued Resolution No. 4-рп/2001 of 19 April 2001, which reads:

"The citizens’ right to gather peacefully and without weapons and to conduct meetings, rallies, marches and demonstrations stipulated by Article 39 of the Constitution of Ukraine is their inalienable and inviolable right guaranteed by the Basic Law of Ukraine".

"Basing on the provisions of item 1 part 1 Article 92 of the Constitution of Ukraine stating that citizens’ and human rights and freedoms, as well as the guarantees of these rights and freedoms may be determined by laws onlyand that only a court, according to the law, may restrict the realization of citizens’ right for mass gatherings (part 2 Article 39), the Constitutional Court of Ukraine drew the conclusion that determination of the terms of informing the organs of the executive power or local self-rule with the account taken of the peculiarities of peaceful gatherings, their form, mass character, place and time of holding is a subject of legislative regulation" (Highlighted by the author. – Editor’s note).

"...The organizers of such peaceful gatherings must inform the mentioned organs about these actions beforehand in the established term. This term must not restrict the citizens’ right stipulated by Article 39 of the Ukrainian Constitution, but must guarantee this right and, at the same time, enable the organs of executive power or local self-rule to take the needed measures for the conduction of the meetings, rallies, marches and demonstrations, as well as for protecting public order and rights and freedoms of other people.

The determination of the concrete terms of informing with the account taken of the peculiarities of peaceful gatherings, their form, mass character, place and time of holding is a subject of legislative regulation".

Besides, the Constitutional Court pointed out in the motivational part of its decision: "According to part 3 Article 8 of the Ukrainian Constitution, the norms of the Constitution of Ukraine are the norms of direct action. They are applied as they are, independently of the fact whether some laws or other normative legal acts concerning them were adopted". (Highlighted by the author. – Editor’s note).

In other words, although the peculiarities of conducting meetings, peaceful marches and demonstrations must be regulated by laws, the absence of such laws must not and may not be the obstacle for realizing the right of a person for the freedom of gatherings. So, what must regulate this right?

The search for the legal sources regulating this sphere brings one to the question about the validity or invalidity of the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of 28 July 1988, on which the Dzerzinski district court of Kharkov based its decisions concerning the restriction of the right for gatherings [See: V. Rechitskiy. The spirit of the law and the letter of the right// The freedom of expression and privacy. 2001.–No. 1 pp. 10-13]. Although the Resolution of the Supreme Rada of Ukraine "On the procedure of the temporary operation of some legal acts of the USSR on the territory of Ukraine" of 12 September 1991 envisages that "the legal acts of the USSR concerning the questions, which are not regulated by the Ukrainian laws, may be used on the territory of the republic before the adoption of the corresponding domestic laws, if it does not contradict the Constitution and operable laws of Ukraine", it does not mention that the above-mentioned resolution is valid. Even without taking into consideration the very contents of the resolution, which is typical namely for non-democratic and non-law-abiding state and provides the necessity of the permission on the side of the state organs to realize the unalienable and inviolable citizens’ Constitutional rightfor conducting meetings and demonstrations, one must acknowledge the inadmissibility of regulating such relations in this way in modern Ukrainian legal system. The matter is that the regulation of the social relations with a resolution is not a legislative regulation, as it is stated by the Constitutional Court. From this point of view it would be reasonable to discuss if the Ukrainian Constitution of 28 June 1998 is "a proper legal act", since the principles of regulating this problem stated by the Constitution not only fundamentally differ, but even contradict this resolution. Moreover, it is also noteworthy that the Constitution of the USSR of 7 October 1977, which, by the way, stipulated the right for peaceful gatherings without the restrictions introduced in the new Ukrainian Constitution (of 1996) [Article 50 of the Constitution of the USSR (of 1977): „According to the interests of the people and with the purpose of strengthening and developing the socialist system, the following freedoms are guaranteed to the citizens of the USSR: the freedom of expression, of the press; for meetings, rallies, street marches and demonstrations.

