The present report analyzes the situation with respect to a number of constitutional rights of Ukrainian citizens. Particular attention is paid to the right for freedom of speech, the rights of believers, ensuring the security of citizens, limiting the rights of ethnic and linguistic minorities, securing the right for justice, the right of citizens to gather and freely express their views, social and economic rights and the right for effective and fair public administration.
Restriction of rights for freedom of speech and functioning of independent mass media
In Ukraine, during the reporting period, mechanisms continue to be created to further restrict freedom for speech. On July 13, the scandalous bill draft No. 6688 on countering threats to national security in the information sphere was on the agenda of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (the VRU).
The bill draft was introduced by public deputies from the pro-government coalition of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on National Security and Defense – Ivan Vinnik, Dmitry Timchuk and Tatiana Chornovil. According to the bill draft, such threats are proposed to include, in particular, “the influence on decision-making or committment or failure to take actions by state authorities or local self-government bodies, officials of these bodies, citizens’ associations, legal entities”. The authors of the bill draft suggest that this is part of “technological terrorism.”
At the same time, the Security Service of Ukraine (the SBU) is given the right, without a court decision, with the help of the provider to block access to any information resource containing such information. The basis for this may be not only the decision of the court, but also the decision of the prosecutor, the investigator agreed with the prosecutor, or the decision of the National Security and Defense Council.
Accordingly, any appeals for holding mass actions under any public authority will be interpreted as entailing responsibility and implying a blockage, since “the government authority will be under influence”.
The adoption of bills with such broad interpretations contradicts the Constitution of Ukraine, the practice of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and clearly limits freedom for speech. Initiators of this initiative speak about noble purposes of counteraction to information aggression. And, it is precisely with these goals that they have, for more than two years, justifying attempts to launch censorship from various sides¹.
During the reporting period, the authorities continued to make pressure on journalists. On July 14, officers of the National Police and the Chief Military Prosecutor’s Office have made a search in the building of the newspaper “Vesti”².
In the evening, the European press began to ask questions, but what exactly is being done with freedom of speech in Kiev? Then international human rights organizations joined them: “When the military prosecutor sends elite military forces with machine guns to raid the office of the radio station and searches the cell phones of journalists, contacts and text messages, there can be only one interpretation for this: an intimidation attempt and a serious threat to freedom of press”, – said from Paris, the executive director of the Committee on Protection of Journalists (International Committee of journalists’ defense) Joel Simon. “We call upon the Ukrainian authorities to stop the harassment of journalists and stop interfering into their communication with their sources,” – Simon added³.
The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) also holds the same opinion, which also made public its reaction to the situation. And the Council of Europe assigned the second level of threat⁴ to searches in “Vesti”⁵.
On August 9, searches were carried out in the apartments of journalists of the publication “Country.ua”⁶. Moreover, journalists were not allowed to be present during the search⁷. As chief editor Igor Guzhva said: “Searches go to the editorial office and two more journalists. And verbally, the SBU officials say they are looking for a … flash drive.⁸” The chairman of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NSJU), Sergei Tomilenko, criticized another attack of the authorities against the Internet newspaper “Country.ua”⁹.
On September 6, representatives of the General Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine came to the building “1+1 Media”¹⁰ with a search. And on September 13, the Pechersk District Court of Kiev arrested a building in Kiev under address Kirillovskaya, Str. 23, which is rented by the TV studio “Studio 1 + 1” within the case of embezzlement of funds from Privatbank¹¹. This situation can be seen as a method of government pressure on an unwanted businessman Igor Kolomoisky and his media assets, with a purpose to stop critics of the leadership of the state.
Pressures on the media acquire a systematic and technological nature. So, during the reporting period, the next round of pressure was for the newspaper “Nedelya” (city of Glukhov, Sumy region). The newspaper was attacked by hackers: the server of the publication was hacked, the last issue of the newspaper was destroyed, as well as all the data that was stored on it. In protest, for the first time in 18 years of existence, the newspaper came out with white stripes. Journalists associate the situation with the mayor of the city, Michel Tereschenko, who repeatedly expressed discontent with “Nedelya”, and also previously applied physical violence against the chief editor of the publication, expelled him from an open-for-press workshop in the mayoralty. In addition, earlier this year, “Nedelya” appealed to the Committee on Freedom of Speech and Information Policy of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine with a request to protect it from the actions of Michel Tereschenko, who is suing the publication¹².
The criminal cases against unwanted journalists continue to be fabricated. The case of Ruslan Kotsaba continues, and on August 1, Zhitomir journalist Vasily Muravitsky was detained, charged with treason and encroachment on the territorial integrity and inviolability of Ukraine, which was expressed in the creation and dissemination via the Internet of publications containing elements of psychological manipulation of the public consciousness, as well as aimed at inciting ethnic hatred. He faces a sentence of up to 15 years in prison¹³. Well-known human rights activist, secretary of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine Valery Makeev compared the cases of Zhytomyr journalist Vasily Muravitsky, whom the SBU arrested allegedly for the state treason and Ukrainian journalist Nikolai Semyona, who is also judged by the Russian authorities in the Crimea¹⁴ for the same. On August 9, the international organization “Reporters without Borders” called for the immediate release of Vasily Muravitsky. According to the organization, the more detailed charges brought against Muravitsky by the authorities indicate that he was arrested primarily because of cooperation with Russian state media, which is not prohibited by the laws of Ukraine. The Prosecutor’s Office and the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) accused him of being an “information mercenary” who conducts “subversive activities against Ukraine in favor of a foreign state” and, more specifically: “creating and posting online content with elements of manipulating opinion and inciting hatred “.
“We all know about the devastating consequences of propaganda and its role during the tragic events in Ukraine, but the very fact of working in the media or expressing unwanted opinions should not be the subject to criminal responsibility”, – said Johan Beer, head of “Reporters without Borders” in Eastern Europe and Central Asia¹⁵.
“With the incitement of hatred or violence, it is obviously necessary to fight, but on the basis of concrete evidence and respect for international law. Proceeding from the evidence in the case of Vasily Muravitsky, his detention is neither necessary nor proportionate. We call for his immediate release”, – Beer said.
According to article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Ukraine has ratified, any restrictions on freedom of expression must be strictly lawful and proportionate. If the authorities want to restrict freedom of expression, they should be able to establish a direct link between the offender and possible violent actions¹⁶.
On August 26, the non-governmental organization based in New York, the Committee on Protection of Journalists (CPJ) demanded that the authorities of Ukraine immediately release journalist Vasily Muravitsky. “Ukrainian journalists should stop dividing journalists to patriots and non-patriots, instead they should focus on critical role of journalists in a democratic society: calling state officials up to responsibility” – the representative of the organization added. “The Committee on Protection of Journalists believes that the authorities of Ukraine are pursuing critics and publications that are considered anti-patriotic”, – the organization said¹⁷.
On September 28, journalists of Dmitry Vasilets and Yevgeniy Timonin were found guilty of separatism, by Andrushovsky court of Zhytomyr region, in particular, in the creation of the channel “Novorossiya TV”. Both were given 9 years of imprisonment. The verdict was read out in the absence of the defendants. Vasilets was forced to withdrawal from the courtroom under the judge’s order – the defendant began to criticize the court for the decision. Eugene Timonin himself left the room¹⁸.
The Ukrainian authorities are actively continuing to expel foreign journalists from the country, defining them as such an undetermined legal category as “propagandists.” But if earlier this practice came off them and the world community was silent, then this summer the situation changed. The expulsion on August 30 of the journalist of the Russian First Channel, Anna Kurbatova¹⁹, was the reason for the European Commission’s statement that “the protection of national security and citizens must be ensured without violations of fundamental rights and freedoms, including the European Convention on Human Rights.” Moreover, the European Commission did not confine itself to the usual thesis of “concern”, but bluntly stated: “We expect that the Ukrainian authorities will refrain from applying excessive restrictions on the issue of free media submission of information.”²⁰ The European Commission’s patience, most likely, was overwhelmed by the previous deportation – the Spanish Pampligi and Sastra²¹; but Europeans could not blame on this issue, because the Ukrainian authorities use other tactics in cases with journalists from the EU. So, according to the Spanish, the Ministry of Information Policy informed the European Commission that it had made a request to the Security Service, but until the answer to this request comes²², the topic will be brought to naught. According to A. Kurbatova such a statement was not made, and therefore her deportation was used as an excuse to show that the patience of Brussels is coming to an end. And this can bring big problems for the current government, since it is unlikely to give up “excessive restrictions” against the media even under the pressure of Europe. Since the return to independent and objective journalism for the current leaders of the country means political death²³.
On September 4, using the standard wording about the existence of journalists and incorrect “propagandist” journalists, the SBU in civilian clothes, in the evening near the Dnipro hotel in Kiev, forced the girl-journalist of one of the electronic publications into the car and took her to an unknown destination. As is known from the report of the SBU, the journalist collaborated with the well-known blogger Anatoly Shariy²⁴. This was exactly the reason for the interest of the special services, who called the girl “an assistant to one of the pro-Russian propagandists.” After the “preventive conversation” she was released²⁵.
Shariy himself has already recorded the video response to the SBU. He threatens the special services to take the journalist to the European Union and arrange a press conference²⁶ there. In late October, the SBU reported that it has no claims to the journalist²⁷. These actions testify the desire of the special services to “close mouth” to independent journalists, to interfere with their professional activities and violate human rights.
SBU puts pressure on the Internet media to remove certain information. So, on September 14, the Security Service sent a letter to the editorial board of the “Ukrainska Pravda”, which requests that the article on the disruption of the state program for reforming the defense industry be temporarily withdrawn from public access, because it sees in it the disclosure of state secrets. At the same time, it is indicated that the investigation department of the Main Directorate of the Security Service of Ukraine in Kiev and the Kiev region is conducting pre-trial investigation in criminal proceedings No. 22017000000000256, entered in the Unified Register of Pre-trial Investigations on June 29, 2017, on the basis of the crime under Part. 328 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (“Disclosure of State Secrets”²⁸). This fact is undisguised interference in editorial policy and pressure on journalists, as well as censorship. According to Ukrainian journalists: the SBU’s visit to the “Ukrainska pravda” is an attempt to push to silence²⁹. All these phenomena are prohibited by the Constitution of Ukraine.
In turn, in August, after a series of critical publications on the work of the SBU Directorate of the Rovno Department of Security Service, the security service began to be interested in the “Agency for Journalistic Investigations” – it works with the financial support of the governments of Canada and the USA in the framework of the all-Ukrainian project “Assistance to Journalistic Investigations” (more than two million dollars were invested into it). SBU sent a request to Rovno journalists, demanding from them to provide all information about the human rights project³⁰.
Journalists associate the interest of the SBU with their professional activities – at different times, the Agency released a series of stories on the topic of corruption in the special services. In particular, investigations were published on the allocation of the SBU land for the elite “general” building, the cover of the amber mafia, the discrepancy between the declarations and real property of the senior officials of the local SBU³¹.
In August, the media reported on the fabrication by the authorities of the case against opposition-minded Ukrainian political scientists. Some of them observed surveillance and strange offers from unfamiliar people³². The task of such a special operation is to spread fear among the opposition and experts, as well as not let it criticize the current government.
Journalists are also simply being subjected to violence. So, in July seven incidents with the use of physical force against media workers were recorded in Ukraine – in Kiev, Vinnitsa, Nikolaev, Krivoy Rog, Zhytomyr region, Cherkassy and in Mariinka (Donetsk region). This is reported by the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NSJU). “The majority of the victims are TV men or journalists of Internet publications. According to the victims, all these cases are connected with the fulfillment by journalists of their professional duties.”³³
For example, on August 26 in Ovidiopol, the Odessa region, three men attacked and beat Roman Varsnadze, chief editor of the “Nadnestrryanskaya Pravda”. As the victim said, he was attacked by people with iron bars³⁴. In total for 10 months of 2017, 80 cases of manifestations of “physical aggression towards journalists” were recorded, the press service of the National Union of Journalists (NSJU)³⁵ reports. As the head of the CNJU, Sergei Tomilenko, noted on November 2: “We consider that such a situation is unacceptable, and we demand a public report from the authorities and law enforcers regarding all cases where journalists are injured.” In turn, the deputy head of the department of the Main Investigative Directorate of the National Police, Alexander Kovtun, who attended the hearings, stressed that since the beginning of the year 200 productions for “journalistic” articles were opened: 17 cases were transferred to court, 120 – closed³⁶.
All of the above cases are covered by Art. 171 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine: “Obstruction of the lawful professional activity of journalists”.
The murder of the journalist Olesj Buzina in 2015 has not yet been investigated. In this regard, in August 2017, his mother, desperate to find the truth in Ukraine, filed a lawsuit with the European Court of Human Rights against the State of Ukraine. The mother complains about deliberate delaying of the investigation by the prosecutor’s office – the suspects were released, and the defense is not allowed to get acquainted with the case materials³⁷. Also, the murder of Pavel Sheremet was not investigated.
On September 19, the Ukrainian government received a tough statement from one of the most authoritative international organizations – the Committee on Protection of Journalists (CPJ). The committee appealed to President Poroshenko with a list of requirements³⁸ that, according to democratic standards, look like an indictment.
The main accusation is the use of special services for pressure on the media. In the list of evidences – accusations against the “Country” from the SBU and the search, provided by them, at the editorial office on a contrived occasion. In addition, a search with special forces in “Vesti”, the arrest of Zhytomyr journalist Muravitsky and other “preventive measures”. The Committee is disappointed that since the meeting of its representatives with President Poroshenko in July 2017, there has been no progress in the investigation into the murder of Pavel Sheremet.
In their address, defenders of journalists’ rights called on Petro Poroshenko to publicly condemn the actions of the Security Service. “We urge you to ensure that journalists can work freely, without fear of reprisals, and with the full protection that their profession deserves. Public condemnation of the recent actions of the Security Service and confirmation of its commitment to ensuring the safety of journalists will demonstrate your commitment to the protection of democratic institutions and European values in Ukraine”,³⁹ – write journalists’ advocates.
Restrictions of the right for freedom of access to information
On July 13, the Law of Ukraine “On Cybersecurity” (No.2126) was on the agenda of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. According to the amendment of the deputy R. Lukyanchuk (“Public Front”) in the transitional provisions of the Law “On Information”, amendments are being made – it is proposed to introduce a new concept – “technological information”. This is information about all technological processes in any sectors of the economy, as well as information on processes that adversely affect the health and safety of people, the state of the environment, economic, political, social stability of public relations or the activities of business entities.⁴⁰
“Technological information”, that is, any, can be attributed to information with limited access, in other words, it is classified as secret. If the bill on cybersecurity with Lukyanchuk’s amendment is adopted, the law on citizens’ access to information is effectively terminated. Actually, the times of the USSR are returning, when information about the danger of the Chernobyl disaster was classified as technological.⁴¹
In August, the draft law “On compulsory registration of mobile subscribers” was drafted by the State Communications Committee. With the help of this document, the department intends to oblige the telecom company to collect personal data of users. In addition, operators want to oblige to record customer conversations. At the same time, the explanatory note notes that these measures are aimed at “combating mobile fraud and cybercrime”.⁴²
In practice, we are talking about the sale of SIM cards only on passports. In fact, this is the last of the “dictatorial laws” not adopted on January 16, 2014, but implemented by the current authorities. It should be noted that in addition to intrusion into personal life, such preventive actions contradict the presumption of innocence.
In early September, the decree No. 254/2017 of President Petro Poroshenko put into effect the decision of the National Security and Defense Council, which was described in the Internet community as an “Internet dictatorship”.
The state strengthens the function of monitoring of information resources and strives to increase the technical capacity to implement the blocking (restriction) of access to information resources. This trend, one of the painful topics for society.
According to the Decree, the Government within three months should resolve the issue of prohibiting to state bodies, enterprises, institutions and organizations of state ownership to purchase services (conclude agreements) on access to the Internet from telecommunications operators (providers) in which there are no documents confirming compliance of the information protection system to the established requirements in the field of information security. Already, a lack of understanding of the specifics of the decree reaches absurd in some aspects. “Some school principals called operators and demanded that they already have information about the availability of a relevant document on the protection of their networks, referring to the decree of the President”, – notes the Head of the Board of the Internet Association of Ukraine, Alexander Fedienko.
There are also questions about the prices for Internet access services, which will be provided to state structures. As soon as the operator begins to work in accordance with the current regulatory and legal acts (the Decree “On Approving the Regulation on State Expertise in the Sphere of Technical Protection of Information” (2007)), it immediately falls under the regulatory act (Decree “On approval of marginal tariffs for confidential services connection “(2013)) regarding the cost of Internet services.
In this case, according to the third paragraph of the “Marginal Tariffs for Confidential Communication Services”, the cost of providing unlimited secure Internet access at a speed of 1 Mb/s will be 286.71 UAH, at a speed of 50 Mb/s – more than 7 thousand UAH, and from for the speed of 100 MB/s – from 11 thousands UAH per month. This is an important point, because then the concept of “market price” goes away and prices are simply imposed. In addition, such prices will create an additional financial burden on SOEs and the budget.
One of the points of the Presidential Decree is the instruction of the Administration of the State Service for Special Communications and Information Protection of Ukraine, together with the Security Service of Ukraine, to develop, within a month, the requirements for technical means used to monitor the blocking (restriction) of access to information resources and/or information services. The Administration of the State Service of Communications, together with the SBU, must also make calculations on the need for such funds and, in accordance with the established procedure, make proposals for financing their purchase.
