During the reporting period, the situation with human rights observance and protection by the state in Ukraine keeps heading downhill. Journalists’ rights are being violated, the political repressions against dissenting mass media are underway, the outburst of ultra-right and nationalist elements is encouraged by the state, paramilitary structures (private armies) are still being created and keep operating.
It is worth particularly underlining that over the past period the state began most actively interfering with religious organizations’ activities, advocating discrimination of one of them. The said process has reached the highest possible level and, literally, has become the national policy.
The rights of ethnical and linguistic minorities continue being violated, the judicial system independence gets ruined, various pseudo-reforms are being carried out disapproving the service standards in the fields of healthcare, education, housing and utilities.
Foreign states and international organizations are actively interfering with domestic affairs of Ukraine forcing current government into appointing particular candidates and creating the authorities essential for them. In the meantime, relations with most neighboring countries are conflict-ridden.
Limitation of Freedom of Speech and Independent Media Operation
Within the reporting period, the pressure level on mass media on the part of the government in Ukraine has reached the highest point in the whole history of independence. Article 171 of the Constitution of Ukraine about the guarantee of freedom of speech and Article 171 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine “Hindering lawful professional activities of the journalists” are being actively violated.
Within the framework of the analysis of the situation in the first half-year of 2018, of prime importance is response of the Ukrainian journalists to the oppression of freedom of speech. For instance, top managers of a wide range of popular mass media, regional journalists along with the representatives of social organizations (Interfactional Parliamentary Association “Forbidden to Forbid” acted as the one of the signatories) handed a petition to the President, the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the Prosecutor General, the Prime Minister as well as to the diplomats of the European states and the USA.
The petition indicates that the level of threat to the freedom of speech in Ukraine has come to a boil. Social organizations have recorded over 300 facts of violation of freedom of speech, 100 of which were attacks against journalists.
The journalists have especially made it clear that the acts of force against the mass media employees, burning editorial offices, arrests, searches, attacks of paramilitary formations, Internet bot army attacks, pressure from the law enforcement, fiscal and other authorities – is a non-exhaustive list of government’s “arguments” in the dialogue with the independent journalists.
The signatories to the petition have expressly indicated that the special vindictive role in the mass media operation plays the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting. The actual duties of this authority have reduced to censure, constant unscheduled inspections, editorial offices blackmailing with regard to license extension and so forth.
For the petition not to remain a simple declaration, its signatories have outlined specific requirements to the President, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine the Prosecutor General’s Office. This way the representatives of the independent mass media have pointed the finger at:
- to take measures to stop pressure upon mass media and to give reasons for interference of the Head of the State or his inferiors into the license issuing activities, arranging mass media investigations;
- to explain how the President controls the President’s “four” activities in the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting;
- to withdraw compromised National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting representatives appointed under the President’s quota;
The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine:
- to hear the report and to recognize the performance of the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting inadequate;
- to withdraw compromised National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting representatives appointed under the quota of the Verkhovna Rada;
- to forbid the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting to perform unscheduled inspections for the period of one year;
- to urgently conduct Parliament hearings with regard to the freedom of speech in Ukraine.
The Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine:
- to provide public report on the status of the criminal investigations of crimes against journalists;
- to appraise the SSU departments’ operation, conducting wiretapping and foot surveillance of journalists. It was made clear that the mentor of these departments systematically supplying relevant information to the Presidential Administration is the Deputy Head of the SSU Oleg Frolov;
- to conduct an investigation of the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting activities and its member Sergei Kostinskii with respect to opposing journalists’ activities. To verify the facts of pressure over the journalists published in the mass media and “Artemenko.leaks”.
The mass media representatives have as well requested the diplomats from the European union and the USA and international organizations to control the fulfillment of these requirements by the Ukrainian government.
For a couple of weeks the petition was opened for new signatories. Every day it was acceded by dozens of people and professional journalists. 
The first results of the petition were not long in coming. In a couple of days after the posting thereof, the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU) held a discussion “Treats to the freedom of speech in Ukraine”.
The forum participants made it clear that the attempts of the government to put a restraint upon the activities of mass media “unfavorable” to it, division to “cottonwool” and “patriotic” mass media, multiple inspections of TV and radio-channels by the supervisor, as well as initiated criminal cases against journalists – is a path to the total control over the freedom of speech and dictatorship in Ukraine.
“The NUJU considers that the situation with the freedom of speech in Ukraine is beyond the pale, and with the physical security – is threatening, – commented the NUJU chairman Sergei Tomilenko. – During the last couple of months there have occurred over a dozen of emblematic declarations of national media and journalists on threats, oppressions and attacks.”
The discussants stated that each of these statements should be closely considered, discussed and publicly accounted for by the officials. Instead of that, fixed were only attempts to divide the journalists into the “good” ones and the “bad” ones, selective pressure from the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting and officials’ misconduct.
The Editor-in-Chief of “ERA-Media” Tatiana Goncharova, especially told about the pressure of the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting. In October 2017, radio “ERA” was imposed a penalty for violation of linguistic quotas during May airtime.
That happened notwithstanding the fact that the air was dedicated to the “Eurovision”, and, therefore, there were the songs not in the Ukrainian language. However, for airing of 23% and not 25% of Ukrainian-speaking songs, the radio had to pay penalty amounting over UAH 300.000.
Regardless of the fact that the journalists’ petition sparked massive public outcry and was supported by the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine, none of the media representatives’ requirements were met! The government completely ignored the mass media representatives’ petition.
Attempt by the authorities to close the morning news TV show “Dobroho Ranku, Krayino!” (“Good morning, Country!”) produced by “Era-Media” and broadcasted daily from 6:30 am to 9:30 am on the main TV channel of Ukraine “UA:Pershyi” can be called one of the most striking instances of the attack on freedom of expression in Ukraine.
On July 5, Yulia Tymoshenko, one of the most famous and high-rated politicians in the country, on air of “Dobroho Ranku, Krayino!” announced plans of Petro Poroshenko to impose martial law to maintain power by escalating the conflict in the Donbass. As the politician herself indicated, she literally threw a wrench into the president’s plans when revealing this information.
The authorities have often expressed their negative perception of the “Era-Media” TV company and its products. Especially after the team of the TV company signed the aforementioned joint letter to the President, the Prime Minister, the Verkhovna Rada and the General Prosecutor demanding to stop limit freedom of speech in Ukraine.
Following the day of Tymoshenko’s speech on the air, Zurab Alasania on behalf of “The National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine” (the NPBCU) and the TV channel “UA:Pershyi” made a statement on the termination of “Dobroho Ranku, Krayino!” broadcasting.
“Era-Media” filed a lawsuit and received a ruling that prohibits the termination of “Dobroho Ranku, Krayino!” show broadcasts. The trial is ongoing and the show, contrary to the NPBCU, is broadcasted.
Meanwhile, “Dobroho Ranku, Krayino!” made a statement on the violation of freedom of speech and the obstruction of professional activities of journalists, which caused a huge stir in the Ukrainian media, in particular in the Ukrainian segment of Facebook. Many users of the social network expressed their support for the program.
It is important to emphasize the position of many media analysts at that time: “UA:Pershyi” was actively supported by the pro-presidential pool of fake accounts on Facebook (it was created almost a year ago and Petro Poroshenko was directly asked about this by Radio Liberty, but evaded answering). In addition, Zurab Alasania, Head of the NPBCU, presented his arguments on the only one TV channel called “Pryamyi”, which nominally belongs to the president, actively uses the language of hatred towards some residents and nationalities of Ukraine, and constantly criticizes the West. Moreover, the sources of funding for the establishment and operation of the “Pryamyi” TV channel are unknown.
Remarkable examples of the government pressure upon the mass media in the reporting period was the criminal case against the Chief Editor of the first-rate Internet-media of Ukraine “Strana. UA”, independent minded Igor Guzhva. Because of such pressure of security services and Presidential Administration, in January 2018 Guzhva escaped Ukraine and sought asylum in Austria.
The spectacular example of the unconcealed pressure over the journalists and mass media is the declaration of the “Radical Party” MP Igor Mosiichuk making calls for murdering the opposing journalists.
In April 2018, another Ukrainian journalist, the owner of the information agency “Open Ukraine” and ex-serviceman A. Medinskii applied to the Finnish authorities for the political asylum as a result of pressure from the government and radicals, having become the chased object in Ukraine; and on May 31, 2018 another opposing investigative journalist A. Dubinskii declared of the attempt to carry out against him the provocative act similar to the Guzhva’s case.
The national security actively conducts searches in the media editorial offices, in the editors’ and journalists’ apartments. These actions are mostly undertaken against non-government oriented mass media. For example, media-holding “Vesti” has been searched on a regular basis starting from 2016. In the previous year the searches were made by the military prosecutor and in February 2018 there were two seizures by the security officials of the holding editorial office, during the second one the editorial office was actually destroyed. In February 2018 the government started making pressure against the one of the major TV channels of Ukraine “1+1” through the National Bank of Ukraine, having sent a request demanding to provide data of the funds flow on the accounts of a couple of dozens of journalists and hosts headed by the famous actor and host Vladimir Zelenskii (who took charge of the protest against prohibition of the TV series “Svaty”)  and investigative journalist Aleksandr Dubinskii (carried out investigations on venal practices in the halls of power, at which point the Presidential Administration demands to accuse him of treason felony) .
Investigations of the already committed offences against the journalists, including the most grave among them, such as murders, are investigated insufficiently. For instance, the cases against the murderers of Sheremet and Buzina were not submitted to court, and the suspects were released. In December 2017, in the case of one of the parties to the murder of the journalist V. Veremei on Maidan in winter 2014, the “titushka” (non-professional bully) Yu. Krysin, the Ukrainian court issued an unexpectedly mild sentence – suspended sentence for the co-partnership in this murder. The OSCE severely criticized the suspended sentence in the case of the Veremii’s murder. The mass media associate such a mild sentence with the long-standing fellowship between Krysin and active Head of Mykolaiv Regional Government Department and former official of Department for Organized Crime Control of the Ministry of the Interior A. Savchenko.
Within the reporting period, the government performed a certain innovation in restricting the right to freedom of speech and operation of independent mass media by employing various “experts” and “monitoring organizations” for development of prejudiced reflection of reality. This is exercised by the two institutions in Ukraine – Institute for Mass Information (IMI) directed by Oksana Romaniuk and “Detector Media” (former “Public Association “Telekritika””) directed by Nataliia Ligacheva. Particularly, in March 2018 these institutions carried out true bullying of the direction of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine, represented by Sergei Tomilenko, for protection of all mass media from the government attacks, irrespective of the editorial policy. As well as for calling attention to the blatant situation with the battery against the journalists on a regular basis. According to mass media environment participants, many cases of pressure against the journalists are being concealed by the IMI wrenching the general picture. It is worth noting that the MP Sergei Leshchenko accused the Editor-in-Chief of “Detektor Media” Nataliia Ligacheva of lobbying in the President’s Poroshenko interests and receiving instructions from the President’s close associate – the MP Igor Kononenko. One can assess the quality of these “media-experts’” performance by Nataliia Ligacheva’s quotation from Facebook: “For how long will the taxmen, national security and others kick around “Vesti” and “Strana”? Weren’t three years enough?” .
According to the talkers of “Strana.UA” in the mass media environment, many cases of pressure against journalists are being concealed by the IMI wrenching the general picture. IMI applies a certain unstated filter when performing monitoring of threats against mass media, confirms the Head of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU) Sergei Tomilenko. Such biased reflection of pressure against mass media by IMI, resulted in implementation of the alternative “Physical Security Index” by NUJU – monitoring of attacks against journalists.
“During the year 2017 we have documented 90 cases of application of force. Do you know the IMI statistics? We have 90 attacks, and they report about 29. It turns out that we say: look there’s a problem. And the IMI says: it’s all right, there’re no problems”, – marked Tomilenko.
In January 2018, the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine initiated legislation which, in one respect, once again limits citizens’ rights, and in other – overtly intervenes with the editorial policy. This refers to the legislative restriction of programs hosting by politicians. No other sound motives, but to disallow political opponent from the television cannot be found here.
The other initiative restricting the freedom of speech is a draft law for defamation or, as it was dubbed by the Ukrainian government-favored MPs, the “Law on Fakes”. Such initiative came out again in January 2018 after the TV channel “Rustavi-2” fake about the declarations of Petr Poroshenko in the Federal Security Service of Russia in 2007, although the TV channel declares them as authentic.
There exist journalism ethics standards, however one cannot legislatively determine authenticity of a definite news, and the damage caused by the potential self-censorship of the journalists will be disproportionally larger. The European Court of Human Rights proceeds from the following interpretation of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights: “the freedom of expression is related to the “duties and responsibilities” which as well apply to mass media with regard to the issues of serious general concern. … public officers on-the-job, just like the politicians, fall within wider allowed critic limits than the private individuals” (Case “Toma against Luxembourg”).
In the case “Dundin against the Russian Federation”, the Court held that the national courts should establish balance between the necessity to protect reputation of police officer and the journalist’s right to distribute information of general concern. The European Court as well stated that the issue is not in whether the journalist will be able to prove the validity of his statements, but whether there can be established adequately checked and reliable factual basis proportionate to the nature and character of the accusation. However, the social networks have already mocked the government to combat fake information, while the government itself is the main source of the fakes in Ukraine.
Journalists continue being threatened by politicians with regard to their professional activity. For instance, in January 2018, the journalist of the TV channel “ZIK” Nataliia Vlashchenko before the interview with the official of Viktor Yanukovich presidency period, Andrei Portnov, “received a call from the deputy of the “People’s Front” and who threatened her by saying: “You do know the destiny of Buzina”, – in case of air, he threatened with the right-wing extremists and other people.
In February 2018, it was disclosed that the First Deputy of the Head of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, Oleg Gladkovskii (former Svinarchuk) accused journalist Aleskandr Dubinskii of treason and felony and demanded that the Head of the Security Service of Ukraine, Vasilii Gritsak, initiated criminal prosecution. According to Gladkovskii, the treason and felony reside in the critical publications of Dubinskii about his business.
The Ukrainian journalist, broadcaster Nadezhda Sass was fired from the TV channel “NewsOne” after her bitter observations about the President of Ukraine in a live television broadcast.
The public opinion and information manipulation practice on the part of the Presidential Administration still continues: gag orders for the journalists and bloggers with “correct” reflection of the current situation and its suitable presentation to the society are being issued each month.
For the position on the Donbas conflict controversial to that of the state one and its reflection in the social media, the Security Service of Ukraine (the SSU) in January 2018 conducted search in the apartment of the solo performer of Lviv National Opera and Ballet Theater Nikolai Sanzharevskii, who prior to that was entered in the database of “Myrotvorets” web site. The performer is a key figure in the criminal proceedings under the Article of the Criminal Code concerning material, organizational or other facilitation to terror group or entity activities, stipulating 8 to 15 years in penal colony.
The pressure upon the journalists from the force authorities is still underway. In March 2018, the SSU conducted wide-scale searches of 25 opposing bloggers and journalists in different cities of Ukraine who were characterized as “the persons assisting the aggressor-state in implementation of anti-Ukrainian moves”. Among others, searched was Kyiv journalist Yurii Lukashin.
At the same time, after the journalist and volunteer Olga Reshetilova published information that “Kedr”, one of the persons involved in “Ruban case”, was actually Pavel Balov, the major of the 8th regiment of Operations Forces called her in person and threatened demanding to delete this information.
In March at the meeting of the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) veterans, got beaten journalist Vladimir Demin from Berdiansk. The government investigates the case with reluctancy. “It seems that the local police are afraid of these “activists”, while they hiding behind the title of the ATO veterans do whatever they want”, – says Vladimir Demin.
Foreign mass media journalists’ exiles and arrests are being strongly practiced. The SSU has deported from Ukraine the Russian journalist, the employee of the TV-channel “Russia 24” Nataliia Goncharova. The SSU explained that “in the early March the journalist prepared 4 provocative video-materials, distributed distorted information throughout Ukraine, misinformed world community and damaged international image of Ukraine” . Actually, she was deported for performance of the journalist activities the results whereof did not satisfy the SSU. In May 2018 the State Border Guard Service denied from Ukraine journalists from Italy, Czech Republic and Russia who headed to Odesa to cover the anniversary of the Odesa tragedy of the 2nd of May. In June 2018 the journalist of “RIA News” declared that the SSU made an attempt to win her over.
