war crimes in Ukraine

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“Prava Ludiny” (human rights) monthly bulletin, 2005, #03

Falsifiers of the election will be taken into custody One more verdict for falsification was pronounced in the Kirovograd region Falsifiers got 8 years for two Court condemned the head of an election commission of the Kirovograd region to 5 years of incarceration for falsification of the results of voting 14 criminal cases were started in the Kharkiv region on the facts of violation of the election laws Criminal case was instituted against the heads of Sumy election commission Election documentation in the Donetsk archive was replaced with wastepaper Kirovograd prosecutor’s office investigates violations of election laws Two men, who attacked an election station, can be condemned to eight years of incarceration Three Chernigiv dwellers were condemned to three years of incarceration for false off-list tickets First verdicts were pronounced on the abusers of election laws Politics and human rights
The project of the Criminal-procedural code is back Constitutional reform of 2004 and human rights Freedom of expression
Ukrainian legislation impedes the development of informational society European court of human rights pronounced the guilty verdict to Ukraine for violation of the freedom of speech Access to information
Administration of a penitentiary in the Khmelnitskiy region impeded work of journalist and human rights protector Voters’ Committee will hand a claim against the Supreme Council of the Crimea Edicts “not for publishing” – laws “not for execution” Interethnic relations
Penitentiary system of Ukraine in 2004 Self-government
The Ukrainian choice Are Ukrainian mass media able to protect human rights?


Falsifiers of the election will be taken into custody

The Leninskiy court of Kirovograd issued the resolution about taking into custody of Vadim Volkanov, the deputy of the mayor, and Anatoliy Prilipko, the deputy head of territorial election circuit No. 100 in the first tour of the election.

Vadim Volkanov, known in the town for his semi-criminal past, was one of the organizers of mass falsifications in the notorious election circuit No. 100, informs “RUPOR”.

Anatoliy Prilipko was the deputy head of circuit No. 100 and, jointly with the majority of the commission members, contrary to the demands of the Law on election of the President of Ukraine, left the commission during the calculation of votes at the night from 31 October to 1 November.

According to the data obtained from competent sources, the both subjects of the court resolution are in hiding. The word in defense of falsifiers was said by MP Igor Sharov, who, by the words of former head of the regional militia directorate Valeriy Nonik, had been responsible for the election of Yanukovich in the region.


18 March 2005

One more verdict for falsification was pronounced in the Kirovograd region

The Petrivskiy district court of the Kirovograd region condemned the head of district election commission No. 168 of territorial election circuit No. 104 to three years of deprivation of liberty for falsification of the results of voting in the first tour of the election of the President of Ukraine.

The criminal case was started on 22 December 2004 by the prosecutor of the Petrivskiy district on the fact of forgery of the election documents (Article 158 part 3 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine).

In the course of investigation it was established that on 31 October 2004, about 7 p.m., the box with bulletins and 45 bulletins had disappeared from the room for voting at district election station No. 168 of territorial election circuit No. 104.

Some time later the members of the commission find the lost in the adjacent room, at that all 45 bulletins were filled in with the same ink and the same handwriting.

The prosecutor’s office disclosed that all these bulletins had been filled in by the head of the commission, at that the latter entered the inauthentic data about the person, which had issued the bulletins, and personally wrote the marks about the voting for candidate to President’s post Viktor Yanukovich.

The court acknowledged the woman to be guilty of commitment of the crime envisaged by part 3 Article 158 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. the court applied Article 69 of the CCU (imposition of punishment more light that it is envisaged by law) and condemned the accused to three years of incarceration with prohibition to take part in the activities connected with election during three years.

The court verdict has not come into force yet and may be appealed.


28 March 2005

Falsifiers got 8 years for two

The Gorodishchenskiy district court of the Cherkassy region brought in a verdict of guilty in the case on accusation of the head and secretary of district election commission No. 7 of the 199th election circuit. The court acknowledged two local women (33 and 38 years old) to be guilty of falsifications during the run-off election of the President of Ukraine on 21 November 2004.

As the press secretary of the regional prosecutor informed, the 38-year-old head of the commission was condemned to 3 years, and the 33-year-old secretary – to 5 years of incarceration. Both condemned got the probation terms: 3 and 2 years, respectively. During this term they have no right to leave Ukraine and must regularly come for registration to law-enforcing organs. The condemned work in educational establishments in the regional center. The head of the commission has taught law. It has been proved at the trial that during the second tour of the presidential election secretary of election station No. 7 included 127 voters, who had already voted before, to the additional list. After that she falsified signatures of these voters and used the bulletins in favor of candidate to President’s post Viktor Yanukovich. The court classified her actions as forgery of election documents.


25 March 2005

Court condemned the head of an election commission of the Kirovograd region to 5 years of incarceration for falsification of the results of voting

On 16 March the Bobrinetskiy district court of the Kirovograd region condemned the head of district election commission No. 25 of the territorial election circuit No. 101 to 5 years of incarceration for falsification of the results of voting during the Presidential election of 21 November 2004. This information was communicated by Natalya Alekseenko, the press secretary of the regional prosecutor.

By N. Alekseenko’s information, the criminal case against the head of the district commission was instituted on 17 December 2004.

The investigation established that on 21 November 2004 the head of the commission, with the purpose of falsification of the voting results, persuaded the members of the commission to sign the blank protocol of calculation of votes and attached the stamp of the commission.

After that she wrote into the protocol of calculation of votes the deliberately false data, according to which 89 persons gave their votes for Viktor Yushchenko and 381 – for Viktor Yanukovich.

She personally carried the protocol with the “results” of the voting to the territorial election commission of circuit No. 101.

On 26 January the official accusation was pronounced against the head of the district commission, and on 31 January 2005 the criminal case was passed to court. The Bobrinetskiy district court acknowledged the head of the district commission to be guilty of the crime envisaged by part 3 of Article 158 of the Criminal Code (illegitimate use of election bulletins, falsification of election documents or incorrect calculation of votes and incorrect publication of election results).

The court condemned the head of district commission No. 25 of territorial election circuit No. 101 to five years of incarceration with prohibition to occupy some posts during two years, but, in compliance with Article 75 of the Criminal Code (release on probation), the court released the condemned from the service of sentence with the probation term of three years.

The verdict can be appealed in the higher instance.


17 March 2005

14 criminal cases were started in the Kharkiv region on the facts of violation of the election laws

14 criminal cases were started in the Kharkiv region on the facts of impediment to realization of the election rights of citizens, illegitimate use of election documents and incorrect calculation of votes during the election of the President of Ukraine. 5 such cases have been already passed to court. This information was got from Vasyl Sinchuk, the prosecutor of the Kharkiv region.

In particular, the prosecutor’s office of the Dvorichanskiy district established in the beginning of December of the past year that, at one of election stations of territorial election circuit No. 179, five citizens had received the off-list tickets, which had not been get by the station from territorial election commission No. 179 (Chuguev). So, these citizens had the opportunity to vote at two election stations.

The secretary of the district election commission was accused in accordance with part 3 of Article 158 and part 1 of Article 364 of the Criminal Code (illegitimate use of election bulletins, forgery of election documents; misuse of power), and five citizens – in accordance with part 2 of Article 158 (forgery of election documents). In the beginning of February the case was passed to court. LigaBusinessInform got this information in the press service of the General Prosecutor’s office of Ukraine.