The realization of these political freedoms is guaranteed by rendering to citizens and their organizations buildings, streets and squares, by wide spreading of information, by giving the opportunity to use the press, TV and radio“.

Naturally, it should be noted that the realization of these freedoms was possible only „with the purpose of strengthening and developing the socialist system“ the people, who wanted to realize other goals were persecuted as political criminals. So, this article was a fiction, since it served not to the people, but to the state], was not officially revoked [It is obvious that the Constitution of the USSR became invalid because of the objective reason – the USSR itself was annihilated. We are sure that this also was one of the reasons why the above-mentioned resolution lost its validity.].

One more "filter" that could help to single out the invalid normative legal acts, including those in the sphere of peaceful gatherings, is the Constitution itself, in particular item 1 of the Transitive provisions: "Laws and other normative acts adopted before this Constitution came into effect are valid in the parts, which do not contradict the Constitution of Ukraine".

It is also interesting that Article 11 of the Convention on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms (the Convention, in what follows) provides the freedom for peaceful gatherings for everybody, and Article 39 of the Constitution of Ukraine provides this right only for Ukrainian citizens. It seems that the authors of the both law drafts concerning the conduction of peaceful mass actions that were considered by the Supreme Rada [The draft of Law of Ukraine No. 3004 of 16 October 2000 „On peaceful gatherings“ (handed by G. Udovenko) and the draft of Law of Ukraine No. 3004-2 of 10 August 2000 „On the procedure of conducting peaceful mass actions in Ukraine“ (handed by V. Pustovoytov).], do not notice this fact and, preferring the text of the Convention, state that this right must be extended on citizens, foreigners and apatrides [In its turn, Article 26 of the Ukrainian Constitution states that the foreigners and apatrides residing in Ukraine legally have the same rights, freedoms and duties as Ukrainian citizens with the exception of the cases envisaged by the Constitution, laws or international agreements of Ukraine. ].

The main problem in this sphere is the search of the balance between guaranteeing the freedom and the public order. The restrictions of this freedom stipulated by law must be reflected in the law. Even a court may not impose such restrictions [We want to draw the readers’ attention to item 13 of Resolution of the Plenum of the Supreme Court No. 9 of 1 November 1996 „On applying the Constitution of Ukraine for administration of justice“, which reads: „In agreement with Article 39 of the Constitution, citizens have the right to gather peacefully and without weapons for conducting meetings, rallies, marches and demonstrations; the organs of executive power or local self-rule must be informed about such actions in the proper term. The claims on the restrictions of this right are considered by courts according to the procedure established for the cases concerning administrative and legal relations“, and part 4 item 2: „If the contents of the Constitutional norm is a reason for the additional regulation of its provisions by law, the court considering the case must apply only those laws, which are based on the Constitution and do not contradict it“. By the way, there are still no laws legally approving this procedure. ] before such law is adopted,since the great probability exists of violating the Constitutional right of a person [In our opinion, it was the absence of such law that caused the situations when courts impeded citizens to realize this right, in particular, on the side of the Dzerzinski district court of Kharkov (see ] because there are no legislatively determined criteria of court definition of the interests of national safety and public order.

Considering this question one must take into account the viewpoint of the European Court of human rights (the Court, in what follows) concerning the restrictions of this freedom. So, according to part 2 of Article 11 of the Convention: „No restrictions shall be placed on the exercise of these rights other than such as are prescribed by laws and are necessary in a democratic society…“ In the practices of the Law the solution of the question whether the restriction is prescribed by law, has some peculiarities. The Court analyzes not only the concrete law, but also the entire legislation, the legal framing as a whole [See the case Rekvenyi vs. Hungary]. In the case Tammer vs. Estoniathe Court stated that one of the demands following from the concept „prescribed by law“ is the predictability of consequences. Thus, to restrict the right for peaceful gatherings, which is protected not only by the Ukrainian Constitution, but also by the Convention, it is needed to define, precisely and unanimously, using the corresponding laws and obeying the Constitution, the criteria of such restriction that enable a person to regulate his behavior and to predict the consequences of a concrete action. [More details on the principle of legal confidence see: Yu. Zaytsev. Concepts of law and legality: opinion of the European court of human rights// Practices of the European court of human rights. Decisions. Comments, 2(14), 2002. – p. 9-14.] It is evident that the above-mentioned resolution does not meet the principle of the legal confidence and, according to the Court practices, may not be regarded as a law, which defines the restrictions of this right.