Arrested in May 2018 was the journalist heading the news agency “RIA News Ukraine”, K. Vyshinskii, possessing the Russian and Ukrainian citizenship. The SSU charges him with “subversive activities” on behalf of Russia. Most surprising is the wording of the reasons for Vyshinskii’s arrest. The Prosecutor General’s Office web site says: “within the criminal proceedings for the facts of unleashing of aggressive war in the information area by the Russian Federation…”, however, the fact is there’s no such crime as “aggressive war in the information area”. In practice, the SSU initiated proceedings under Article 437 “Planning, preparation, unleashing and conducting aggressive war”. However, can this Article be applied to the journalist? Most doubtfully. Judged for unleashing of aggressive wars may be the heads of states, chiefs of defense, supreme generalship, but not a journalist. This is what the Nurnberg tribunal practice showed.
As to other accusations, the Prosecutor General’s Office message shows: “to implead on the ground of Section 1 Article 111 of the Criminal Code f Ukraine – treason felony. Out of all the paragraphs of this Article applied may be only “espionage” or “rendering assistance to foreign state, foreign organization or their representatives in performance of subversion against Ukraine”. Most likely, it was the subversion the SSU had in mind, for their web site says: “Organizing subversive information campaigns within the framework of hybrid war against our state”. Still, the Criminal Code provides for no responsibility for the “hybrid war”, i.e. for “aggressive war”. As to the “subversive information campaigns”. The legislation contains no explanations as to what shall be deemed the “subversive activities”. Therefore. If the judge does not acknowledge the information content of RIA News Ukraine the subversive activity, he does not violate the law.
As the evidence base were produced USD 200.000 and the agreement with IIA “Russia Today” dated 2014. It hardly can constitute crime for a journalist or an information agency. Judging by the activities developed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and the Ministry of Interior, one of the major purposes of Vyshinskii’s arrest was to create an “exchangeable resource” to make exchange on the imprisoned in Russia Sushchenko.
The Director of the Communications Department of the Ministry of Interior of Ukraine, Artem Shevchenko said: “So I suggest exchanging him for Roman Sushchenko – it will be fair” . Significantly, at that moment there were no criminal proceedings, no court decision, still it was suggested to make some exchange.
The other version may be prolongation of state policy in attacking the freedom of speech in the lead-up to the Presidential election. That’s about how Vyshinskii’s arrest was conceived by the OSCE: “call up the government to refrain from the unneeded restrictions of the foreign journalists’ work which affects free information flow and mass media freedom. Combating propaganda should not fall behind international standards and should not represent disproportionate interference with mass media activities” . As the OSCE stated, it is important that the foreign mass media as such was not included in the sanction lists. The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission noted that for the current month alone there “occurred a number of alarming incidents calling for our attention and analysis”. In particular, now the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights “is studying the situation related to the attempted arson attack of the editorial office of the TV channel “Inter” in Kyiv on May 09, as well as searches in Kyiv conducted by the Security Service of Ukraine in the offices of “RIA News Ukraine” and detention of its bureau head accused of treason felony” .
Among the mass media threat cases aloof stands the case of the “attempted assassination” of blogger A. Babchenko in Kyiv in May 2018 organized by the SSU. Less than 24 hours Babchenko was among the “deceased” and in this case, the “Russian connection” was accused without any investigations. Minister Klimkin has brought up this issue even on the UN Security Council supported by the Head of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Head B. Johnson, when suddenly Babchenko came alive! It was triumphantly presented by the Head of the SSU Vasilii Gritsak as the example of a brilliant covert operation. However, the response of the world community fell short of the manipulators’ expectations. The dramatization was disapproved by the international non-governmental organization “Reporters sans frontieres”: “Reporters sans frontières” expresses its deepest indignation due to the exposure of manipulation of the Security Service of Ukraine in its media war. Playing with facts as well as with the involvement of journalists is always very dangerous for countries” .
The Head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belgium Didier Reynerds criticized the dramatization of the attempted assassination: “One should not combat propaganda or fake news with another fake news. I don’t think that the similar measures should be applied” .
The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Dezir declared that he regrets the official Kyiv’s decision to spread such false information of the murder of the Russian journalist Arkadii Babchenko. “I am glad that Arkadii Babchenko is alive! I regret the decision to spread false information about the journalist’s life. The state is obliged to present correct information to the society,” – emphasized Dezir.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) addressed the Ukrainian government demanding to give an explanation on the necessity to dramatize the death of Arkadii Babchenko, calling it “extraordinary measures” .
Dramatization of the murder of the journalist Arkadii Babchenko by the security services of Ukraine may shatter confidence in the free press and foster growth of influence of propaganda in the world. This was the statement made by the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
The Prosecutor General’s Office, in its turn, threatened every one of the Ukrainian media and political elite who did not support the covert operation: the press-secretary of the Prosecutor General Larisa Sargan published a list of those politicians who criticized the work of the Ukrainian security services. Meanwhile the SSU a couple times in 24 hours changed the version of Babchenko’s “assassin” , and then along with the Prosecutor General’s Office published and denied the existence of the list with the prospective new “victims” of the attempted assassination.
The government authorities are attempting to restrict the freedom of expression of thoughts and ideas on the part of the opposing deputies in every way. For instance, in June 2018 the Prosecutor General’s Office initiated treason felony case against the deputy Muraev for expression of his evaluation judgments concerning the ambiguous approach to O. Sentsov imprisoned in Russia. The Articles charged: Section 1 Article 111 (treason felony) and Section 2 Article 383 (deliberately false notification of admission of crime) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. Here is the full quotation: “From the perspective of preparing arsons and explosions, for one part of the population this person is a terrorist, while for the nationalistic part – he is a hero” .
The deputies of the government-favored coalition actively intervene with the operation of the TV channels, making attempts to ban the activity of those undesirable. For example, in May 2018 after the Victory Day concert on the TV channel “Inter”, deputy A. Gopko addressed the National Council inquiring of the urgent legislative changes required by the National Council in order to “stop broadcasting of the national and local TV channels performing anti-Ukrainian propaganda” .
In June the whole faction BPP demanded that the National Council reconsidered the license of the TV channel “NewsOne” after its owner, Muraev, declaration about Sentsov: “We demand from the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting to make a thorough research and within the shortest possible period to reconsider the license of the TV channel “NEWSONE TV” straightforwardly retransmitting the Kremlin propaganda and conducting aggressive anti-Ukrainian policy” .
In June 2018, the parliamentary commissioners for the freedom of speech made attempts to forbid broadcasting of the World Football Championship in Russia. They even supported a draft of the corresponding decree forbidding broadcasting of the World Cup games, exclusive rights whereon belong to the TV channels “Inter” and “NTN” . The draft did not gain support in the debating chamber. However, the fact of the project itself violated European norms. In particular, the EU Audiovisual Media Services Directive envisages the right of the civil society to get access to the significant sports events, which the World Cup definitely belongs to. The response of the President of the Football Federation to such ban was indicative: “I support the ban, still I will be watching the football on the foreign channels” . Obviously, the official and deputy does not care of the rest of the fans.
The journalists are still being beaten by the “activists” of various kinds. For instance, on November 21, 2017 in Kyiv was made an assault upon the journalist filming for the media-expert Anatolii Sharii. “As I understand, the journalist’s nose was broken. All examinations were conducted and references taken. The statement for police had been also written” .
The SSU-controlled “C14” group is most actively prosecuting journalists: in December 2017 it kidnapped and tortured journalist and ATO party Aleksandr Medinskii. On December 25, after the publication of investigation of the group activities, it came against the Editor-in-Chief of “Strana:UA” Igor Guzhva; in January 2018 it attacked the editorial office of a church newspaper in Kyiv.
The moves for blocking of the undesirable TV channels by the controlled activists still continue. Thus, in December 2017 unknown radicals in military gear blocked the building of the TV channel “NewsOne” and fenced it with a barbed wire. At the same time, it was the only channel to broadcast Mikhail Saakashvili’s movement “March for Impeachment” . Police authorities declared to the TV channel that as the protesters did not throw stones and did not damage the property, as well as did not penetrate in the channel’s grounds, there were no reasons to detain them. Obviously, the National Police ignores such notions as “pressure upon media” and “preventing journalists’ activities”.
In its turn, another authority to protect the freedom of speech and journalists on the national level – the Verkhovna Rada Committee for Freedom of Speech, through its member MP Grigorii Shverk (BPP) refused to help the blocked journalists: “I do not know how to help you” .
In May 2018, as a result of the concert dedicated to the Victory Day, the extreme right-wing activists of the “National Corps” blocked the TV channel “Inter”. The main thing that produced their anger was the phrase from the promo-video: “Eight million of Ukrainians died by hands of the Nazi occupiers – this is our history, this is our genetic memory. Today we cannot unpunishably allow the streets of our cities to be named after the fascist criminals, and their portraits to be carried in torch-light processions in our capital where each and every meter is covered with blood of our fellow countrymen” . Later they even made an attempt to set the administrative building of the channel on fire.
According to the Head of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU) S. Tomilenko, year 2017 was the most alarming in the context of the freedom of speech and safety of mass media employees: “According to the Journalists Physical Security Index (composed by NUJU along with the partner social organizations), generally during 11 months were reported about 90 facts of violence against our colleagues. In 14 cases the assaulters were officials, civil servants and deputies. In eight cases – law-enforcement officers. The aggression level against the media professionals literally overshoots in Kyiv and Kyiv Oblast. As well as in Odesa, Donetsk, Mykolaiv and Zhytomyr Oblasts. In fact, every four days there occurs a case of use of violence against journalists. In 2017 the SSU employed such approached that previously could not even think about. Some years ago, the SSU officials were afraid even to enter the editorial office! And now we face the facts of journalists’ interrogations. Searches at their homes and editorial offices. For instance, in the office of the Internet-newspaper “Strana.UA” and in “Vesti” company” .
The foreign countries and international organizations actively point to the oppressive situation with the freedom of speech in Ukraine. In November 2017, mentioned in the world report of the OSCE dedicated to the infringement of media freedom were the searches in the editorial office “Strana.UA” and framed case against its Editor-in-Chief Igor Guzhva.
“The events around the mass media may be the revenge for the critical nature of “Strana.Ua” materials, including those concerning high-rank government officials”, – writes in its report the OSCE representative for the freedom of press Harlem Dezir.
Mentioned in the OSCE report are also the searches in the editorial office of the newspaper “Vesti”, arrest of the journalist Vasilii Muravitskii, unsolved murder of Pavel Shremet and other incidents jeopardizing the freedom of speech in Ukraine. In November 2017, the European Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn insisted on proper investigation of the cases of intimidation and assaults upon journalists in Ukraine: “I am concerned with the news about intimidations and recent assaults upon journalists. They should be duly investigated! The freedom of media is a must for democracy” .
In February 2018, international organization “Amnesty International” presented a report on human rights in the world for the year 2017 in which it noted that the Ukrainian government kept pressing the media representatives by initiation criminal prosecutions of those criticizing them for the collapse of reforms or policy in the Eastern Ukraine.
The UN Human Rights Report of May 2018 marks that the Ukrainian power does not wish to investigate the crimes of the extreme right-wing groups against media and certain journalists.
The freedom of speech in Ukraine sparked concern of the USA as well. Thus, in November 2017 the US Department of State planned to send USD 450.000 for the promotion of the freedom of speech in Ukraine. It is suggested that the organization awarded with the grant will be engaged in development of the “countermeasures to the media war”.
At the same time, the Department of State recommends to pay individual attention to the issues of inner censure and limitation of freedom of press under the pretext of “national security protection” . In 2017 Ukraine for the first time was seen in the disgraceful list of the countries arresting journalists for their professional activities compiled by the American Committee to Protect Journalists.
In April 2018, the Department of State issued a report concerning human rights practices in Ukraine, remarking abuses covering “widespread corruption at government level; censure; web site blocking; failure of the government to bring to justice those responsible for the violence against journalists and activists combatting corruption, as well as violence against ethnical minorities and LGBT community representatives”. As it was noted in the report, as a rule, the government does not take appropriate measures to prosecute or punish the officials committing abuses, which results in impunity.
These negative trends are indicated in the report of the international civil society advocacy group “Freedom House” (April 2018): “We have noticed the decline in two categories: development of an independent media and civil society” . According to the Director of the “Freedom House” branch in Ukraine Matthew Schaaf, political and economic pressure forces Ukrainian journalists into omitting critical topics. “The government has restricted the freedom of speech in Ukraine allegedly under the pretense of the national security. However, those are mostly political actions. We assess the attempts to tighten control in the Internet environment as magnification of censure” – he said. In the words of Schaaf, in the latest “Freedom House” report on the freedom of press Ukraine was estimated as “partially free”, the number of criminal prosecutions of those supporting Donbas residents increases. For instance, prosecutions of journalists, bloggers in Kharkiv, Vinnytsia and in Volyn. These all are justified by the national security reasons. Particularly, Schaaf notes government projects for strengthening Internet monitoring calling them the “threat to the freedom of speech”. “We are concerned that such tightened control may result in total control over the population’s activities on Internet and censure”, – summarized he.
Limitation of Right to Freedom of Receiving Information
Throughout the reporting period, it became particularly apparent that the government is creating the controlled information sphere in order to manipulatively exploit it. Particularly, in its elective interests.
Development of the safe and comfortable for the government infosphere, the so-called “heat bath” is the concern not only of the famous political strategists and media managers using enormous resources of unknown origin for the purpose, but even of the government bodies. In particular, of the Ministry of Information Policy of Ukraine and the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine.
Within the framework of this global process, the government masters mass media and thought leaders. Those responsible achieve it in various ways – bribing mass media, creating new media, by repressions and censure.
In this way, one of dangerous mechanisms for manipulation with the freedom of information became the abolition of the analogue broadcasting throughout Ukraine starting since March 31, 2018 and its complete replacement with the digital one. Within this context, relevant substitution of licenses for digital broadcasting is essential. These creates grounds for manipulations and restriction of rights to broadcasting. Furthermore, the licenses are issued by the abovementioned National Council.
Few years ago, the auctions for digital licenses were carried out in each region of Ukraine, and by no means all television broadcasters managed to purchase it. Besides, the number of the licenses for each region is fixed, which means that even in case the investor occurs later, the broadcaster will not be able to return on air until the license of some of the TV broadcasters will be revoked. In this respect, exemplary is the failure of the channels “112”, “NewsOne” and “Plus-Plus” to obtain the national level digital license as opposed to the channel “Rada” .
In this regard, it is important to emphasize that the licenses for digital broadcasting in the nationwide network expire in August. Therefore, there will be announced a tender in the nearest weeks, which may result in significant alteration of the license holders’ list. The value of all these changes is intensified by the fact that they will take place shortly before the Presidential elections. For certain, the government will make an attempt to take advantage of the TV-market redivision to tip the balance of forces in the infosphere for its own behalf. This activity cannot be seen otherwise than the assault upon the constitutional rights of the citizens.
It’s important to stress that according to the plan of the staged analogue shut-off in Ukraine, adopted by the National Council, shut-off from the analogue broadcasting in January 2019 should be all national TV channels but “UA.Pershyi” of the National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine. This channel along with the local (regional) channels will be shut-off from the analogue broadcasting only in May 2019.
It can be assumed that by January about half of the viewers will remain uncovered by digital broadcasting. Moreover, hardly all families will afford the cost of digit reception. Therefore, it is quite possible that in the last months before the Presidential elections, over half of the population will be watching only one national channel – “UA.Pershyi”. While the other viewers will be on more or less equal terms competed for by the variety of channels.
Nonetheless, the President Poroshenko does not want to wait until January and demands that the National Council arrange switching to digital TV as early as July.
Such government actions hardly may be called otherwise than the pressure over the largest media corporations of the country for the purposes of loyalty.
Against the background of these events the scandal in the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting does not cease; its First Deputy Head Olga Gerasimiuk submitted an application for resignation therefrom and wrote the resignation letter. Famous journalist accused pro-residential wing of this authority of manipulating the freedom of speech.
Gerasimiuk says that such behavior of the regulator is beyond the pale and the operational concept “fines first – then licenses” testifies of the political bias. “I returned from the business trip, thought, read the manipulated message on the official web site of the National Council, which I consider impermissible. I cannot be in position when decisions in the collegial authority are taken non-transparently, when you are assigned a part of an observer who should just arrive to the meeting and secure a quorum. My name is Olia and not quorum.”, – explained she.