Accordingly, Ukraine continues its path to future control and censorship on the Internet, such as the Russian SORM-3/Inspector, which is in fact an instrument for censorship and surveillance of users on the Internet. The “Inspector” automatically checks operators for blocking sites included in the register of prohibited resources of Roskomnadzor, and SORM-3 collects data on users of Internet communications and allows you to store a complete record of network traffic for a certain period.⁴³
The tower, built in the Kherson region, which was supposed to broadcast Ukrainian radio and television programs to the Crimea, instead broadcasts Russian radio stations to Ukraine. The head of the regional administration Alexander Vorobyev told about this at a meeting in the District Council of Genichesk. Video meeting on YouTube published the publication “New Visit”. At the event dedicated to information security, there was a representative of the President of Ukraine in the Crimea Boris Babin. “We built [a tower], but today, unfortunately, the invaders use it, our devices on that station. They block and transmit their information on the same frequency, and everyone here is heard in the whole area”, – Vorobyov said.⁴⁴
The practice of prosecuting and convicting people for reposting and posting in social networks, begun in the last quarter and convicted already by international human rights organizations, continues. So, on October 12, it became known that the Desniansky District Court of Kiev condemned the resident of the capital to two years of imprisonment with a probation period of one year for a repost in the social network “VKontakte” publication containing calls for separatism.
It is reported that the man on April 15, 2014, intentionally with the goal of calling unlimited circle of people to illegal violent change or overthrowing the constitutional order of Ukraine, reposted information on the page of the Union of Citizens of Ukraine and Russia in the “VKontakte”, which had 15 549 subscribers and was not limited in access.⁴⁵
On September 19, the SBU reported having exposed a number of telecommunications providers on the illegal routing of Internet traffic to the so-called DNR/LNR, temporarily annexed by the Crimea and unrecognized Prydnistrovia. It was established that the managers and management of providers, aware of the public danger and the outspoken anti-state nature of their actions, ensured the transit of traffic, in particular, to the territories of Donbass that were not controlled by Ukraine. During the conduct of authorized searches in the premises of providers in Kiev and the region, the Dnipro, Odessa and Kharkov, law enforcement officers seized the final computer equipment and documentary materials that confirm the illegal activities. Criminal proceedings were launched under art. 111 and art. 258-3 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.⁴⁶ It should be noted that in this case, the SBU actually deprives the Internet for Ukrainian citizens living at the territory of LDPR and the Crimea, and in future creates favorable conditions for development of Russian Internet providers there, breaking more and more threads that connect these territories with Ukraine and doing everything possible to they did not integrate back into the legal field of Ukraine. Claims of the SBU regarding traffic in Prydnistrovia are generally incomprehensible, since there are no sanctions in relation to it.
Authorities continue to try to manipulate public opinion, using “bots” in social networks. So, after the blockade by the representatives of “MihoMaidan” (protesters under the Verkhovna Rada in the fall of 2017) of the Roshen logistics center in Yagotin, in social networks, a whole campaign began in defense of the president’s business. By its scale and scope, it probably surpassed all other media wars on the Internet. There was a hashtag #IsupportRoshen and # IbuyRoshen.⁴⁷
You can sum up the results of the blocking of Russian sites introduced by Poroshenko’s decree last quarter. The largest Russian Internet services remain popular in Ukraine even after they were officially banned in May this year.
According to statistics, “Factrum Group Ukraine” (the national Internet association of Ukraine refers to the reports of this company), in July, 35% of Internet users of the country used the social network “Vcontacte”, while “Yandex” – 33%, Mail.ru – 30%, “Odnoklassniki” – 22%.
The statistics of another analytical company – SimilarWeb also confirms that Ukraine remains for “Yandex” and services within the Mail.ru Group (Mail.ru, “Vkontakte” and “Odnoklassniki”) the second largest source of traffic after Russia itself. Moreover, since SimilarWeb identifies as a Ukrainian audience only those visits to the site made from local IP-addresses, it turns out that all these users have access to Russian Internet services without using anonymizers and other special software to bypass Internet locks.
According to the statistics of Factrum Group and SimilarWeb, since May, blocked Russian Internet services have lost 50-60% of the audience and now this decline has practically stopped. And the audience of the Ukrainian version of Yandex (yandex.ua) is growing again: in July, according to SimilarWeb, this site had 128.6 million visits – 3.6% more than in June.⁴⁸
On October 16, representatives of a number of national radical groups (National Corps, Svoboda and Right Sector) demanded the nationalization of “the Yanukovych helicopter landing site” in Kiev, and they seized it in support of their claims.⁴⁹ This fact would not have been particularly out of the general situation of recent years with the seizure by the radicals of something if the building of this site did not have data centers of a number of telephone operators and Internet providers⁵⁰, and it is quite possible that they were the practical goal, not nationalization. Control over them will enable individuals from the authorities who could send radicals there to carry out an unsolicited information removal in the data centers.
It is important to note that in the country there is a consolidation of media assets by businessmen close to the authorities and politicians themselves. So, the public is aware of the participation of ex-premier Arseniy Yatsenyuk in the ownership of Espresso TV channel⁵¹ and about the extensive media assets of President Petro Poroshenko. In particular, more recently, a new television project was launched with extensive financial investments, which is again linked with the president.⁵³
Under the active growth of media assets close to the authorities, independent and unbiased media are closing or changing owners. A vivid example is the situation around the company “TRK Era”. So, because of the hard pressure of the authorities, the TV company Era was supposed to leave the air in the all-Ukrainian broadcast network, and one of the most popular conversational radio in the country, Radio Era, was sold.⁵⁴ The former owners of Radio Era in their statement stressed that the sale is the only way to preserve the media and the staff that it works in. That is why the sale of shares occurred in favor of an investor with American roots, which, from the point of view of international legal and political practice, will be able to protect the right to independent and professional journalism.⁵⁵
Discrimination on the basis of language and ethnicity. Restrictions of the rights of non-Ukrainian-speaking citizens
During the reporting period, the tendencies towards discrimination against non-Ukrainian-speaking population only increased. Such actions occur both at the national and local levels. In this case, the art. 10 of the Constitution, guaranteeing the free development of minority languages, the Law “On Languages” (2012) and Ukraine’s international obligations under the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.
At the local level, there is a total forced Ukrainization of schools: on August 1, the Kherson regional administration announced the transfer of all regional schools to the Ukrainian language.⁵⁶ It means that all first classes will be Ukrainian-language, including those 26 schools of the region, where they still study in Russian. This means that in a region where a significant percentage of the Russian-speaking population is, he will not have the opportunity to send children to school with his native language of education. On October 16, the director of the department of education of the Khmelnitsky City Council Roman Nikolayev confirmed that in the schools of Khmelnytsky they will no longer learn Russian: “I confirm, that our position was the refusal in the general educational institutions of Khmelnitsky from studying Russian. Indeed, this was the position of the mayor”. According to Roman Nikolaev, now there are elective courses for studying the Russian language, but the department believes that they should also be stopped.⁵⁷
On September 7, Mayor of Kherson Vladimir Mikolayenko at a meeting of the executive committee of the city council promised to dismiss the directors of three urban Russian schools, who refused to switch to the Ukrainian language of education.⁵⁸
On October 14, the Ukrainian authorities opened a monument to S. Petliura⁵⁹ in Vinnytsia. It is important to note that the period of Petliura’s rule in 1919-20 is characterized by mass Jewish destructions, and one of the places of such destructions was Vinnytsia. That is, the person to install a monument to her, to put it mildly, is ambiguous. And at least it will help fuel ethnic strife. Therefore, the reaction of representatives of Israel and Jewish organizations of Ukraine is not surprising. Knesset deputy Ksenia Svetlova appealed to the Ukrainian ambassador of Israel Gennady Nadolenko and the Mayor of Vinnytsia, Sergei Morgunov, demanding that the decision to erect a monument for Simon Petlyura in the center of the Jewish quarter of Vinnitsa to be canceled: “Simon Petlyura is responsible for many destructions in Ukraine in which tens of thousands of Jews died. The short time of Petlyura’s rule is one of the gloomy and sad pages in the life of the Jewish community of Ukraine. Therefore, I ask you to make the necessary efforts to cancel the decision to install the monument for Petlyura in the center of the old Jewish quarter in the city of Vinnitsa.”⁶⁰
On July 31, the Kyivrada Cultural Commission rejected the petition of city residents to cancel the renaming of Vatutin Avenue into Shukhevycha Avenue. Moreover, the deputy of Kyivrada from “Svoboda” Yuri Sirotyuk threatened the initiators of the petition with responsibility for “complicity with Russian invaders”, and called the signatures of Kyiv citizens as falsified. He also talked about removing the grave of General Vatutin from the Mariinsky Park.⁶¹
On October 5 Kyivrada made a decision about the Ukrainianization of the service sector in the city. According to the resolution, in all restaurants and cafes, the mandatory (that is, the first served to the client) menu should be in the state language. Also, the entire staff should communicate in Ukrainian. In Ukrainian there must also be all the signs. Exceptions are foreign trademarks, but they must be duplicated.⁶² This decision is an obvious violation of Article 10 of the Constitution. Part one of this article states that the state ensures the all-round development and functioning of the Ukrainian language in all spheres of public life throughout Ukraine. However, at the same time, in Part three it says that “Ukraine guarantees the free development, use and protection of Russian, other languages of minorities of Ukraine”. Read part 1 of Art. 10 and omit part 3 is wrong. Moreover, Article 92 of the Constitution of paragraph 4 further relates the issue of the application of languages to a list of such languages that are exclusively determined by law. And the decisions of city councils are not law. The only legislative body of Ukraine is the Verkhovna Rada.
Thus, only the parliament can determine the use of language in this or that sphere.⁶³ The City Council can not impose any language norms or restrictions on private business. In the law on local self-government, the local council does not have rights in the sphere of language policy restriction. In addition, the decision taken by KyivSovet contradicts with the Law of Ukraine “On basics of the State Language Policy”. Art. 3 of this Law explicitly guarantees the right to linguistic self-determination: “Everyone has the right to freely determine the language that he considers native and choose the language of communication, and also to recognize himself as bilingual or multilingual and to change his language preferences. Everyone, regardless of ethnic origin, national and cultural identity, place of residence, religious beliefs, has the right to freely use any language in public and private life, to study and support any language.”
Art. 18 of the same law explicitly prohibits the introduction of language restrictions: “In the internal rules of enterprises, institutions and organizations of any form of property, it is prohibited to adopt any provisions excluding or restricting the use of the state language, Russian, other regional or minority languages in communicating employees. In the work of enterprises, other languages can be used”.
“Translation or transliteration of the names of establishments into the Ukrainian language, article 26, paragraph 1 of the Law “On basics of the State Language Policy” states that “advertisements, messages and other forms of audio and visual advertising products are performed in the state language or in another language by choice of the advertiser”.
That is, the law directly guarantees the advertiser the right to choose which language to advertise. That is, in fact, means that the decision taken by the Kyiv Council on servicing exclusively in the Ukrainian language is purely recommendatory (by the way, some representatives of the city council also admit it). Another question is that all sorts of “activists” who will blackmail businessmen can undertake to monitor the implementation of this decision, not especially relating their actions to the norms of the law.⁶⁴
In 2018, in Ukraine, the Russian language will be excluded from the list of subjects on which, based on the overall complete secondary education, external evaluation is handed over.⁶⁵
Pro-government journalists “patriots”actively continue to divide citizens of Ukraine by sorts, fanning xenophobia. Thus, Ukrainians, who disagree with the current state of affairs in the country, were offered to expel from the country following the example of expulsion from Czechoslovakia of Sudeten Germans. The idea was sounded on the air of Channel 5 from the mouth of the leading Vitaly Gaydukevich, during the discussion with the sociologist, the leader of the rating group Alexei Antipovich, of the mood of the population at the controlled territories of Donbass. According to Gaidukevich, those who attribute themselves to the “pro-Ukrainian” part, should achieve all the benefits. “And if you despise Ukraine – you will not enjoy the full scope of the citizen’s rights. This is the Baltic experience, where there were non-citizens, where people took exams in knowledge of language and history. And I remembered the experience of Czechoslovakia, when 3 million people were promoted abroad for the promotion of the occupation. These are Sudeten Germans and Hungarians”.⁶⁶
“Experts see in the dialogue signs of the development of a dangerous worldview. “This is a dialogue of the Nazis,” the political scientist Andrei Zolotarev described the program. – In any European country for the separation of citizens into “right” and “wrong”, both companions would become persona non grata.”
“There are signs of inciting ethnic hatred,” – political scientist Alexei Yakubin agreed with him. – And it’s very strange that the state services do not notice them. Usually the National Council reacts even to more innocuous words that sound on the air. And in the case of the presidential television channel they prefer to close their eyes to it.” He also points to the manipulation of the participants of the program: “The presenter and guest spoke about love for Ukraine. But in fact they substituted the concepts, calling for loyalty to the actions of the authorities. In fact, they say that if you criticize the president or the government, then you take an anti-Ukrainian stance. But in my opinion, real patriots will criticize the actions of the authorities if they consider them to be erroneous. And pseudo patriots have only patriotic rhetoric on their lips, and real politics is quite different: prices are rising, utility tariffs are being reduced, state orders are being reduced in higher educational institutions,” – Yakubin concluded.
On July 23, Lviv TV anchor Ostap Drozdov expelled from his talk show, for refusing to switch from Russian to Ukrainian, political scientist Yuri Romanenko, a native of Kharkov, who in the recent past actively supported Evromaydan and received a criminal case in Russia for calls to kill Russian journalists at Donbass.⁶⁸ It is interesting that during the time of Viktor Yanukovich, Lvov citizen Drozdov positioned himself, on the contrary, as a conscious of difference between the regions of Ukraine and criticized the unitary structure of the country.
Since October 13, language quotas have been in effect on television, and on radio it happened even earlier. 75% of TV production should now be in Ukrainian, and 25% on radio. Among the European countries, language quotas are used in Poland and Greece, but in a much smaller volume than in Ukraine – 33% and 25% respectively. In the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain they use quotas, on the contrary, to protect the languages of regional ethnic minorities, so that they are not replaced by the dominant state language. In other European countries, the practice of quoting is almost non-existent, since such prohibitions, as a rule, lead to the opposite effect – people begin to watch the product in the usual language of communication via satellite or the Internet.
It is possible to recollect unsuccessful experience of Latvia where in 1998 have entered a quota on 75% of the Latvian language on air of telechannels. Already in 2003 the Constitutional Court of Latvia abolished this rule of law, because it considered that it violated the rights of ethnic minorities to access information. In its decision, the court pointed out that the quota only led to the fact that the Russian-speaking population stopped watching Latvian television and switched to Russian. Now the same trend, according to the forecasts of players of the media market, is waiting for Ukraine.
“This law does not contribute to the development of the Ukrainian language, it is directed against the Russian language,”- says Anna Bezlyudnaya of the Media Group. – And before the adoption of the law on quotas on most of the TV channels, the broadcast was conducted mainly in the Ukrainian language. Therefore, the question arises: who infringed the Ukrainian language? Practically all schools are in Ukrainian. The official language is one, Ukrainian. So what’s the problem with the Ukrainian language?”.
“The Ukrainian law on quotas is not even slightly related to the market sector. This is not just a preference, but explicit discrimination,” – says Yuri Gavrilechko, an expert with the Public Security Fund. And here we are talking about discrimination of not even native speakers, but producers and content broadcasters: the state actually tells them what to sell in priority order, violating their rights as business entities.
Media expert Mikhail Podolyak agrees: “Language quotas – if you refuse to ideologize the problem – this is banal prohibitive competitive technology. And it inflicts damage, first of all to our TV channels, in a paradoxical way, throwing them out of global competition. Any prohibitive technology is self-isolation. We ourselves narrow our audience. The result – the Ukrainian channels will become even more provincial and gray, as the viewer will go to the network or to the satellite. That, in turn, will reduce the flow of money into its own production.” ⁶⁹
Already there are first victims of these discriminatory norms. On October 5, the National Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting imposed a fine on Radio Era FM. The audit revealed that the company did not comply with the legal requirements for sounding of the mandatory share of Ukrainian-language songs – 23%. The penalty was 317438,21 UAH⁷⁰. This precedent is indicative: “Radio-Era FM” is a news and talk radio and is broadcast in the language in which citizens of Ukraine communicate.
The well-known Ukrainian singer Jamala criticized the linguistic policy of Ukraine, according to which obligatory quotas for Ukrainian songs are established on the air of radio stations. “Yes, I’m for the fact that we sounded a lot of Ukrainian music, but the law needs to be worked out. Because there is a lot of English-speaking Ukrainian music and Russian-speaking. We should not listen constantly to the radio “Two Colors,” Jamala said on the air of the “Fifth Channel”.⁷¹
In the OSCE report for 2003, it is argued that quoting a single state language violates the rights of citizens to access information that are enshrined in international and European human rights conventions. Civilized countries, on the contrary, try to quote minority languages, and not state ones, since they are the most vulnerable.⁷²
When hiring in the state bodies of justice in Lviv, you need to study the history of the UPA, the biography of Stepan Bandera and even sing at the interview the rebel song “Ribbon behind the Ribbon” about the machine gunner who “mowed the enemy.”⁷³ These requirements, aimed at supporting one ambiguous ideological trend, clearly contradict the Law of Ukraine “On Public Service”. According to which “Public service is a public, professional, politically impartial activity for the practical fulfillment of tasks and functions of the state” (Article 1).