Similar illegal actions were disclosed by the prosecutor’s office of Balakleya and Barvenkovo districts.

The prosecutor’s office of the Sumy region informs that it has completed the pre-trial investigation of the criminal case against militia colonel B., a former deputy head of the militia directorate of the Sumy region, accused of the misuse of power and service authorities, which resulted in serious damage to the rights and interests of citizens, that is of the crime envisaged by part 1 of Article 365 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.

During the run-off election of the President of Ukraine on 21 November 2004 a group of young people rushed into the election station in the settlement of Oktiabrskiy of the Belopolskiy district and committed the hooligan actions with use of objects prepared for infliction of bodily injuries. On the same day one of the attackers, Donetsk dweller M., was detained and transported to the district militia station. However, in the night of 21 November the above-mentioned colonel B. came to the militia station and ordered the officer-on-duty to pass the detained to him. On his service car the colonel drove the criminal beyond the bounds of Belopolye and let him go.

The investigating officer of the prosecutor’s office of the Belopolskiy district issued the decision on the search of M., and the law-enforcing organs got the permission for detainment of the runaway and taking him into custody. The accusation against the militia colonel was passed for consideration to court, which would complete this resonant case.

Three years and six months of deprivation of liberty – such verdict was pronounced, in accordance with the demand of Konotop prosecutor Anatoliy Miroshnichenko, to 46-year-old citizen K., who, during the second tour of President’s election, tried to throw 55 bulletins into the ballot-box at election station No. 24 of territorial election circuit No. 163. He did that for remuneration.

Prosecutor’s organs of the Ternopil region have already sent to court four criminal cases on the facts of violation of election laws during the election of the President of Ukraine.

14 March 2005


Criminal case was instituted against the heads of Sumy election commission

The criminal case against the heads of the election commission of the village of Sulla, the Sumy district, has been passed to the Kovpakovskiy district court, “Dankor” informs.

The criminal case on the fact of entering of deliberately false data into the protocol of calculation of votes at election station No. 154 by the officials of the election commission was instituted on 20 December 2004 by the regional prosecutor’s office. In the course of investigation the criminal case was started against concrete persons: head of the commission Aleksandr R., secretary of the commission Lubov G. and member of the commission Mykhaylo L.

According to the information of Igor Sidorenko, the senior investigating officer of the Sumy regional prosecutor’s office, in the course of calculation of votes the district election commission established their number: 252 persons voted for V. Yushchenko and 48 – for V. Yanukovich, about which the correspondent protocol was compiled. Yet, when this protocol was received by the territorial election commission of election circuit No. 161 in Belopolye, quite other data were announced: 52 votes for V. Yushchenko and 248 – for V. Yanukovich.

In the course of investigation it was disclosed that after the end of calculation of votes the election documents, in particular the first and second copies of the protocols, were sealed for sending to the election commission in Belopolye. By the data of the prosecutor’s office, head of the commission Aleksandr R., secretary of the commission Lubov G. and member of the commission Mykhaylo L. came to Sumy and, in the building of the district employment center, entered the deliberately false data into the election documents, thus falsifying the results of the voting. Their guilt is proved completely.

The falsification was carried out by order of Vladimir L., the first deputy of the head of the Sumy district state administration. The criminal case against Vladimir L. is singled out for future pre-trial investigation.

17 March 2005

Election documentation in the Donetsk archive was replaced with wastepaper

The prosecutor’s office of the Voroshilovskiy district of Donetsk carried out, in the regional archive, unsealing of the boxes with the documentation concerning the results of the second tour of Presidential election in the 42nd election circuit of Donetsk (Voroshilovskiy and Kalininskiy districts). In the first two boxes, containing the documentation from election stations Nos. 5, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16, old newspapers and magazines were found instead of the documents. This information was given by Sergey Lunev, the head of the territorial election commission, in the course of voting on 26 December, communicated “Ostrov”.

By the words of Lunev, according to the law the boxes had to be sealed by the papers with signatures of all members of the territorial election commission, but be could not find his own signature there (he was the commission secretary then). He had the visual impression that the seal had been falsified.

On 22 November, at once after the announcement of the results of voting in the second tour of the election in the 42nd election circuit, Anton Klimenko, an empowered person of Viktor Yushchenko, demanded, at the sitting of the territorial election commission, to re-count the votes, but the commission did not satisfy his demand. Klimenko motivated his demand with the essential discrepancy between the results obtained in the first and second tours of voting. So, on 31 October 6.06% of citizens voted for Viktor Yushchenko in this circuit, and in the second tour he got 0.62%.

We want to remind that the second tour of Presidential election was conducted on 21 November 2004. Viktor Yanukovich won in this tour.

3 March 2005


Kirovograd prosecutor’s office investigates violations of election laws

The Kirovograd regional prosecutor’s office has instituted and investigates 24 criminal cases concerning violations of election laws, communicates Interfax-Ukraine.

Seven such cases have been already directed to court for consideration per se. Besides, during the presidential election the prosecutor’s office received 259 complaints against violations of the demands of the election law.

Press secretary of the regional prosecutor’s office Nataliya Aleksenko informs that the prosecutor’s office of the region instituted eight criminal cases in the notorious election circuit No. 100. Five of these cases are connected with the fact of deliberately false establishment of results of the election at election stations Nos. 53, 71, 92, 106 and 113.

The Kirovograd town prosecutor’s office investigates the criminal case after the fact of hampering the work of the sitting of territorial election commission No. 100 for establishment of the results of voting at the election of the President of Ukraine of 31 October 2004.

Besides, the town prosecutor’s office investigates the criminal case on violation of the law on election by the officials of district election commissions at election stations Nos. 25 and 35 (election circuit No. 100), election station No. 9 (election circuit No. 103) and election station No. 84 (election circuit No. 104), which, during the preparation and conduction of the run-off election, gave blank form of the off-list tickets to some unknown persons.



Two men, who attacked an election station, can be condemned to eight years of incarceration

Two dwellers of Trostianets, who attacked an election station on 21 November 2004, can be condemned to incarceration for the term from 5 to 8 years.

On 21 November Vladimir G. and Sergey A. rushed into the room of election station No. 127, located in Trostianets general school No. 2, and committed the premeditated crime in order to impede the normal course of voting. So, the attackers tried to make the official observer from the bloc “Our Ukraine” to leave the election station, and when he refused, they applied force and inflicted him grave bodily injuries, in particular, cerebral brain concussion.

The prosecutor’s office of the Sumy region instituted a criminal case after the fact of impediment to realization of election rights. By the information of prosecutor Aleksandr Naumov, the guilt of Vladimir G. and Sergey A. was proved completely in the course of pre-trial investigation.

They were accused of commitment of the crimes envisaged by part 2 of Article 157 and part 2 of Article 296 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. The case, along with the accusation materials, was passed to court, which would make a decision on punishment, communicates “Dankor”.

24 February 2005

Three Chernigiv dwellers were condemned to three years of incarceration for false off-list tickets

Court condemned three dwellers of the Chernigiv region to three years of incarceration with postponement of the verdict for use of false off-list tickets during the presidential election.

This information is contained in the message of the press-service of prosecutor’s office of the Chernigiv region; the informational agency “Ukrainski novyny” has the full text of this message.

“The court acknowledged three persons to be guilty of commission of crime against the election rights of citizens and issued the verdict of guilty”, reads the message.