Unfortunately, we must admit that, in fact, the procedure of conducting peaceful mass actions in Ukraine is regulated nowadays only by such legal sources as the Convention on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms (1950), the Constitution of Ukraine (Article 39), Resolution of the Plenum of the Supreme Court No. 9 of 1 November 1996 „On applying the Constitution of Ukraine for administration of justice“ (item 13) and Resolution No. 4-рп/2001 of 19 April 2001 of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine (the case concerning the beforehand informing about peaceful gatherings).

Basing on the above-mentioned arguments one may draw the following conclusions:

It is necessary to organize the work of experts for compiling the list of the legal acts of the USSR that are still valid in Ukraine in accordance with the Resolution of the Supreme Rada of Ukraine "On the procedure of the temporary operation of some legal acts of the USSR on the territory of Ukraine" of 12 September 1991 and to approve this list officially; or to terminate completely the operation of all such acts as those, which contain the legal norms for regulating the relations in the social and political system incompatible with the principle of the superiority of the right [So, for example, it is not understandable whether Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of 26 March 1988 No. 6613-XI classified as „not for publishing“ became invalid, whether it agrees with the Constitution of Ukraine of 1996 and operating international agreements.]. The same procedure must be used to the laws and sublegal acts adopted before the Constitution of Ukraine (1996) became operable.

The normative and legal acts of the USSR and UkrSSR with the restricted access must be either declared invalid a priori or the classification of these documents as secret must be cancelled to determine whether they contradict the operating Constitution or not.

3. The absence of the normative acts intended for guaranteeing the norms of the Constitution is not a justification of the inactivity of these norms and does not implicate the impossibility of applying these norms by individuals;

4. The illegality of applying such norms of the Constitution, which are not worked out in details in laws and sublegal acts, may be considered only by courts [In accordance with part 3 Article 1 of the Ukrainian Law „On the judicial system of Ukraine“, „the jurisdiction of courts is spread to all legal relations in the country“].

5. The absence of the laws, which would regulate the provided (by the Ukrainian Constitution and the Convention) restrictions of human rights and fundamental freedoms, provokes the violations of these rights and freedoms on the side of state organs, in particular, unfortunately, on the side of courts. This problem must be solved as soon as possible.

Penal institutions

One remark on the difference between human rights protecting public organizations and other NGOs

Several days ago I have had the unexpected discussion with the head of a well-known non-governmental organization. My opponent asserted that advocacy is the protection of public interests and that this term is wider than human rights protection, which is a part of advocacy. I protested saying that these concepts are almost identical, since human rights protection is also a kind of the protection of public interests, and in most cases the protection of the rights of some group may be turned into the protection of the rights of each member of this group. Yet, I did not point out that I meant the protection of rights, but not interests, because it seemed obvious. Indeed, this is the very root of the difference. The matter is which conception of rights is considered. If to consider human rights as negative rights only, that is as the prohibition to the state to restrict freedoms of people, then the protection of human rights and the protection of public interests coincide only in the case, where public interests are regarded as obeying human rights exceptionally. (By the way, the mentioned restrictions, if they exist, are established, according to the legitimate goal, as exceptions and only on the basis of laws taking into account the principle of proportionality of the interference of the state.) Yet, if to widen the sphere of public interests (and usually it is treated wider that human rights protection), then one must admit that human rights protection and advocacy are different directions of the activity, and the corresponding public organizations belong to different types of NGOs. This difference implicates many other differences: in the methods of work, in the sources of financing, etc.