In July 2017, the Ukrainian media flashed the statement of the ultra-right politician associated with public deputies Andrei Biletsky, the “commissar” of the regiment “Azov” Oleg Odnorozhenko about the dominance of Islamists and the dangerous activity of the Djemilean Mejlis, a large part of which are adherents of the radical sect “Hizb-ut-Tahrir”, which, in turn, is a delayed-action mine. “We, of course, may not pay attention to it, but it will somehow work,” Odnorozhenko said. He states: “The Mejlis does not have any right to impose Ukraine future status of the Crimea and demand national autonomy on the territory of the peninsula or in the Kherson region.” The ultra-right politician points out: “We must understand that the Crimean Tatars have their own national interests, and they will adhere to them. There is no question of any consideration of Ukrainian national interests in their interests. I do not see any reason for us to take their interests into account. In fact, we are not allies. I do not see any reason to look for any compromises with them.”⁷⁴ Odarozhenko also believes in the hostility of the Islamic world, a direct geopolitical competitor, and declares: “If they start doing what they are doing now, lobbying their interests, imposing, demanding autonomy, recognition, then this must be repulsed.”
It is interesting that by publishing various kinds of discriminatory laws, the authorities themselves violate them. Thus, journalists recorded the campaign of the Prosecutor General to the book market of Petrovka, where he bought books from 2016-17 published in Russia, the free import of which to Ukraine was banned by the current authorities.⁷⁵
On the other hand, the Ukrainian authorities in every way trying to “tear off” Ukrainian citizens from their Russian relatives and complicate their personal communication introduce new restrictions and obstacles to the entry of Russians into Ukraine.
So, on September 1, President Poroshenko brought into effect the decision of the National Security and Defense Council to introduce biometric control for foreigners entering the country, as well as a preliminary registration system before entry – for Russians and stateless persons. In general, the guests from Russia are waiting for a triple check: before the border, at the border and after the border:
- Before going to Ukraine, Russian citizens will have to warn the Ukrainian authorities via the Internet.
- The country will need to enter the biometric passport. Since January 1, 2018 all frontier posts of Ukraine should be provided with the necessary means for fixing biometric data.
- Upon arrival in Ukraine, Russians must necessarily register. And this will also affect those Russians who already reside at the territory of Ukraine.⁷⁷
The price of all these border innovations, which should be fully launched starting from January 1, 2018, is estimated at 600 million UAH. At the same time, the “September decree” of President Poroshenko can cover not only Russians and other foreigners. In the text of the document that came into force, there is an important reference to the Ukrainians themselves. We are talking about the national system of biometric verification and identification of citizens of Ukraine, which should be active starting from the New Year. After a full-fledged launch of “biometric protection” it becomes clear who of these three categories of citizens has become the main object of attention of the authorities. And whether it turned out that with her help, the current government received the tools to introduce a global system of surveillance and control primarily over the Ukrainians.⁷⁸
In the same direction, the draft law on restricting visits to the Russian Federation of politicians, officials, representatives of local self-government bodies and public figures and drafted on October 9 in the Verkhovna Rada by the bill No. 7187 on introducing a temporary restriction of the right of Ukrainian citizens to leave Ukraine for the state- aggressor. The authors are representatives of the BNP Andrey Nemirovsky and Andrei Shinkovich, as well as the non-factional deputy Andrei Denisenko.⁷⁹ These bills directly violate the citizens’ right for freedom of movement.
Pressure on the judicial branch of power. Limitation of right for justice
At the current stage of the development of the state, fights and blocking of the court have become the norm. However, during the reporting period there were several events slightly exceeding the “usual” level. Thus, the rout of the Svyatoshinsky court of Kiev on October 23-24 during the trial of OUN leader Nikolai Kokhanivsky became a rather significant event.⁸⁰ The result of this pressure on the court as in other cases had the result, although he shot the man, Kochanivsky was released.⁸¹
There were a number of seizures of courts by “activists” and with fewer consequences. So, on July 21, there was an actual seizure of the administrative building of the court by “activists” and detention of judges of the Shiryaevsky district court of the Odessa region in hostages. A group of unknown people knocked out the windows and doors of the courthouse, blocked the entrance of the court with tires and was about to set them on fire.⁸²
On September 18, in Odessa, the court decided to acquit all those accused in the “Cause of May 2” who were in the Detention Facilities for 2.5 years and release them from custody in the courtroom. The court determined the blatant incompetence of the investigation and the prosecutor’s office: “The court also found the photo and video, shown as evidence, questionable. First, the court stated, despite numerous demands, the prosecutor’s office did not provide the original video, but only their edited versions. Secondly, on many videos it is impossible to distinguish the faces of the persons depicted, and the prosecutor’s office could not prove that these are the accused.”
The pretrial investigation was biased and dependent on the persons involved in the events, the court states. In particular, the judges point to the fact that the “Euromaidan participant” Khodiyak, who was accused of killing “Kulikovo fighters” at the Greek Square, was detained for two days, while “supporters of federalization” have been there for more than three years.
“There is no evidence to support the prosecution. Moreover, the prosecution did not even try to prove the guilt,” – the judge read out in the decision statement. “The prolonged detention of Kulikov’s activists, for example Yevgeny Mefyodov, may indicate his intention to break his will, judges believe. They also recall that the courts twice ruled to release Mefyodov from custody, but under pressure from activists and as a result of the machinations of law enforcers he remained on detention”, – the Court notes.
The court did not exclude the possibility that the defendants did not arrange riots, but, on the contrary, tried to protect the population. But the SBU did not release a number of released persons to freedom. Half an hour later, they were charged with suspicion under art. 110 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (separatism). The court was several times attacked by ultra-right activists during the announcement of the verdict. In addition, they did not allow to get to the Russian citizen among the detainees and to the Russian consul⁸³, which violated the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (1963).
Among other things, a specific law enforcement agency, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, continues to use activists to pressure the court. In the previous monitoring, it was mentioned how the NABU used professional activists to pressure the judiciary in the case of the head of the State Fiscal Service Roman Nasirov. More recently, similar actions were repeated in the case of Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, whose son was detained by NABU. So, NABU used the “public activist” Alexei Gritsenko (the son of one of the Ukrainian politicians) to disseminate information about the military operation, as well as to disseminate appeals to “demand” from the court a “fair decision”.⁸⁵ Why the civilian person acted as a press service and the speaker of the law enforcement body remains a mystery.
On October 16, the Transparency International organization expressed the opinion that the judicial decision taken in April 2017 to confiscate the 1.5 billion dollars arrested on the accounts of Yanukovych and his entourage was prepared hastily. Moreover, the decision of the Kramatorsky Court is under secret. According to the NGO, the defendants “… will appeal this decision. If in fact there have been procedural errors, the European Court of Human Rights may require Ukraine to reconsider this decision.”
“The only explanation for the secrecy is that it was actually being prepared in an accelerated manner. This explains why it was rendered in Kramatorsk, why the head of the process was recorded at that time by the active military prosecutor of the ATO forces Konstantin Kulik. We understand that our law enforcers do not have a lot of experience in bringing anti-corruption cases to the final result, since this level has not yet been considered. Thus, it is more likely that the evidence base for this decision was prepared hastily with the appropriate motivation of the judge”, – said Yaroslav Yurchishin,⁸⁶ director of Transparency International in Ukraine.
In the reporting period (October 3), the judicial reform was voted in the Verkhovna Rada. This reform only strengthened the power of the president and limited access to the courts for citizens. More than 4 thousand amendments were submitted to the draft law.
“The preliminary analysis of the text of the bill shows that some of its provisions do not take into account the constitutional requirements, do not comply with other legislative acts containing internal inconsistencies, do not take into account the European standards of precision, clarity, intelligence, brevity, consistency, effectiveness, performance and proportionality of the law,” – says in the conclusion of the Main Legal Office of the Parliament.⁸⁷
But, despite this, the law was adopted. Its main provisions are as follows:
- Though judges of the Supreme Court are selected on a competitive basis, the president by law is the last instance that approves them. And at the stage of the contest, the main candidates for the Supreme Court judges turned out to be pro-presidential functionaries. And this despite the fact that the Public Council of Integrity, with the support of the West, rejected dozens of candidates. But even this did not stop them from getting through the competition.
- The notification of the summons to the court will occur in a number of cases via the Internet. And, not to the defendant’s e-mail address, but simply by publishing a call on the court’s website. This will concern persons whose location is unknown to the authorities. Should every Ukrainian citizen check himself on the courts’ websites on a daily basis – not specified. The Main Legal Department emphasizes that such a norm is controversial, since a significant number of citizens of Ukraine do not have the opportunity to connect to the Internet and access to the specified electronic resource.
- The plaintiffs were obliged to make something like a “pledge” when filing a lawsuit – in order to compensate the defendant for the costs of a lawyer in the event of his winning. This actually makes the trial accessible only to rich people.
- The court may limit access to the courtroom if there are not enough seats in the room. Theoretically, this will allow the expulsion of all journalists or observers from the court: you only have to put your “people” in vacant places (Part 2, Article 7 of the Civil Procedural Code, Part 3, Article 10 of the KAAC, Part 3 of Article 9 of the COD).
- The norm, which is absolutely unacceptable for the business community, appeared in the law passed by the Rada. Now the judge will be able to unilaterally issue orders against firms and legal entities, even if they are not participants in the process. The law gives the judge the power to do this if he suddenly sees “shortcomings in the activities” of certain companies when he considers the case where these companies are mentioned. In practice, this gives authorities another tool of pressure on business, bypassing complex bureaucratic procedures.
- The law introduced an amendment, which reduces the time for investigation of cases to 3 or 6 months. Accordingly, all “Maidan” cases and cases against the former leaders of the state will have to be closed, since the terms of the investigation there have already passed long time ago.
- The law gives judges considerable repressive powers (imposing penalties for actions that seem to be a violation or abuse), which, under the conditions of a corrupt judicial system, can turn against conscientious participants in the process (Part 149 of the CCP, Article 149 of the CAS, Article 136 of the COD) .
- The court will not publicly pronounce judicial decisions taken on the basis of a closed court session (Part 18, Article 7 of the Code of Civil Procedure, Part 17 of Article 10 of the KAAC, Part 18 of Article 9 of the COD), which is a violation of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which states that judicial decisions are in any case publicly proclaimed.
- The law introduces a lawyer’s monopoly on representation in the courts immediately, rather than gradually, as provided for by constitutional amendments, since it does not contain any transitional provisions on this issue. This will enable the courts not to allow the representation of the interests of persons who do not have the status of a lawyer, guided by procedural codes.
- The judge will be able to meet secretly with each of the parties separately, and the subject of conversation can not be fixed even by the participant of the process under pain of responsibility (Part 9, Article 204, clause 5 Part 1, Article 149 GPK, Part 9, Art. 186, item 4, part 1, article 149 of the CAP, part 10 of article 189, clause 5 of part 1 of article 136 of the COD). This will enable the judge to claim improper benefit from the party, without fear of responsibility.
- In the administrative proceedings, where the presumption of the defendant-authority’s fault is acting today, and it is he who is obliged to prove the legality of his decisions, the court will have the opportunity to shift the burden of proving the violation of the rights of the plaintiff-citizen (Part 4, Article 77, part 2, Article 264 CAP). This greatly weakens the ability of an ordinary person to assert his rights in an administrative court and undermines the very essence of administrative proceedings.
- In administrative proceedings, it will be prohibited to enforce a claim by suspending the decision of a power authority that is not subject of appeal in an administrative case or the establishment of a prohibition or obligation to perform actions resulting from such a decision (Clause 5, Part 3, Clause 151 of the CAP). The official will be able to cover up his illegal decisions or actions that the claimant disputes, by execution of such instruction and the court can not stop the illegal activities of such an official in order to secure the claim. This will weaken the protection of a person from the arbitrariness of officials and authorities.
- In the criminal proceedings, the parties to proceedings, including the defense, are deprived of the right to independently choose and engage a forensic expert. Only the investigating judge and the court will have the authority to attract the expert (articles 242, 243, 244, 332, 509 of the Code of Criminal Procedure). At the same time, only state specialized institutions will have a monopoly in the implementation of forensic examinations. This will lead to a significant narrowing of the right to defense and the constitutional principle of competitiveness of the parties.
- In the criminal procedure, the period of pre-trial investigation will be calculated from the moment of registration of information in the Unified Register of Pre-Trial Investigations, and not the moment of notification of suspicion, as now (Article 219 of the Code of Criminal Procedure). Such a move would have catastrophic consequences for the victims. After all, the number of refusals at the beginning of the investigation for non-obvious crimes will grow significantly, since the investigators will not take responsibility to investigate these crimes so quickly. Most cases will be closed, since it is impossible to investigate them in three or six months. These changes will make it impossible for all organs of pre-trial investigation to work effectively, which will lead to even greater impunity in society.⁸⁹
On June 23, the Group of States against Corruption (an international organization set up by the Council of Europe) completed the monitoring of the situation in Ukraine and noted in its Conclusion the following deficiencies in the judicial sphere:
- International experts expressed concern about the existing mechanisms for clearing the judiciary in Ukraine and noted that the implemented by authorities radical measures cause concern, and not in the last turn, for practical reasons. Already at the time of the visit of a group of experts in Ukraine (December 2016), there were no judges in about 20 courts, and in other courts they were critically lacking (paragraph 112 of the Conclusion).
- According to information received by a group of experts, cases of influence of politicians on legal proceedings and pressure of prosecutors on judges were made with acquittals. The expert group also had the impression that the current unpredictable professional situation of judges makes them particularly vulnerable to attacks on their independence. The group drew attention to such a threat to the independence of judges as the use of certain criminal offenses by prosecutors, in particular “Adoption by a judge (judges) of a knowingly unlawful verdict, decision, definition or ruling” (Article 375 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine) as a means of pressure on judges. It is noted that according to the results of a survey of judges held in 2016, 5.5% of all judges (and 6.6% of judges of courts of first instance) confessed to receiving threats from the prosecutor’s office for refusing to make the “necessary decision” (paragraphs 113, 114 of the Opinion) . It is recommended to cancel this article of the Criminal Code.
- Experts drew attention to the security of judges, noting that according to a survey of judges in 2016, 88% of respondents do not feel safe in the courthouse. In this regard, it is recommended that measures should be taken to ensure the safety of judges so that they are less dependent on external pressure and corruption (paragraph 116 of the Conclusion).
- The procedure of qualification assessment, which all judges must pass, was also analyzed. At the same time, it was noted that the group learned that because of the qualification assessment, the judges today are afraid to make decisions on political matters.
- The experts are questioned by parallel checks to prevent corruption, introduced by the Law of Ukraine “On Restoring Trust in the Judiciary in Ukraine” and the Law of Ukraine “On the Purification of Power” (the so-called “law on lustration”), which also cause concern (paragraph 137 Conclusions).
- Attention was drawn to the expediency of the existence of the Higher Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine as a separate body and recommended that such an organ be a part of the Supreme Council of Justice. Comments were also expressed regarding the participation in the procedure for appointing judges of the Public Council of Virtue, in particular the need to represent various groups of society within the council. Taking this into account, it is recommended to analyze the desirability of reducing the number of bodies participating in the appointment of judges, as well as more clearly define the tasks and powers of the Public Council of Virtue, ensure that its composition reflects various groups of society, and tighten the rules on the conflict of interests, the introduction of an effective monitoring mechanism (paragraphs 138, 141 of the Conclusions).
- Experts also criticized the existing system of periodic evaluation of judges, which is carried out by the National School of Judges of Ukraine, because in their opinion, the assessments by teachers of the National School of Judges of Ukraine are unlikely to guarantee objectivity and equal treatment of judges, because it will depend on short-term impressions and a certain type training, which visited the judges, and not on their daily work. In addition, it was noted that the Law on the Judiciary and the Status of Judges provides for assessments by professionals of one specialty (“peer to peer”), i.e. judges in relation to judges. In this regard, it is recommended that regular judges’ assessments are conducted by judges on the basis of predetermined single and objective criteria relating to their daily work (clause 146 of the Conclusion).
- It was noted that despite the reduction in the number of prosecutors in recent years, the number of prosecutors in relation to the number of people in Ukraine still remains the highest among the member states of the Council of Europe (paragraph 202 of the Conclusion).
- One aspect that is recommended to change is to ensure the professional selection of a candidate for the post of Attorney General, since experts noted that the current legislation of Ukraine does not provide any such guarantees. The mechanism for ensuring consultations with professional experts before the decision is made by the President and the Parliament is also absent. It is also recommended to amend the law stipulating that higher education in the field of jurisprudence is a priority for a candidate for the post of Attorney General. In general, the need to pay due attention to the revision of the procedure for appointing and dismissing the Prosecutor-General to make the process more resilient to political influence and more focused on the objective criteria of the candidates’ professional qualities (paragraphs 208, 209 of the Conclusion) is noted.