On November 16, 2017 Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted the Law “On introduction of changes to certain regulatory acts concerning assurance of rights of parties to criminal proceedings and other persons by law-enforcement authorities during pre-trial investigation”. The adopted law forbids withdrawing electronic data systems temporarily, apart from cases when presentation thereof along with the information stored on them is a prerequisite of forensic study. However, there are no other formal grounds for withdrawal of servers, than conducting investigation.
Besides, it is suggested to perform information duplexing, which in the legislation in force is a major means of digital evidences retrieval, only “if necessary”.
The letter of the Internet Association of Ukraine says: “The initiator of the draft Law suggests canceling the ban for temporary withdrawal of electronic data systems in case when it is prerequisite of forensic study and upon availability of other conditions. At the same time, contrary to Article 159, information duplexing is suggested to be performed only if necessary. Remarkable thing is that from the law enforcement officials’ standpoint, the necessity to conduct forensic studies exist in 100% of withdrawal cases. Therefore, it actually goes about cancellation of all reservations to the law-enforcement authorities to withdraw electronic data systems or parts thereof” .
Active, illegal and uncontrolled information retrieval takes place. Following The Prosecutor General’s request, in December 2017 the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) retrieved information from over hundred phones belonging to the MPs, judges, officials without relevant court decision, consequently – illegally: “in due time NABU obtained permission from the court to retrieve information from the phones of 17 subscribers, however, it willfully retrieved information from 114 phones” .
Ukrainian cellular network operators monitor their subscribers’ movements transferring this data to the government bodies without consent of the data subjects. Following Decree of the NCCIR (National Commission for the State Regulation of Communications and Informatization), starting from December 2018 there will be introduced voluntary registration of SIM cards of Ukrainians by passport data. What is actually meant here is total surveillance and control over the movement of the citizens on the part of the government. In principle, such approach is not surprising, taking into account that in April 2018 the Minister for Temporarily Occupied Territories and Internally Displaced Persons Vadim Chernysh expressed his indignation with the fact that Ukrainians continue visiting Crimea on holidays, though Crimea is a Ukrainian territory de jure, and actually he suggests to restrict the freedom of movement of the citizens inside the country as well.
The situation with the personal data protection in the Ukrainian government institutions is rather sad. In November 2018, the activists of the Ukrainian Cyber Alliance carried out free of charge penetration test of the security of the Ukrainian national information networks which showed bottom level of such protection. During the couple of days of the “marathon” the cyber-activists announced of the open to publicity shared drive of Kherson Regional Council (with the records of the meetings, keys of the Accredited Key Certification Centre and other data), open FTP-server of the portal “Judicial Power of Ukraine” (in open access, among others, were root certificates and password for generation of user keys), of multiple critical sensibilities of the State Financial Monitoring Service of Ukraine portal (last updated in 2008) and about the declaration database of the employees of the Chief Directorate of the National Police for Kyiv city in the open access (with sometimes undeleted personal data and addresses of the police officers). Ukrainian Cyber Alliance considers to be a “sabotage” the computer discovered in the network, belonging to the Chief Directorate of the National Police for Kyiv Oblast which without any password gave access to the network drive “obmen Marina” with 150 Gb of regional police information. Among the information discovered in the open access were the passwords, plans, protocols and personal data of police officers.
In 2018, Military Enlistment Office of Lviv Oblast posted online personal data of those beating the draft. By doing so, it straightly violated the citizens’ rights to privacy and published the citizens personal data.
In December 2017, Ukrainian journalist, Aleksandr Dubinskii reported: “data about the defense companies’ operations and computations were spilled to the Russian servers. Namely, the Russians obtained data concerning operations of Yuzhmash plant and Ukrspecexport”. According to Dubinskii, spilled to the Russian Federation was the PrivatBank classified information as well. “Customer databases were transferred to Russia by the employees of the nationalized PrivatBank themselves. Those, as I understand, are full customers’ data – full name, address, phone. On top of that – transaction lists. Which is definitely a good news for the volunteers fighting in the ATO!” – wrote Dubinskii. The Procurator General’s Office of Ukraine initiated a criminal case with regard to this fact.
In its turn, in April 2018 the representatives of the regional center for evaluation of education quality in Kyiv under the presence of questionnaire survey drew personal and confidential information from the underage schoolchildren: the questionnaire contained the questions about number of cars, computers and mobile telephones in the child’s family. Furthermore, the questionnaire was carried out independently from parents, with that alone violating children’s rights.
The Ukrainian public authorities continue performing censor functions by looking and running over TV and radio programs in search of blue talks and punishing the unfavored ones for it. In January 2018 the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine (National Council) pronounced warning to the TV channel “112”: “On November 25, 2017 was celebrated Holodomor Remembrance Day. On this day, no information of the tragic events from the Ukrainian history appeared on air of the TV channel “112” until 7:58. The licensee is pointed finger that violation of the applicable law in future is inadmissible” .
In April 2018, the National Council pronounced warning to the TV channel “NewsOne” as a result of violation of broadcasting rules on the Holocaust Remembrance Day; on the grounds of the monitoring carried out on the Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, 2018, noted on the air of the TV channel “NewsOne” (LLC “Novosti 24 chasa”) was the absence of information (rolling letters) of this memorable date before 9:00 which violates the requirements with regard to broadcasting in mourning and remembrance days.
Before the 9th of May holiday the National Council openly intervened with the editorial police of the TV channel “Inter”, criticizing the channel’s Victory Day promo-video. Not surprisingly, it was supported by the ultra-nationalists from Andrei Biletskii’s party “National Corps”. They expressed direct threats to the TV channel: “If the government fails to stop this Russian flag-waving, we, the “National Corps” reserve the right to any actions to defend the informational security of the country”, – said the National Corps’ page in the social network.
Further, in January the National Council prescribed the unscheduled inspection of the TV channels “Inter” and “STB” for broadcasting programs involving the sanction list members. In February 2018 following the SSU and the watchful citizens’ messages, the National Council discovered that during January 12-15 the TV channel “Inter” translated the film classics “d’Artagnan and Three Musketeers” involving Mikhail Boiarskii, Boris Kliuev, Oleg Tabakov and “Charodei” involving Vanlentin Gaft. The National Council stated that translation of the films involving one of the members of the sanction list violates the Law of Ukraine “On Broadcast Media” .
In 2018, the “1+1” TV channel joined the ranks of the TV channels actively forced to change their policies. It started with supervision of accounts of the leading journalists on the part of the National Bank, later occurred bullying for reports in social networks by the government, as it happened with the report of May 2018 about Toretsk shooting attack. The discussion revealed the professional level of the state-owned journalists, applying and openly supporting censure and self-censure in the media in favor of “patriotism” and “national security” , directly infringing all journalistic ethics principles.
Besides, following decision of the State Cinema Committee banned were 545 Russian-made movies, cartoons and TV series. Among them, screenings of the classics “The Pit” and “The Duel” by Kuprin, “Taras Bulba” by Gogol, “The White Guard” by Bulgakov. As well as much talked-of “Brother-2”, “Thank You for Being Alive”, “The 9th Company” and movie “Tale of Fedot the Crossbowman” and cartoon “The Tale of Soldier Fedot, The Daring Fellow” .
Sometimes, on the National Council’s web site within brackets to the movie indicated is definitely what the “Nazism or communism” understands. For instance, Ivan Okhlobystin starring. The reference to the Law “On Denunciation of Communist and National-Socialist (Nazi) totalitarian regimes in Ukraine and prohibition of symbolic thereof” looks especially ironic within this list with regard to Gogol who lived before the USSR and fervent anti-Soviet writers Kuprin and Bulgakov, who were prohibited in the USSR. The cartoon “The Tale of Soldier Fedot, The Daring Fellow” was apparently banned for harsh political satire, which the Ukrainian government took personally:
“For the folk not to speak ill
Of the Tzar on idle will,
To the law ye better stick –
Act in secret – and act quick!”
“Now, as you may see,
With the crowd we at peace must be,
Tyranny’s no longer cool,
Democracy is the new tool.
To you, madam, I would advise
Set out to… erm… Brussels! – at once,
If all this giggy makes you giddy,
And you want out – here’s your chance.”
In May 2018, the Head of the National Council Yu. Artemenko stepped into the role of the master of the TV channels’ destinies and major censor of the country to such an extent, that in the interview to the presidential channel “5 Kanal” he openly declared that the National Council would not extend the broadcasting license to the channel “112” in July! This cannot be considered otherwise than jackboot on the channel. The Head of the Union of Journalists of Ukraine S. Tomilenko criticized these actions. For a number of years the National Council has been hiding behind the formal causes to put pressure on the TV channels and radio-stations in order to force them to work for the government. Threats to cancel license were addressed not only to “112”, but also to “Inter”, “NewsOne”, and with regard to the “Radio Vesti” the threat turned into reality. Meanwhile, it is obvious that the National Council as the oppressive authority should not exist as such. Its task is supervising observation of laws by the TV and radio companies, but in any case, not responding to the “letters of the laborers” developed by the government itself (as it last happened with the Victory Day concert on “Inter”).
In May 2018, another censor authority – the Ministry of Information Policy of Ukraine prepared new list of web sites that it suggests closing because of distribution of the information banned by the legislation of Ukraine. The authority emphasized that these sites violate Section 2 Article 109 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (public call for violent alteration or overthrow of the constitutional system or to the take-over, as well as distribution of the materials calling for such actions) . At the same time, one of the claims to such manner of limitation of freedom of speech on behalf of the law-rights advocates, media-lawyers is – it is incomprehensible which principles and mechanisms were applied to compile such list. Whereas during the first wave there was more of ideological component, because blocked were Russian social networks and services, in the second wave, even those supporting ideological approach have some questions. For instance, informational resource “Ekonomicheskie izvestiia” happened to be on the list as well; and it is not the only one of the kind. Therefore, the question is to the government: on what principles and grounds the list was formed. All international standards emphasize that obtaining information from web sites is an essential part of human rights. That is why the Council of Europe recommendations and the ECHR decisions stated the extrinsic value of the Internet facilitating free circulation of a raft of information to be obtained by many. Such blocking raises a great many questions as to why it is to be done in the firsthand.
It is worth noting that according to the sociological survey of March 2018, more than half of Ukrainians (53%) considered banning Russian actors and movies a mistake, 43.7% considered banning Russian TV channels to be erratic leading to limitation of citizens’ rights.
Blocking of the Russian social networks and e-mail is continuing. At the same time, according to Google, among the most popular inquiries among Ukrainian Internet users during 2017 became the TV-series “Fizruk. Season 4” (forbidden for broadcasting in Ukraine), a “Person of the Year” turned out to be Diana Shurygina (rape victim who appeared in a number of episodes of the Russian program “Pust Govoriat”), two of the most popular questions of the year were related to the prohibition of the Russian social networks “Why VK does not operate?” and “How to bypass the VK blocking?” . As we can see, the Ukrainians actively get round the prohibitory pains of the Ukrainian government to block out media.
Meanwhile, in December 2017 the Ministry of Education prohibited universities to use sites with “RU” and “РУ” domains. The restriction applies to all the cases apart from the extreme ones when the access is to be allowed to the definite circle of employees.
Apart from the domain extensions “.ru” and “.ру” the list of the restricted Russian resources was completed by e-mail Mail.ru, Rambler and Yandex. It is forbidden to use them for the business purposes as well. This is evidenced by the resolution of the Deputy Secretary General of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine Sergei Kushnir. According to “Ukrainskaia Pravda”, all ministries received corresponding instructions regarding web sites from the Cabinet of Ministers.
In addition, during 2017, the courts awarded 36 sentences to the administrators of the anti-Ukrainian pages in “Odnoklassniki” and “VKontakte”, informed the SSU. “Their actions are qualified under Article 109 (forced alteration or overthrow of the constitutional order), Article 110 (violation of territorial supremacy and integrity of Ukraine), Article 258-3 (creation of terrorist group or terrorist organization) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine”, – the statement said.
At the same time, the practice of convicting for Internet posts has already been repeatedly condemned by international organizations. In 2018, there appeared new sentences: In April, a resident of Belgorod-Dnistrovskyi town of Odesa Oblast was convicted to five years of imprisonment for his posts in “VKontakte” regarding recognition of Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics terror organizations.
For the purpose of tightening control over the Internet, in February 2018 the National Commission for the State Regulation of Communications and Informatization got approval of the Cabinet of Ministers draft decree to arrange technical inspection of blockings of the sanction list web sites. The draft stipulates for “assuring purchase of technical equipment… to monitor the cancellation of providing access to information resources…” and the State Service of Special Communication and Information Protection of Ukraine in collaboration with the SSU “to establish technical equipment on the telecommunications networks”. From the perspective of a number of specialized social organizations, such “technical equipment may be illegally and uncontrollably used to perform unauthorized supervision over the citizens’ actions on the Internet (limitations, blocks or introduction of changes to the informative part) and other violations of human rights” .
Establishment of general surveillance and/or interception measures on the Internet are in direct conflict with the recommendations CM/Rec (2014) 6 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe according to which “you must not be subjected to general surveillance or interception measures” (par. 4) and “the fact of existence of the legislation permitting surveillance over telecommunications may be deemed as interference with the right to privacy” (par. 82).
The Ukrainian power brokers are trying to fend off control of the civil society as well. Namely, this refers to the introduction of Provisional Air Space Management Rules of Ukraine by the State Aviation Administration in June 2018 containing prohibition of free use of air drones. The rules are so harsh that it is allowed to use drones only at the remote wastelands or in parks. However, the most important thing is that now flying over the buildings is de facto prohibited, including those of VIP-civil servants if the State Guard watches them. Which means that it will be much harder for the investigative reporters to discover the truth about their residences. Besides, the law-enforcement authorities are entitled to withdraw the drone in any place and to check what was recorded on it, moreover, this is to be done “without any discussion”. In such a manner, under the pretense of the national security, the government has surely covered itself from the air where it is not protected neither by the fences nor by the security. These provisions directly violate a number of constitutional provisions: Article 63 (concerning benefit of doubt), Article 34 (right to free information collection).
Amid permanent governmental attempts to more intensively introduce censure in the country the direction of the National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine (UA:PBC) represented by Zurab Alsaniia is acting on the side of state instead of fighting for the freedom of speech and interests of citizens. Zurab Alsaniia permits translating questionable events on the major national TV channel, like the march dedicated to the SS Galizien Division, telling at the same time, that he will reform the Public Television by his vision exclusively and that “he knows nothing of different types of shit” .
For the loyalty of the kind, the government allows the top-management of the UA:PBC to prescribe themselves huge premiums in which Zurab Alsaniia personally sees nothing criminal. At the same time UA:PBC financing is progressively reducing, the employees are being permanently terminated and, virtually, the major television broadcaster of Ukraine is being permanently destroyed.
Discrimination on Linguistic and Ethnic Basis. Limitation of Rights of Non-Ukrainian-Speaking Citizens
During the reporting period anti-Semitism accidents, non-Ukrainian-speaking population discrimination trends became more intensive. Such events occur on the nation-wide as well as local levels. Whereby, the Article 10 of the Constitution guaranteeing free development of languages of the minorities and international obligations of Ukraine within the framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities are being directly violated. The provisions of the Criminal Code of Ukraine with regard to prohibition of ethnic discrimination and ethnic agitation (Article 161) are being infringed.
In December 2017, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine was submitted a draft Law No. 7425 “On Protection of Ukrainian Sovereignty from Displays of Collaborationism” – yet another attempt to divide the Ukrainian citizens contradicting the provision of the Constitution on the equality of all the citizens (Article 24) . The draft law suggested creating of a Presidential Commission of fifty “moral authorities of the nation” to divide all the citizens of Ukraine into “our” and “other”. Any citizen of Ukraine irrespective of the age, coloring and place of residence may become a collaborator.
Burst of anti-Semitism is observed at the mundane level, as well as sidewise the state officials. In particular, the Ministry of the Foreign Affairs of Israel expressed major concern with the increase of anti-Semitism in Ukraine. The formal pronouncement was published on the web site of the foreign service. “On December 26 in Odesa drawn on the Jewish buildings and objects were hateful anti-Semitic graffiti. We are greatly concerned with these revelations and expect that the Ukrainian government will take stern actions to liquidate anti-Semitic manifestations and to hold those responsible accountable” – the pronouncement said.