18 February 2005

First verdicts were pronounced on the abusers of election laws

At the beginning of February the Sarnenskiy district court (the Rivne region) considered two criminal cases on violations of election laws. In particular, the court brought in the verdicts to the members of district election commissions, who, during the election of the President of Ukraine, abused the Law of Ukraine “On election of the President”. The criminal cases were started after Article 158 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.

So, an inhabitant of the village of Strilsk of the Sarnenskiy district, during her work in the DEC, gave several voting bulletins to one voter. The same offence was committed by a member of the DEC in the village of Fedorivka of the Sarnenskiy district. Representatives of Themis took into account the admission of guilt by the accused, frank confession and aid in solution of the crime, and condemned them to 6 months of correctional work with deduction of 10% of their earnings to state budget and payment of a fine, informs

9 February 2005

Politics and human rights

The project of the Criminal-procedural code is back

RUPOR informs that on 14 March the draft of the Criminal-procedural code, about which many have already forgotten, is again submitted to the coordinative council of parliamentary factions. Recently recommendations and remarks of the European Council experts have been published in a hundred pages. In general this document can be defined in one word -- “defeat”.

In the rubric “Focus of interest of human rights activists” on our website there are remarks of experts of the European Council regarding the project of the Criminal-procedural code. Even a fleeting glance at these remarks points at conceptual contradiction between the project and human rights and fundamental freedoms formulated by the European Convention on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. It fully reflects the conception of criminal persecution of an individual by a repressive country, where a person is defenseless before the law machinery.

Despite the criticism of Ukrainian human rights activists and experts, the draft, which almost had not been changed, was again, for the third time, presented for consideration of the Parliament.

The fact is extremely interesting that the Criminal-procedural code is promoted in the Parliament by a representative of “Our Ukraine”, deputy and former judge of the Supreme Court of Ukraine Volodymir Moysyk and representative of the faction of the party “United Ukraine” Oleksandr Bandurka.

The statements of the government about the European integration seem rather strange on the background of complete neglecting of the European Council’s conclusions regarding the fundamental law on guaranteeing human rights and fundamental freedoms.

We reckon that the considered project should to be rejected, that it’s necessary to create new working group at the Committee of the Supreme Rada of Ukraine on legal policy and to start the work anew. Otherwise, it seems that with the old lawmakers we can find ourselves in the year 1933.

Volodymir Yavorskiy


Constitutional reform of 2004 and human rights

By the state on 31 December 2004, the Constitutional reform is legally represented by Law No. 2222-IV “On introduction of changes into the Constitution of Ukraine” of 8 December 2004. This Law is based on law draft No. 4180 on introduction of changes into the Constitution of Ukraine in the final edition of the Temporary special commission of the Supreme Council of Ukraine in charge of elaboration of the drafts of laws of Ukraine on introduction of changes into the Constitution of Ukraine of 21 June 2004.

The draft underwent the proper procedure of consideration in the Constitutional Court of Ukraine and got the Court sanction concerning the possibility of its presentation for voting in the Supreme Council of Ukraine. Law draft No. 4180, which was presented to the Parliament, noticeably differed from law draft No. 4105, which had been already voted in the Supreme Council before, but had not got the necessary majority (300) of votes. So, the last version of law draft No. 4180 was drastically different from the draft with the same number, which had been considered by the Venetian Commission in December 2003.

Law No. 2222-IV also differs from its predecessors (law draft No. 4105 and the first version of law draft No. 4180), in particular because it stipulated election of the President of Ukraine by the nation-wide voting. At the same time, Law No. 2222-IV is much less radical in the sphere of introduction of changes into the Constitution of Ukraine than the mentioned law drafts. However, even in its new form this law does not contribute to positive changes in the political system of Ukraine.

Just as its unhappy predecessors, Law No. 2222-IV envisages election of people’s deputies (members of the Parliament) of Ukraine on the purely proportional basis. From this viewpoint, it stipulates, now on the higher constitutional level, the election procedure, which has been established by the present legislation. In our opinion, election of MPs on the purely proportional basis is an insufficiently considered attempt to improve the Ukrainian election legislation.

As a result of the political compromise, the proportional system of election to the Ukrainian Parliament exists now on the level of constitutional and ordinary laws. Yet, before the introduction of such change it should be expedient to test the new system of election to the Supreme Council in practice, and only then, depending on the results of such test, to discuss the question about its introduction on the constitutional level. However, the new scheme of election has not show itself positively in action yet. In the constitutional sense it looks nonoptimal, and in political one – evidences on the unjustified haste.

It is impossible to say now whether the Ukrainian society has gained something as a result of introduction of the proportional system. Although the final version of the Ukrainian constitutional reform is the most well-thought-out in comparison with the previous propositions, it is obvious its effect would be observed not in the immediate future. All in all, the new constitutional reform is relatively simple. Henceforth the President will govern the foreign policy of the state, defense, internal safety and the heads of local state administrations. Other questions of internal political management will be solved by the Cabinet of Ministers and the Council of national safety and defense. Weakening of executive vertical of power is obvious, but it seems that it was one of the goals of the reformers.

A system drawback of the constitutional reform is, in our opinion, attribution of some ministers if the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine (in the sense of their appointment to posts and factual subordination) to the President of Ukraine, and other ministers – to the Supreme Council and Prime Minister. As we have already said before, the foreign and internal politics of Ukraine got into different hands as a result of new order of appointments and subordination.

Since, according to the reform, the post of the President of Ukraine is not only representative, but also really influential from the viewpoint of some executive functions (foreign policy, internal safety, etc.), in practice it threatens with deformation of the executive vertical, openly unproductive competition of the President, Prime Minister and the Secretary of the Council of national safety and defense in the framework of the general branch of the state executive power.

If to recollect that the competition of posts of the speaker and President already exists in Ukraine, the logic of the constitutional reform looks even less comprehensible. To say it simpler, competition of the highest posts, which belong to different power branches is constitutionally motivated. At the same time, it is difficult to call reasonable the competition of the highest state posts in one (executive) branch of power.

We reckon that the authors of the constitutional reform looked for a strategic compromise, but the way out, found by them, appeared to be a compromise of the conjuncture tactics. As a result, the juridical scheme, which had been already condemned by the Venetian Commission, was again lifted to the constitutional level. In our conviction, such decision and such version of the political reform make Ukraine not so much a parliamentary republic as an awkward legal conglomerate, new formation inconsistent in the political sense.

The fact that, according to the reform, the President has the right to disband the Parliament in three cases (each of which can be a result of many reasons) makes inconsistent the thesis about turning of Ukraine from presidential republic to parliamentary one.

Now the President is directly concerned with forming of the Cabinet of Ministers and the appointment of heads of local state administrations (Ukrainian version of governors). Yet, in fact, ministers and heads of local administrations also substantially depend on the Prime Minister. So, having appointed certain members of the Cabinet of Ministers and the heads of local administrations, the President leaves the latter on the will of the head of the Cabinet. Naturally, if Ukrainian governors were elected at the local level, instead of being appointed by the President, this would be a sufficient reason for the constitutional reform. Yet, nobody speaks now about election of governors by the population. The principle of direct dependence of governors on the President remains invariable.