The difference between rights and interests is that rights belong to all people without exception, and different groups have different interests. The conflict of the interests exists always, and the involved NGOs protect the interests of their parties in these conflicts insisting that they are protecting public interests. The conflict of rights also exists, but this is a conflict between human rights and the rights of the state and, taking into account the conception of negative rights, it is clear that human rights protecting NGOs protect people most frequently (although it happens that the offender is a person, not the state, for instance in the cases of some radical actions).

Thus, it seems that it would be reasonable to consider advocacy and human rights protection as different direction of public activity. At that, human rights protection is always the political activity (if to interpret politics wide), and advocacy may be both the political activity and the activity not connected with the politics.

„PL“ continues the discussion on the problems of human rights protection movement

The circle of the problems of the activities of public organizations, in particular human rights protecting ones, their mutual relations with the power and their interrelations, including the questions of uniting into associations and coalitions, is rather wide. I shall try to confine my remarks to one subject: to the necessity of creating the association of human rights protecting organizations.

The discussion of the question about creating the union of human rights protecting organizations must be started from formulating the problem, the solution of which demands such unification.

Several years ago the similar idea was discussed, but it was not realized. This happened not because the potential participants could not create the union, but, first of all, because there was no „absolute necessity“ to do this. Today one can see that the „non-creation“ of the union did not affect negatively the activities of its potential participants. Does the necessity of establishing the closer cooperation of the human rights protecting organizations by creating some structure (union, association) exists now? If YES, then what kind of a structure must it be? The question may be formulated otherwise: is the creation of the united organizational structure necessary for increasing the efficiency of the work of human rights protecting organizations?

The above-mentioned questions are not rhetorical at all.

The very idea of uniting the efforts of the NGOs with similar direction of the activities and even, to a certain extent, the coordination of these activities, looks quite logically and pragmatically. This is also confirmed by the comments sent to the KhG site. However, it seems to me that the majority of the participants of the discussion, who support the idea of the DISCUSSION of the problem, are speaking very warily about the creation of such association NOW. I suppose that I am not the only person, who suspects that many complications will appear while realizing this idea.

The union may be organized with creating a juridical person or without this. In the first case, the steering organ and its head must be elected. In the second case, the election of such organ is not obligatory, but is possible. Yet, in the both cases the problem will appear of representing the NGOs in this organ. Most probably, each organization will want to represent itself. If the number of such organizations does not exceed ten, the organ will be able to work. Else, if this number equals, for example, 20-25, the efficiency of the work will be very doubtful, and the organ should be created only if extremely necessary.

There is another group of the important questions: the questions of joining the union and, what is even more essential, of expelling from the union, saying nothing about the right of the leaders of the organ to represent this organ in the contacts with other structures.

The negative aspect of the discussed problem, I believe, is the attempt to prevent the existence of the organizations, which call themselves human rights protecting while their activities rather discredit the very idea of human rights protection. Such organizations exist and would exist; this is an inevitable fact that cannot be an argument for creating the association. This is another angle of the problem.

It seems to me that the discussion on the questions of the creation and functions of the future union can waste so many time and efforts that we will have not enough strength and energy for practical work.

Taking into account the probable organizational complications, the structure having only the coordination functions looks to be the most reasonable. The supporters of this type of structure may state: we must not engender new structures and to elect the human rights protection bosses, all of us are equal and we need only the coordination of our activities. This structure would not take the decisions obligatory for everybody. Yet, would the structure take any decisions, at least some recommendations? If yes, the need appears to discuss the procedure of taking the decisions, of the responsibility for the obedience or disobedience to these decisions. Moreover, if any organization would have the right to join the association, the latter risks to become too large and to lose the rests of its ability to work turning by and by into a simple signboard. To prevent this, we must work out the procedure of „screening“ the candidates, as well as the criteria for this procedure. There the danger emerges again to wallow in the endless discussions and arguments, even if we can find the people and organizations, who will do this. At the same time, I know the category of my colleagues, who support the idea of the unification (or something else) loudly and decisively. But when the time comes to do something concrete, to spend their time and energy, they step aside giving the way to those, who, they say, are more clever, talented and experienced.