In January 2018, the Minister of Diaspora Affairs of Israel issued the report noting that during 2017 the number of anti-Semitic incidents in Ukraine doubled. These events progress on the background of glorification of the persons responsible for persecutions and mass slaughter of Jews on the territory of the country in XX century. “While after the revolution the public figures of Jewish origin were appointed to the highest positions within new power structures, now the Jewishness of those people is accepted as one of the factors of complicated sociopolitical situation in the country. Even more, more often than not the street perceives non-Hebrew managers as “latent Jews”, the report said. Its authors criticize the activity of Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance headed by Vladimir Viatrovich, who, as it is said, is engaged in “justification of Ukrainian nationalism agents who sullied themselves with Jew persecutions during the World War II and short period of independence that followed the Russian Revolution of 1917” .
The facts confirm such concern. In December 2017, the activist from Odesa, the member of the Civil Movement “For the Whole Odesa” Neonila Tkachenko recorded a video telling: “the Yids cannot be loved” . In the same place, during meeting of May 02, 2018 the representative of the “Right Sector” stated that Ukraine will not “belong to Y…des” . Such position in general is supported by the representatives of the Ukrainian intellectuals, namely, by the actor and former MP B. Beniuk, while the Director of the Communications Department of the Ministry of the Interior of Ukraine Artem Shevchenko declared, that the anti-Semitic statement of the Head of Odesa unit of the “Right Sector” contains no direct call for discrimination on ethnic grounds.
In May 2018, happened brutal demolition of grave of rabbi Magarsho (1555-1631) in Ostroh town, Rivne Oblast. All windows in the chapel were broken, the holy books were scattered. In May 2018, the mayor of the Ukrainian town Skole Vladimir Moskal published video in which he told that the Ukrainian government is “Moscow and Y…des-based”, that there were 70 to 95% of Jews at power, analyses Kabala and Tora and comes to the conclusion that Jewish children from the very childhood are taught who an enemy is and how to destroy it, that the Jews want the deaths of Gentiles and that isolating 50 of the wealthiest Jews will stop wars, and that the “world Jewry” furnished Stalin’s victory.
The Ukrainian media do not consider that it would hurt to unleash ethnic discord and support acts of anti-Semitic nature. For example, in April 2018 before the Eastern Kanev town newspaper “Chas Pik” was published with the following holiday slogan: “Let moskal feel like howling and yid feel like squealing! Today is the holiday on my earth! – Eastern goes all over Ukraine!” This was reported by the director of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee Eduard Dolinskii on his Facebook page. Dolinskii as well informed that he had to erase “wrong letters” to omit network ban.
In May 2018, the activity of the Consul of Ukraine in Germany V. Marushchinets was made public. The latter disseminated anti-Semitic and Nazi rhetoric in the networks (“Death to antifascists”, “Yides declared war to Germany as late as in 1934”, “It’s honorary to be fascist”)  and who was “liked” by other officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. Marushchinets reposted articles justifying Holocaust and denying the events in Babii Yar in Kyiv 1941. As a result, he was only withdrawn from Germany and dismissed from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine for the actions falling under the articles of the Criminal Code of Ukraine on incitement of ethnic hatred.
In April 2018, Lviv City Council deputy, nationalist and teacher M. Batiuk greeted Hitler a happy birthday on Facebook. After this fact was made known by Jewish organizations, she was fired from school. In addition, in April 2018 was vandalized (set on fire) the Holocaust memorial in Ternopil.
At the same time, in April 2018, in Lviv took place public events dedicated to 75th anniversary of the SS Galizien Division. The celebrations were followed by the use of emblems, greetings and marching in honor of the anniversary celebrants. According to the one of the marsh arrangers Sviatoslav Siryi, the marsh was joined by the representatives of volunteer militia “Azov”, Volunteer Ukrainian Corps “Right Sector”, battalion “OUN”, battalion “Karpatskaia Sech”, battalion “Aidar” as well as number of social organizations. He added that he considered this day one of the days of Ukrainian volunteer and the day of remembrance of Halych, the Ukrainian knight military tradition. It is worth reminding that according to the decision of Nurnberg tribunal, the SS forces are recognized as criminal organizations, adopted in Ukraine is the special law banning Nazi symbolic and ideology. The apologetics of the Nazism is a taboo in any decent country of the world. All the way to the prison sentence. Even worse, it cross-outs any prospects of such a state.
In May 2018, Kyiv Council took a decision to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Koliivshyna on May 29. 83 persons voted it. It is worth noting, that this event was accompanied by mass slaughter of Jews and Poles, consequently solemn celebration generates some questions. This decision was protested against by the Association of Jewish Organizations (Vaad): “The rebellion was accompanied by fierce violence from both sides and mass slaughter of the peaceful non-Orthodox population (Catholics, Greek-Catholics, Jews) as well as Orthodox and Old Believers” , still it did not prevent the celebration.
Level of the popular anti-Semitism in Ukraine is extremely high as well. According to research of Pew Research 48% of Ukrainian Catholics (i.e. in the Western Ukraine) and 29% of Orthodox Christians would not like to see Jews as the members of their families. Although the Ukrainian media made an attempt to falsify the facts of the research declaring the lowest level of anti-Semitism in Europe in Ukraine, manipulating data of another question from the questionnaire – “would you like to see Jew as your fellow citizen?”, where results were 4% and 5% correspondingly.
Such situation with the anti-Semitism induced sharp response of the Congress of the USA, which in April 2018 issued an open letter of 57 powerful American Congressmen to the US Department of State, among other stating: “We express our concern with the last news about the state-supported cases of Holocaust denial and distortion in Europe, in particular in Poland and Ukraine. It is unacceptable, especially against the background of the global rise of anti-Semitism…
We kindly ask you to give an explanation about the steps undertaken by the US government to monitor Holocaust distortion cases in order to provide guarantees that the USA does not support and finance the organizations or persons supporting or advocating anti-Semitism. We consider that such measures should include firm insistence to cancel corresponding laws (meaning the Ukrainian law on glorification of OUN-UPA and the Polish one about the Holocaust)…
The Law of Ukraine of 2015 went to even greater extremes, heroizing Nazi collaborators and declaring denial of their “heroism” a criminal offence. However, unlike Poland, this step of the Ukrainian government got almost no response of the USA. The organizations and persons praised by Ukraine include Nazi collaborators Stepan Bandera, Roman Shukhevich, Organization of the Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). These paramilitary groups and persons in separate cases cooperated with the Nazis and are responsible for murdering thousands of Jews, 70-100 thousands of Poles and other ethnic minorities in 1941-45.
Of particular concern is that the government supports the glorification of the Nazi. For instance, the UPA support campaign carried out in Ukraine in 2017 by the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance, renaming streets in honor of Bandera and Shukhevich by Kyiv City Council, “ShukhevichFest” in Lviv carried out on the day of the anniversary of Lviv massacre during which were killed 4 thousands of Jews. The state-supported revisionism of Holocaust in Ukraine is accompanied by other forms of anti-Semitism” .
In June 2018, Ukrainian Jewish Committee declared that it was developing a list of anti-Semits and xenophobes residing in Ukraine to be able to hold them accountable on an international level, insofar as it is impossible to do in Ukraine.
There’s a pressure against other ethnic minorities as well. It occurs on the part of the government and the “activists”. Starting from 2014, any activities related to advocacy of the Russian language and culture have been unofficially banned, there have been demolitions and prohibitions of the Russian Cultural Centers operation in Sumy, Kyiv and Lviv. Following decisions of the local and central authorities, number of Russian-medium schools imminently decreases and will be completely prohibited following the new Law “On Education”.
In April 2018 in Dnipro city, the Dnipro Academic Drama and Comedy Theater not for the first time “cancelled performance in the Russian language not to annoy the “Right Sector”” .
In a number of regions public use of the Russian language is being gradually forbidden. For example, in February 2018, on the session of Staryi Sambir District Council (Lviv Oblast) deputies unilaterally voted for prohibition of performance of audiovisual works in the Russian language. In case of violation, deputies demanded to have reports on administrative offence executed.
In May 2018, the former deputy Farion showed up with yet another anti-Russian declaration: “The Russian-speaking Ukrainians are the Ukraine’s largest problem. They are separatists, traitors, renegades. Who prevents them from studying Ukrainian? Their bluntness? Their primitivism? Their conformism? The Russian-speaking Ukrainians – are not Ukrainians, they are hybrids. They should come to a mirror and question themselves, why are they discrediting the Ukrainian land in such a way?” . There was absolutely no response of the government officials to such incitement of ethnic hatred, insolent libel and cynical lies. The appeals were made publicly, before witnesses and in broad daylight. This is a criminal offence falling under the Article 161 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.
In February 2018, the Constitutional Court of Ukraine recognized the fairly feeble, still guaranteeing minimum rights to the languages of minorities, Law “On Fundamentals of National Language Policy” (2012) unconstitutional. It resulted in restoration of the operation of Law “On the USSR Languages” (1989). The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Hungary Szijjarto Peter announced that the decision of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine with regard to the language law was indicative of “brutal attack” of the Ukrainian government on the rights of monitories to speak native language.
The personality of the new Head of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine Stanislav Shevchuk triggers questions of the experts and analytics. This person publicly supports cancellation and disregard of legal norms appealing to the so-called “spirit of law”. Even more, he uses these non-juridical pathetics to cover illegal decisions and use of the ideologeme that “someone cannot serve to the state during military actions”. Such doubtful legal logics allows bringing any corrupt action under the legally correct and right context and justifying this action by “revolutionary practicability”.
While exercising its authorities for licensing the Russian books import into Ukraine, the State Committee for Television and Radio Broadcasting in Ukraine turned into a censor authority revising the books for the trustworthiness, called “national security protection”. Let’s remind that censure is prohibited in Ukraine by the Constitution.
As a result, in December 2017 prohibited were memoirs of the Great Princess Mariia Pavlovna and letters of the Princess Dashkova, as well as English and Chemistry textbooks, books by B. Akunin, book “Ilia of Murom and Nightingale the Robber: Tales about Russian Bogatyrs” and “Russian Tales about Bogatyrs” . The book of Yelizaveta Dvoretskaia “Olga, the Princess of Soldierly Fortune” was prohibited because of the epigraph on the cover: “From Russia with love”, which, according to the censors, “seems like a travesty of Ukrainians, especially in light of the last news of battle casualties” .
In May 2018, the State Committee suggested prohibiting importing not separate books, but all the books published by particular, moreover, the most large-scale Russian publishing houses: “Algoritm”, “Knizhnyi mir”, “Tsentrpoligraf’, “Eksmo”, “ACT”, “Veche” . In this case, the violations discriminating the Russian-speaking citizens and censure are accompanied by nonselective approach.
The attitude of the officials towards prohibition entirely correspond to that of the censors. “Imposition of imperial ideological doctrines pursues only one goal – to strengthen the myth about Russia’s super power, to create the ideology to return Ukraine and other now independent from the empire countries in the field of the aggressor-state dominance. Thus, the Russian propaganda has various, including veiled, forms. The distributors should be ready for that and should more thoroughly select the editions to be imported into Ukraine”, said the statement of Alla Kovtun, the member of the expert council. In other words, this is the approach in the manner “to be on the safe side” described by Saltykov-Shchedrin and Chekhov through the example of the Russian censors of the 19th century.
While exercising its authorities for supervision of book products’ importing from the Russian Federation, starting from April 2018, the Ukrainian security services have been conducting raids in places of the book products’ sales and imposing fines for the unlicensed products.
The security services exercise pressure against the Hungarian and Romanian minorities. For instance, in June 2018 in Chernivtsi city, the SSU conducted searches in the Romanian Cultural Centre which were interpreted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine as “intimidation” . During February 2018, the office of the Alliance of Hungarians in Uzhhorod city had been set on fire twice.
“Gypsies’ bashings” became relevant for Ukraine as well. The beginning of 2018 has seen the escalation of attacks of various ultra-right organizations on the Romes and their camps: on June 7, the police informed about ejection of uncontrolled Romes’ settlement in Sviatoshyn district of Kyiv city. Earlier on, on May 10 was burnt the Romes’ camp in the outskirts of Lviv city; in the evening of May 22, the unknown persons attacked the Romes’ camping near Ternopil city. While attacking the unknown persons used fire-arms and resorted to live fire. On April 21 the “C14” cleared away and burnt the Rome’s camp on the Lysa Hora in Kyiv city. Involved in the “operation” were several people in balaclavas’ who used not only pepper maces but stones as well. Over dozen of Romes with children running away from young people may be seen on the video. They are also heard calling law enforcement authorities for help. The police officers arrived at site after the incident. Tellingly, the Head of the Kyiv Police Andrei Kirishchenko compared the Romes’ bashing with the Community Cleanup Day: “As far as I know, present on this Community Cleanup Day, when the trash was being burnt, were the representatives of the district administration and firemen” .
In May 2018, the right-wing extremists from various groups wreaked havoc of the Caucasian on Darynok market in Kyiv city.
These negative trends were recorded and in the analytical report of “Freedom House” of June 2018: “The last months evidenced some negative dynamics. From the beginning of this year the number of incidents at the hands of extreme right-wing representatives, related to wrecking arrangements, public campaigns and private parties has increased sharply. As well as sharp increase of the events related to attacks against minorities” .
The adopted and signed by the President Law “On Education”, violating the Constitution of Ukraine as well as the Convention for Protection of the Minorities’ Languages, containing discriminative provision for practical prohibition of education in the languages of minorities, is still being discussed on various levels.
Forced by the neighboring countries, Ukraine passed the law for examination to the Venice Committee of the Council of Europe. The Council called Ukraine to “hold broad and all-inclusive consultations with regard to the legislation concerning the rights of all persons belonging to the ethnic minorities, in particular, their language rights” . In December 2017, the Venice Committee expressed its opinion about the Law: confirmed the right of Ukraine to promote the national language in education, however, not on the account of the rights of minorities. Experts recommend to develop additional legislative base and to consult ethnic minorities in doing so.
Particularly was registered discrimination of the Russian language: Kyiv must eliminate discriminative points in school education in the languages which are not official EU languages, namely, the Russian language “which is the most widespread language after the national one” . Consequently, the European authority noticed violation of the express provision of the Article 10 of the Constitution of Ukraine: “Ukraine guarantees free development, use and protection of Russian and other languages of ethnic minorities of Ukraine”.
Nonetheless, in May 2018 was introduced draft Law “On Secondary School” containing discriminative provisions with regard to the education in the languages of minorities. Even more, despite Venice Committee requirements, previous single discriminative provision for reduction of education in the minorities’ languages was substituted with more sophisticated discrimination. For instance, Article 5 provides for privileged position of the education in the languages of the minorities out of the official EU languages – up to 40% of education, and discriminative for the Russian – up to 20%; though it was the discrimination which was pointed finger at by the Venice Committee – the Russian language is the second language-in-use and its discrimination is inadmissible. Special classes will be created to get education in the native language. Separate schools for ethnic minorities are out of question. Consequently, if the law is adopted in the current version, the ethnic minorities that previously received education in the Russian language will be able to study only 10-20% of subjects in the native language. The similar reform will be applied to the schools in which education was previously conducted in Hebrew.
In January 2018, in a number of West Ukraine regions local regional councils issued decisions according to which alongside the state flag on all the national holidays displayed should be the black-and-red OUN flag. Taking into account the crimes which were committed under this flag against the civil population of Polish and other nationalities in 1930-1950, these decisions cannot be perceived otherwise than unleashing interethnic and interstate hostility, insult of the Symbols of State and efforts of separatism.
The language quotas for the radio have already been in effect for a year. During this period, due to application of punitive measures, there appeared much more Ukrainian “product”, however the quality thereof has sufficiently decreased; hence, to satisfy their needs, people fall back on the uncontrolled by the government Internet.
The calls of the officials to break any relations of Ukrainian citizens with the Russia continue. In November 2017, the National Security and Defense Council Secretary Aleksandr Turchinov declared of his intention to “shoot for the cooperation with Russia” . A bit later, the Permanent Representative of the President of Ukraine in the ARC (the Autonomous Republic Crimea) B. Babin suggested terminating passenger transport connection with Russia: “We should move towards cancellation of passenger transport connection with the Russian Federation in the first place. Unfortunately, for a long time after the beginning of the conflict the society had been tolerant towards large scale labor and social migration of Ukrainians to the Russian Federation. And remains tolerant till now” .