- International experts also analyzed the problem of obtaining guidance on individual cases from high-level prosecutors. In examining this issue, the following was noted: “The group of experts recognizes that the reform of 2014 introduced several important changes. In particular, such changes require top-level prosecutors to issue or confirm instructions in writing. They provide the prosecutors with certain protection against deliberately illegal instructions. At the same time, the Group was dismayed to learn that, despite existing legal restrictions, verbal instructions, especially from the Attorney General, are still common practice. Also, no proceedings against high-ranking officials were initiated without an informal “president’s order on this””. Such a “command” is provided by the President through the Attorney General. The group did not have the authority to verify the reliability of the statements. Nevertheless, the group notes that any such practices (or even suspicions about them) can significantly undermine citizens’ confidence in the prosecution authorities.
In this context, it was noted that for public confidence it is important that the prosecutor’s office is and was considered impartial and independent of any improper influence, especially political nature “(paragraph 234 of the Conclusion).⁹⁰
Ukrainian citizens are literally every day deprived of the right to justice and a fair trial. One of the most striking recent examples is the situation around the justification of the border guard Sergei Kolmogorov, who earlier shot a car with civilians.⁹¹
In the context of this case, all pro-governmental media deliberately shifted the issue from the importance of making a fair decision to the emotional side of the situation. Repeatedly it was stressed that the current authorities are attentive to the Ukrainian military and will not allow them to be controlled.
However, with such an informational agenda, the mass media purposefully pressed on the court, in parallel depriving the family of the victims of the right to justice. Moreover, in the process of consideration of the case, the question of the responsibility of the commanders of the relevant unit was not raised, which could not qualitatively organize the work of the checkpoint. Among other things, this decision once again emphasizes the artificial differences, consciously promoted by the acting authorities, between Ukrainians from different regions. Consciously imposes the idea that if you are a resident of the East of the country, then necessarily “separatist” and “not a patriot.”
The Ukrainian government does not provide a sufficient level of security for citizens. The third year of ATO in Donetsk and Lugansk regions is already coming to an end, and there are no ways to resolve the impasse. Moreover, the legitimacy of the AFU’s participation in the ATO is called into question.
According to the Constitution of Ukraine, the use of AFU is possible on the basis of the decision of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to “approve the decision of the President of Ukraine on the use of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and other military formations in case of armed aggression against Ukraine” (Article 85, paragraph 9). Ukrainian government determines the situation at the Donbass as the aggression of the Russian Federation. Although legally it was settled only on October 6.⁹² At the same time, the decision to conduct ATO with the use of the AFU was taken by the person in the position of “acting President “, the existence of which is not provided for by the Constitution, through the adoption of the Presidential Decree No. 405/2014 of 14 April 2014 on the implementation of the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine of April 13, 2014” On Urgent Measures to Overcome the Terrorist Threat and preservation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine “(attached, secretly)”. No one appealed to the Verkhovna Rada, which is provided for by the Constitution, for the use of the AFU. That is, from a purely legal point of view, all actions within the framework of the ATO were unconstitutional from the very beginning. It was to this fact on September 7, 2017, the deputy speaker of the Verkhovna Rada O. Syroed noticed: “The armed forces that are atthe east of Ukraine are being used in an unconstitutional way.”⁹³
In attempts to adopt in October 2017 a new law on the reintegration of the Donbas, according to which the Ukrainian radicals tried to ban all relations with the rebel territories, the EU representatives pointed out that the law should contain an element of inclusiveness.⁹⁴
On August 15, the GPU published its version of the causes of the Illovai boiler in the summer of 2014. According to the GPU, there are several reasons: 1. Low level of combat readiness and combat readiness of the Armed Forces, 2. Massive facts of desertion, unauthorized abandonment of military service and non-fulfillment of orders of commanders among personnel in Ukrainian army at that time, 3. Russian invasion, 4. Separate mistakes of the ATO leadership during the planning and conduct of the military operation.
It is interesting that neither the parade on Khreshchatyk on August 24, 2014 with the participation of troops and armored vehicles, nor the general mediocre planning of the military operation among the causes of the tragedy of the Ukrainian army are not defined. At the same time, the participants of the operation blame the military-political leadership of Ukraine for the rout.
The failure of the draft campaign in Kiev caused a round of military committees, together with police, in the nightclub Jugendhub on the night of October 27-28. Law enforcers detained several people. This was the result of a raid on the capture of drug dealers. All the detainees are men of military age and they were taken not to the district department, but to the military enlistment office. Later reported that several people were released.
“The guys are held allegedly to check information about possible evasion from military service. At the same time, they try to conduct a medical commission, send them to the place of service, perhaps, perform any other actions. In this case, the procedure for recruiting them, in my opinion, is violated. Evidently, – illegal detention,” – commented the lawyer Roman Stoichev.⁹⁶
The authorized representative for human rights of the Verkhovna Rada Mikhail Chaplyga called “lawlessness” the sending to the military registration and enlistment office of the visitors of the Kiev club Jugendhub and stated that long-term lawsuits are awaiting the offenders: “There is no question of legality at all. Many articles of the Constitution and the Code of Criminal Procedure have been violated, which, I think, is a matter for months, since too many people have been involved in all this, too many violations. All this has already been recorded, documentary settled.”⁹⁷
In turn, we can point out the broken articles: the law enforcers who broke into the premises did not present the investigative judge’s decision to conduct investigative actions, and by this violated Part 3 of Art. 236 of the Code of Criminal Procedure; During the investigation, physical force was applied to the visitors of the establishment, meaning the crime has been committed under Art. 365 of the Criminal Code; before carrying out the investigative action, representatives of law enforcement agencies did not explain to the persons to whom such actions were applied, their rights and obligations under the Criminal Procedure Code, as well as the liability established by law, which means violation of Part 3 of Art. 233 of the Code of Criminal Procedure; property was seized without observing the norms of Art. 236 of the Code of Criminal Procedure; carried out searches in other premises not specified in the order, and it is the violation of Art. 30 of the Constitution of Ukraine, as well as part 5 of article 266 of the Code of Criminal Procedure; almost all visitors were subjected to search, and thus the norms of Part 3 of Art. 208, art. Art. 223, 236 of the Code of Criminal Procedure were violated.⁹⁸
As noted by the military psychiatrist, people who have completed ATO need most of the work of psychologists.⁹⁹ They are quite often a threat to others. So, cases of drunken fights, brawls, attacks with their participation in the criminal chronicle are quite frequent.
For example, on September 8 in the capital institution “Ugly Coyote” there was a conflict with a fight and a knife wound with the participation of a veteran of the ATO, in which the policeman was injured.¹⁰⁰
Also on September 8, in the center of Kiev, a “volunteer battalion fighter who fought in Donbas” Timur Makhauri, known in criminal circles, was blown up in the car. Two more people were injured. It is clear that the SBU immediately announced the “hand of Moscow” in this crime,¹⁰¹ although the more logical reason is criminal disassembly. Thus, the Director of the Department of Communication of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Artem Shevchenko said that the deceased Timur Makhauri is known in criminal circles and brought to justice this year in Ukraine, but concluded a deal with the investigation and received a suspended sentence for a crime.¹⁰²
On September 16 in the Dnieper area of Zaporozhye there was a fight between the ATO participant and the minibus driver.¹⁰³
On October 12 in Odessa, three drunken former fighters of the “Right Sector” in the Central Park of Culture and Leisure. T. Shevchenko beat a woman and threatened passers with a gun, provoked conflicts. In the course of illegal actions, men, in particular, inflicted bodily injuries to a woman, smashed the glass window of a sports club, and also damaged the property of a mobile trading tray.¹⁰⁴ In Zaporozhye, ATO participants block the road to travel for free in minibuses. At the same time, the police do not fulfill their direct duties.¹⁰⁵
“Private armies.” Three years ago, the force soldiers recorded a trend – individual volunteer battalions, after participating in ATO, reformatted into a new kind of associations. Yesterday’s soldiers fell into place during the “Makhnovshchina” – widespread attempts to redistribute “sweet” assets.
Starting in Kiev, this process has long spread to the regions – this is most actively manifested in Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk and Odessa regions. Most often they are formalized into certain public organizations of a “patriotic” orientation or into private security firms. After leaving the war zone, they began to be used to solve business issues and settlement of political disputes.
“In our country, the president and deputies earn on criminal, why children who have come back from АТО can not do it? Moreover, many of those who went to defend the country in the same kindness, come from the world of crime”, – said the leader of the party “Brotherhood” Dmitry Korchinsky to the “Country”.
Adviser to the head of the Interior Ministry Arsen Avakov Ilya Kiva notes that “we have a mass of public organizations from among people who know how to defend themselves, attack and kill.” “In fact, they are paramilitary groups that hide behind the “ksivs” of law enforcement officers and the status of ATO participants with the “roof” of public deputies and high-ranking officials,” – says an Interior Ministry official.
In fact, it is already possible to state the existence of the following armed groups:
- Militant groups led by radical public deputies Dmitry Linko and Igor Mosiychuk, on account of which the seizure of the notary’s office on Leo Tolstoy Street in Kiev, the shootout at the distillery in Kryukivshchyna and the attempt to change the owner of TD “Darnitsa” on Kharkiv avenue of the capital. Dmitry Korchinsky characterizes Oleg Lyashko’s teammates as “small-bodied people” who are ready to go “on business” when the customer is ready to pay them relatively small sums. From 100 thousand hryvnias.
- Battalion “Dnepr-1”, supervised by “front-line soldier” Yuri Bereza, whose fighters were accused of raider capture of the Krasnolimanskaya coal company in the Donetsk region and the Bratsk oil-pressing plant in Mykolaiv region;
- Patronized by Public Deputy Yevgeny Deidey (considered close to Arsen Avakov) various military public associations. All the same Korchinsky claims that as such there is no group in Deidey, and like radicals, he recruits people if he has “orders”. “Deiday works at the show”, – characterizes the profile of the “front-line” activities of the leader of the “Brotherhood”.
We note that Pavel Sheremet wrote about the military groups of Deidey in his last blog before his death;¹⁰⁶
- Donbass and security agencies related to Semen Semenchenko. They are considered to be the most unloyal to the authorities militant group. For which the public deputy is regularly “run over” people of the same Arsen Avakov (Ilya Kiva even threatened to shoot Semenchenko on live). Semen Semenchenko has recently positioned himself as the country’s main “power structure” autonomous from the government that can resolve issues even if the government does not like it. His work in practice, all Ukraine could see on the example of the blockade of Donbass or participation in the breakthrough of Saakashvili across the border. It was the fighters of Donbass that guarded Saakashvili when he arrived in Lviv.¹⁰⁷
As we see, in fact, it is already a question of the existence of “private armies” that are not subject to the state, but are used by their leaders to solve their economic and political problems. The very existence of such associations independent of the state jeopardizes the life and health of citizens, and also contradicts art. 17 of the Constitution: “Creation and functioning of any armed formations not provided for by law” is prohibited on the territory of Ukraine. But the authorities are not that they do not fight these phenomena, but rather use it in their business interests. The activity of “private armies” is most visible in the agrarian sphere, which has recently been quickly criminalized. The battle for harvested crops and raider seizures of land and farms are everywhere.
On September 12, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) published a report on the human rights situation in Ukraine.¹⁰⁸ Among other things, it recommended that Kiev immediately investigate the activities of the Peacemaker” website. The text of the report also says that on July 7, 2017, the National Police opened criminal proceedings against the “Peacemaker” website, which since August 2014 published personal data of thousands of people, including media professionals and NGO activists, calling them supporters of the armed forces groups and terrorism. “OHCHR welcomes this step and urges the authorities to conduct an effective investigation and take measures to remove personal data from the site,” – the report said.¹⁰⁹
Ukraine continues to cover a wave of rampant banditry. So, according to the adviser to Minister of Internal Affairs S. Rechinsky “Every day in the Kiev region “iron” works. That is, a raid on the house is committed, and its inhabitants are tortured in order to seize the values”.¹¹⁰ Some kind of effectiveness from law enforcement on the protection of the rights of citizens and the fight against this evil is not observed. The perpetrators were so unruly that they even hijacked the official Lexus of the Deputy Head of the National Police A. Fatsevich.¹¹¹ Not infrequent are mass shootings in the center of the cities with population over one million. In July – in the center of the Dnieper, August 31 near the metro in Kharkov.¹¹² Police themselves actively rob foreigners in Kiev.¹¹³
There are obviously excesses and shortcomings in the work of the special services of Ukraine. The law enforcement agencies continue to stage shows and intimidate citizens instead of practical activities. So on August 18, the head of the Security Service of Ukraine V. Gritsak showed the show with the Ukrainian workers “escaped from the paws of the FSB”, and concluded his speech by intimidating the remaining workers: he asked all those who go to Russia to stop doing it. “You just can not return from there,” he stressed.¹¹⁴
In early September, Gritsak went even further and proposed establishing a “legislative ban and criminal responsibility for visiting the aggressor country by deputies, politicians and public figures”.¹¹⁵ All these initiatives of the head of the special services clearly violate the democratic principle of the right for freedom of movement.
Instead of dealing with their direct activities to prevent terrorist attacks, which very often happened in the reporting period in Ukraine, the special services are engaged in self-pr by fighting journalists. In addition, according to Western media reports, 400 to 500 former jihadists from Syria and Iraq are hiding in Ukraine. Most of them are Russian-speaking citizens of Russia or Central Asian states. “They come here for their passports, Ukraine is a corruption knot. With the internal passport of Ukraine, you can get a biometric and move to Europe”, – the British channel quotes journalist Ekaterina Sergatskova.¹¹⁶ In turn, a fake Ukrainian passport can be purchased for two thousand dollars – thanks to an army of corrupt officials, the publication states.¹¹⁷ The Ukrainian authorities deny everything.
Among other things, the Ukrainian special services entered on the path of total surveillance for political opponents of the authorities. For example, the parliamentarians repeatedly asked President Poroshenko to check the activities of the deputy head of the SBU Oleg Frolov and the head of the Sumy Oblast administration Vladislav Kosinsky and to remove them from their duties for the verification period.
In appeals, people’s deputies emphasize that O. Frolov and V. Kosinsky deployed a criminal scheme of surveillance, wiretapping, interception of correspondence of politicians, businessmen, public activists¹¹⁸ and journalists.¹¹⁹ Thus, the officials of the SBU are engaged in the illegal collection, processing and analysis of personal and private information of opposition deputies, and also take action to interfere with computer systems owned by journalists.
Observance of the right for freedom of religion
The realization of the constitutional right of citizens for freedom of religion was subjected to various tests during the reporting period.