Well, does the urgent and inevitable need to create the association of human rights protecting organizations exist today? I think no, at least in the form of some structure. Is this an objective conclusion? Of course, no. This is my subjective opinion grounded, first of all, on my own experience. Thus, this viewpoint does not pretend to be a „universal“ one.

Does it mean that I have something against any joint actions of human rights protecting organizations? Against the creation of associations or coalitions? Against the coordination of the efforts directed to the solution of the common and important problems? Of course, no.

Now a little digression. Nowadays the quantity of political prisoners in our country is very small, and I think that the authorities do not persecute the human rights protectors not because they understand that this is inadmissible. No. The matter is that until recently the power has been too weak to overcome this movement. But the times change and the power becomes stronger. „Naturally“, it increases the pressure upon everybody, who hampers it, including the human rights protecting organizations. According to my most optimistic prognoses, the situation will not worsen very much, maybe, but I am sure that it will not improve. But how worse it will become? This depends on the total efforts including the efforts of the power, on the one hand, and the efforts of the society, NGOs and human rights protectors, on the other hand. It seems doubtful that the NGOs will be able to exist and work being „almost independent“ on the power, like it was in the recent years. The INTERACTION of some kind is inevitable, and here some questions arise:

•   the principles, on which the NGOs must (or may) base their „interaction“ with the power structures;

•   the necessity to unite the efforts of NGOs for taking the decisions on some concrete problems (including the problem of the NGOs survival).

The sensational article by Litvin about the civil society demonstrated how and using which principles the power wants (and can) to hold a dialog with the NGOs.

Nowadays the majority of the more or less really functioning human rights protecting NGOs in Ukraine act on their own. I do not mean that they work without any partners, but they are not united into the global structures. Quite often this approach is more convenient and simple. However, in Russia, which have moved forward more than our country, the number of human rights protecting associations is also not very great. Yet, if to compare with Ukraine, their cooperation is much tighter. They conduct the joint actions (also more frequently than in Ukraine), and last year, when the power tried to curb them by the grandiose Civil Forum, they managed to find a compromise and to present their opinion on the goals and the forms of organizing the Forum. It seems that the so-called negotiation areas were a happy innovation in the dialog with the authorities. I think that if we want to develop the idea of the cooperation with the state structures in Ukraine, we must copy, of course not blindly, but constructively, the experience of our neighbors (and it will be enough for the time being).

By the way, I want to mention the question on the Public Council at the committees of the Supreme Rada that would participate in the preparations and discussions of law drafts and in their lobbying. I believe that this is the Supreme Rada or its committees, who have the prerogative to create this organ, but not NGOs. We may only make the suggestions: about the sphere of powers, the composition, the number of members, the form of interaction, etc.

I think that the discussion of the form of the association would be the first step forward to the closer cooperation of human rights protecting NGOs. The most rational idea now is, in my opinion, the creation of the NETWORKS working with different problems.

In the recent years our organization, „The Donetsk Memorial“, focused the attention on the problems of the penitentiary system. We have the partners throughout the country. It should be pointed out that not all our partners are the human rights protecting NGOs, but all these organizations deal with the „prison“ problems. Eighteen months ago we proposed to them to create the NGO NETWORK for working on the problems of the penitentiary system. We conducted several joint actions. In particular, two years ago, we organized the wave of letters to the Minister of education with the demand to open schools in penitentiaries. It is difficult for me to assess whether the action had any result, but the scores of the letters were sent to the Ministry, and the copies of these letters – to the administration of the Penitentiary Department.