As to the relations between the President and the Supreme Council (Parliament) of Ukraine, they, in accordance with the reform, will not change in favor of the Supreme Council. Moreover, the Supreme Council will become even more dependent on the President’s will. Is it has been already said President’s authority concerning disbandment of the Parliament increases thrice. That is why the reform weakens the influence of the President within the bounds of the executive power branch, but, at the same time, noticeably increases his control over the Ukrainian Parliament. Certainly, in that way the reform turns Ukraine into relatively inconsistent parliamentary republic.

The constitutional reform almost did not change the judicial system. It is difficult, in our opinion, to support the partial reanimation of the general surveillance of the prosecutor’s office over the observance of human rights and freedoms. Experts believe that the partial restoration of prosecutor’s surveillance over realization of citizens’ rights and freedoms can be explained not so much by the low legal development of Ukraine (as the official Strasburg reckons), as by the low level of income of many common citizens of Ukrainian population. Indeed, the protection of rights, freedoms and interests in courts remain, for many common citizens of Ukrainian, very expensive and casuistic procedure.

All in all, it would be possible to reconcile to the reform, if Ukraine had essentially higher level of civil-political development. Yet, Ukraine is a very young democracy, and the use of parliamentary mechanisms and procedures for settling of most of its problems hardly would suit its young political system.

H. Arendt, analyzing the features of any organic revolution, pointed out that real revolutions always widened the bounds of people’s representation. This means that the social basis of state government becomes more and more wide and democratic with every revolution. Something quite opposite to that one can observe as a result of the constitutional reform, since, according to the reform, the direct influence of demos on the Ukrainian politics essentially decreases. Although Ukrainian citizens still will election the President, and the mass media will work, we hope, without censorship and “temniks”, this will not noticeably influence the political course of the country. That is why consequences of the constitutional reform can be considered from the viewpoint of legislative revolution.

After all, the President with the after-reform authorities could be election in the Parliament, and only subordination of local state administration to the President still allows to consider his post as a counterbalance to the legislative power branch in the state. If in future the heads of state administrations would become elective, the nation-wide election of the President would finally lose its sense.

It should be also taken into account that, after the election of President V. Yushchenko, Ukraine won the chance to become not only democratic, but also positively aloof from the post-Soviet republics country (like the Baltic countries). However, just because of that, only the vicinity with Russia is sufficient for proving of Ukrainian presidential republicanism. We mean, first of all, the opportunity of quick President’s reaction to the foreign-policy appeals of Russia.

It is not very important for the European-Atlantic political world, will Ukraine become parliamentary or presidential republic. Yet, the situation looks quite oppositely from the position of political relations of Ukraine with her Western neighbors. In this context it should be expedient to turn the attention to organizational disorder of Ukrainian political forces, factional selfishness of their interests, still existing demagogy of national parliamentary debates.

The paradox of the constitutional reform consists in the fact that, diffracting, in the parliamentary environment, responsibility for the strategic decisions in the country, the reform demonstrates the essentially increased political exactingness to tactical parliamentary maneuvers and operations. On the one hand, the Cabinet of Ministers and Supreme Council of Ukraine will be responsible for the current internal and strategic foreign (appointment to posts) politics of Ukraine. On the other hand, the unprecedented factional discipline is introduced for proper fulfillment of this role in the Parliament. So, whereas, in accordance with Article 81 of the operating Constitution, the decision on the pre-term termination of authorities of an MP in the cases of voluntarily dismissal, change of citizenship or departure for permanent residence abroad is taken by the Supreme Council of Ukraine, according to the reform, “if an MP of Ukraine, elected from a political party (election bloc of political parties) is not a member of deputies’ faction of this political party (election bloc of political parties) or in case of leaving such faction by the MP, his/her authorities is terminated before the proper term on the basis of law by the decision of the higher governing body of corresponding political party (election bloc of political parties) since the day of adoption of such decision”.

The new order of deprivation of deputy’s authorities evidences not only about introduction of strict factional discipline in the Supreme Council, but also about obliteration of the role of personality in the Ukrainian political process. At first sight this reminds consolidation of political brothers-in-arms around their ideological leaders, well-known in Ukraine since the Communist times.

The reform also establishes the demand on incompatibility of the MP’s mandate with other kinds of activities, prohibited by the Constitution. The non-fulfillment of this demand is a ground for the coercive termination of deputy’s authorities.

Thus, the constitutional reform restores the already forgotten in Ukraine imperative (party-corporative) mandate. A people’s deputy is considered here as a party pawn, ordinary holder of the card for electronic voting. It seems that the election to the Supreme Council can become a link in the mechanism of introduction not so much electoral as party priorities. Personal psychological peculiarities of an MP, his individual experience, intellect and geographic belonging to certain region would hardly be used there. All in all, as the preliminary calculations show, introduction of purely proportional system of election to the Parliament can result in the situation, when 85-90% of deputies would be dwellers of Kyiv.

It looks that the constitutional reform transforms the Parliament from the place of wide public discussions to arena for battles of factional gladiators. It is a pity, since in the context of the realized constitutional changes we cannot speak yet about the renascence of the stimuli of political action formulated by V. Havel: moral instinct, taste, ancient political wisdom and analytical delicacy of feelings. On the contrary one can state that, in the sphere of renovation of MP status, the constitutional reform sank into philosophical reduction, legal-logical simplification, lowering of constitutional matter to the demands of plane legislative tactics.

Moreover, joining of the voting for constitutional reform with introduction of changes to the current election laws was also ethically doubtful. When the faction “Our Ukraine” headed by V. Yushchenko demanded resignation of the government and the Central election commission (CEC), as well as urgent introduction of changes into the law on election of the President, it was not the question of political benefits of opposition, but the question of restoration of the organic right of Ukrainian people to vote for realization of its independent will. And the later lay not under, but above the participants of Ukrainian negotiation process.

As long as the political right to elect and be elected forestalls all powers, their branches and sub-branches, from the Parliament and President to the Cabinet of Ministers and the CEC of Ukraine inclusive, the electoral rights of Ukrainian citizens, their volume and regime of realization cannot be the subject of conjuncture agreements.

This means the principal impossibility of improvement of Ukrainian election laws on a security of parliamentary voting for the constitutional reform, as well as any voting at all. The will of people is sovereign in material and procedural sense, so it cannot submit to the whims of participants of any negotiation process. It is a priori supreme, it is organically above any leaders and political elite of the country as a whole.

So, the decision, whether to make the second tour of presidential election honest and transparent, could not depend and had not to depend on the superior, but all the same private by their essence, agreements. The values, which were affected, were incomparably higher than the interests of parliamentary factions or candidates for President’s post. Besides, the question of constitutional reform is too important to be squeezed into the life under the pressure of a transitory crisis. Constitution is a supreme regulator of the interior and foreign life of Ukraine, and it should not be a hostage of political tactics in no circumstances.

Somehow or other, but the internal politics of Ukraine has become prerogative of the Parliament – the political institute, the course of which can be corrected from outside under the conditions existing in Ukraine. It is known that the direct democracy is important, because the people cannot be corrupted physically. This famous thesis of T. Jefferson has been confirmed more than once in practice. So, reservation of the authority and effectiveness of President’s post, as well as his dependence on direct people’s will, remains an imperative task in Ukraine.

Besides, President’s post is an important counterbalance to possible external economic pressure on Ukraine. This argument is particularly serious, because Ukraine is now on the level of development, when her financial-economic power and public policy are practically joined. In these circumstances the special part in the political system of Ukraine must be played by the nation-wide elected leader.