In December 2017, the Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine V. Omelian informed that the railroad and bus connection with Russia should be cancelled: “I assume that there’s no need for us to go to Russia… Now there are trains going to Moscow and I hope that Ukrzaliznytsia will reconsider its policy” – noted Omelian, having remarked at the same time, that after the cancellation of flight connection between the countries “the sky did not fall on our heads” .
In November 2017, the President Poroshenko signed the Law “On introduction of changes to the Law of Ukraine “On Touring Arrangements in Ukraine” with regard to the particularities of managing and maintaining touring events featuring the aggressor state citizens” according to which, in case the citizen of the aggressor state is involved in the touring event, the arranger thereof should coordinate its involvement with the SSU. Present in this law, on the one hand, is discrimination of the performers by citizenship and introduction of the actual censure. Besides, the Russian-speaking citizens are being even more limited in joining the native culture, and, due to the fact that the touring activity is actually seen as rendering services, Ukraine introduces non-tariff restrictions violating the Russia’s right as the member of the World Trade Organization.
In the same line, however, with regard to all performers, acted Ternopil Oblast Council. In October 2017, it issued a decision to prohibit all the performers going on tour to the Russian territory or to the occupied territories, to conduct concerts in the region. There is a series of violations in this case: power abuse by the Regional Council, prohibition of professional activities, restriction of movement of the Ukrainian citizens.
In January 2018, the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting suggested introducing penalties or criminal responsibility for the Ukrainian performers going on tour to the aggressor-state territory. It is yet another attempt of the government to limit the links between the Ukrainian and Russian people, to restrict freedom of movement of Ukrainian performers to whom Russia remains the second market after Ukraine to work by occupation.
In March 2018, the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Ukraine issued an order restricting participation of the national Ukrainian teams in the sports events in the Russian Federation.
Renaming policy within the “decommunization” policy is underway. The “decommunization” started covering everything related to Russia. In February 2018 in Kyiv was renamed Moskovskyi bridge, Park of People’s Friendship, Vanda Vasilevska street, underground station “Petrivka”, Anri Barbius street, Panfilovtsev lane.
Within the reporting period impairment by Ukrainian officials of the Ukrainian citizens staying at the uncontrolled territories has continued. Thus, in November 2017, the Deputy Minister of Temporary Occupied Territories and Internally Displaced Persons Yurii Grymchak declared that after the deoccupation of separate districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions the civilians must voluntarily write statements to the law-enforcement authorities acknowledging the forced cooperation with the occupiers in the nonmilitary areas (on the enterprises, in state-financed institutions). Those failing to submit corresponding statements in writing will be held responsible in compliance with the Criminal Code in force, the official noted. The Ukrainian citizens are being separated.
The citizens of Ukraine in the LDPR are being discriminated by the Ukrainian cellular network operators as well. On December 27, many of the residents of the uncontrolled Ukrainian territories using “Vodafon” services (MTS Ukraine) received an SMS informing them that in January they will be switched to the new more expensive tariff – “Smartphone Standard”. Besides, forcedly to the “Smartphone Standard” package were switched residents of the Ukrainian towns located on the ATO line – Novotroitsk, Severodonetsk and others.
Interestingly, there’s a discrimination in Ukraine even in road construction in different regions of the country. In this connection, according to the expert Viktor Taran, having analyzed the list of roads for which Vladimir Groisman’s government in March 2018 allotted the record-breaking for the reconstruction funds, observed can be one interesting trend. The lion’s share of the scheduled UAH 45 bln will be spent first and foremost on reconstruction of roads in the West, Central and South Ukraine. While the East-North region and all frontier regions with Russia, for instance Sumy Oblast, will receive minimum funds.
In April 2018, following request of the Ombudsman for Observance of Children’s Rights and Gender Equality deleted from the President’s web-site was the following petition: “We request to take measures to stop promotion of homosexuality and to protect traditional family values”. It was removed as such infringing the rights and freedoms of LGBT persons and containing features of incitement for discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. According to the Ombudsman’s office, the said petition was worded as a plea for the President to take measures against “promotion of homosexuality”, namely, to veto draft laws contradicting the church attitude towards homosexuality and to facilitate legalization of homosexual partnerships (marriages) and adoption of children by transgender people; to introduce draft law prohibiting promotion of homosexuality to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine; to develop and issue a Decree of the President of Ukraine for state support and protection of traditional family values and remedial actions for promotion of homosexuality in Ukraine.
The governmental authorities have got an idea to control place of residence of the citizens. For example, in April 2018, the Office for Reformation of Administrative Services of the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine (MEDT) developed a draft law “On Freedom of Movement and Free Choice of Place of Residence in Ukraine”. According to the authority, the document foresees carrying out inspections for actual residence of the citizens at the places of their registration. This being said, the information about the place of residence or de-registration from the place of residence is to be entered into a unified data system to be launched starting from July 01 of the following year (all unregistered citizens will be able to register on a free of charge basis before March 31, 2021). The draft law as well indicates that all the citizens older than 14 years shall be obliged to personally deliver or send via Internet corresponding statement about their place of residence within 30 days. This provision represents straight discrimination and violation of freedom of movement and residence (Article 33 of the Constitution of Ukraine) and actually recovers the registration institute.
The negative situation with the democratic values and various discrimination forms in the reporting period caught sight of international organizations and foreign countries. For example, the Venice Commission pointed at the inadmissibility of discrimination on a linguistic basis, namely of the Russian-speaking citizens; the Amnesty International and Freedom House – on the LGBT rights; the US Congressmen, government of Israel and Jewish organizations of Ukraine – on the outbreak of Anti-Semitism. In May 2018, in his speech before the students of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, the President of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier, was the other one to highlight the threat to the democracy on the part of the nationalism.
Pressure on Judicial Branch
The judicial branch of government which is legally independent in Ukraine is still facing pressure from three sides. The Article 126 of the Constitution of Ukraine and Article 6 of Law “On Courts and Judge Status” are being brutally violated.
On the one side – those are the public officials. In February 2018, the member of the High Judicial Court Aleksei Malovatskii initiated disciplinary proceedings against the collegium of Kyiv Administrative Court of Appeal headed by Yevgenii Chaku who considered the case about illegal transfer of the largest oil-gas field of Poltava Oblast to the company from out of the President’s Poroshenko team.
In June 2018, the official of the Presidential Administration Filatov declared that the President retained his political influence on courts. These facts cannot be seen otherwise than pressure against courts.
On the second side, those are various “activists”, who are actually, bullies and far-right nationalists, “beating” their fellows off the judges who press against them, they, as well, smash and block courthouses. In such a way, in February 2018, the activist from Odesa city A. Mazur went smashing cars with an axe at the Sviatoshynskyi Court of Kyiv city protesting against the unfair, on his opinion, sentence of mayor of Odesa Gennadii Trukhanov.
In November 2017, attacked near the Memorial of Soldiers’ Glory in Poltava was the judge of Oktiabrskyi District Court L. Golnik who considered the case of Poltava mayor. Attacked were the judge and her husband I. Gavrilenko. According to those injured, they were attacked by two people in masks who immediately started beating them with pipes. Gavrilenko had his legs beaten, while Golnik was taken by the Ambulance with the cranio-cerebral injury and brain concussion.
On February 18, 2018, the house of the judge of Babushkynskyi District Court of Dnipro city was visited by the deputy from the regional council with an attorney and 150 unknown persons on cars under the national and red-and-black flags. Via loudspeaker they “threatened the judge with murder for his professional activity” with regard to some criminal proceedings hearings. They demanded that the judge accepted “relevant” decision, namely, released the accused in the case from custody. After that the radicals started throwing lighted “fires” into the courtyard in order to raise fire and destroy personal property of the judge, while the deputy and the attorney threw lighted torches on the roof of the wooden vehicle shed. There is a number of crimes in the above: threatening with murder to judge with regard to professional activity (Article 337 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine), attempted intentional destruction of property of judge by arson (par. 2 Article 15, par. 2 Article 378 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine) and interference with the judge’s activities aimed at failure of justice (par. 1 Article 376 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine). In January 2018, the far-right nationalists threatened and smashed property of Kyiv judge Levitskaia, who arrested two fire starters of the Monastery of Tithes. In November 2017, being enormously pressed by the “street” and officials, the High Specialized Court of Ukraine released from remand prison the border guard S. Kolmogorov who previously in Mariupol city was convicted for murdering unarmed woman in the blockhouse for 13 years of imprisonment.
Deputy Head of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission Benjamin Moreau declared that the mission representatives were highly negatively impressed with presence of a large group of radicals at the court concerning murder of the journalist Oles Buzyna: “In Buzyna case we were stricken by the presence of 150 representatives of one of the rightist groups. We would like to call the law enforcement officers to take measures ensuring independent proceedings” .
On the third side, those are various foreign states and organizations impeaching credibility of Ukrainian judges and requiring creation of the courts controlled by them, alike the Anti-Corruption Court.
For instance, in January 2018, the IMF declared that adoption of the President’s draft Law on Anti-Corruption Court (ACC) in the current version will constitute violation the official Kyiv’s commitments to international partners. The Fund demands granting the right to block appointment of indecent judges to the representatives of the international donors of Ukraine for anti-corruption issues. “Establishment of such an independent and specialized court is a component of a broad, consistent and efficient anti-corruption system of Ukraine. And that, as you know, is a requirement of the European Committee within the framework of monitoring and cancellation of visa-free regime” – commented “Radio Svoboda” Maya Kocijancic Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
After all the “reforms” and pressing towards judges it’s not surprising that they quit their jobs en masse and recruitment of new judges fails to fill the vacancies on time. The Head of the High Council of Justice Igor Benedisiuk declared that about 2500 judges resigned during the operation of the High Council of Justice. Now there’s a critical deficiency of judges in the country. There exist courts of appeal in which work about 20-22 persons out of 70. Within this context the citizens are deprived of their right for fair trial.
Situation with National Security
In January 2018, was adopted Law on Deoccupation of Donbas in which Russia was defined as the occupier country, however, the so-called LDPR was not recognized terrorist organization, as it was previously declared by the Ukrainian government. For this reason, Ukraine conducts the ATO no more, but “takes measures to ensure national security and defense, coercion and rebut of Russian armed aggression”.
The position “Russia is the aggressor” may have other consequences. For instance, reference to this position may become grounds for further prohibition of everything this or other way connected with Russia. In practice, prohibited in Ukraine may be performances of the artists touring in the “aggressor-state” or use of language of the “aggressor-state” in those areas of social life which were not yet covered with legislative measures. According to experts, any reference to anything related to the “aggressor-state” may be beyond the law.
In general, there’s nothing in the law that concerns neither reintegration, nor deoccupation. On the contrary, as at the moment the only format of Donbas reintegration is the Minsk Protocol (which is recognized by Ukraine as well), the law actually makes the negotiation process with the separatists impossible, and, in fact, excludes amnesty (which is also foreseen in the Protocol).
At the same time, all references to the Minsk Protocol are removed from the Law. Without the Minsk Protocol this Law “separates” the territories and the people from Ukraine, considers the “Opposition Bloc” leader Yurii Boiko: “The only way to restore territorial integrity of Ukraine is to fulfill Minsk Protocol. However, this law contains no arrangements for recovery of territories and people. It contradicts to all international agreements. By this law the “war party” simply wants to separate the territories and the people”.
In practice, this draft law introduces rules on separate territories (not only occupied ones) contradicting the legislation applicable in all the Ukraine. Consequently, such ambiguity may prompt further lodging of judicial appeals. For instance, this draft law reverts general supervision to the military procuracy, though this right was taken away from the procuracy. The law expressly refers to expansion of Presidential power.
Further, the draft law opponents see a threat of coup d’etat by President in it – it is envisaged that the Head of State will be able to prematurely terminate the powers of local councils in case of military government establishment. The President is also empowered to single-handedly, without further parliamentary control, consider use of Armed Forces of Ukraine and other military formations, which stands in direct conflict with par. 33 Article 85 of the Constitution of Ukraine.
When resisting Russia’s military aggression in the safety areas bordering on the active area (i.e. not on whole territories of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts, as it was previously planned), the militaries, law enforcement officials and persons involved in carrying out events for ensuring national security and defense, will receive virtually unlimited possibilities, almost coincident to those appearing from the moment of imposition of martial law.
The document envisages that Ukraine shall not be responsible for the actions of the occupants on the occupied territories. However, when applied, it will by no means prevent any international authorities, such as ECHR, to consider the responsibility of Ukraine for observance of its citizens’ rights on its own territory. Because consolidation of position at the international courts requires the facts and evidences, and not alterations of laws.
According to international organizations, the law is still far from perfect. For instance, the UN Monitoring Mission noted that it “not sufficiently clearly regulates rights and freedoms, which does not permit to satisfy the requirement for legal certainty” .
In the end of January 2018, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe voted for the resolution about humanitarian costs of war in Ukraine, which said that the so-called “law on deoccupation” must be reviewed in order to be based on Minsk Protocol and to ensure full-scale social security and general humanitarian needs of civil population on the uncontrolled territories of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts.
According to the military expert Oleg Zhdanov, after 6 months of service the active-duty soldiers are being psychologically abused, forced into signing a contract and after that are being sent to the ATO area where these inexperienced young men die.
Level of domestic violence among former ATO participants, including with application of automatic guns and grenades is still high. On February 19, 2018 in Zalissia village not far from Kyiv city, drunk ATO veteran shot in his neighbors from assault rifle and threw combat grenades. On February 15, 2018, former serviceman of “Donbas” battalion A. Fedorchenko wounded a police officer from the gratuity gun received from the Head of the Ministry of Interior of Ukraine.
In January 2018 in Mariupol city, the court gave a life sentence to the former serviceman of the 28th guards mechanized brigade and ex-participant of the ATO Petro D. He was found guilty of violent double homicide and robbery. His accomplice, also former serviceman, received similar punishment.
In February 2018, the ATO fighter who was absent without leave after a word-fight stabbed in the back famous chef Ruslan Yurchenko on a bus stop in Kyiv city.
In April 2018 during the fight in Kyiv park Kioto, drunk ATO fighter fired a grenade in people. In May 2018, the ATO participant resorted to live fire on a public transport stop in the center of Obukhiv town of Kyiv Oblast.
The Ministry of Interior has plenty of such cases in its reports and news feed. In May 2018, the police patrol detained two drunken soldiers who opened live fire on the passenger platform of the central bus station in Mykolaiv city.
In May 2018, in Lisna Tarnovytsia village of Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast, a sergeant of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on leave fired a grenade in a crowd. As a result, the Chief Military Procurator Anatolii Matios informed that the servicemen commit about 20 thousand crimes annually. Guilty of these crimes are not only the offenders-ATO veterans, but the government as well, which fails to perform rehabilitation of its citizens who were in the action areas and require psychological adaptation for peaceful life after that. There are over 20,000 people waiting on the list for the psychological rehabilitation in Kyiv city. At the same time, according to the deputy A. Tretiakov, as on April 2018 there were over a thousand ATO veterans who committed suicide in Ukraine.
Besides, often government grants amnesty or assigns mild punishments to the ATO veterans of all others, which results in the subsequent turn of crimes, for this time because of sense of impunity. For example, following decision of Ordzhonikidze District Court of Mariupol city of February 2018, the fighter of “Azov” regiment who slaughtered Mariupol resident on the street will only have to pay state penalty of 20% of wages for two years.
General situation with security in the country is threatening. Even in the capital very often occur heinous offences. In March 2018 in the center of Kyiv city in a restaurant there was a shooting from a grenade dispenser. At the same time, the National Police officer suspected of trade in weapon fired a grenade and exploded a car with the SSU servicemen who attempted to arrest him, and escaped. In June 2018 in the night club of Sumy city was detonated a grenade – 7 injured as a result, and in Kyiv was detonated a car.
Active servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine conduct demolitions in the Ukrainian cities and villages as well. For example, on March 2018, residents of Nova Zburievka village of Holoprystanskyi district of Kherson Oblast informed of regular drunken brawls of the militaries from the military unit located in the village.
The Head of the National Police Sergei Kniazev declared that the police officers who failed to be attested, reinstated in office at law, were forcedly sent to Donbas. “The total number of the reinstated police officers following the court decision is about 2.5 thousand. As the court decision is binding, we have executed it immediately. Nonetheless, we were obliged to ensure probation period within the working process. So we offered them all to do a placement in the Eastern Ukraine, in Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts”, – said Kniazev.