The state authorities continue to influence the activities of religious organizations, which is prohibited by the Constitution. So, according to the new Tax Code of Ukraine, all religious organizations are subject to re-registration as non-profit organizations until January 1, 2018. In the event of non re-registration, they will lose this status, which entails taxation of their donations in spite of Article 18 of the Law on Freedom of Conscience. The process itself is lengthy, expensive and quite complex. Only, on October 5, the Verkhovna Rada drafted a bill on the automatic re-registration of religious organizations and their inclusion in the Register of non-profit institutions and organizations.¹²⁰ From the agenda of the Verkhovna Rada, draft laws No. 4128, 4511, 5309, considered in the previous report, still violate the rights of believers, invade the sphere of activity of religious organizations and provoke church raiding. This was emphasized by the delegation of the UOC during the 28th session of the UN Human Rights Council on October 10-13 in Geneva (Switzerland).¹²¹
On July 13, the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine issued a statement accusing Metropolitan of Lugansk and Alchevsk Mitrofan (Yurchuk) of allegedly collaborating with the authorities of the so-called “LNR”. The reference of the Ministry of Culture to information from unverified sources, namely, to the year-old interview of one of the representatives of the “LNR”, testifies incompetence and unprofessionalism of the officials of the Ministry of Culture. This statement by the Ministry of Culture may indicate an attempt to prepare the ground for further provocations against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which we often observe in recent years. In particular, the Committee on Culture and Spirituality of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine recently recommended another anti-church bill No. 5309, according to which the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is invited to take the name. This gives grounds to regard the scandalous statement of the Ministry of Culture as preparation of public opinion for this step.¹²²
Local authorities exceed their authority, limiting the rights of believers. So, on September 20, the Sumy Executive Committee of the city council exceeded its authority by prohibiting the procession of the Cross walk to Orthodox believers on October 14, 2017. A draft decision “On granting permission for the Sumy Diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to hold the Cross walk procession with the divine service” was put to the vote. The Executive Committee had no right to prohibit the procession of the Cross walk, especially since they were not asked for permission. According to the law, the Church inform the mayor of the city that on October 14 a divine service will be held. This is the third time that the executive committee exceeds its authority.¹²³
As an example of blatant ignorance prevalent in modern Ukrainian politics, was the call of the deputy of the Lutsk City Council, Pavel Danilchuk (Public Control), to “get out and take away” the cathedral of All Saints of the Earth Volyn in Lutsk. He stated this on October 25, 2017 during the plenary session of the Lutsk City Council. According to the deputy, to capture “one must go to a meeting” and to this “he is ready and also representatives of the VO “Svoboda”, who thus intend to “fight for the Ukrainian church”. It is worth noting that the Cathedral of the Volyn diocese of the UOC is under construction and the second dome was recently installed.¹²⁴
Continue capturing temples at the UOC. Thus, in the Gorodenkovsky district of the Ivano-Frankivsk region, representatives of the so-called “Kyiv Patriarchate” (“UOC-KP”), with the support of local authorities, are trying to illegally take away their churches from believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. On October 12, 2017, in the village of Roginya, at a meeting of several villagers attended by representatives of the UOC-KP, only about 30 people, it was decided to transfer the religious community of the UOC in honor of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin to the schism. After the so-called rural referendum, and it should be noted that about 400 people live in the village, activists took away the keys of the sexton’s wife and illegally entered the church. Interests of believers of the UOC are infringed, calling them “moscals”, “separatists”. Pressure on people is committed even at state instances, thereby fueling inter-religious strife in the region.¹²⁵
On October 14, the religious community of the UOC from the village Ostrovets of the Gorodenkovskiy district defended its temple from the encroachments of the UOC-KP after the village head organized a meeting in which, in an absolutely illegal way, mostly newcomers, along with a dozen clerics of the UOC-KP, “transferred” the religious community of the UOC in honor of George the Victorious in the split.¹²⁶
July 27, 2017 representatives of the Kyiv Patriarchate continued their atrocities in the village Kotyuzhiny in Ternopil region and tried to penetrate the premises of the church house where the religious community of the UOC performs worship after the dissidents seize their church. According to the rector of the church of the First Martyr Stephen, Protopriest Alexander Kantitsky, the police that came to the priest’s call prevented the raiders’ actions of the activists of the UOC-KP and two police officers who helped penetrate the house.¹²⁷
On October 4, the Ivano-Frankivsk court established the unlawfulness of the actions of the police and city council in relation to the Annunciation Church of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Kolomyia and exacted a fine from them: namely, sealing the temple, and illegality of the decision of the so-called “working group”, which obliged the police to seal the bell tower and establish alternate services in the church.¹²⁸
On October 18 priests of the UGCC Michael Arsenitch and Yuri Atamanyuk, with the support of the “Right Sector” and the “Black Hundred”, was again captured by the Annunciation Cathedral of the UOC in Kolomiya. Representatives of the UGCC do not allow faithful UOC to the temple, spreading slander and insults to their address in the social network.¹²⁹
It is important to emphasize that, as the experts point out, some representatives of the religious community can, at will, change their religious affiliation, but this right should not be identified with the right of the religious community to replace subordination – these are different things. The realization of the right to change the subordination of a religious community is determined by its statutory documents, such a decision can be made only at parish meetings with the participation of a priest. No other meeting can take this decision – it is interference in the internal life of the religious community, and, undoubtedly, violations of the rights of citizens of Ukraine to freedom of religion, as enshrined in the Constitution of Ukraine and the Law of Ukraine “On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations.¹³⁰
Organs of law and order do not take action to curb the activities of radicals against priests and parishes. So, in October, in the town of Malin, Zhytomyr region, on behalf of the “National Corps”, the rector of the church of the UOC of Archpriest Pavel Linnik was persecuted.¹³¹
On October 12, 2017, the Ternopil Center of the “Right Sector” posted on its Facebook page a video broadcast of how the working meeting of the regular session of the Pochaev City Council was disrupted by them. This is the second attempt of the aggressive pressure of the radicals against the Pochaev deputies in order to block consideration of the issue on changing the purpose of the land plot of the Pochaev Lavra. A deputy of the Ternopil Oblast Council V. Gabor arranged a fight and broke the minutes of the meeting to prevent the allocation of land to the monastery. This incident was reported to the European community at the OSCE meeting in Warsaw.¹³²
Before the holiday of the Intercession on October 14, right-wing radicals were threatened with the capture of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra.¹³³
On September 6, in the Korabelny district of Nikolaev, radicals from the Freedom party and the Sokol organization under the leadership of a local businessman attacked the believers of the UOC who came to defend their church under construction against destruction. Radical men in balaclava with axes broke into the territory of the construction of the Temple of the Epiphany of the UOC (Bogoyavlensky Avenue, 328/3). With curses and fists they attacked the gathered believers of the UOC, who tried to prevent vandalism. As a result of the collision, the young man, who was trying to strangle, got to the hospital. Several women, to whom strong men used brute force, dropped beatings and wrote statements that they were attacked.¹³⁴
According to the NGO “Public Human Rights”, in a study published on November 1, 2017 in 2014, 26 criminal proceedings were opened under article 161 of the Criminal Code – “violation of the rights of citizens on the basis of religious beliefs,” and in 2015 the number of new similar cases reached 40, only for 9 months of 2017 were submitted and registered 42 applications under this article. Such dynamics of growth of criminality testifies strengthening of religious intolerance in a society. Characterizing these crimes, it should be noted that the responsibility for further growth of crime and tension in society will lie upon law enforcement agencies – if they fail to enforce the law in these cases.¹³⁵
An alarming situation develops with the activities of religious organizations in military units. So, on August 12, the religious community of the St. Nicholas Church of the UOC in the Devichki village of Pereyaslav-Khmelnitsky district of the Kiev region performed their last Liturgy in the church built by their own efforts 15 years ago. The parishioners had to give keys of it to the commander of military unit No. A3085, in whose territory the building is located. According to the military priest, the problems began in July, when a chaplain from the Kyiv Patriarchate was appointed to the unit, who offered to perform services in turn, on which neither the community nor the abbot could agree. Kravets Marina Alekseevna, the wife of a serviceman, the director of a local school, recalls the words of the commander, whom the women tried to persuade not to put them outside: “The most important thing about the commander is that this “Moscow Patriarchate” and no “Moscow Patriarchate” will be here”. Earlier, the military and members of their families constantly come to pray to the temple. Now, as the believers say, the soldiers “are not recommended” to attend divine services performed by the priest of the UOC. Therefore, among the parishioners were mostly women, including women. servicemen who are trying to defend their religious rights.¹³⁶
On August 17, the deputy commander of the National Guard for Human Rights, Yaroslav Spodar, told journalists that Interior Minister Arsen Avakov had forbidden the involvement of “priests of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the Chaplain service”. “It’s forbidden for us” – commented Spodar. “They want it, but we can not do that.” It was not only our opinion, but also the opinion of the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Justice. There is an appropriate order of the Minister of Internal Affairs, which clearly states: “Priests whose spiritual centers are on the territory of the aggressor country are not allowed.” Thus, the deputy commander of the National Guard once again showed the discriminatory attitude of the command towards the clergymen of the canonical Church.¹³⁷ At the same time, Mr. Spodar considers it necessary to grant the right and freedom to worship for those who perform pagan rituals at Ukrainian military bases.¹³⁸
On August 19, the National Guard of Ukraine already declare that the activities of priests of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church at the Capellan service are not prohibited. In particular, referring to Article 35 of the Constitution of Ukraine, the clarification emphasizes that “no normative legal act prohibits or restricts the servicemen of the National Guard in the freedom of outlook and religion, freedom to profess any religion or not to profess any, freely unilaterally perform individually or collectively religious cults and ritual ceremonies, conduct religious activities.” At the same time, in the National Guard explained that “it is a question of the fact that priests of those religious organizations whose centers are on the territory of the aggressor country may not be admitted to the territory of the military units.” But this rule does not apply to the UOC either, since according to its Charter its center is in Kiev.
The police do not take active measures regarding common crimes against religious organizations. So, on the night of September 13 to September 14, 2017, the second time in the last month, unknown people abused and robbed the temple in honor of Saint Blessed Xenia of St. Petersburg’s Second Hospital Deanery of the capital, which operates under the Kyiv City Clinical Hospital No.3.¹⁴⁰
On October 11 in Khmelnitsky unidentified person through the selection of the key entered the premises of the St. George’s Church of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, where money was stolen from the donation box.¹⁴¹
On the night of August 19 to August 20, for the purpose of theft, the unknown entered the two temples of the Marjanovsky Deanery of the Volyn Diocese. Temples in the villages of Kvasov and Okhlopov suffered from the hands of intruders.¹⁴²
On October 26 in the village of Gribovitsa Ivanichevsky district of the Volyn region, representatives of the Kyiv Patriarchate seized a house in which the priest of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church lives with his family. Given that the conflict continues from 2015, and the schismatics felt impunity for their criminal actions, the priest sees no other way out than leaving his own home and moving with his family to another location.¹⁴⁴
On July 27, 2017, the participants of the 24th session of the Interparliamentary Assembly of Orthodoxy (MAP) in Rome promulgated a resolution on the results of the discussion on the topic “The Christian dimension of the global crisis and ways to overcome it.” It was stressed that “the MAP members expressed serious concern over the introduction of bills for approval by the Ukrainian parliament, legalizing state interference in the issues of the church world and endangering the constitutional rights of millions of Ukrainian believers.” The MAP Secretariat was instructed to monitor this problem on a regular basis in Ukraine.
Restriction of the right of citizens to meetings and expression of views
The practice of restriction of freedom for assembly continues. The government has adopted a policy to record all those who disagree with it in the “agents of the Kremlin” and, accordingly, such that they pose a threat to national security and must be detained.
For example, on July 12, the SBU stated that “at the direction of the Russian side, an attempt was made to seize the public reception center of the GPU. Under the scenario of the curators from Moscow, the participants of the rally had to seize the public reception room of the GPU, chain themselves with handcuffs inside the premises, pour the reception room from the inside with red paint brought with them, deploy posters with political demands.”¹⁴⁶
Fans of the Greek football club PAOK were beaten on July 27 in Kiev.¹⁴⁷
On August 2 radicals from the S-14 raided home to a pregnant woman from Kiev Svetlana, who refused to donate money to the ATO. In Facebook, the organization disclosed the woman’s home address. Earlier, Svetlana spoke out against the collection of army aid in the school. The money was collected through the parents’ committee at the school where her older child is studying. Svetlana believes that children and school do not need to be drawn into military processes.¹⁴⁸
Various attempts at protests are very quickly and severely dispersed by the authorities. So, on September 7 during a rally for legalizing non-cleared cars, law enforcers literally demolished activists from the Verkhovna Rada.¹⁴⁹
Activities of professional “social activists”
At this stage of Ukraine’s social development, no one will be surprised at the activities of “social activists” of all stripes selling their power services for money,¹⁵⁰ demanding anything illegal, preferences for themselves from the state, prohibiting anything levying tribute small and medium businesses, blocking the courts and railways.
But already in their environment, a lack of a “food base” begins to be felt. So, shootings between “activists” have become frequent. On July 24, in the center of the Dnieper, a shootout took place because of money debts between the ATO members and volunteers. The result of the conflict were two dead and five wounded. By chance, the stray bullet was not received by numerous witnesses of the bloody accident.¹⁵¹
Right-wing activists at Volyn region in the area of the village of Kukly, Guta-Lesovskaya and Okonsk in the Manevytsky district found hundreds of digging machines, kilometers of ditches and dozens of people who illegally dug amber under the guise of “Self-defense of Volyn”. “During the detention of illegal diggers, a conflict arose between the representatives of “Self-defense of Volyn” and members of the organization “Right Sector”. One of the “Right Sector”, armed with automatic weapons “AKMS” caliber 7.62, made two shots on the wheels of the car “Ford Transit”, on which came “self-defense”. At the scene, one sleeve was removed for a cartridge of 7.62×39 mm caliber and a Ford Transit car, which were handed over for examination …”.¹⁵²
On September 3 in Kiev, in the center of the city, activists defeated the Emporium store, whose walls were removed from the Maydan 2.0 graffiti.¹⁵³ The police did not interfere with the situation at the time of the rout, private property was not protected from the destructions. Later, the prosecutor’s office brought the case to those who erased the graffiti, and not to those, who made a destruction.¹⁵⁴ At the same time, it was stated that these graffiti are a “monument of history”.¹⁵⁵ The owners of the store were supported by the deputy of the Kiev regional council from the Bloc Petro Poroshenko Vyacheslav Sobolev, but against him in social networks the baiting was immediately started by activists.¹⁵⁶
In the evening of September 16, in Odessa, taking advantage of the grief of the parents and relatives of the deceased children in the “Victoria” camp, a group of opposition-minded people organized the storming of the mayoralty of Odessa. The police used gas and pushed back the assault.¹⁵⁷
Significant in this respect is the situation surrounding the assassination of deputy I. Mosiychuk, the detention of the leader OUN Kohanivsky and a chain of events related to this. Two years ago, a number of nationalistic groups took over the so-called “House of Arbuzov”, which is considered to belong to the last acting Prime Minister of the times of Yanukovych Sergei Arbuzov. After that, the house was divided between the OUN – the leader of Kokhanivsky and the battalion “Odin” (leader Ruslan Kachmala known as Rem): on the upper floors Rem fighters were stationed, and on the first – settlers from Donbass under the “Kochanivsky roof”. But the representatives of Odin began to make claims to the whole house.¹⁵⁸ On October 21, it came to a shoot-out between Rem and Kochanivsky, the first was wounded, and the second was detained by the police. Under this case, the Public Deputy from the radicals Mosychuk tried unsuccessfully to take Kochanivsky on bail.¹⁵⁹ Then, during the trial, when it was required to elect a measure of restraint to Kochanivsky, his supporters routed and seized the Svyatoshinsky court in Kiev.¹⁶⁰ As a result, on the afternoon of October 25, Kokhanivsky was released, awarding a 24-hour house arrest for 60 days.¹⁶¹ But the situation did not end there either. On the night of October 25, near Mosiichuk, an explosion occurred, two people were killed, and the “radical” himself went to the hospital.¹⁶²
On October 17 in Kiev under the VRU began another protest, which was named “Mihomaydan.” The goal is to overthrow the power of President Poroshenko. During this action, traffic was blocked along the street Grushevskogo, began to block the activities of logistic warehouses Roshen in the country (Vinnitsa,¹⁶³ Yagotin¹⁶⁴). They urged servicemen to go to Kiev to overthrow the government.¹⁶⁵ We began to collect the “military Maydan”¹⁶⁶ on October 28, clearly aiming at another overthrow of power in Ukraine.¹⁶⁷ That is, they commit acts falling under Art. 109 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.
Another aspect of the problem is that the former ATOs are grouped into the security companies and are engaged in raiding – seizure of shares in the village, protection of theft of another’s crop, redistribution of property, etc. Experts compare this process with the formation of the institution of private armies. So, on Constitution Day in the village of Berezhinka in the Kirovograd region, local residents entered into confrontation with the police. Defending the interests of the farmer who declared about the raider attack, about 350 people came to the streets, supported by veterans of the “Donbass” and “Aydar” volunteers. They were confronted by a security firm “Borisfen”, which was attracted by a new owner, and then the police.¹⁶⁸
The election campaign that started on October 29 at the local level also shows what the national election campaign will be like. So, in the Dnepropetrovsk region, about 20 persons with machine guns attacked the polling station. They raised the windows, damaged the property and disappeared in the cars, leaving the smoke bombs.¹⁶⁹ In this case, we are dealing with direct interference in the electoral process and violation of Part 3 of Art. 157 (obstruction of the implementation of the right to vote) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.
The situation in the sphere of social protection, health and sanitation
On October 4, a scandalous pension reform was adopted, the second since 2011, when the retirement age of retirement for women was raised. This reform has gone a different way, but in general, significantly worsened the conditions for retirement of Ukrainian citizens. First, bypassing the issue of raising the retirement age for retirement, they increased the term of insurance for retirement. At the beginning of the reform, the minimum insurance period (necessary to ensure that a person can claim a pension at all) is 25 (now – 15 years), but within 10 years will be upgraded to 35 years. If a person retires without recruiting the established service, he will receive only social assistance. At the same time, only years of being in the decree and training of students in the hospital are included in the insurance experience.
Considering the fact that since the 1990s many Ukrainians lost their jobs or worked without official registration, it would be extremely difficult for them to present for 60 years 35 years of experience for millions of future pensioners.
Secondly, the insurance experience has been increased up to 20 years and for those who by default need social assistance from the state: patients with pituitary nanism, disproportionate dwarfs, persons with vision impairment of group I, blind and persons with disabilities of childhood of group I, women, who gave birth to five or more children and brought them up to 6 years of age, and mothers of persons with disabilities since childhood, brought them up to that age. Earlier for these groups, the seniority started from 10 years.
Thirdly, with the adoption of the reform, early retirement for many categories of people will be cancelled. For example, for Chernobyl victims. “From January 1 it will be completely unimportant that you have worked for 20 years, destroying your own health and expecting that you will retire early. You will become pensioners now on general terms, this is unacceptable and shows only one thing, this government knows absolutely nothing about the Chernobyl tragedy and the feat of people who overcame its consequences, sacrificed their health and more than earned early retirement”, – deputy from the opposition bloc Natalia Korolevskaya.
The abolishment of the “privileged experience” covers also teachers (to whom, by the way, this benefit was prescribed in the law on education that was passed a month ago), doctors, metallurgists, miners, chemists, social workers, pilots and other categories.
Under special pressure were the miners. At present, the minimum amount of a pension of miners with at least 15 years of experience is established irrespective of the place of the last work in the amount of 80% of the average salary of the miner. It is stipulated in reform, that any salary for labor activity, which, as a rule, is less than the salary of a miner, is taken into account.