So, the reduction of President’s status to representative and foreign policy functions, introduced by the reform, looks, in our opinion, as a threat even to the interests of state independence. It can be foreseen that corporatism in the political system of Ukraine will grow after introduction of the reform, and the influence of financial-economic groups on the Parliament will become systematic.

It should be also pointed out that the constitutional reform was lobbied mainly by the political adherents of former President Leonid Kuchma, as well as by representatives of parliamentary factions, which got not more than 5-6% of votes of Ukrainian electorate. So, it is doubtful that the constitutional ideas of the Ukrainian political outsiders, must be realized by their opponent V. Yushchenko.

Moreover, introduction of the constitutional reform with radical transformation of President’s authorities between the first and second tours of presidential election contradicted even the common sense. Either from the viewpoint of right or from the position of efficient politics the hypothetical situation, when citizens of Ukraine voted in the first tour for the President with one constitutional status and in the second tour -- for the President with quite another status, is absurd.

Hundreds of thousands of people stayed on the Nezalezhnost Square in Kyiv (Maydan) in order to elect the powerful leader. Consciously and subconsciously they relied on the force of his constitutional post. All in all, the strength of mind and spirit of the people on Maydan were noticeably higher than the ideological tone of the Ukrainian constitutional reform. The permanent orange meeting, unprecedented by its scale in the entire recent history of Ukraine, vindicated not the change of formal juridical institutes, but the change of corrupted actual power. During the revolution Ukrainian citizens protested not against the improper juridical shells, but against concrete individuals. The passing-bell, which sounded on the Kyiv square during two weeks, became the strong evidence of death of the remains of Ukrainian post-communism. Just then and there the Ukrainian citizens once and for all got rid of their eternal political fear, the spirit of dependence and slavery.


In our opinion, law draft No. 4180 on introduction of changes into the Constitution (now Law No. 2222-IV “On introduction of changes into the Constitution of Ukraine”) demands the repeated consideration by the Constitutional Court and the repeated voting by the constitutional majority in the Parliament. After the first consideration in the Constitutional Court, but before the voting in the Parliament on 8 December 2004, essential changes were made in the law draft. It is very likely that in the new, post-revolution, situation it would be rejected by the Parliament as the draft, not meeting actual needs of Ukraine.

In general, taking into account the above-mentioned peculiarities of the Ukrainian political situation, we propose to revise the law draft on introduction of changes to the Constitution of Ukraine in the direction of fundamentally other topics. First of all, the following ideas should be considered:

1.  It is necessary to stipulate in Constitution the status of the President as the head of state executive power. That is the President of Ukraine must be defined as a supreme state official, which heads the executive power in Ukraine. This means that we appeal for establishment of presidential republic in Ukraine.

2.  It follows from definition of Ukraine as a presidential republic that the Supreme Council of Ukraine (Parliament) must approve the government directly formed by the President. At that the political responsibility for the work of executive branch in the country should belong to President personally. Functions of the Prime Minister in the renewed Constitution should be stipulated as, mostly, administrative.

3.  The Supreme Council (Parliament) of Ukraine must effectively control the activities of government and the executive power as a whole through permanent and temporary parliamentary committees and commissions. For achievement of this goal the control functions of the Parliament and public (citizens and non-governmental organizations) must be noticeably fortified on the legislative level. This should be done by adoption of proper laws: on access to information, on government, on public control over the activities of state executive power, on political opposition. Elaboration and adoption of special law on impeachment, as well as the laws on parliamentary temporary, investigating and other commissions would be also useful.

4.  It is necessary to improve the Ukrainian procedural legislation on the Constitutional Court. Until now the Constitutional Court worked, as it is known, as an arbiter-intermediary in the conflicts between the President and the Supreme Council of Ukraine. At that the function of constitutional protection of human rights and freedoms was not seriously realized by the Constitutional Court. That is why we reckon that, for improvement of this situation in future, the list of subjects of handing the complaints to the Constitutional Court must be essentially widened.

5.  It is also necessary to develop and adopt the separate law on constitutional legal proceedings, since the Constitutional Court cannot be considered as a court of constitutional jurisdiction, in the full sense of this concept, without the detailed regulation of procedural questions on the level of laws.

6.  It is necessary to envisage in the Constitution reinforcement of the guarantees of independence of judicial power and the access to justice.

7.  The Constitutional status of prosecutor’s office should be changed leaving only the functions of representing of the state in court: support of state accusation in criminal cases and representing of state interests in civil processes. Functionally the prosecutor’s office should become a subunit of the Ministry of Justice.

8.  It is essential to envisage in the Constitution creation of the Investigating committee, where the investigating units of the Ministry of Interior, USS and prosecutor’s office should be transferred.

9.  It is necessary to liquidate the State committee in charge of TV and radio broadcasting; its functions, according to the Constitution, will be fulfilled by the National Council in charge of TV and radio broadcasting.


Freedom of expression

Ukrainian legislation impedes the development of informational society

Today the new government of Ukraine, presenting its program, promises to conduct new informational policy guaranteeing the possibility of unhampered realization of the right for freedom of speech and thought, free access to information, right for free circulation and exchange of information and actual guaranteeing of citizens’ right for privacy.

In the light of the declared democratic intentions of the government, employees of enterprises and public organizations of information-communicative sphere actively supported “the national movement for democratic reforms”. Yesterday, at the forum “Informational society of Ukraine”, they presented the report to the President of Ukraine “About immediate measures on the development of informational society in Ukraine”.

In “The declaration of principles of the informational society formation” adopted at the Summit in Geneva the informational society is defined as a society, where everyone can create information and knowledge, have access to them, can use and exchange them, promoting stable development of informational society on the basis of goals and principles of the UNO statute and fully keeping to the General declaration on human rights.

However, in Ukraine there is a range of obstacles on the way of development of the informational society, which, above all, must be a democratic society.

In the opinion of the participants of the forum, imperfection of legal regulation of the informational sphere still remains one of the main problems.

Nowadays considerable part of the subordinate legislation is missing, but its approval is presupposed by the acting legislation. In the opinion of Volodymir Podgarny, a member of the commission for science and technologies of the Ukrainian union of manufacturers and businessmen, this situation hampers enterprises of the informational sphere to work efficiently in accordance with intelligible and transparent rules.

The drafts of the legal acts suggested by the corresponding state bodies are very imperfect, and sometimes their norms even directly contradict the acting legislation.

One of the urgent measures for the development of informational society in Ukraine, in the opinion of the authors of the report, is the necessity of guaranteeing of legal interception of communication sessions and telecommunicational messages, aimed at the efficient struggle against criminality, and, at the same time, the necessity of concordance of the legislation with the European legal norms and prevention of violation of human rights.

As it is known, now two law draft are considered in the Supreme Rada – No. 4042 “On monitoring of telecommunications”, elaborated by the Security Service of Ukraine, and No. 4042-1 “On interception of telecommunications”, elaborated by businessmen and public organizations.

In the text of the report the authors offer to reject law draft No. 4042 since the draft “On interception of telecommunications” has considerable advantages. In particular, it meets the European norms and guarantees citizens’ rights in the process of the telecommunication interception.

Volodymir Podgorny supposes that substantial limitations of citizens’ rights are also contained in the norms of the acting legislation, since it envisages the excessive interference of state bodies in the activity of enterprises of telecommunication sphere. For example, Article 63 of the Law of Ukraine “On telecommunications“ regulates the major requirements to the contract between the provider and customer of telecommunication services by the National commission in charge of telecommunications, although these questions are regulated by the Civil and Economic codes of Ukraine and, in his opinion, don’t need additional definition on the level of subordinate normative-legal acts.