Football vandals continue making their impact into the negative image of Ukraine as well. In May 2018, before the Final of the Champions League the football vandals in Kyiv battered a pub and beat the “Liverpool” fans that were present there. In June 2018, showed up the fans of “Niva-V” who supported the team in T-shirts with swastika. As usually, police did not resist them.
Within the reporting quarter Ukraine witnessed increase of plunders and robberies with violence. In particular, Kyiv citizens were being robbed directly on the streets before a large number of witnesses.
Even more, the citizens themselves are being kidnapped in a broad day-light: a number of kidnappings happened in Ukraine recently, one of which attracted dozens of witnesses trying to prevent it. Recently, a bag with a significant sum of money was stolen from people on the parking spaces near the capital auto dealer.
Growth of personal crimes and robberies is witnessed by the fact that involved in them are even the children of coalition deputies. For instance, the grocery store on Rokosovskoho street in Kyiv city was plunged into by the two unknown persons in balaclavas. One of them was detained. The detainee happened to be the 14-year-old son of the MP and public activist Igor Popov. Withdrawn from the detained was balaclava and starting gun. As a result, it turned out that he “did not get into a wrong crowd” but actually he was an activist of the National Corps and Hitler fan, administrator of a number of Nazi publics on social media. In March 2018, son of Vladimir Kovtunets, the First Deputy Minister of Education of Ukraine, Mikhail, participated in a smash-and-grab raid aimed at seizing Iphone 8+ telephone.
It’s apparent that the government has completely lost the monopoly for violence and the gangs dressing up as “patriots” start bringing life to their heel. The citizens are trying to defend themselves. Thus, in February 2018 in Mykulychyn village in Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast locals fought back against the “National Militia” with hunting weapons and handgun trying, according to their words, to “exercise operation opposing illegal logging” .
Respect for Right to Freedom of Conscience
Within the reporting period exercising of the constitutional right to freedom of conscience (Article 35 of the Constitution of Ukraine) suffered various trials. In this half-year, at the beginning the government attempted through different radicals to initiate religious war before the elections, and later switched to creation of a “unified Ukrainian local church” following the President’s and the Parliament’s addresses to the Patriarch of Constantinople. These actions violated par. 4 Article 35 of the Constitution of Ukraine – “the church and the religious organizations are separated from the state”.
In January 2018, firstly the extreme-right media and later – governmental authorities actively unwound “sensation” related to the refusal of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) priest in Zaporizhzhia city to perform a funeral service of a child christened in another religious organization (Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP)) . The religious personages of different Christian directions note that entitled to participate in the Church ordinance is only that person who belongs to this Church, however, people treat the Church as one of the “branches of funeral home”, which is completely wrong. Under the domestic law of Ukraine, the refusal to perform a funeral service of a child christened in another confession is not a crime. However, the SSU and the joint prosecutor’s team decided to carry out investigation into the activities of the priest who refused to perform the child’s funeral service. According to the prosecutor’s office the UOC servant violated the equality of citizens under Article 161 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.
However, following such logics one can enter a mosque or a synagogue and demand a pork, and after the refusal, declare of violation of equality. “When it goes about violation of equality, the question is in the infringement of constitutional rights and freedoms. Still, the thing is there are no such constitutional rights as to “be christened”, “be married at church”, “get divorced at church”, “to be confessed”, “to be served a funeral service”, “to be forgiven by God”, “to be circumcised”, “the right to observe feast or Shabbat on Saturdays”, “to celebrate Easter, Ramadan” etc. Therefore, it cannot be infringed or violated. Those are religious traditions and rites. And in this country the church is separated from the state!”, said Attorney Elena Lioshenko. Besides, according to the prosecutor’s office, priests violate legislation of Ukraine by allowing rhetoric about the unity of Slavic nations in their sermons”. The priests in their turn replied to the prosecutor’s office the following: “Zaporizhzhia Eparchy of the UOC expresses gratitude to the law enforcers for initiation of investigative activities with regard to stirring up religious strife and hatred in our area”, – declared the administrator of the Eparchy Metropolitan Luca.
Traditionally, various extreme-rightists are acting against the OUS. That said, in the beginning of January 2018 in Kyiv city near the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, the “C14” radicals instructed and controlled by the SSU arranged a protest “against the FSB”: blocked entrance to the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra caves and an auto barrier.
On the opinion of political analysts, a number of factors overlapped in this situation: the group’s desire to “seek publicity”, which was done; it was as well the governmental message, which the “C14” work for: “It was not an attack but a threat to seriously attack UOC MP, unless it agrees to play by government rules”, – thinks an expert Ruslan Bortnik. In his turn, the politologist Kost Bondarenko considers that the fuss surrounding the UOC was created to discredit it: the Church was not excused for its active involvement in releasing of the persons detained by the conflicting parties on Donbas: “Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine Onufriy played a significant role in this exchange. Many were displeased with that. Especially on the background of the advertisement which Poroshenko made to himself when saving the soldiers”, – commented Bondarenko.
In January-February 2018, radical representatives from “C14” and a number of other groups at the behest of the government squared off against the UOC and attempted to demolish the Monastery of the Tithes in Kyiv. Previously, in January, two drunken young men tried to set it on fire but were stopped and arrested by the police, after that the ultra-right nationalists threatened to demolish the monastery as an unauthorized construction. The Kyiv Council supported the radicals’ actions and recognized the monastery the “unauthorized construction” declaring that it will demolish it. The government was ready to exercise this decision with the support of the “C14” in February 2018, but the latter faced the opposition of the thousands of Kyiv citizens. It’s obvious that the believers cannot defend the monastery 24/7 and, if required, the radicals will find the time for their “protest actions”. However, the support received by the UOC should make the government take into account that the reduction of intensity in church issues is in its interests as well. The purpose of the government is the same – stirring up church war and inter-religious hatred in Ukraine with the help of radical elements shortly before the elections.
In February 2018 in Lviv city was burnt the UOC church which the activists demanded to dismount. The main version is an arson. A week ago there were heard calls for dismounting of the same church in Lviv which allegedly was illegally constructed. Lviv Eparchy of the UOC declared that the protests regarding this church are being carried out by the radical organizations for the purposes of gaining political ratings. In March 2018, Transfiguration Church of UOC in Obolon district of Kyiv city was set on fire. The Information and Educational Department of the UOC added, that the Church got seriously damaged and required repair works.
The UOC sees the January-February 2018 events as deliberate policy: “Somebody is keen to unravel the situation in the country by using religious factor. The instruments – radicals and nationalists. The attack objective – UOC, its churches and people. The final destination – stability in the country and government. Everything is very cynical. Nothing personal, just business. What are we to do? To protect the Church and not to fall for provocations” .
In April 2018, the government first represented by the President Poroshenko, and later – by the Verkhovna Rada, sent letters to the Patriarch of Constantinople with a request to create a “Ukrainian Orthodox Autocephalous Local Church” in Ukraine”. It is to be created on the basis of one of the religious organizations unrecognized by other orthodox churches – UOC KP including another UAOC. Later it is planned to separate a number of parishes from the UOC.
Firstly, it was planned to split the UOC from inside, however this attempt failed, that’s why the government opted to individually separate particular parishes from the UOC. As a result, in May 2018, the government through the representatives of the local authorities and security services sent to the priests of city or village UOC churches the request form to Constantinople with support of autocephality. They were presented with a challenge – to sign the letter or to be terrorized by national-radicals, up to forced transfer of the church to Kyiv Patriarchate. The last paragraph of the request indicated on inadmissibility of radicals’ intervention in the church issues, however it stood after the request in support of autocephality. Thus, the priests were made clear that: as soon as they supported the Presidential initiative, the radicals would leave them alone. This campaign once again witnessed that the extreme-right organizations are financed by the government which uses them for its own purposes. And this is not only non-European democracy, but it’s the worst dictatorial regime practice of the South America and Fascist regimes of 1930`s.
All this actions cannot be considered otherwise than intervention with the affairs of religious organizations violating Article 35 of the Constitution. This is an inner church business to decide whom to be united with. According to MP Derkach A.: “Ukraine – is a multiconfessional country. In such a state no public authority shall be entitled to decide on the form of religious organization or any religious group… The President’s initiative and the yesterday’s decision of Rada to intervene with religious issues. It directly violates the Constitution of Ukraine. We are preparing an appeal to the Constitutional Court” .
Various “charismatic” sects and destructive cults continue operating in Ukraine. Especially energetically in the reporting period acted Vladimir Muntian’s “Church of Renaissance”, which using hypnosis and neurolinguistics programming rips off thousands of believers. The state in no way intervenes with its activities as the sect supports the government.
Restriction of the Citizens Rights to Assemble and to Express Views
The practice of limiting the constitutional norm for freedom of assembly (Article 39 of the Constitution of Ukraine) and freedom of expression of views and convictions (Article 34 of the Constitution of Ukraine) is underway.
The government continues intimidating the citizens in order to prevent them from carrying out meetings and other protest actions. For instance, in February 2018 in Zaporizhzhia, radical elements drove off the action dedicated to liberation of Stalingrad.
On March 08, was attacked the women rights’ meeting in Uzhhorod city – the participants were poured over with paint. Based on the incident results, arrested were six persons, among which- four women. Lather the action participants and other activists announced about threats and street attack cases.
The meeting in Odesa of May 01 gathered mostly aged people who at the beginning played and sang Jewish and Odesa songs and later made an attempt to march in the direction of Kulikove Pole. The seniors were attacked by the extreme-right nationalists on Rishelievska street. According to preliminary information, the aged woman-participant to the meeting hit one of the nationalists in the head with a flagpole. The police tried to arrest her for that, however faced an unexpected resistance.
On May 02 in Odesa, the participants of the prayer for those deceased in 2014 were attacked and beaten up by the extreme rightists. At the same time, the nationalists on the social networks recalled their “triumph” and seriously reported of the “holiday” and carried out a victorious march of “Ukrainian Order” in the city.
Besides various extreme right groups alike “C14”, “Civil Corps”, “People’s Militia”, more often there appears information about creation of immediate reaction forces within military structures for elimination of those opposing. For example, the commander of the immediate reaction troop of the internal military forces Dmitrii Babkin posted a frank announcement on Facebook: “I intend to create an operating reserve to protect our choice made on May 25, 2014 so that the warring Ukraine could come to the Presidential election of March 2019 without additional shocks and internal calls … The operating reserve’s mission is to exercise physical effect on “stragglers” – allies of the foreign aggressor – Russia in swaying the situation inside Ukraine. Under circumstances where the society is on the edge and the security services daren’t make use of arms even in those situations in which the Regulations and instructions directly demand it” .
Active far-right radicals fight all attempts to carry out actions related to the LGBT. Thus, on March 31, 2018, the representatives of the “National Corps” party sabotaged psychologist training of TERGO organization in Poltava city dedicated to the specifics of dealing with the LGBT community representatives. On February 13, 2018, in the book store “Ye” in Kharkiv city the radicals sabotaged Anna Sharygina’s lecture-discussion dedicated to the LGBT movement in Ukraine and the world. In May 2018, the unknown sabotaged an event “Attack over LGBT rights as a form of censure: Russian experience” organized by Amnesty International Ukraine in Kyiv.
The unpleasant tradition of recent yeas became the celebration of the 9th of May and of liberation of the Ukrainian cities from the Nazi invaders which are necessarily accompanied by crashes against the ideological followers and active government actions against people using various Red Army symbols. For example, in February 2018 in Kyvyi Rih city, police initiated proceedings related to the use of the red flags by the soldiers of the National Guard of Ukraine on the events in celebration of the 74th anniversary of liberation of the city from the Nazi occupiers. In April 2018, the nationalists from the “C14” in the SSU service attacked the floral tribute movement at the general Vatutin’s tomb in Mariinskyi Park in the center of Kyiv city, poured paint over the tomb and made selfies on it. In April on the Slavy Alley in Odesa, the members of the radical nationalistic organization “C14” painted the names of the Russian hero-cities of the World War II.
The government is very much apprehensive about the independent protests of the citizens, and for this reason, it in every way intimidates and arrests facilitators thereof. Staring from November 2017, kept in preventive detention of Rivne city for arranging a meeting for legalization of amber extraction, has been the “Right Sector” activist Ya. Granitnyi. The major offence incriminated to him is accusation of separatism, though the meeting was held purely under the economic slogans. In March 2018 in Chernihiv city, the arrangers of the action “Do not pay for heating” were summoned to the SSU. In March 2018, the SSU conducted search in the house of the Head of Lviv Humanitarian Movement “Ukrainian Choice” Ivanna Ivanochko. The Lviv citizen is known for her fight (including in the court instances) for preservation of Lviv Glory Memorial, which is to be demolished.
In March 2018, the government destroyed a camping site of Saakashvili’s adherents at the doors of the Verkhovna Rada; many of them were beaten and arrested. Beaten under the same circumstances was the “Radio Svoboda” journalist as well. According to the police report, in general, after the events at the Verkhovna Rada doors of March 03, to the hospitals applied 13 persons who stayed in the camping site and 7 police officers. Altogether, to the police office were taken 111 people, majority of which was released. Breaking up of the “Mikhomaidan” violates the right to peaceful protest, what is more, with the application of excessive force, humbling of personal dignity of the arrested (they were forced to knee on the snow) . International civil society advocacy group Amnesty International pleads to investigate the police officers’ and National Guard representatives’ actions during disassembling of the camping site at the doors of the Verkhovna Rada.
In February 2018, the President Poroshenko declared of his desire to witness at court in the treason case of Yanukovych: however, before the President arrived to give testimonies a bodily search of female with divestment was conducted in the court premises in search of the Femen representatives who were preparing for a protest action in their usual style. A number of female activists were discovered and detained by the police. At the same time, these actions cannot be seen otherwise than opposition to the freedom of protest. Besides, preliminary arrests of the citizens who did not commit any crime are illegal.
In March 2018, Zakarpattia Oblast Governor Gennadii Moskal signed the instruction forbidding wearing balaclavas during public events; however, when the ex-President Viktor Yanukovych suggested the same he was called a “dictator”. The Decree recommends the regional police to take additional measures to protect citizens during public events by prohibiting engagement of people in balaclavas, helmets or using other face masking means. According to Moskal, the situation when some Ukrainians gather on public events and “cover their faces” from other Ukrainians and “hide behind patriotic slogans” is abnormal.
The database of the web-site “Myrotvorets” continues to increase. In January 2018, entered to it was Ukrainian composer V. Bystriakov after saying that only locals fought on the part of the actioners, while the Armed Forces of Ukraine were assisted by the foreigners.
In June 2018, entered into “Myrotvorets” was Patriarch of Serbia Irinei with the following definition: “anti-Ukrainian propagandist. Enemy of independence of Ukrainian Orthodoxy from the ROC (Russian Orthodox Church). Stirring up international and sectarian division”. This was conditioned by the announcement of Patriarch Irinei in which he stated that he did not support the idea of creating an independent autocephalous church in Ukraine, and called the idea “the blasphemy of a separatist” . The unlawful activities of the site turned attention on the UN level. As a result, in March 2018, Benjamin Moreau, Deputy Head of UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission, declared that the web-site “Myrotvorets” which published personal data of thousands of people, including media-specialists and activists of the non-governmental organizations, calling them the followers of the actioners and “terrorism”, violated right to privacy and benefit of doubt.
During the reporting quarter, the Ukrainian citizens in full experienced the consequences of the initiated in 2014 policy for glorification of Stepan Bandera, Yurii Shukhevych and UPA, whose role in the World War II is ambiguous at the very least, and for some neighboring states is frankly hostile. This issue became the sharpest in the relations with the former “attorney” of Ukraine in relations with Europe – Poland. At the beginning, great many Polish high-level politicians pleaded not to rewrite history and not to glorify persons guilty of mass murders of Polacks. Later, the persons advocating Bandera, such as Viatrovich, were banned from Poland. A list of unfavorable citizens of Ukraine to enter Poland in general includes 13 thousand names. As a comparison, there are 1.3 thousand of Russians in it.
In January 2018, international company Lindab which has production facilities near Warsaw obliged its employees to wear nationally-colored clothes. This cannot be seen otherwise than a segregation.