At the same time, it is typical that the force departments stayed out of the general “pension equalization”: the exception on early retirement is made for military and law enforcement officers. For employees of the Prosecutor’s Office, it is possible to have supplementary pensions, which is carried out in accordance with the Law on Non-Governmental Pensions. The National Bank is generally given the right to independently determine the rules by which the NBU employees will receive a pension. In turn, there is a 20% bonus for pensioners living in mountainous settlements. “It is for them to achieve votes from Western Ukraine”, – explained deputy Sergei Kaplin, having in mind that after the annexation of the Crimea, now we have only one mountains – the Carpathian.¹⁷⁰
That is, the law clearly divided the entire population of Ukraine into several categories and is clearly discriminatory, contrary to the equality of citizens of Ukraine declared by the Constitution, in particular in the pension sphere. Interestingly, the new pension reform came into force immediately, without provoking any protests under the parliament, in contrast to the reform of the times of Yanukovych, which has not yet fully worked up to this day (women still do not retire at 60).¹⁷¹
Another important reform, adopted in the reporting quarter (October 19) was medical reform. As is known, the Constitution of Ukraine provides that “In state and municipal health institutions, medical assistance is provided free of charge; the existing network of such institutions can not be reduced”(Article 49), it was the violation of this norm of direct action and the highest legal force that led to the Law “On State Financial Guarantees for the Provision of Medical Services and Medicines” (No. 6327) to which the medical reform was carried out. This law provided for the existence of a list of free and paid services provided by health care institutions, which is already legally contrary to the norm of the Constitution.
Saving people in emergency situations and take care of during a fatal disease will be provided for budgetary funds. Childbirth will also be for free. But from his own pocket the patient will have to pay for aesthetic medicine, partly dentistry and appeals to a narrow specialist without direction.¹⁷²
At the same time, the head of the Health Committee Olga Bogomolets unveiled a shocking price list for prices for some medical services in hospitals after the reform, prepared by the Academy of Medical Sciences: Shunting – 130 thousands, diagnostics of the heart – 65 thousands.¹⁷³
At the same time, the prices that are put in the price list are higher than those currently available in private clinics: removal of the gall bladder in Kiev today costs from 11,000 to 17,000 hryvnias, in the price list of the Academy of Medical Science – from 34,000 to 51,000 hryvnias. This raises questions that the people will have to pay 100% for the operation, and the state guaranteed free of charge 370 UAH for consultation.¹⁷⁴
A full package of free services will be annually registered by a new body – the National Health Service and approved by the Cabinet of Ministers. Already, there is a great risk that medicine will become entirely paid for Ukrainians. As experts say “In the draft law, the deputies introduced 2 articles that legitimized paid medicine. First, it is said that the Cabinet approves a program of medical guarantees every year, and VR votes for it. What is the guaranteed package of services, if every year it will be approved again? This is no longer a guarantee, but a hope. If it turns out that this year there is money for bypass surgery, then yes, it will be done. And next year it will turn out that there is money only for the pathologist. And no matter what, citizens can not be counted, except for a free autopsy. Secondly, the bill says that the reform needs 5% of the GDP, the budget provides 3.5%. That is, in fact, medical guarantees are already one and a half times less than they could be.”
Another important aspect is the rule that “money goes after the patient” – which doctor concludes a contract for the provision of medical services with more people. But this can lead to the closure of medical institutions in the countryside and in small towns, where the notorious quota in 2000 patients contracts with one doctor is not accumulated. Accordingly, these medical institutions will not receive money and will be closed. In this regard, the law provides for an ambiguous norm: Communities will be able to attract prospective family doctors, creating for them good living and working conditions. As far as possible in most villages the issue is not idle. Also, proceeding from this scheme, the money will be reimbursed to hospitals approximately on the same principle, as now VAT is refunded. The hospital will first provide the service, then on the basis of the hospital report, the National Health Service through the State Treasury will have to return the hospital money for the services provided. That is, doctors will treat “in debt”. And here lies another opportunity for corruption. Those who have privileges – will receive money quickly, and all the rest – as well as in the VAT system – wait for money for years. In fact, this principle can be surely called not “Money goes after the patient”, but “Money comes when the patient has already recovered. Well, or he died.”¹⁷⁵
In addition, the draft law itself was not presented by a minister who was simply not appointed, but was submitted by the acting Minister of Health U. Suprun, who is in such status since 2015, which is also a violation.
Regarding the situation with the reform, the profile committee has already begun collecting signatures to the Constitutional Court regarding violation of Article 49 of the Constitution – “state medicine should be free”. In the meantime, the Ministry of Health has already formally begun to implement the reform.¹⁷⁶ So, even if we assume that the shunting we took as an example will be for the patient conditionally free, then already, in advance, it is known that we will have to pay separately for anesthesia during the operation.¹⁷⁷
A separate topic is the absence in Ukraine for a long time of the legitimate Minister of Health. This has been repeatedly mentioned in previous monitoring, but the situation has not changed at all. The current government was formed a year and a half ago without the Minister of Health. During this time, the prime minister made no attempt to appoint a legitimate minister. Thus, the most important sphere concerning the life and health of Ukrainians is given to a man with an indefinite status – acting minister.
This attitude towards one of the most important parts of Ukrainian life led not only to medical reform, criticized by experts and citizens, but also to the critical state of the entire industry. In Ukraine there are no vaccines and serums from deadly diseases – against rabies, botulism, which has already led to deaths of people. National sectoral programs have been foiled in the country.
A group of public deputies, because of this situation, sued Prime Minister Vladimir Groisman.¹⁷⁸ The Kyiv District Administrative Court has already begun the trial of the case.¹⁷⁹
The situation for civilians in the ATO zone continues to be critical. The Ukrainian authorities are doing everything possible to relieve themselves of the responsibility for the social support of their citizens who are caught at the territory controlled by terrorists. Thus, according to the UN Office for Refugees (UNHCR), since early 2016, almost 586,000 pensioners and elderly people living in the conflict zone have lost the opportunity to receive pensions because of the introduction of new verification and identification procedures by the Ukrainian government. This affected the most socially vulnerable groups of the population, since for many of them pensions and social payments are the only source of income.¹⁸⁰ In the UNHCR added that they advocate that the payment of pensions and social benefits is not tied to the place of residence. By these measures, the Ukrainian authorities violate Art. 46 of the Constitution, according to which citizens have the right to receive pensions that guarantee a standard of living not less than the subsistence level.
On 10 October, the United Nations Office in Ukraine reported that 4 million people in our country needed humanitarian assistance. With the approach of winter, UN agencies are working with the government of Ukraine and terrorist organizations of Donbass to provide the necessary assistance to the most vulnerable population along the line of demarcation.¹⁸¹
According to Colonel Oleg Druz, Head of the Clinic for Psychiatry of the National Military Medical Clinical Center “The Main Military Clinical Hospital”, 93% of ATO participants are a potential threat to society and need treatment.¹⁸² After such a statement, which indicates the existence of the so-called “Donbas syndrome”, and the need for immediate medical and psychological adaptation of ATO participants before their return to peaceful life, the specialist was removed by the minister on September 20 from his post.¹⁸³
In connection with the crisis situation in the country’s economy, more and more citizens leave it in search of a better life abroad. So, according to a survey of the sociological group “Rating”, 44% of Ukrainians surveyed said that they want to work abroad.¹⁸⁴ The state does not take any measures to confirm the existence of a “social state”, declared in the Constitution.
Ukraine still has obligations to depositors liquidated after the collapse of the USSR Sberbank of the former USSR at 107.65 billion hryvnias. This is stated in the balance of payments of Oschadbank as of September 1, 2017. At the same time, since 1996, when the Law “On State Guarantees for Resumption of Savings of Ukrainian Citizens” was passed, only 10.6 billion were paid to individuals who had deposits in this bank.¹⁸⁵
Tariffs of housing and communal services. There are plans to raise tariffs for cold water and sanitation in Kiev, in 2018. So, next year, residents of the capital will pay for a cube of cold water 9.47 UAH (previously 8.436 UAH), and for a cesspool of water removal 8.99 UAH (previously 7,356 UAH).¹⁸⁶
According to statistics, as of July 1, 2017, the total debt for hot water and heating exceeded 1.4 billion UAH, which in turn exceeded the total amount of accrued subsidies, which are intended to compensate for the difference in the accounts.¹⁸⁷
At the same time, the Ukrainian authorities are doing everything possible to reduce the number of citizens receiving subsidies for housing and communal services. In August, the Cabinet of Ministers established a record of income when assigning a housing subsidy for communal payment not for a year, but for six months. Also, the government banned the appointment of subsidies at the same time at the place of registration and place of actual residence.¹⁸⁸ Later social norms of using gas supply were reduced by 25%. So, if before a subsidy, for example, of an apartment in 60 square meters covered 330 cubic meters of gas, now the discount will be charged only for 250 cubes, and for the remaining 80 cubic meters people will have to pay. A subsidy for the next term will not be assigned in case of more than 2 months of arrears in payment for services, the total amount of which exceeds 20 tax-free minimum incomes of citizens (340 hryvnias). Previously, the amount of such debt was not specified.¹⁸⁹ In general, in October, in some areas, a paradoxical situation has developed, so in the Ternopil region the number of households receiving subsidies is 89%.¹⁹⁰ But the underlying reason for this decision is deeper. According to experts, the subsidy program in Ukraine failed. The Cabinet did not take into account how big the demand for subsidies would be in crisis, and eventually they pushed themselves into huge debts. The general impoverishment of the Ukrainian people is also reflected in huge debts for the increased in 2014-16 utility tariffs. This increase could not guarantee even the subsidies widely announced by the government. As a result, Ukrainians established a “sad record”: in the history of Ukraine there has never been so much debt for utility services – almost 30 billion UAH as of 01.07.17. For comparison, as of 01.07.2016 this figure was 12.8 billion UAH.¹⁹¹ According to the former Minister of Housing and Communal Services, Alexei Kucherenko, in the Cabinet simply decided to overcut with the topic of subsidies the first wave of discontent with the growth of tariffs. But they did not predict the consequences and did not predict the demand.¹⁹² At the same time, in October there was information about a possible increase in gas prices, which, according to the estimates of the Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry, would result in the number of Ukrainians receiving subsidies reaching 90%.¹⁹³
The overall level of wage arrears in Ukraine has reached a record level over the past decade – 2.392 billion hryvnias. Since the beginning of the year – by 33.6% or 600.9 million hryvnias. The sectors of the economy that are most affected by the decisions of the authorities are on the brink of survival, coal mining (the growth of indebtedness in June is 7.5%), housing and communal services (3.5%), chemical industry (0.6%), machine building (2,4%). In agriculture, after the abolition of the special regime of VAT, which deprived agrarians of billions of working capital, only in June debts grew by 17.2%, and from the beginning of the year – by 36.4%.¹⁹⁴
Torture and murder of citizens
On September 15 Human Rights Watch (HRW), an international human rights organization, accuses the employees of the Security Service of Ukraine of torturing suspected 29-year-old Darya Mastikasheva¹⁹⁵ of the state treason. According to human rights activists, Moscow resident Mastikasheva came to Ukraine to visit her mother and son. On the day of the planned return, she was detained by the Ukrainian special services. The HRW report notes that the SBU held the woman without contact with the outside world and tortured her. It is noted that the authorities accused Mastichev of treason, which is why the court in the Dnieper passed a resolution on her pre-trial detention for the duration of the investigation. According to Hugh Williamson, director of HRW for Europe and Central Asia, “Ukraine has set a record for the number of torture and other ill-treatment in places of detention, exacerbated by impunity for such abuses.” Williamson called on Kiev to investigate this incident.¹⁹⁶
In different parts of the country, the former participants of the ATO who do not passed adaptation apply the norms of the so-called “Military morality” to a peaceful life. So, after a domestic conflict in Kolomiya they kidnapped and taken to the forest and tortured and beaten several citizens: while they kidnapped and took the teenager to the forest, they forced them to sing the hymn and tried to cut out the word “Ukraine” on his back.¹⁹⁷
On 2 September, the ex-Mayor of Slavyansk, Nelya Shtepa, who was imprisoned since July 2014, accused of encroachment on the territorial integrity of Ukraine and participation in the activities of the terrorist group, stated that she had been beaten by a member of the Kharkov Detention Facilities.¹⁹⁸
Problems of state building and reforms
During the reporting period, three spheres of life were reformed, which relate to all citizens: medicine, school education and the judiciary.
As the experts point out, in Ukraine the reforms are taking place, but very, very slowly. “The authorities should focus on fighting corruption, rather than telling us fairy tales”, – said British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, opening in July in London a conference on reform in Ukraine. “The government should promote reforms in the field of fighting corruption. Constantly we hear the mantra and lies about the fact that Ukraine carried out more reforms 3 years after the Revolution of dignity than in the previous two decades”, – Johnson said.¹⁹⁹
The results of the “reform” of the country are clearly visible in the corruption rating of the audit company Ernst & Young. Ukraine took the first place in terms of corruption among 41 countries.²⁰⁰
The reform of school education, formalized in the law of September 5, introduced 12 years of schooling, divided the school into three levels, banned teaching in minority languages starting from the second level, and conducted a total Ukrainization of the educational process. In grades older than the fifth, the teaching of subjects in the languages of national minorities will be gradually eliminated as early as September 1, 2018.²⁰¹ This rule contradicts the Convention on the Rights of Minorities, the Law of Ukraine on Languages, the Constitution of Ukraine.
The deprivation of millions of Ukrainian citizens of the right to education in their native language is the key change that this law carries. And the consequences of it can be much more serious than it seems now.²⁰² The neighboring to Ukraine countries were against the implementation of the law. At the moment, a diplomatic “war” with Hungary continues, which because of the new law “On Education” declared its readiness to hamper the Ukrainian Euro-integration.
The load on the students is supposed to be reduced by reducing the compulsory subjects. In high school instead of 22, there will remain 9 subjects. So-called “integrated” subjects will appear: “History”, “Literature”, “Mathematics”. For example, the discipline “Man and Nature” will combine biology, geography, astronomy, physics, chemistry and ecology. According to the results of the reform, as expert Ludmila Shangina of the Razumkov Center noted, “we will have poorly educated adults who will supplement the army, if not unemployed, than of cheap labor force.”²⁰³
“Why, despite the many thousands of Polish protests on the topic “Stop the changes in education, “it is the Polish model that today is chosen for Ukraine as a model for imitation? – says in the open appeal of the Scientific and Methodological Center of the Svyatoshynsky Gymnasium. – Reduction never leads to excess, only to impoverishment. The only effect that we will get as a result of this “reform” is the “working hands” and the staff who will be exhibited on behalf of Ukraine at the markets of Europe, instead of being an intellectual elite capable of competing with the youth of other countries. And nothing more!».²⁰⁴
It should be emphasized that the educational reform has significantly damaged Ukraine’s relations with neighboring countries and provoked a sharp reaction from Hungary, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova and Russia,²⁰⁵ and on September 21 the Transcarpathian Regional Council passed a resolution demanding that Poroshenko amend or veto education”.²⁰⁶
Thus, the most resolute protest was expressed by the Hungarian government: “This is an unprecedented restriction of the rights of 150 thousand ethnic Hungarians, this is totally contrary to the Constitution”, – said Janos Arpad Potapi,²⁰⁷ the state secretary of the Hungarian government on national policy issues. On September 22, the Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs from the rostrum of the UN General Assembly condemned the Law on Education adopted by Ukraine: “We urge the High Commissioner for Human Rights to launch an investigation concerning the adopted law in Ukraine and use all available means to suppress violations of minority rights by this new law.”²⁰⁸ On September 26, the Hungarian Foreign Minister said that Ukraine “can forget about integration into Europe”, and also explains in the form of a direct quote from the minister: “Hungary will block any initiatives beneficial for Ukraine at international organizations, especially in the EU.”²⁰⁹ On October 10, the Hungarian Foreign Minister stated that the Law “On Education” violated the Association Agreement and because of this at a meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Luxembourg, he would initiate a revision of the Association Agreement.²¹⁰ On October 16, the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs more clearly articulated his position: “I would say that there was a severe violation of human rights in the neighborhood of the EU, when the Ukrainian parliament passed the law “On Education”. They violated essentially the rights of national minorities, when all national minorities were deprived of the right to use their native language in education after 10 years. This is a severe violation of human rights, the rights of national minorities and a severe violation of the Association Agreement. Therefore, I will negotiate, during the next meeting of the summit of the association with Ukraine, we must put the discussion of this situation on the agenda, since this is a very exceptional situation”, – the Foreign Minister stressed.²¹¹
From Romania, the Foreign Ministry made a statement and expressed concern and promised that the question of the law would be raised by Secretary of State Mikula: “We express the hope that the rights of the Romanian minority in Ukraine will be preserved and we emphasize the concern of the Romanian authorities on this issue”, – announced at the MFA.²¹²
On September 21, the President of Romania, Klaus Johannis canceled his visit to Ukraine, because of the law: “Thus, having handed over the diplomatic signal. The cancellation of the presidential visit is a very strong signal.”²¹³
The Polish Foreign Ministry stressed that the Ukrainian side assured that the purpose of the law is not to oust the languages of national minorities. Warsaw expects that Ukraine will adhere to the obligations regarding the study of the Polish national minority language. “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland will closely monitor the implementation of the law and take all necessary measures to ensure that Poles in Ukraine have access to instruction in Polish. We are convinced that the Ukrainian side will adhere to its obligations regarding consultations with us regarding possible normative acts on the use of minority languages.”²¹⁴
On September 15, the Foreign Ministers of Bulgaria, Hungary, Greece and Romania signed a letter to the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Pavel Klimkin, expressing concern over the new law on education that the Verkhovna Rada adopted. “We are certainly worried, and not accidentally … signed a letter … in which we signal that this law does not affect the rights of minorities and education in their native language. We will send the same letter to the Council of Europe and the OSCE.”²¹⁵
On September 19, the Hungarian parliament passed a resolution condemning Ukraine’s violation of its Constitution and international obligations. The deputies noted that the Ukrainian law “On Education” seriously violates the right of the Hungarians of Transcarpathia to education in their native language, and also contradicts a number of international documents, in particular the Copenhagen Document and the Paris Charter of the OSCE, the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, the Treaty on the Principles of Neighborliness and cooperation and others. In the resolution, the deputies called on Ukraine to respect the basic European values – democracy and the rule of law – and prevent the entry into force of this law.²¹⁶ After such a resolution, the Hungarian Foreign Ministry will not be able to vote for any pro-Ukrainian decision at the EU level, even under pressure from Berlin and Paris. As a result, on October 16, the High Representative of the European Union for Common Foreign and Security Policy, Federica Mogerini, said that Brussels will continue the dialogue with Ukraine on the possible violation of minority rights by the law on education, based on the conclusions of the Venice Commission.²¹⁷
The practice of selective justice and political repressions continues to be actively implemented in Ukraine. So, on July 13, the deputies did not vote for the removal of immunity from public deputies Deidey and Lozovoy, but the removal of immunity and the arrest of Mikhail Dobkin was voted.