In the opinion of the participants of the forum, the development of informational society in Ukraine is also impeded by the lack of guarantees of human rights and the controlling bodies in the informational sphere. For instance, as early as in 2001 the decision was made about establishment of the Interdepartmental center for struggle against infringements in the sphere of high technologies. As it is known, this center doesn’t exist now.

In November 2001 Ukraine signed the Convention of the European Union “On cybernetic criminality”, but it’s not ratified until now. Amendments to the legislation, in the opinion of Andriy Fialkovsky, a member of the All-Ukrainian public organization “Ukrainian Internet Community”, are introduced only formally and not completely.

“Legal indeterminateness in the sphere of public relations and information-communicative technologies, inconsistency between the Ukrainian normative-legal base and the European legislation results in the system obstacles on the way of development of the informational society. For introduction of principles of legal state into the informational sphere it is necessary to create a number of new drafts, to harmonize the existing laws with the international legislation and, in some cases, to cancel normative-legal acts”, - believes the author of the report.

Olena Holiuk,


European court of human rights pronounced the guilty verdict to Ukraine for violation of the freedom of speech

The joint-stock company “Ukrainska press-Grupa” (“The Ukrainian press-group”), which owns the newspaper “Day”, turned to the European court of human rights with the appeal against the decisions of Ukrainian judges in the case on the protection of honor and dignity of Natalya Vitrenko and Petro Simonenko.

In August 1999 N. Vitrenko and P. Simonenko handed the claim to court on the protection of honor, dignity and business reputation. Both claimants asserted that the information, published by the newspaper, was untrue.

The claim concerned two articles by well-known journalist Tetiana Korobova, published in the newspaper “Day” on 21 August and 14 September 1999. The journalist expressed her personal opinion about the role of these political figures in the President’s campaign of 1999. the mentioned politicians declared that the published information was not true and, according to the decisions of Ukrainian courts, got corresponding compensation for that.

In March 2000 the Minskiy district court of Kyiv issued the decision on falseness of the article about Vitrenko and obliged the company “Ukrainska press-Grupa” to pay to N. Vitrenko the compensation equal to 2000 hryvnas and to publish refutation in the newspaper.

In June 2000 the court partly satisfied the demands of P. Simonenko and obliged “Ukrainska press-Grupa” to pay to the leader of communists the compensation of 1000 hryvnas and to refute the published information.

Yet, the European Court of human rights, where the newspaper “day” turned with the complaint, resolved that the decision of the Ukrainian court contradicted to Article 10 of the Convention of human rights. The European Court rejected the peaceful settlement of the conflict, since it decided that respect to human rights demands more thoughtful consideration of the case. The Court unanimously took the decision that Article 10 of the European Convention of human rights (the freedom of expression). The Court also took into account recommendations, reports and resolutions of international organs and non-governmental organizations, which expressed their deep anxiety about the situation that had formed in Ukraine in the sphere of human rights.

The European Court confirmed that the critics of both politicians was impressive, polemical and wrote in sarcastic language. Without doubt, both politicians had the reasons to be offended. Yet, when they were choosing their profession, they had to be ready to criticism: this is the inevitable burned of a politician in democratic society.

Advocate Dmytro Kutakh, who represents the interests of the newspaper “Day”, said in his interview to Deutche Welle: “We have grounded our defense on the argument that the bounds of critics of politicians is much wider. The mater concerned evaluative judgments. This was also the main ground of our claim to the European Court”. The advocate expressed hope that this court precedent will promote faster implementation of the norms of European media right into the Ukrainian legal proceedings.

“We turned to the European Court, when we had lose the case in the Ukrainian courts of all levels: from district court to the Supreme Court of Ukraine.” – Larisa Ivshina, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper “Day”, commented the situation. “The case was considered during three and a half years, and on 29 March 2005 the European Court approved the resolution, unprecedented for our state (since Ukrainian court, unfortunately, still confuse facts and evaluative judgments), but quite usual for Europe. This decision in favor of journalists is a peculiar warning to politicians: we are moving towards Europe and must accept the civilized legal norms. Yet, this does not means permissiveness – ethics, conscience and culture of journalists must always be on the alert.

By the words of Larisa Ivshina, this decision belongs not only to the newspaper “Day”, but also to all Ukrainian journalism. The European Court acknowledged Ukraine to be guilty of violation of Article 10 of the Convention of human rights. So, Ukraine within three months must recompense to the newspaper more than 588 Euro of material damage, 33 thousand of moral damage and 5.5 thousand Euro of court expenses. The total sum – about 39 thousand Euros.

Our informant

Access to information

Administration of a penitentiary in the Khmelnitskiy region impeded work of journalist and human rights protector

On 15 February Eduard Bagirov, the chairman of the board of the international public organizations “International League for protection of rights of citizens of Ukraine”, and Vladimir Shirochenko, a journalist of the newspaper “Pravda Ukrainy”, were not admitted to Shepetovska reforming colony No. 98, situated in the Khmelnitskiy region. In spite of the fact that the journalist and human rights protector had the official permission of Aleksandr Ptashinskiy, the acting head of the Department of penitentiaries of Ukraine, they were not let in by the order of the head of regional penitentiary department.

Representatives of the human rights protecting organization informed that the visit to the colony had been connected with investigation of the facts of mass falsification of the results of Presidential election in colony No. 98, described in the collective letter of the convicts.

“Head of the Khmelnitskiy regional penitentiary department Yakimchuk exceeded his service authorities, as well as the norms of Articles 170 (impediment to legal activities of public organizations) and 171 (impediment to legal professional activities of journalists) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, Article 26 (rights of journalists) of the Law “On printed mass media (the press) of Ukraine” and Articles 5 and 6 of the Law “On information””, -- reads the message.

In this connection E. Bagirov turned to acting head of the Department A. Ptashinskiy with the demand to carry out service investigation and, if the violations of the operating laws would be confirmed, to dismiss T. Yakimchuk from his post. The appeal with the same demand was also directed to the prosecutor of the Khmelnitskiy region.

“Unfortunately, even now, under the new power, there are some officials, who continue to use the methods of Kuchma’s regime, which becomes apparent in impediment to professional activities of journalists and human rights protectors”, remarks E. Bagirov.


Voters’ Committee will hand a claim against the Supreme Council of the Crimea

The Voters’ Committee of Ukraine is going to hand a claim to court against the Supreme Council of the Crimea, since the latter does not answer the informational requests of the organization, informs “Krymskaya liniya”.

Now the committee realizes the project “Obeshchannogo tri goda zhdut” (a Russian proverb that means something like: “One should wait for three years until a promise would be fulfilled”. – Translator’s note), which was started in the beginning of February. In the framework of this project the VCU intends to check, how transparent the work of election representatives of people is, and how they account to the people.

In this connection the VCU sent 120 requests to the Crimean Parliament, but got only one response, which, by the way, was not complete. Head of the Crimean organization of the VCU Roman Cheremukhin communicated that the Committee asked to render them the reports of deputies, plans of work of permanent commission for the current year, reports for the past year, information about speaker’s control over the activities of the commissions and so on.