Recently we conducted the seminar of NGOs that concern with the problems of the penitentiary system. More than 30 organizations took part in this seminar, where they discussed the questions of our interaction. Some of our colleagues endorsed the idea of creating something like the association. As a rule, they represented small and weak NGOs, who wanted to raise their status due to their membership in the association. This is not a shameful wish, but the status is formed, above all, by the fulfilled work, but not by the belonging to some structure. An NGO, which works stably and professionally, does not need to join any structure for solving its problems. The partners can realize concrete projects without such formalities.

So, what is the difference between the creation of a network and the creation of an association (coalition)? First of all, a NETWORK is an informal (not juridical) structure without any strict or even definitely fixed conditions of the cooperation. Such structure may not have a head or a governing organ. Each member of the network, having chosen his concrete problem, may manage the solution of this problem in the network. When the members need help, they turn at first to each other. Such network differs from a simple set of NGOs by the more intensive information exchange and closer contacts, which are the consequences of the fact that the NGOs work in the similar spheres. May an organization not engaged in human rights protection, for example women or ecological one, be a member of the network? In our case – of course.

That is why I reckon that it is possible (and maybe even necessary and sufficiently) to create now the NETWORK of human rights protecting NGOs. This type of structure will scare away the least number of the potential members. The stricter will be the form of the union, the less will be the number of the members. Maybe, we do not need too many members, but here we must establish the balance between the QUALITY and the QUANTITY of the united NGOs. I think that it is senseless to create the union consisting of 3-5-7 organizations. The existence of the network will show us with what speed and in which form we are ABLE to create the association of human rights protecting organizations.

So, let us compare our wishes and needs with our ability to satisfy these wishes and needs.

Civic society

Will we ramble in the desert for 29 years more?

After the WW2, when the world and Europe obtained the comparative balance, Spanish dictator Francisco Franco decided that it was the time for national reconciliation in the country. As it is known, Franco came to power in Spain after the military coup d’etat and bloody civil war. In this war one part of the population supported the so-called „francists“ of „fascists“ (they were called so by the communist propaganda) and another part endorsed the left movement, the so-called „republicans“. After the defeat of the latter the country was split and suffered from the social opposition. The national reconciliation, as we see from the history, was achieved. It happened not only because General Franco ordered to construct the cross – the monument to all perished during the civil war, both to francists and to their enemies-republicans. The basis of the reconciliation, which enabled Franco to occupy the highest post in the country for a long time, was the fact that Franco, unlike others European dictators, was not a puppet of either Hitler or Stalin or the USA.

During the whole term of his authoritarian government this man uphold the state interests only, nipping in the bud all attempts to use Spain in some foreign interests (and such attempts were made regularly, especially by Hitler). Spaniards, whose national consciousness is very high, regarded Franco as their national leader.

I gave this example to illustrate the indefatigable discussion, which is now lasting in the Ukrainian society and, in particular, in the Supreme Rada. The discussion concerns the warriors of the UPA (the Ukrainian Partisan Army): whether to render them the status of the participants of military operations or to continue, like in Stalin’s and Brezhnev’s times, to consider them as traitors and terrorists, who were fighting against their own people.

If Ukraine acknowledged herself as really independent state, if the consciousness of her citizens and power was on the proper level, this question merely would not exist. Spain also was one of the poorest countries in Europe, and now it is wealthy owing to the high national consciousness of the population. Yet, the welfare and the level of the development of our country are not the main factors. The matter is, unfortunately, that we have no common Ukrainian history, no common past, so we cannot have the common future too. Maybe, this is the reason why the Ukrainian government permits everybody, who wishes, to meddle into our domestic affairs?

Russia and Poland have already expressed their negative attitude to giving the UPA warriors the status of the participants of military operations.

In our opinion, Russia must keep silence shyly, since she, as a legal successor of the USSR (by her own conscious wish), has not only economic, but also political duties.