In August, the Prosecutor General’s Office (GPU) undertook to check the income for almost two decades with several deputies, including Vitaly Homutynnik,²¹⁸ the influential chairman of the Vidrodzhennya group in the Verkhovna Rada. The purpose of this check is to force the deputy and his group to follow the instructions of the authorities and take part in “correct” voting.
Political pressure occurs not only at the all-Ukrainian level, but also at the local level. Thus, local leaders seek to gain full control over the territory entrusted to them and for this they use their power. There is a “total sweep” of political opponents – deputies of opposition parties are dismissed from their jobs.
Thus, an illustrative example is the situation with the mayor of the city of Glukhov in the Sumy region Michel Tereshchenko (he was mentioned above in the context of the hacker attack on the newspaper and pressure on the media). He systematically dismisses the heads of communal enterprises whose political views do not coincide with his personal. So, over the past two years, dozens of people and a number of managers of various utilities have been dismissed. In particular, the commercial director of the Glukhovsky Bakery Oleg Lata, the deputy of the City Council and the director of the Glukhov secondary school No. 2 Alla Ryabukha (resumed), the deputy of the City Council and the head of the Social Protection Department of the Glukhov City Council Larisa Gromak, the head of the Glukhov Bureau of Technical Inventory Anatoly Mironenko (resumed, but not implemented), the head of the city center of physical health “Sport for All” Viktor Olofinsky, as well as the entire staff of the newspaper “Public Tribune”.
It is important to emphasize that the city authorities of Glukhov act completely illegally. The dismissed ones prove this in court and are resumed at work. However, to achieve their political goals, Mayor Tereshchenko continues political repression.
At the same time, other deputies of the coalition are engaged in attempts to raider seizures of the land with the use of police and security companies. So in July 2017 in the village of Berezhinka in the Kirovograd region, the security firm “Borisfen”, headed by assistant of deputy Yuri Bereza, Vladimir Kaminsky, tried to seize the land from a local farmer.²¹⁹
The analyzed quarter is also connected with the deprivation of the Ukrainian “citizenship” of the past “hope of reform” of the former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili on July 27, who in 2015-16 was the governor of the Odessa region. Later, he entered into a sharp confrontation with President Poroshenko, and was, as a result, deprived of citizenship during his stay abroad. Interesting, that according to Art. 25 of the Constitution of Ukraine, one can not be deprived of citizenship, and the Law on citizenship in Art. 9 provides for the possibility of losing citizenship. Concerning Saakashvili, this article was applied precisely “in connection with filing preliminary false data”. Such data was determined by Saakashvili’s statement that he is not under investigation in Ukraine or abroad while obtaining Ukrainian citizenship, although in Georgia he was prosecuted and was arrested in his absence.²²⁰ In this regard, the question arises not only for Saakashvili, but also for those who gave him citizenship: the existence of a criminal case was a fact known in the media and was repeatedly discussed by journalists. Why is it only now that it became a reason for the loss of citizenship, and it wasn’t so at that time? Evidently we see the use of double standards.
On July 28, information was actively disseminated about the detention of Deputy Interior Minister Vadim Troyan for a bribe of $ 2 million.²²¹ As a result, the information acquired various assumptions about the struggle between President Poroshenko and the head of MIA Avakov and the auction in connection with this detention.²²²
Another unsuccessful attempt of reform is a change in the Naftogaz of Ukraine. In 2016, independent and “effective foreign managers” were appointed to the supervisory board of Naftogaz, which were supposed to carry out the company’s reform for which the EBRD loans were allocated. But, on September 19, 2017 the last independent members of the Supervisory Board of Naftogaz informed the company of their intention to resign. His decision P. Vorvik and M. Richards associated with the curtailment of reforms by the government of Ukraine.²²³
The authorities in the reporting period frankly show their opinion about fellow citizens. According to the Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine Vladimir Omelyan, the blockage of air communication between Kiev and Moscow was the right step, as well as the transport blockade of Donbass. And in principle, according to the official, Ukrainians should not be allowed into the territory of the “aggressor country”.²²⁴ The Minister frankly suggests limiting the constitutional freedom of movement of Ukrainian citizens. In August, the Minister of Housing and Communal Services Andrei Reva first noted that Ukrainians eat too much,²²⁵ then Deputy Minister for Occupied Territories Yuri Grymchak inspected the trash and noted that Ukrainians throw out many scraps²²⁶ and, with the beginning of the heating season, concluded that “Ukrainians are used to walking around their homes in their underwear”.
187 deputies received compensations for living from the state of 30 million hryvnias in 2017. There are not poor people among them: Rosenblat, Polyakov, Kaplin, Deidei and others.²²⁷ On October 3, MP M. Nayem stated that he was in favor of selectively granting the right to vote in local elections to the migrants, because among them, according to the Public Deputy from the BPP, there are many supporters of the separatists. He was objected by the Supreme Court judge Vasily Humeniuk, who stated that the right to vote is an inalienable right of any citizen of Ukraine.²²⁸
In October, it became known that the salaries of ministers in the country began to grow significantly. So, Defense Minister Stepan Poltarak received 93 120 UAH in September, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov was charged 64 300 UAH in August, and 112 300 UAH²²⁹ were paid to the Minister of Infrastructure Volodymyr Omelyan. Thus, salaries of ministers have grown three times.
The sky-high salaries of members of the board of Naftogaz of Ukraine, which are paid out due to a multiple increase in tariffs for the population, have become public property. In particular, in 2016, the chairman of the board of Naftogaz Andrey Kobolev received a reward of 19 million hryvnias (about 1.6 million per month or about 60 thousand dollars), Sergei Konovets – 11.1 million hryvnias (about 900 thousand per month), Sergei Pereloma – 10.5 million hryvnia (875 thousand hryvnia per month) and Yuri Kolbushkin – 10.2 million hryvnia (850 thousand monthly).²³⁰ At the same time, the effectiveness of the monopolist’s activity is being questioned by the very profile minister, Igor Nasalik: “I consider the policy of Naftogaz to be senseless in the transport system. They have already erased it for themselves and do not consider it in 2019. With such a position of Naftogaz, we can get to the point that Ukrtransgaz may not be technically ready for pumping gas.”²³¹
In the same period, the Ukrainian government left one of the last foreign managers, called up in 2014-15 to help Ukraine to enter the European path of development. Earlier, Georgian, German, Lithuanian “reformers” ignominiously left the authorities with making nothing positive. The last to leave was the head of Ukrzaliznytsya, Pole V. Balchun, who resigned in August,²³² repeating the path of his other colleagues.
Minister of Culture Yevgeny Nishchuk appointed a new acting CEO – Alexander Rudnik for the Kiev-Pechersky Reserve. “We asked him (Nishchuk), according to what norm of law the new director was appointed, but there was no answer”, – the reserve’s team told. The employees said they did not agree with the appointment of Rudnik without a tender.“The Ministry of Culture in every possible way blocked and put pressure on the work of the legitimate tender commission, not allowing members of the commission and applicants for the post of general director to enter the courtroom”, – the statement says.²³³
Millions of salaries of a number of officials of government agencies are evident examples of corruption there. So, eight officials of the Ministry of Justice who work in the field of executive service (execution of court decisions) received for a half of the year 2017 awards for more than 23 million hryvnias. In the Ministry of Justice millions of salaries of officials of the department were explained as the reward for the work done.²³⁴
On August 15, the Public Deputy and former leader of the “Aidar” Sergei Melnichuk arranged shooting in Kiev at the Troeschina.²³⁵ On September 23, information appeared that Deputy Y. Bereza organized the infliction of grievous bodily harm to a person at the territory of his estate in the village of Chumaki in the Pyatikhat district of Dnepropetrovsk. According to another deputy – Alexander Vilkul, the man, kidnapped by Bereza, was forced to extorting his land, subjected to hours of execution, breaking his ribs and vertebrae, and also causing head injuries.²³⁶ In addition, the Public Deputy Bereza is involved in frequent raider seizures of agricultural land, “having collected” in 2014, 30 thousand hectares of land through a number of shell companies.²³⁷
The authorities began an active struggle against the so-called “grant-winners” and Euro-optimists. So, in August the prosecutor’s office instituted criminal proceedings against the head of the Center for Combating Corruption V. Shabunin,²³⁸ and in October a search was conducted by deputy Svetlana Zalishchuk. Western partners at one time spent a lot of money and energy in order to create a ramified infrastructure of influence in Ukraine. It included the structures of civil society, the media and all kinds of activists. This infrastructure has played a major role in the organization of EuroMaidan and in the coming to power of the current leaders of the state. After that, there was a split in the environment of the recipients of Western grants. Some of them were incorporated into the political alignment, proving to Western partners that there is no infringement of freedom for speech in Ukraine, but there is a ruthless fight against corruption and bold reforms. The other part gradually withdrew to the opposition, stating that there is no real fight against corruption, but on the contrary it flourishes under the patronage of the country’s top leadership, and many reforms are carried out only with the aim of blurring the eyes.²³⁹ It was with this group that the struggle began and this group became one of the pioneers of new protests in October.
It is also important to emphasize that the created groups of influence took an active part in “laundering” the funds allocated by the West to fight corruption, which became public. A vivid example is the scandal with the firm “Miranda”. This firm won a tender for developing an electronic declaration system. However, at the time of victory in the competition there were only eight employees in the firm, the average salary was less than two thousand hryvnias. Obviously, such a structure could not fulfill the task set before it, which, in fact, was a failure.²⁴⁰
It is also important to mention the scandals around the grant structures of the well-known activist Vitali Shabunin, who are seen in the actual “money laundering” through the PIE (physical individual entrepreneurs).²⁴¹
The extensive system of recipients of donor assistance has active patrons in media and politics. These are public deputies – former journalists, sponsored by financial foundations associated with the Democratic Party of the United States.
These structures linking the so-called “fighters against corruption”, namely the so-called “social activists” and politicians, were seen, both during the presidential election of Donald Trump, and after the election of the US president, together with the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) (actual continuation of the political project “Movement of new forces”) in the interference in the internal political life of another state – the United States of America.²⁴² A striking example of such interference is the regular recent article of one of the deputies “anti-corruption” Sergei Leshchenko in the Washington Post.²⁴³ The activity of the so-called “anti-corruption” was mentioned in the previous monitoring.²⁴⁴
The inter-factional association “Forbidden to forbid” actively informed the world community that the recipients of financial assistance in Ukraine were mired in corruption and scandals.²⁴⁵
As we pointed out in our previous documents, the activities of the recipients of Western financial assistance provided harm rather than the benefit of the Ukrainian state. The explanation of this situation is quite simple: organizations that are on grant support were aimed at “cleaning up” the funds, rather than developing democracy in Ukraine. Moreover, the initiatives actively lobbied by them were often aimed at violating the constitutional rights of Ukrainians.²⁴⁶
As part of the investigation of the totality of crimes cases on the Maidan in November 2013 – February 2014, prosecutorial workers continue to amaze with their low qualification. So, on September 3, after 1.5 years of investigation, Solomensky District Court of Kiev returned the prosecutor’s office an indictment in the criminal proceeding about the illegal transfer of weapons to the so-called “titushky” for the shooting of activists of EuroMaidan in February 2014.²⁴⁷
Representatives of the authorities do not disdain even of party raiding. So, in August, the adviser to the Minister of Internal Affairs, Ilya Kiva unexpectedly took the post of chairman of the Socialist Party of Ukraine (SPU). At the same time, he entered into an active struggle against the opposing part of the SPU, which considers itself the owner of the SPU brand.²⁴⁸ At the same time, as an adviser to the minister, Ilya Kiva is a civil servant and therefore has no right to be a leader of the party (Article 10 of the Law on Public Service).²⁴⁹ It is characteristic that the same Kiva threatened the doctor (former head physician of the Poltava Regional Center for Medical and Social Expertise Tatyana Zhabo), who published the data of medical examination confirming his mental illness (schizophrenia) and the second group of disability.²⁵⁰
Actively engaged in the search for “internal enemies” and locally. So, on August 3, the governor of the Zaporozhye region Konstantin Bryl announced the existence of an anti-Ukrainian conspiracy in the region.²⁵¹
Very often the politicians of the highest level begin to replace the low-cost PR with carrying out real reforms. So, in August, data were released that the Ukrainian government has spent 300 thousand dollars since the beginning of the year to promote the interests of Kiev in the US Congress – that is, to lobbying.²⁵³ According to the political analyst of the CIS-EMO international monitoring organization Stanislav Byshok: “For Ukrainian politicians, these are image stories. Look, we are accepted, American congressmen meet with us. But these are meetings that do not commit to anything. Just joint photos, smiles and handshakes.”²⁵⁴ The analyst notes that the mentioned amount is too small to promote serious Ukrainian projects, but this money is enough to increase the image of the country’s leadership in the eyes of the world community. “I believe that most of the amount went to the organization of a meeting between Klimkin and Trump in the Oval Office. It is clear that Trump himself has enough money, but it is possible to pay to the organizers. The anti-Russian sanctions of the United States have nothing to do with this, but for Poroshenko’s pr managers it is a good reason to say that 300 thousand dollars were spent in vain.”²⁵⁵
On September 19, President Poroshenko said that Ukraine placed Eurobonds for $ 3 billion. Later, the Ministry of Finance named the conditions under which our bonds were bought – 7.375% per annum for a period of 15 years. At the same time, other states place their bonds at a lower interest.²⁵⁶
On September 16, a tragedy occurred in connection with a fire in the children’s camp “Victoria” in Odessa,²⁵⁷ which in May was opened by President Poroshenko.²⁵⁸ Moreover, the solemnly open wooden buildings, even at the time of the tragedy, were not yet taken to the balance of the city.²⁵⁹ Perhaps, if they did not hurry with the organization of the solemn event, but did a more qualitative test, the tragedy did not happen and two children’s lives could be saved.
The topic of counterfeit diplomas on higher education continues to be relevant for Ukrainian officials. So, on August 22, after a prolonged scandal, the head of the KSCA Vladimir Bondarenko resigned voluntarily, with respect to whom an investigation is being conducted on the use of forged documents.²⁶⁰ In late October, a similar investigation was opened by the Prosecutor General’s Office against Prime Minister V. Groisman.²⁶¹
Another introductory campaign in higher education institutions raises questions about the professionalism of its organizers. So, a number of applicants with high scores could not enter the budget due to the specifics of this year’s campaign.²⁶²
The project, among other draft bills, aimed at regulating the existence of cats and dogs – № 7220 is surprising. It provides for a number of controversial norms: a general, paid chip of cats and dogs, sterilization of outbred animals, their breeding only in nurseries, collars on cats, and the Ukrainian can not himself land the pet, as indicated in the bill. Large fines prescribed for violation of the law – for example, up to UAH 20 400 – for refusing to sterilizate the animal. Control over the observance of all these innovations is proposed to be entrusted to the National Police. The force officials will be able to come home to Ukrainians and check whether their cat has a collar, if the dog is properly kept, whether the pet has had an “illegal” pregnancy.²⁶³
Ukraine in the processes of European integration and international relations
President Petro Poroshenko paid a visit to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on October 11 with a failure. As noted by the expert O. Voloshin, this is the finale of the “honeymoon” between the Ukrainian authorities and Europe. No matter how long Poroshenko’s president was in PACE, trying to avoid uncomfortable questions, there were questions from five political groups.
Representatives of different PACE groups raised completely different topics, but they had one thing in common: the questions already arose with negative context:
- From the European Public Party: how could you sign the law on education, which grossly violates the rights of national minorities?
- From the Socialists: why the Minsk process slips and what do you do to unblock it?
- From the liberals: when will an anti-corruption court be established?
- From the left: what are you personally doing to establish a dialogue with the inhabitants of Donbass, which you promised back in 2014?