According to Cheremukhin’s words, the answer was obtained only from Boris Deytch, the Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Crimea; the answer was received two days after expiration of the legal term and did not correspond with the essence of the request. Cheremukhin pointed out that the speaker referred to the fact that the requested data were not a source of documented official information and their rendering was not obligatory. “The principle of publicity is violated, all these data should be open. Our juridical service has started to prepare a claim to court concerning the validity of the refusal to render the information”, declared the head of the organization.

The VCU members believe that the Supreme Council and people’s deputies do not want to answer their requests, and it is seen from the documents, which have been got unofficially, that most often the parliamentary commissions consider the questions of giving awards and ranks.

The Voters’ Committee is not going to retreat and intends to strive for the official responses. Cheremukhin says that people’s representatives must learn to reckon with those, who elected them. The committee also directed informational requests to the Council of Ministers and the Committee in charge of family and youth. Local councils will be the next.

3 March 2005

Edicts “not for publishing” – laws “not for execution”

On 25 February the press conference of the Alliance “Maydan” was held in UNIAN. At the conference Andriy Ignatov, the coordinator of the projects of the site “Maydan”, Evhen Zakharov, a co-chairman of the Kharkiv group for human rights protection, the head of the board of the Ukrainian Helsinki Union of human rights, and Volodymir Martyniuk, the PR-coordinator of the Alliance “Maydan” told why the practice of issuing of edicts with classifications “not for printing” and “not for publishing” were illegitimate, why that interested the public and worried the human rights protectors, what actions were planned by human rights protectors and what were the prospects of victory and publication of the illegally classified edicts.

The information about this conference was published by TV and radio companies: “Inter”, “1+1” (night news of “TCH”), radio “Nart”, Deutche Welle, radio “Liberty” and “The Voice of America”. The information was also placed on many web-sites in the Internet.

The victory of people in the Orange revolution, in the result of which Viktor Yushchenko came to power, became the evidence of principal negation by the society of the old, Kuchma’s system of organization and functioning of the power, the main features of which were clans, lobby taking of decisions, non-transparency and fear of the free informational flows. However, we want to point out that inheritance by President Yushchenko of the odious practice of issuing of “secret” edicts classified “not for publishing” contradicts both the above-stated principles and the declarations of the new power about the devotion to democracy, development of legal state and acknowledgement of the values of civil society.

After the victory over the Kuchma’s regime and raising to the state posts of those, who are called “new power” now, the people expressed its will on depuration of the state of all features of Kuchmism – on creation of new, open and transparent system of organization of interrelations between the people-sovereign (Article 5 of the Constitution of Ukraine) and the state as the organization of public power, responsible to the people (Article 3 of the Constitution of Ukraine). This implies openness and transparency of power, publicity of its work as the guarantees of efficient public control. For realization of such control people should be completely versed in the activities and decisions of the power. In other words, democracy implies well-informed people, otherwise it is not democracy.

The unexpected behavior of the new power resulted in the appearance of the Open letter by Evhen Zakharov, a co-chairman of the Kharkiv group for human rights protection, the head of the board of the Ukrainian Helsinki Union of human rights, to the President. The letter contained the following demands: firstly, to stop the illegal classification of normative acts and, secondly, to make public the contents of all such acts, which had been issued before. On 21 February 2005 the Open letter was signed by 521 citizens: human rights protectors, scientists, journalists, public figures, businessmen, state servants, students, etc.

Unfortunately, we do not know yet about the reaction to this letter of Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, to whom the Open letter has been addressed. Yet, the reaction of Oleksandr Zinchenko, the head of his Secretariat (by the way, the organ, not envisaged by the Constitution), is known. Respected Mr. Zinchenko stated that it was impossible to resign the classification “not for printing”, allegedly because of the necessity of keeping state secrets. This reaction is disappointing, since it evidences either about ignorance of the fact that the classifications “not for printing” and “not for publishing” do not exist at all in Ukrainian legislation, or about incomprehension of the sense of the problem.

So, we have to explain again the following:

According to Articles 6 and 19 of the Constitution of Ukraine, organs of state power and their officials must act only on the basis and within the framework of the Constitution and laws of Ukraine. Use of classifications “not for printing”, “not for publishing” and “for service use only” is not stipulated by any law. Moreover, Article 34 of the Constitution of Ukraine envisages, for its turn, the possibility of restriction of the access to information only “in compliance with laws, in interests of national safety, territorial integrity or public order for prevention of disturbances or crimes, for protection of health of population, for protection of reputation or rights of other people, for prevention of unauthorized disclosure of confidential information, for maintenance of the authorities and impartiality of justice”. Now there is only one such law – the Law of Ukraine “On state secrets”, which recognizes only such classifications as “especially important”, “absolutely secret” and “secret”.

So, the practice of creation of “secret materials” not only does not agree with democratic demands, but also is illegal, except the acts, to which the Law “On state secrets” applies.

We, participants of the Alliance of public activists “Maydan” (Alliance “Maydan”), the voluntary public initiative, continuing the joint work for the achievement of our goal – consolidation of civil society in Ukraine, its influence on the development of Ukraine and construction of jural state, responsible to the society, declare:

1.  We, citizens of Ukraine, who have the right for information, we, taxpayers, who have the right to know, for what our money are spent by our servants, denounce the practice of classification of normative acts, except the cases directly envisaged by operating laws.

2.  We will fight for liquidation of this disreputable practice, for publication of the contents of all, without exception, normative acts, illegally classified by the former power.

3.  We reserve our right to demand publicity in every case not envisaged by law, using the legal methods and the means of direct social action.

4.  We declare: “Democracy gives the answer to the question, how to prevent the misuse of power by state authorities. This is done by giving to population of the right to regulate the activities of government with voting, but the very existence of this right does not means that you are living in a democratic state. For really efficient regulation of the activities of power the population must know, what the government does, people must be well-informed. This is a feedback mechanism, which can be broken, if the government would have the opportunity to control the access of population to information”.

5.  We are sure that Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Timoshenko have nothing to conceal from the society.

6.  We appeal to President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko to exterminate resolutely the greatest “gravitation center of corruption” in Ukraine – the practice of illegal classification of normative-legal acts, since the very existence of this practice caused the thrift of legal nihilism, “phone right” and the laws “not for execution” in the Ukrainian society.

The text of the Open letter to the President of Ukraine with the demand to stop the practice of illegal classification of normative-legal acts can be found on the site You can also sign this letter on the same site.


Interethnic relations

Penitentiary system of Ukraine in 2004

According to the data of the State department of penitentiaries of Ukraine, the number of people retained in the establishments of the criminal-executive system of Ukraine has decreased, during the past year, for 3212 persons (1.7%), and on 1 January 2005 this number was 188465 persons. The dynamics of change of the number of incarcerated for the last seven years is adduced in the Table.

Total number of the incarcerated


206 191


218 083


222 254


192 293


197 641


191 677


188 465

The universal index of the number of incarcerated for 100 thousand of population is 398 in Ukraine. For comparison: in Russia this index is about 600, in the USA – more than 700, and in the countries of the Western Europe – only 80-120.

On 1 January 2005 149697 persons (here and in what follows the data for 1 January 2004 are given in parentheses – 150934) were held in penitentiaries, 38768 (40743) stayed in investigatory isolation wards. The number of women held in custody has also decreased during the year, both incarcerated – 9265 (9917), and staying in investigatory isolation wards – to 2659 (2729). The quantity of the condemned minors has increased – 3225 persons (2403). At that their number in investigatory wards has not essentially changed– now 1992 minors are staying there (1968 a year before).