What concerns Poland, this country rehabilitated the guerrillas, who fought for the People’s Army. These guerrilla troops fought, like the partisans of the OUN-UPA, both against Germans and against the Soviet army, as well as against their own communists, who captured the power in Poland with the assistance of Soviet tanks. Yet, there was a certain misunderstanding between the People’s Army and Ukrainians, who lived in Poland. This misunderstanding was diligently fanned by Stalin’s reconnaissance units. There are historical documents testifying to the activities of the NKVD troops, who, disguising themselves as the warriors of the OUN-UPA, attacked Polish and Ukrainian peaceful villages. Thus, the opposition of Polish and Ukrainian guerrillas and the mass actions against the peaceful population of Poland resulted in the open enmity with the obvious features of civil war.

After this the notorious operation „Vistula“ took place, when thousands of hundreds Ukrainians were deported from the Polish territory, and the rest were moved from the places of their compact residence to the back lands of Poland.

So, if the warriors of the People’s Army were rehabilitated in Poland, if they are regarded as national heroes, why our bureaucrats do not want Ukraine to do the same for the fighters for her independence? Because Ukraine is a weak and dependent country? Or because her government and her Supreme Rada cannot protect the interests of Ukraine and Ukrainian citizens on the international level? Certainly, it is true. Yet, there are some aspects of the internal policy. East Ukraine does not want to acknowledge the UPA warriors calling them „Bandera fighters“ (by the way, some dwellers of East Ukraine use this epithet not only concerning the dwellers of West Ukraine, but concerning any people, who speak Ukrainian). Reading the letters written by citizens to the newspapers (for instance, the Kharkov newspaper „Vremia“), the letters inspired by the newspaper articles on the OUN-UPA, one understands the only thing: there is an enormous gap between the generation of the people, who lived in the Soviet times, and the young generation. Old people and the people of middle age continue to interpret the history in the way they were taught in the secondary school: the fighters of the OUN-UPA were members of gangster gangs, who murdered people on the both sides. Nobody of them tries to look at the history with other eyes and to realize that Stalin and Hitler were the twins, who involved the world in the dreadful slaughter, after which the winner, Stalin, reshaped Europe according to his own will almost disregarding the wishes of the allies.

This is difficult to imagine what the Soviet power brought to West Ukraine: thousand of hundreds peaceful citizens exiled to Siberia with their families and small children, executions, provocations, torture… Galitchyna gave the surprising example, when the partisan movement lasted after the war, which finished in 1945, up to 1957 (and even several years later the single infrequent splashes of the guerrilla activity were observed). This is a unique example, when guerrillas were fighting against the power for such a long time having no external suppliers or arms and food. This could happen only if the local population supported them. Yet, the majority of East Ukrainians do not know this, do not understand, and, alas, do not want to know and understand. However, the great part of the young people, who grew in the times of perestroykaand independence, has quite another opinion. Unfortunately, our nation is not young…

So, here we see the same situation as in the foreign policy: the government and people’s deputies have not enough political will to conduct the explanatory campaign, to tell the bitter truth to the people of East and West Ukraine, to erect the common monument (a cross, since all of us are Christians) to all perished and to confer the status of the participants of military operations to all people, who fought for the independence and freedom of Ukraine.

I do not appeal to rehabilitate those, who served in the special troops of OUN-UPA – each case of the participation in the punitive actions must be considered individually, since military crimes are usually committed by special troops. And if some of these servicemen stained their hands with the blood of peaceful citizens, nobody would insist on giving them privileges and higher pensions. Although here the question raises: why the former servicemen of the NKVD do obtain such pensions? The reason is that we have not got rid of the Soviet mentality until now. It means that the former Soviet nomenclature is still governing our country, and they feel the genetic proximity with the former NKVD officers and reckon the UPA warriors as criminals.

Will we ramble in the desert for 29 years more? 11 years have already passed…

“Prava Ludiny” (human rights) monthly bulletin, 2002, #11