Before the speech of the President of Ukraine, a briefing was given by the vice speaker of the Bulgarian parliament, a member of the Swiss parliament and Ukrainian politician Vadim Novinsky on the law “On Education”. Criticism of Europeans to the language provisions of the law was almost more stringent than from the oppositionist.²⁶⁴
Answering questions, President Poroshenko tried to be persuasive, but not always succeeded. In the issue of the Minsk agreements, he did not explain why the coalition in the Ukrainian parliament refuses to pass a law on the reintegration of the Donbass with mention of these very Minsk agreements.²⁶⁵
On October 12, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a decision that was quite tough in relation to the Ukrainian government, with recommendations to Ukraine following the results of the urgent debate on the law “On Education”. The convocation of the debate was initiated by the Hungarian and Romanian delegates. PACE condemns the fact that the Verkhovna Rada adopted the law “On Education” by changing Article 7 (on the language of education) without consulting with representatives of national minorities. The Assembly also asked Ukraine to take into account all recommendations of the Venice Commission, without exception, and to amend the law accordingly. PACE stated that even now, before the adoption of the Venice Commission’s conclusion, there are “a number of legal issues to the law”.²⁶⁶
On October 12, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) adopted a landmark decision for Ukraine – more than 12,000 complaints from citizens against Ukraine concerning non-enforcement of decisions of Ukrainian courts were combined within the case of “Burmich versus Ukraine” and transferred to the Committee of Ministers (CMCE). The court instructed the CMCE to obtain from Ukraine the implementation of the initial decisions of the national courts, as well as to change the systemic practice of enforcement of judgments.
At the same time, the decision does not mention the payment of compensation to these applicants.²⁶⁷ But this does not indicate that it will not. Most likely, the CMCE will establish a single amount of moral compensation and oblige Ukraine to pay it to each claimant.
This decision indicates the fatigue of the ECHR from Ukraine, which systematically does not implement its decision. Now the Court has decided to follow the path of coercive measures from the Committee of Ministers. In case of their non-fulfillment, Ukraine can expect a deprivation of the right to vote or suspension of membership in the Council of Europe.
The court almost directly reproached the official Kiev: due to inactivity of Ukrainian officials, the Human Rights Court in Strasbourg turned into a branch of the justice system of our state. The European Court of Human Rights is literally filled with complaints of Ukrainians. At least for the last two years, these are claims from citizens of our state that make up more than 20% of the total mass of cases of the ECHR, and we confidently hold the first place in the list of complainants. In 2015, out of the 65,000 lawsuits that were to be considered by the court in Strasbourg, almost 14,000 were “Ukrainian.” In 2016, their number increased by more than 18 thousands. The lion’s share of them concerns the failure of the Ukrainian state to fulfill its obligations regarding the implementation of statutory payments to citizens: pensioners, Chernobyl victims and others.
Proving first in all judicial instances in Ukraine, and then in the ECHR the fact of violation of their rights, they sought compensation as of the main sum of the established legislative payments, so and moral satisfaction. But even after that, the decisions taken by the European court in the overwhelming majority were not executed.
“The ECHR in the case “Burmich and Others versus Ukraine” stated that the law of 2012 “On state guarantees concerning execution of court decisions” did not change anything in substance. The number of complaints to the ECHR for non-fulfillment of decisions of national courts is increasing every year”, – notes lawyer Elena Lyoshenko.²⁶⁸
It is this problem that the ECHR now wants to solve in one fell swoop. Let us note that the Ukrainian judge in the ECHR panel Anna Yudkovskaya, by the way – the wife of the influential parliamentarian from the “Public Front” Georgy Logvinsky, who was elected as vice-president of the PACE, opposed the adoption of an unprecedented court decision in Strasbourg.²⁶⁹ It is said, that Yudkovskaya’s line of conduct is connected with the fact that she is not defending the interests of the applicants, but of the active government.²⁷⁰
On September 27 in the European Parliament, in Brussels, there were hearings devoted to the situation with the ultra-right movement in Ukraine. The aim of the event was to convey to Europe an alternative point of view about the events in the country: “We have one-sided information in these walls (the European Parliament). And the result of our meeting today is to get closer to a more objective picture of what is happening in Ukraine”, – European deputy Irdgi Mashtalka announced.
A representative from Ukraine, a victim of political repression, blogger R. Kotsaba noted: “We are returning to a totalitarian model when President Poroshenko, and not only him – the modern Ukrainian government, has created such comfortable conditions in which one does not need someone to criticize. Anyone who criticizes the government automatically becomes either Putin’s accomplices, or “Kremlin agents” or “enemies of the people” … I am judged only for having been accredited on both sides of the front line.”
Another participant attorney T. Montian noted that the current Ukrainian government is engaged in “harassment of individuals”, because “for a full-scale dictatorship there is not enough strength.”
Leader of the Communist Party, banned in Ukraine, Pyotr Simonenko in his speech lamented the prosecution of his comrades, in particular Alla Aleksandrovskaya, who is accused of separatism. He called the current power “a neo-fascist regime” established with the participation of the United States.
Much attention was paid to the undisclosed cases of murdered Ukrainian journalists, in particular Pavel Sheremet and Oles Buzina. Present at the meeting, the Italian representative accused the Ukrainian authorities of the absence of an investigation into the death in Donbass of a photographer from Italy Andrea Roquelle. In July this year, the Italian authorities detained a soldier of the National Guard of Ukraine, a citizen of Italy Vitali Markiv, who is charged with involvement in the shooting. Russian human rights activist Oksana Chelysheva, who has lived in Finland for eight years as a political emigrant, told about the cruelty of ATO fighters against the local population in the Donbass: “I faced a lot of violations of Russia’s rights in Chechnya. But I have never met such impunity, which afflicts Ukraine”, – said Ms. Chelysheva. According to her, the growth of radicalism in Ukraine “is not Putin’s propaganda,” but Europe does not pay enough attention to this.²⁷¹
In August, in a number of Western media reported that the DPRK had created its ballistic missiles with the help of Ukrainian missile technology.²⁷² If these facts are confirmed, then Ukraine can be sanctioned for violating the resolutions of the UN Security Council on military cooperation with the DPRK. The US State Department has been informed of publications about the transfer of missile engines to Ukraine by North Korea and are serious about this issue, if such a situation took place.²⁷³ Indirectly possible participation of Ukraine in this transaction was confirmed in conversation with the pranker director of Yuzhmash.²⁷⁴ And as a result, on November 1, the US Congress asked the national intelligence and the State Department to conduct an investigation regarding Ukraine’s involvement in the supply of components of intercontinental ballistic missiles to North Korea.²⁷⁵
The Ukrainian authorities also interfered in political processes in other countries. Thus, according to the statement of Public Deputy Andrei Derkach, the Prosecutor General’s Office opened a criminal investigation into the disclosure by the detectives of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) of the pre-trial investigation of the case of the so-called “barnyard book of the Party of Regions”, which led to Ukraine’s interference in the presidential elections of the US president in 2016.²⁷⁶ This Ukrainian authority not only spoiled the relationship with the new US administration, but actually intervened in the internal affairs of another country violating one of the fundamental principles of international law – non-interference in the internal affairs of another state.
International organizations traditionally since 2014 continue to interfere in the internal affairs of Ukraine, frankly ignoring its sovereignty. So, after pushing down the increase of cost of public services for population, the World Bank advocated the cancellation of the moratorium on sale of agricultural land in Ukraine in 2018. This was reported by World Bank Director for Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus Satu Kakhkonen during the presentation of the new economic review and macroeconomic forecast for Ukraine.²⁷⁷
On October 13, the European Union has set the Verkhovna Rada deadline for the adoption of the Medical reform. “We call on all deputies to vote for these two key drafts in the form proposed by the government at the plenary session of the Verkhovna Rada next week. Reforms should not be postponed any longer”, – concluded the EU.²⁷⁸
The EU links the possibility of further transit, after 2019, through the Ukrainian GTS with division of the Naftogaz of Ukraine.²⁷⁹
The EU and the US Embassy actively demanded the creation of a separate anti-corruption prosecutor’s office, and now they demand the creation of a separate anti-corruption court,²⁸⁰ while these bodies are not an obvious panacea, as shows the practice of the former Soviet republics and now of the EU. Thus, the Bureau for the Prevention and Combating of Corruption (CPCB) was established in Latvia 15 years ago. But over all these years, only one politician was convicted of corruption – Juris Hlevickis, 12 years ago he organized a bribe of 20 000 lats for his re-election to the mayors of Jurmala. In many other cases, criminal cases were not settled in court or closed, and in the process of multimillion bribes in public sector procurements, none of the politicians got to the dock.²⁸¹
The Ukrainian authorities continue to throw in fakes in order to confuse the public and justify their failures. And quite often they find the traps themselves. Periodically, such actions of the authorities are investigated by international organizations. So, on October 3, the Special OSCE Monitoring Mission in Ukraine refuted the statements of the First Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the representative of Ukraine in the humanitarian subgroup of the Tripartite Contact Group for the settlement at Donbass Irina Gerashchenko, as if the number of Russian representatives doubled in this mission over the past year. According to the mission, the situation is opposite – the number of Russians in it has decreased over the past year.²⁸²
The situation with the so-called “Yanukovych’s debt” in the amount of $3 billion is gradually coming to an end, but not in favor of the Ukrainian authorities, and the new authorities of Ukraine for a long period refused to recognize their obligations concerning this issue. In July, the High Court of London approved the amount of Ukraine’s fine to Russia for default of $3 billion bonds owned by the National Wealth Fund (NWF). By July 26, taking into account the penalty interest, it was $ 3.47 billion. Every day, the penalty is more than $ 673,000. the High Court will decide on this suit in January 2018, when a hearing on Ukraine’s appeal will be held.²⁸³
On September 21 The Law Debenture Corporation PLC, which is the principal of the interests of the Russian Federation, confirmed the receipt of a payment from Ukraine in the amount of 1.16 million pounds sterling. Thus, Ukraine has complied with the High Court of London ruling on compensation by Ukraine in respect of costs incurred by the Russian side.²⁸⁴ As a result, the litigation turned for Ukraine with great financial and reputational losses, and the debt still has to be returned. Moreover, new bonds are placed with a high interest rate.
Summing up, we can state that during the reporting period, the state pressure on freedom for speech increased. The authorities are doing everything possible to further narrow the space for media freedom. The power bodies continued to put pressure on journalists. Investigations are conducted in the editorial offices of major publications, criminal cases are still being fabricated against unwanted journalists, for which they are convicted for serious prison terms. The Committee on Protection of Journalists believes that the Ukrainian authorities are pursuing critics and publications that are considered anti-patriotic. The Ukrainian authorities actively continue to expel foreign journalists from the country, defining them as such an undetermined legal category as “propagandists”, but now this practice is condemned by international organizations. In relation to journalists, they also simply use violence, and old crimes against them, including murders – are not investigated.
Unable to show people the success of reforms, the authorities are trying in every possible way to block the flow of truthful information. For this purpose, a law on cybersecurity and the mandatory registration of mobile subscribers are proposed. The state strengthens the function of monitoring information resources and strives to increase the technical capacity to implement the blocking (restriction) of access to information resources. The practice of prosecuting and convicting people for reposting and fasting in social networks, begun in the last quarter and convicted already by international human rights organizations, continues. Authorities continue to try to manipulate public opinion using bots in social networks.
Trends in discrimination against the non-Ukrainian-speaking population only increased during the reporting period. Such actions take place both at the national and local levels. In this case, the art. 10 of the Constitution, guaranteeing the free development of minority languages, the Law on Languages (2012) and Ukraine’s international obligations under the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities are being violated. The main issue in this direction was the prohibition of full school education in languages of national minorities and the closure of minority schools. Another direction was the unlawful activity of local authorities on the Ukrainization of the service sector. Language quotas on television have started to operate and sanctions on radio quotas are already being applied.
The judiciary comes under double pressure. On the one hand, the courts are being ransacked by various kinds of radicals, and on the other – the executive branch in every way continues to interfere in their activities. In addition, some law enforcement agencies, in particular NABU, use professional “activists” to pressure the judiciary to obtain the necessary solution. Earlier it was possible to observe in the case of the head of the GFS R. Nasirov, and more recently in the case of Interior Minister A. Avakov.
The reform of the judicial system was ambiguious, which led to the restriction of citizens’ access to justice.
The Ukrainian government does not provide a sufficient level of security for citizens. The third year of the ATO is already coming to an end and the very legitimacy of the participation of the AFU in the ATO has already been on doubt. The adoption of the law on reintegration of the Donbass, as envisaged by the Minsk Agreements, is blocked by the radicals in the Verkhovna Rada. The overall level of crime in the country is off scale, which indicates the lack of professionalism of both the new police and the entire leadership of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. SBU instead of fighting terrorism, which is sweeping the country, is engaged in PR and detains journalists. People who have completed ATO need mostly the help of psychologists, but such work is not carried out, and they are without rehabilitation at some streets with a civilian population, provoking domestic violence. The problem of the existence of “private armies” critically arose in the country. They participate in business and political conflicts. Practicing tortures.
The authorities completely ignored the situation with the investigation of the resonant murders of well-known journalists. The murders of Ukrainian journalists Pavel Sheremet and Oles Buzina remain unresolved. The international community notes the absence of an investigation of the death at Donbass of a photographer from Italy Andrea Rocelle.
The implementation of the constitutional right of citizens for freedom of religion was subjected to various tests during the reporting period. The state authorities interfere in the activities of religious organizations, which is prohibited by the Constitution. The draft laws on the church raid and others, directed primarily against the UOC, are not removed from the agenda. Local authorities exceed their powers, limiting the rights of believers – the procession of the cross is prohibited, raids on parishes continue. Also, the seizures of the churches of the UOC in Western Ukraine continue. Organs of law and order do not take action to curb the activities of radicals against priests and parishes. An alarming situation develops with the activities of religious organizations at military units. The priests of the UOC take away temples located on the territory of military units. Representatives of the UOC still are not allowed to do pastorwork at the National Guard of Ukraine.
The practice of restricting freedom of assembly continues. The government has adopted a policy to call all those who disagree with it as the “agents of the Kremlin” and force to disperse peaceful assemblies. In addition, some members of the SBU are engaged in the illegal collection and analysis of information on political opponents of the authorities. Parliamentarians call specific names and positions, but the authorities ignore the appeal of public deputies.
The work of “professional public activists” is continuing, selling their power services and requiring preferences for themselves from the state. The authorities take no measures to curb them. Political pressure occurs not only at the all-Ukrainian level, but also at the local level. Thus, local leaders seek to gain full control over the territory entrusted to them and for this they use their power. There is a “total sweep” of political opponents – deputies of opposition parties are dismissed from their jobs. Thus, an illustrative example is the situation with the mayor of the city of Glukhov in the Sumy region by Michel Tereschenko.
About 70% of the population of Ukraine (according to the UN) is below the poverty line. But the state does nothing to fulfill the constitutional norm on the construction of a social state. On the contrary, the possibility of using social and economic rights becomes more complicated. A pension reform was implemented, which greatly postponed the moment of retirement, but established social differentiation – a special retirement and surcharges for the security forces. Also in the process of implementation, the so-called “medical reform”, which directly contradicts the Constitution of Ukraine.
The situation for civilians in the ATO zone continues to be critical. More and more citizens leave Ukraine in search of a better life abroad. Debts for exorbitant utility tariffs are increasing, subsidies do not solve the problem, and the state is looking for ways to reduce them, while the threat of another increase in tariffs can bring the number of subsidies to 90%.
Educational innovations conducted by the authorities have as their goal only a decrease in competitiveness of population and Ukrainization of all spheres of people’s lives. Ministers and state administrators assign themselves huge salaries, but the topic of counterfeit diplomas on higher education continues to be relevant for Ukrainian officials. The innovation of this period was the frank PR of the highest state officials, with which they replace the implementation of real reforms.
The Ukrainian government received an extremely sensitive blow also on the external arena. In PACE, President Poroshenko was puzzled with uncomfortable questions, and a tough resolution on the law “On Education” was adopted. The ECHR was tired of making similar decisions on the problems of Ukrainian citizens and handed over a huge array of cases to the Committee of Ministers, which can adopt extremely harsh measures against Ukraine. Relations with the US have been damaged due to interference in the American elections and neighboring countries because of attempts to ban education in minority languages, there are serious suspicions about the sale of DPRK of missile technologies, which fraught with sanctions from the UN Security Council.
International organizations, in accordance with traditions established since 2014 continue to interfere in the internal affairs of Ukraine, ignoring its sovereignty.
 https://strana.ua/news/86167-fleshka-noutbuki-i-novye-maski-shou-chto-ishchut-v-redaktsii-i-kvartirakh-zhurnalistov-strany.html; https://strana.ua/news/86161-v-ofise-strany-i-v-domakh-zhurnalistov-idut-obyski.html
 https://newsone.ua/ru/nacionalnyj-korpus-svoboda-i-pravyj-sektor-potrebovali-nacionalizacii-vertoletnoj-ploshhadki-yanukovicha/; https://newsone.ua/ru/zaxvat-vertoletnoj-ploshhadki-yanukovicha-aktivisty-namereny-oxranyat-pomeshhenie/
 https://strana.ua/articles/reconstruction/83420-krovavaya-banya-v-centre-dnepra-kak-veterany-ato-ne-podelili-biznes-s-mirom-kriminala.html; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gJ4LGf4qjY&feature=youtu.be
 https://www.unian.net/incidents/2214159-derzkoe-napadenie-na-izbiratelnyiy-uchastok-politsiya-zaderjala-24-chelovek-s-arsenalom-orujiya.html; https://youtu.be/lMYluOicSXY.