The number of the condemned to life imprisonment has increased almost for 200: from 891 to 1099, and the number of women among them has increased from 10 to 11.

The quantity of the AIDS-infected convicts in colonies has noticeably increased -- 3568 (1917) among them 89 are ill with the AIDS. The number of the consumptive patients in penitentiaries establishments has also become greater – 10198 persons (9080).

During the past year 59755 (61260) condemned got to the colonies for service of sentence. 73634 persons were taken to investigatory isolation wards. At the same time 51510 (58983) persons were released from penitentiaries in 2004, among them 27832 (30323) were granted on parole. In 2003 5032 were released on amnesty, in 2004 the amnesty was planned, but did not take place.

The situation with holding in custody arouses great anxiety. It was told more than once about the excessiveness of application of this measure in Ukraine. The number of persons released from investigatory wards expressively proves that. In the past year 14186 persons were released from investigatory wards – 19.3% of the total number of persons taken to the investigatory wards during the year. Among them:

-  on the basis of application by courts of punishment not connected with deprivation of liberty – 8392 persons (8405);

-  because of the end of the term of punishment – 3604 (4038);

-  in connection with changing of preliminary measure – 2103 (2686);

-  among them on bail – 78;

-  because of cessation by courts of the cases and on the basis of non-guilty verdicts – 46 persons (77).

It is obvious that the expediency of holding in investigatory wards of the majority of convicts (more than 14000) is doubtful – nobody of them was condemned to a serious punishment. The responsibility for this situation lays, first of all, on the judges, who sanction holding in custody.

On 1 February 2005 registers of the Criminal-executive inspection contained the files of 183729 persons. At that 1103 persons served their punishment in the form of public works.

The number of the incarcerated, who died during their stay in the establishments of the criminal-executive system has not changed much – 808 persons (824), among them 44 (41) committed suicide.


The Ukrainian choice

The idea to conduct special thematic festival, which depicts the problems of human rights, is not a Ukrainian invention – similar festivals are held almost in all European countries. Usually such festivals are organized by public organizations for human rights, they attract attention of the audience by straight-out and exact elucidation of reality, depicting hot subjects of the present. You will say there are many hot subjects like these in TV news? Yes, you are right, but in this case we are speaking about CINEMA, about quite different format and tasks.

The organizers are trying to demonstrate the cinema that would arouse reaction just of the Ukrainian audience, so the selection of films for the opening of the festival has not been casual.

The film of young director Ruslan Honcharov, famous by his earlier work “The Face of protest”, is an unbiased chronicle of the election-2004 events, starting with Donetsk and finishing with Maydan. The author doesn’t accentuate on anything, he gives this right to the audience, which can now, after some time, impartially evaluate the events, in which everyone participated to some extent.

In the program of the festival there are presentations of the festivals-partners: “Human rights in films” (Warsaw) and “One world” (Prague), as well as special projects: “Russia – new language or the Russian existence”, “Democracy. The Belarusian version”, “Democracy. The Ukrainian context”, “Video-report on human rights in Ukraine for 2004”.

The program of the festival consists of about 70 new films of directors from Ukraine, Russia, countries of Europe dedicated to human rights in broad sense – from the right for the freedom of speech to the right for the adequate living standard; prizewinners and nominees of many film-festivals are among the films. All these films are united with the idea of HUMAN BEING, dignity, rights and freedoms: this is the center of attention of all films.

The program of the festival was selected by two criteria: artistic value of the films and actuality of the topic for Ukrainian audience. “Documentary is not a propaganda material or an instruction, it is art, and, at the same time it exists not for itself, but for the audience too,” – says the producer of the festival Gennadiy Kofman. The work of the Hungarian documentary director Peter Forgas “Escape down the Danube” was selected due to its extraordinary artistic qualities – the director compiled his film of old amateur shootings by the captain of the ship “Queen Elizabeth”, who had made a record of the escape of Slovakian Jews along the Danube to the Black Sea, and then to Palestine before the WW2. Despite the fact that Forgas didn’t shoot himself, his style in montage and soundtrack of the film is recognized after several minutes of review. The film got a prize as the best documentary at the Hungarian film festival, and a special prize at the Krakow film festival.

The festival was held in the format of the Days of cinema, the contest program was not presupposed, there was a strict selection and not all interesting films could be reviewed. “We have refused from this practice, and thanks to this the audience will be able to watch the film of young director Olexandra Polunina (Saint-Petersburg) “Yes, death”, which is probably not ideal from the viewpoint of production, but contains very interesting ideas,” – explained organizers of the festival.

The audience had a chance to watch the films, which they could not watch in cinemas, on TV or buy a disc with it at the Petrivka market. For example, the work by Oleksandr Rastorguev “The Maundy Thursday” will never be demonstrated on Russian TV, since this film unvarnishedly depicts the war in Chechnya, and the fact that the characters of the film perished soon after shooting this film reminds us of the reality of all depicted events. Some time ago this work evoked hot discussion among Russian artists: whether bad language is allowed in documentary.

Generally, the problem of Chechnya is a “popular” subject among not only Russian documentalists. The documentary film “White crows – horrors of Chechnya” by German directors Johann Feind and Tamara Trampe from the last program of Berlinare is extremely interesting. The documentalists from Germany used to visit Russia for 3 years on end, observing the main personages that had returned from Chechnya – Kirill, Petia and Katia.

Among the guests of the festival there were Russian, Ukrainian, Polish and Belarusian documentalists, from eminent masters like Belarusian Khashchevatsky to interesting beginners, who will introduce their films and communicate with the audience.

The films presented at the festival is not a production of Hollywood, they are not for entertainment, but, at the same time, nobody have remained indifferent, and, maybe, it is the most important thing that could be offered to the audience by the documentary films on human rights.

Viktoria Onyshchenko


Are Ukrainian mass media able to protect human rights?

Participants of the seminar “Human rights and freedoms and mechanism of their protection”, which was held on 18-24 March near Kyiv, tried to answer this question. The seminar was organized for Ukrainian journalists by the Helsinki Foundation of human rights (Warsaw, Poland), and the public organizations “For professional aid” (Komsomolsk, the Poltava region). More than 30 journalists from all regions of Ukraine learned, how to orientate in the legal ocean, how to protect the rights of other people and how to protect themselves from the pressure of power. The trainers familiarized the mass media representatives with the philosophy of human rights, domestic, European and world mechanisms of the protection of human rights and freedoms, taught them how to prepare the materials so that to write the truth and not to get behind the bars…

“The patrol dogs of Ukrainian democracy” master the lessons in human rights and immediately created a peculiar informal journalist’ trade union, the members of which arranged to help each other with information, useful advices and, above all, the brotherly support in the case of pressure and persecutions. “Let us protect our rights together!” they decided.

Although the attention of new Ukrainian power to journalists is must better than in Kuchma’s times, but it is too early yet to celebrate victory. Many state officials have preserved their old seigniorial instincts, and they believe that the good press is the press that writes well about them. Journalists must permanently and emphatically work in the direction of establishing the normal cooperation of civil society and the power, and not owing to bootlicking, but, on the contrary, by means of creation of the developed informational environment, the environment of freedom and responsibility.

“Prava Ludiny” (human rights) monthly bulletin, 2005, #03