In February 2018 in Poland, the Ukrainians started being beaten only for speaking Ukrainian. In other words, when meeting the reverse Polish reaction, the state policy of Ukraine for glorification of Bandera, caused a tangle of concerns of the existence of which no one ever suspected.
Professional “Public Activists’” Activities
Various “professional patriots” became especially active. They have long ago drawn into private armies, acquired weapon, and now they set more ambitious task – to get legalized as the uniformed services or “covered” by the uniformed services.
In the reporting quarter continued the earlier outlined trend for full transition into control of various uniformed services of the groups which previously were nominally independent “activists” gangs. Takes place extension of such organizations, liquidation of competitors, sometimes even physical. The most powerful of such groups are “C14”, “National Corps” and “National Militia”.
In the reporting period the leader of the radical group “C14” E. Karas declared of being under the “leads” of the SSU, his “colleagues” accused him of the same. This said, apart from the usual bashings of the opponents and political competitors, its members are accused of murdering O. Buzina; still their activities are being financed by Kyiv Council, Chernihiv Oblast Administration and Ministry of Youths and Sports. In such a way, “C14” started working as “Municipal Guards” of Holosiivskyi district of Kyiv city – the official assistants of the National Police possessing correspondent official right to violence. In other words, the Ukrainian state openly finances far-right radicals, while the SSU uses them for its purposes there, where, for some reasons, in cannot act officially – for instance in the UOC bashings.
To “work” as the “Municipal Guards” of the Holosiivskyi district, the “C14” group had to assert this right in a fight of 30 persons with its competitors-activists from the “Guards Holosievo” . “C14” keeps bringing to heel other groups in Kyiv. In January 2018, some competing activist “brigades” burnt cars of other “Municipal Police” workers, at this time from the Civil Organization “Hromadskii Advokat” of the Kyiv Council deputy Didovets in Podilskyi district.
Generally, in the first place, the then Head of Kyiv City State Administration V. Bondarenko (resigned office because of the fake education certificate) announced to the journalists that the Kyiv “Municipal Guards” would be financed from the capital treasury. It was understood that 500 capital “guards” would be recruited from the ranks of the ATO veterans, with their moral and business characteristics as well as health condition previously verified. Was created Public Utility “Municipal Security”, which the budget allotted UAH 556 thousands from the word go. However, that is not the most important thing. It was especially emphasized – according to the government interpretation, one and the same persons may be the officers of “Municipal Guard” and “Municipal Security”. Their duties, among others, will include ensuring security of public utility companies of the city. This is quite a “piece of cake” – annually Kyiv spends about UAH 300 mil. for defending its objects. A share of these funds will be paid to the municipal “guards”.
Soon after settling the financial issue in such a manner, the “guards” projects were started being launched in Kyiv districts (in particular, in Sviatoshynskyi and Podilskyi districts). In case of Holosiivskyi district, it turned out that the government appointed representatives of extreme right-wing nationalist organizations to “govern the process”. The government doesn’t hurry to bring the latter to the account for the committed offences. Even more, in doing so, the state forms an army of its officers “at law”, ready to solve every issue.
Besides, in case with the “Didovets police” there arise other questions: “Firstly, “the municipal police named after Didovets” is an unauthorized formation which has not approved its incorporation documents neither in Kyiv City State Administration (KCSA), nor with the police, nor with the frontier guards. Secondly, it does not patrol the city along with the police as is required by law”, – said O. Kuiavskii from the KCSA. – “Relying on the first two paragraphs, it may be deduced that Didovets created unauthorized formation, and there are letters in this regard addressed to the National Police, Prosecutor General’s Office, National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, Ministry of Justice signed by the Mayor. We are waiting for the official response. The “Municipal Police” will be deregistered in the procedure prescribed by law (no matter how long it will take), otherwise it will be returned into legislative environment)” .
In January 2018, Arsen Avakov’s and Andrei Biletskii’s structures launched a new project of “police assistants” in balaclavas – “National Militia” . There’s an opinion, that in such a manner the first of them send his best “regards” to the President Poroshenko, though later he denied his affiliation with them: “Being a Minister, I will not allow parallel structures attempting to behave on the streets as alternative paramilitary formations” .
The “National Militia” was presented on Khreshchyatyk street in Kyiv city. The new “titushki” straightforwardly declared – “We are many. We are not afraid to use force to establish Ukrainian Order on the streets!” . “Military personnel of the organization consists of former combat veterans, patriotic youth and concerned citizens”, – said the champions of the “Ukrainian Order”. The yet another “activists” claim to participate in street patrols along with the police.
The “National Militia” was presented as unarmed civil group of drug and “alcoholic genocide” fighters, serving Ukrainian people by carrying out patrols. However, to be honest, when looking at these uniformed marching columns there occur doubts that the “members of militia” will limit their activities on the streets with fighting with alcohol and drugs. The Ministry of Interior in general approved the new structure. At the same time, as the politologist Mikhail Chaplyga remarked in this regard: “No matter how rotten the public structures are, they are responsible before law at the very least. They represent the state and their actions may be contested”. According to him, the present government is preparing to pass all the military powers to the paramilitary formations. Certainly, within the framework of general governing crisis, creation of the yet another private army is already an old hat, still, this time, carrying out the events in open in the center of the capital was the height of cynicism.
The “Militia’s” got tested as late as on January 29, 2018 during the session of Cherkasy Municipal Council when they entered the meeting room dressed in black with balaclavas on their heads and forced the local deputies to enact city budget. It was declared that no deputy will leave the hall until the budget is taken. The police interpreted the incident during the session as “factual disorderly conduct” – par. 2 Article 296 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. In June 2018, the “National Militia” activists disrupted Kyiv Council session. About 40 people in similar T-shirts with inscriptions “National Militia” were present at the lobby of the session hall and during the discussion of draft decision for the versions of preservation of the artefacts on the Poshtova square started shouting: “It’s a shame!” and tried to get into the hall. The next time the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine may become the site for the use of the “bullies”. The radicals may be used for adoption of a desired draft law.
The topic of binding the extreme-rightwing activists with the government is reinforced by their joining the Civil Oversight Council at the NABU in May 2018. The government is seriously concerned with NABU being an insufficiently controlled body and, actually, this Civil Oversight Council remains the only mechanism of control over it. It influences NABU formation and other inner questions. Previously its structure was formed exclusively of various “anticorruption grant-eaters”, however this year the situation has changed. The maximum number of votes in the Internet-voting was taken by the representatives of the extremist-right organizations “C14” and previously unknown “Democratic Axe of the Horde” . For instance, the “Democratic Axe of the Horde”, gave its candidates in general 19,6 thousands of voices.
The representatives of the already existing “activists” go on supporting the government’s business-interests by crashing its competitors. The group “National Corps” which is subordinated by the Ministry of Interior of Ukraine and is connected to the “Azov” regiment of the National Guard, smashed gambling boots of business-competitors on the underground station “Nyvky” calling it “struggle against illegal gambling business and the aggressor” . Police arrested several trashers, however, even bigger crowd of radicals in the balaclavas forced their way into the police department on Shcherbakova street in some hour, demanding to have their fellows released. As a result, all the trashers were released on 11:00 PM.
In March 2018 in Odesa, police intended to conduct searches in the premises of the hotel “Bolshaia Moskva” on Derebasovska street and the activists of the All-Ukrainian Union “Svoboda” expressed a wish to participate in it. Police did not object: “Representatives of social organizations – public spirited and radical – expressed a wish to perform civil control over what is happening here. They did not break into it personally, they were permitted to do so by procedural persons” – declared advisor of the Head of Odesa Police Ruslan Forostiak. Later, the law-enforcement officers left, while the activists stayed and declared the building captured. Let’s note that the Ukrainian legislation does not provide for such a procedure as control over investigative actions carried out by the activists. Allowed on the territory of the object belonging to the private individual, following court decision for conducting of searches, may be law-enforcement officers, attesting witnesses, however, not the “audience” from among the activists.
It is interesting, that having lost its belief in the capabilities of the law-enforcement system, the population from time to time addresses extreme rightists for protection of their interests. For instance, in May 2018, the residents of Osokorki district of Kyiv city beaten by the developers resorted to the “National Corps” who, in response, battered the construction site, beat its security and the police heads that arrived as well as mocked on the “Channel 5” journalists. Radicals easily left, with the police forceless to do anything.
The “activists” are involved in a usual racketeering as well. For instance, in March 2018 in Odesa were arrested bandits suspected of kidnapping in October 2017 the citizen of Odesa whose relatives were extorted for USD 200 thousand. During detention a solid armory was withdrawn from the group members: gun, assault rifle, pump-action shotgun, pistols, garnets etc. One of the detained turned out to be the Head of the Party “National Corps” in Odesa Aleksandr Novoselskii.
Robberies of the Tatarian organized crime groups in Kherson Oblast are still underway. In May 2018, Israel entrepreneur Roman Kuper accused the head of Odesa organization “RGB” (translated as – Civil Security Council) Mark Gordienko of extorting him for USD 100.000. Later the Gordienko’s “fighters” initiated a battle with the Kuper’s security on the Fontanska road. “Patriots” showered the building with stones and eggs. There occurred a number of scuffles between the activists and the law-enforcement officers resulting in injuring of several officers and detention of one patriot.
In May 2018, former head of the “Right Sector” in Odesa S. Sternenko exceeding the statutory self-defense slaughtered one person and wounded another. In this situation no one got arrested and no one was brought accusations against. Sternenko even was assigned a security!  And this despite the fact that previously there were two criminal cases initiated against him: for kidnapping a person and for arranging mass disorders.
Besides, former ATO participants, who were engaged in active combat and failed to realize themselves in civil life are being involved in various contracted crimes. For instance, the hired assassin of the Russian deputy Voronenkov turned out to be former ATO participant; the arsons of the Hungarian organizations in Zakarpattia Oblast in 2018 were performed by former ATO participants.
Pressure on courts exercised by the “patriot-activists” for the purposes of adoption of necessary decision or releasing of fellow-activists has already become a tradition starting from 2014. Thus, they captured the court in Rubezhnyi town during the appeal hearing of a citizen who burnt cars of those whom he recognized as “separatists” and threw grenades in their buildings, wherefore he was already sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment. The court was forced into transferring the case for consideration of the first instance.
“Patriots-activists” continue forcing their views to the nation. For example, on February 17, 2018 a group of Ukrainian far-right radicals assaulted the representative office of Rossotrudnichestvo in the heart of Kyiv city. The radicals wreaked havoc in the building, tore and tread down the Russian flag, battered the exhibition commemorating Fedor Shaliapin and drew the walls in slogans. During the campaign were heard calls for violence against the employees and visitors of the Russian Science and Culture Centre, though there were over 50 children in the building. Police officers and OSCE Monitoring Mission officials arrived at the incident site, still no one of the radicals was detained. The following day Rossotrudnichestvo was once again attacked by the radicals, which was dedicated to the anniversary of the beginning of the mass murders on Maidan.
In March in Lviv city, representatives of the nationalistic organizations blocked performance of the Ukrainian singer Irina Bilyk; participants of the movement arranged the “shame corridor” at the entrance of the Opera Theatre and forced her to publically acknowledge Russia as the aggressor state. In May 2018, after the performance in Moscow on a Victory Day concert, Ukrainian singer V. Kozlovskii got threatened from the extreme-rightists; besides, the nationalists tried to circumvent his concert in May in Odesa. And the deputies of Lviv Regional Council issued a petition to the President to deprive Kozlovskii of the rank of the “Honored Artist of Ukraine” .
A number of times the vandals poured concrete castings on the “Eternal Fire” in the Victory Park in Kyiv. As a result, in various times Ilia Kiva and Vadim Novinskii had to protect it. Obviously, the official government cannot resist the vandals.
The activists’ programs occur not only in the capital, but on sites as well. For example, on February 19, 2018 in Chernihiv Oblast, representatives of an agricultural firm beat the deputy of the regional council D. Ivanov who initiated increase of land use fees so that the local residents could receive higher payments from the agricultural firm “Pliski-Agro” for the use of land. The Mayor of Kosovo Yurii Ploskonos accused the “ATO heroes” of racketeering, called them “bandits in camouflage” among which you will not find
not a single decent sort of man. In May 2018 in Nikopol, after the “Right Sector’s” attack of the City Council there was heard shooting. In May 2018, office of “Trudovaia Kharkivshyna” was smashed by the “National Corps” which posted video of its actions on social networks.
At the same time, local trashes by the activists may result in significant international consequences. In February 2018, the unknown persons threw “Molotov cocktail” in the building of the Society of Hungarian Culture in Zakarpattia. After that the patience of the Hungarians started growing thin and they required to bring the OSCE mission into Zakarpattia. A little bit later, the Head of the Ministry of International Affairs of Hungary Peter Szijjarto accused Ukraine of not inviting the Hungarians from Zakarpattia to the meeting with the Ukrainian government in Ukraine at which the Law “On Education” was discussed.
In January 2018, famous French politician Thierry Mariani brought legal proceedings against the Ukrainian activist Maksim Mikhalenko for his post on Facebook which contained threats to the politician’s life. The court acknowledged the claim legally acceptable and passed the case to the Prosecutor of the republic. Within the following six month, the Prosecutor should find Mikhalenko and hand him a subpoena to appear at court to give evidence. The criminal case against Mikhalenko was initiated under Articles 222-17, 222-44 and 222-45 of the Criminal Code of France – threatening with murder. In case the court finds Mikhalenko guilty, he will be sentenced to 6 months of imprisonment and penalty of EUR 7,500.
In May 2018, the “C14” “activists” kidnapped the previously released by Ukrainian court Brazilian Rafael Lusvarghi. According to media, the kidnapping took place in the Embassy of Brasilia. If that’s the case, then apart from kidnapping and beating, punishable under the Criminal Code of Ukraine, they have as well violated the Venice Convention on Diplomatic Relations according to which the territory of the embassy is indefeasible, and the state of stay, i.e. Ukraine, is responsible for its security. Following the requirements of the Brazilian’s attorney against the “C14” leader, the SSU initiated a criminal case on criminal offence under Article 258 (act of terrorism) and Article 146 (illegal deprivation of freedom) of the Criminal Code.
On the global scale the previous performances of the “activists” supported by the government are making themselves felt. This refers to the so-called “Donbas blockade” within which the government prohibited any relations with the territories uncontrolled by Ukraine.
It resulted in decline in production of coal in the country. In January 2018, coal production in Ukraine reduced by 27.3% (by 1 million 0.8 thousand tons) as compared to the similar period of 2017 – to 2.66 mil. tons. As a result, Ukraine was forced to purchase more expensive coal all over the world, including in Russia, which in the reporting period was once again declared by the Verkhovna Rada the “aggressor-state”. In particular, imported from Russia was coal worth $170.579 mil (share in import 60.67%), from the USA –$91.017 mil (32.37%), from Canada – $13.1 mil (4.66%). In general, according to the State Financial Statistics the expenses on the import of the coal constituted $281which is 64.5% more than in January 2017 ($170.897 mil) . And as compared to 2016, in 2017 the currency expenditures on the purchase of coal grew almost twice – to $2.744 bln from $1.467 bln. At the same time, in the majority of cases the “Russian” coal is actually imported from the same uncontrolled Donbas territory, but through Russia. So, according to D. Tymchuk “the DPR declared that produced in the mines of “Torezantratsit” this year were 2 million tons of coal. This is even a little bit more than the winter supply required for all the Ukraine. Even if this figure is half-true, the “DPR group” enough coal to spare. The housing heating and two thermal power stations – are all consumers of the fighters. The only way left – exporting in Russia” .
Interestingly, as soon as the former “activist” starts acting contrary to the government, there immediately occurs information about its unlawful activities and prospects of a criminal case. For example, during “Saakashvili’s Maidan” in March 2018 published was information that a criminal case is being prepared against one of its organizers, the MP Semen Semenchenko, for a range of crimes committed by him when he was a “hero-activist” who fought with the separatists: for illegal receipt of military rank, for kidnapping and illegal deprivation of freedom, for assaults related to robbery and a number of other grave offences.
In June 2018, the rights advocates from Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, Amnesty International and Front Line Defenders drew a focus toward the insistent responsibility of the state to ensure the rights of the citizens and to restrain activity of various extreme rightists from “C14”, “Right Sector”, “Tradition and Order”, “Carpathian Sich”.
They send the open letter with such request to Prosecutor General and Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine. Human rights defendants noted that extreme rightists “committed at least two dozen attacks or intimidations in Kyiv, Vinnitsa, Uzhgorod, Lviv, Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk and other cities in Ukraine. Law enforcement authorities are unwilling to initiate investigating the threats and attacks committed by these groups. In cases where investigation has been initiated, there is no evidence of effective investigation and identification of criminals, despite the fact that in some cases the attackers publicly declare their responsibility for attacks“. Likewise, Human rights defendants are expressing concern that members of these and other radical groups are involved in “police” activities, in particular, in patrolling the streets.
The situation in the field of social protection, health care, education and sanitation
Social obligations of Ukrainian State are stipulated in Constitution: preamble (Ukraine is the social State), Article 46 (citizens have the right to get social protection, pensions, other types of social payments and benefits, which are the main source of subsistence, and which must ensure living standard not lower than the subsistence level established by law), Article 48 (the right to have adequate living standard for himself/herself and his/her family, including adequate food, clothing, housing), Article 49 (The state creates conditions for an effective and affordable medical service for all citizens. The state and municipal health care facilities provide medical assistance free of charge, the existing network of such facilities can’t be reduced), Article 50 (the right for safe and healthy environment) are not fulfilled completely by the State and are turned into purely declarative norms.
The entry into force of law “On housing and public utility services” January 1, 2018 became the key legislative innovation of the reporting period. This law introduced many punitive innovations for Ukrainian citizens. In particular it introduced the fine amounted to 0.01% for each day of delay from the date when the payment term has expired. Together with the “judicial reform” reviewed in the previous survey, the collection of debts for housing and public utility services in accordance with the changes made in Civil Procedure Code (and Economic Procedure Code) will be considered under a simplified procedure, that is, in one court session without calling the respondent. The debtor will no longer have the opportunity to prove in court that he/she wasn’t provided housing and public utility services (or they had poor quality).
And furthermore the new mechanism for disconnection debtors is being created; however, it is not clearly outlined, only abstractly, so it is not known how suppliers will interpret their powers to disconnect consumers from services. If one dweller or tenant of apartment building has a debt, for example for hot water supply, the supplier will not be able to disconnect this particular consumer. But the option to disconnect the whole apartment building for the debt of this particular consumer even other consumers pay regularly for services is quite real.
The law forces each consumer to sign contracts with monopolists, but does not specify how to abandon their services. Another dangerous innovation is the very essence of concluding individual contracts with service providers. If dwellers or tenants of apartment building managed to establish their OSMD (Apartment building co-owners association), they can sign collective contracts with service providers. In absence of such associations, service providers have the right to impose individual mark-ups or introduce services, for example, subscription monthly fee, or individual tariffs for servicing the utility meters.
Also, the introduction of subscription monthly fee means that Ukrainians will pay for heating, water, gas and electricity, even if they don’t use these services, for example, when they are away. The situation is completely critical with heating. The subscription monthly fee will be collected all year round, while the service itself is provided only during six months. In fact, we have the same situation with hot water supply, since even in most part of Kyiv the hot water isn’t supplied from May to October aside from the rest of cities. The area of responsibility of service provider will end at the entrance to apartment building, they say, the hot water in pipe has reached the apartment building, and then they aren’t responsible for further problems of the dwellers or tenants with such hot water. And if this pipe breaks in the basement or between the floors, the dwellers or tenants of apartment building will have to chip in themselves for repairs; they shouldn’t call on the service provider. By the way, under the new law, the apartment building will lose its immunity before service providers. So, the consumer will be obliged to let in representatives of service provider not only in the so-called MOP (common area), but also in real estate objects where the utility meters are located. It is easy to predict that ordinary apartment could fall under such category if utility meters for electricity, water and heat are located inside the apartment, rather than on the landing.
Tariffs for various types of housing and public utility services are increasing all the time. The NEURC (National Energy and Utilities Regulatory Commission) announced another increase in electricity prices. Wholesale market prices have increased by 9.5% since January 01, 2018 and by another 6.1% since April 01, 2018. After that, the retail prices also increased. In total the prices increased by 16%. Although in 2015, when making decisions on five stages in tariffs raising during two years, the government promised that there would be no further increases except these five stages. The rise in prices is connected with the purchase of expensive coal supplied by USA, because of blockade of so-called “LDNR” (Lugansk People’s Republic). In January 2018, the Cabinet of Ministers changed the methodology for determining the price of gas for the population, which led to its price increase in April from 4,942 UAH to 5,352 UAH per thousand m3. Following significant rise in price of petroleum products the fare price in Kyiv minibuses increased by 1-2 UAH in January 2018.
Following tariffs increase in Ukraine, the number of subsidies recipients continues to increase. According to State Statistics Service 6,631.7 thousand families received subsidy. It represents 44.3% of the total number of families in the country. The average compensation for one household is 540.3 UAH. In total, the number of applications to receiving subsidy increased by 10% during 2017. In total 8.2 million households applied for it.
At the same time, the authorities substantiate the tariffs rising, in particular for gas tariff by another 60% based on Cabinet of Ministers resolution No. 758 according to IMF requirements. But the only requirement to maintain tariffs “at the level of full cost recovery” is specified in Memorandum with IMF. It turns out that using IMF as a smear, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine sets up exorbitant gas tariffs, which are 3-10 times higher than the cost of gas produced in Ukraine, whilst IMF only demanded that Ukraine’s Naftogaz operates without loss, so that it does not receive subsidies from the budget as it was earlier.
Because of large amount of subsidy recipients the authorities are tightening their rights. In addition to restrictions on footage and number of services provided being subsidized, the measures are being introduced against the unemployed recipients, as well as control over apartments of particular subsidy recipients. So in new season social inspectors will examine the financial and living conditions of households claiming to receive subsidy.
At the same time utility lines in Ukrainian cities are extremely worn out and large-scale accidents often occur. They are especially dangerous in winter. But the government decided to shed all responsibility to ordinary citizens. Alongside changes in new law “On Housing and Public Utilities”, according to which the service provider is not responsible for intra-building networks, the so-called RAB tariff was introduced in January 2018, whereby consumers alongside their payments for electricity services will pay incentive payments for Oblenergos (Regional Power Distribution Company), which theoretically will update infrastructure using these additional profits. Practically they shed their responsibility on infrastructure’s update on citizens and save the income of pro-government oligarchs. Other tariff innovations are introduced locally. For example, in Ivano-Frankivsk they plan to introduce a fee for using elevators, and in Zhytomyr and Borodyanka it has already been introduced.
There are other reasons for the lack of heating. For example, more than 100 apartment buildings, 2 kindergartens, several schools and colleges were left without heating in Kropiwnicki. Kirovogradgaz Joint Stock Company daily disconnected heating from the boiler room, because heating utilities and City authorities accumulated their debts for gas. On January 31, 2018 Kyivoblgaz disconnected the Slavutich city from gas supply because of debts. On February 01, 2018 all boiler houses were disconnected from gas supply in Smila city by order of Cherkassygaz Joint Stock Company. The city with a population of 69 thousand people fell into ice cold. Because of high tariffs in Kamenskoye city, Dnipropetrovsk region the authorities initiated the first stage of disconnecting apartment buildings from central heating in May 2018, further they plan to disconnect the whole city.
High gas tariffs apparently also caused prolonged vacations in January-February 2018 at Kyiv National University named after Taras Shevchenko. At the beginning of March all educational institutions in Ukraine were closed aiming to save gas, although before that the authorities claimed that in country there is sufficient supply of gas.
Local authorities continue trying to “save” on protected categories of citizens. So by order of Kyiv City Council dated December 01, 2018 the pensioners and large families can use Kyiv sub free of charge only if they use Kyiv card.
The inflation in prices for everyday goods, including food continues to rise, which hits all segments of population in Ukraine. According to the head of Ukrainian Association of Trade Network Suppliers A. Doroshenko, the vegetables prices for preparing borsch (sour soup) have risen from 5 to 73%. According to him, in just a year the index on such vegetables grew by 35%.
According to Cabinet of Ministers Press Service people who received salaries less than 3,200 UAH represented 20% of the able-bodied population in 2017. On the one hand, it weakly correlates with the governmental victorious reports on raising living standards and minimum wages, and on the other hand, with the constitutional norm stating that “Ukraine is a social State” in which the mass of working people receives less than the minimum wage and the employer is not responsible for it. In January 2018, the total amount of arrears in wages in Ukraine increased by 7%. As of February 01, 2018, it amounted to 2.535 billion UAH . At the same time, the State Labor Service notes that every third employee or about 5 million Ukrainians work illegally.
Citizens leave Ukraine on a massive scale, some wish to work, and many wish to reside permanently in foreign countries. This situation is no longer concealed by State officials. So, in February 2018 the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine P. Klimkin stated that more than 100 thousand Ukrainians leave Ukraine every month in search of better life: “Last year alone, about one million Ukrainians left Ukraine. Look, when 100 thousand Ukrainians leave Ukraine every month, the questions are not only that the salaries are much higher abroad. This is generally an understanding of future and quality of life“, the minister said.
In general, the population of Ukraine has decreased by almost 200,000 people. As of January 01, 2018, there were 42.38 million citizens in the country. Moreover the death rate exceeds the birth rate; there are only 63 live births per 100 deaths.
During visa-free regime with EU, the situation with illegal Ukrainian migrants in EU countries became more complicated. Ambassador of France in Ukraine I. Dumont said that the flow of illegal immigrants from Ukraine poured into France and other EU countries after introducing visa-free regime: “It is not easy to evaluate amount of illegal migrants. We use indirect indicators like information from social services, the number of asylum applications, etc. However, the whole set of indirect indicators really allows us to draw such conclusions. The mass inpsections and deportations started in February 2018 in Poland. The press-secretary of the Maritime command of the Border service captain A.Yuzviak said that “The Border officers started inspection of employment agencies throughout the country. The most common victims of dishonest employers are citizens of Ukraine. They are working without having documents, and sometimes even without a visa. While holding inpsection in Gdansk they found 134 illegal aliens, including 126 citizens of Ukraine and 8 citizens of Belarus”. Moreover, in January 2018 the EU noted that the visa-free regime was not introduced permanently and the absence of the fight against corruption could lead to its cancellation.
Therefore, it is not surprising that according to 69% of Ukrainian citizens the overall situation in country has changed for the worse, according to poll data of Democratic Initiatives Fund and the Razumkov Center.
The situation with the citizens of Ukraine living on the territory of the so-called “LDNR” (Lugansk People’s Republic) continues to be very severe. The situation is so oppressive that even the US ambassador stood up for these people: “The government of Ukraine should optimize the process of giving pensions and restart giving payments for which Ukrainians have the right. This includes both temporarily displaced persons who have actually been displaced and people who live on government-uncontrolled territory. These are the money that people have earned over the decades of their work. The registration of IDP (internally displaced persons), which is required from Ukrainians in order to receive pensions, is discriminatory and contrary to Western values, to which Ukraine aspire“, the ambassador did emphasized.
This statement comes in sharp contrast to the statement made by Ukrainian deputy Y. Rybchinsky about the residents of the so-called “LDNR”: “I do not care what happens in Lugansk. I’m not interested in the life of cockroaches. Even if a million of them are born in my kitchen, this will not mean that the kitchen will belong to them. No statuses and special modes for cockroaches, only dichlorvos and a lot of dichlorvos. Well, a couple thousand Javelins, of course“.
In January 2018, Marie Jovanovic repeated her message: “The Ukrainian side must restart in full the making of social payments to citizens of Ukraine who are live at occupied territories. Why should people at one side lose their pensions and other social benefits? After all, they are the same citizens of Ukraine“, said Marie Jovanovic.
“This is important for the future life, for the prospects of reintegration of these areas. The struggle for hearts and minds is one of the most important aspects of what is happening in the east part now” she summed up. It bears reminding that in February 2017, the Minister of Social Policy of Ukraine Andriy Reva said that Kyiv will not be able to restart making social payments on the uncontrolled territories of Donbas, until the first seven points of Minsk agreements are fulfilled.
At the end of January 2018, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe supported the vote on humanitarian consequences of the war in Ukraine, which stated that it is necessary to stop discrimination against residents of Donetsk and Lugansk Oblasts in terms of their social (payment of pensions and benefits) and political rights. “The governing coalition in Ukrainian parliament makes the whole world clear that it does not want diplomatic regulation of this conflict“, said Vadim Novinskyi the deputy from “Opposition bloc” when making a speech at the PACE (Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe).
But Ukrainian courts did not need this opinions and did not satisfy the claim of Tatyana Vasilievna Bogucharskaya against the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on recognizing unlawful and repealing the resolution No. 365 dated June 8, 2016 “Some issues of social payments to internally displaced persons”, according to which the institution for inspection and verification should be introduced and actual residence of displaced persons should be monitored.
There is an epidemic of measles in the country since November 2017. The epidemic covered Odessa, Ivano-Frankivsk, Ternopil, Dnipro, Zaporizhzhya and Kyiv. In general 20,553 people came down with measles since the beginning of 2018, of which 12,222 are children. During this time 11 people had died (7 children and 4 adults) because of complications caused by measles. This epidemic was caused, on the one hand, by an extremely low level of vaccination of citizens, after the 2000 anti-vaccination campaign, caused by irresponsible actions of “activists” that were then, and on the other hand by complete collapse of domestic healthcare system, led for a long time by the Acting Healthcare Minister U. Suprun. This person as a part of introducing her “healthcare reform” commented in complete cynical way the first changes in medical reform: “By now the ambulance will not come to the child having a fever, because “high temperature is not a reason for emergency medical care”; there will not be doctors in emergency medical care team. If anything the paramedic will come after sick call.
Healthcare Ministry reports that Ukrainians who do not sign the Declaration of Primary Care should pay the doctors services for themselves.
Since 2019 the visits to medical specialists, appointed by family doctor or primary care physician, will be paid by National Health Service. The person could visit only gynecologist and psychiatrist without referral from primary care physician.
According to S. Gluzman, chairman of Ukrainian Psychiatric Association, “In fact, this is not a reform, it is an attempt to save money and deceive the population. The beautiful words that Suprun says as well as “young team of reformers” are very successful attempt to completely destroy the medical system. Deputy Healthcare Minister O. Linchevsky stands out of other members of “reforming” team headed by U. Suprun. At the meeting of the Accounting Chamber of Ukraine where the report on the audit of the effectiveness of using money from the state budget in June 2018 was considered, O. Linchevsky said that it is not appropriate to allocate money for treatment of oncological patients. According to him, people “will still die”. In reaction to much outcry of peoples over such opinion, U.Suprun defended her subordinate and did not take any measures against him.
The gravity of crisis in medicine sphere is evidenced already by the fact that Zakarpatska (Transcarpathian) Oblast which had seriously affected by measles epidemic in January 2018 asked Hungary (with which Ukraine has very tense relations) for vaccines. This plea was sent after Healthcare Ministry represented by Acting Minister U. Suprun stated that all regions were provided with vaccines, and it even demanded to strengthen the responsibility for refusing vaccination. Hungary rendered assistance and provided vaccines in February 2018 and Acting Minister U. Suprun tried to block it, for which she was capaciously and obscenely characterized by Governor of Zakarpatska Oblast G. Moskal.
The most cynical is that on the one hand Healthcare Ministry headed by Acting Minister U.Suprun prohibits to procure vaccines from Russia and promotes purchases from “private international organizations” that in practice procure the same vaccines, in particular from botulism from Russia and resell them with their mark-up to Healthcare Ministry.
- Suprun became famous for a number of “useful” and most important “cost-effective advices” to citizens of Ukraine posted on her Facebook page: to treat patients with tuberculosis outpatiently, and not in hospitals, to cancel the fluorography for Ukrainians, not to roll up jeans in severe frost, to sit on cold concrete. At the same time, what caused the poisoning of children in a number of schools in Ukraine in May 2018 the Healthcare Ministry has no idea.
In this case, it is important to emphasize that Acting Minister of Health U. Suprun holds her post illegally. This was repeatedly mentioned earlier in the monitorings of Interfraction Association “Forbidden to forbid”. In this regard the people’s deputies of Ukraine Andriy Derkach, Valeriy Dubil and Yury Odarchenko have filed a lawsuit against Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Groysman with a demand to nominate Minister of Healthcare at Verkhovna Rada. At the moment, the lawsuit is being unsettled, the courts deliberately delay the process, and Cabinet of Ministers ignores the healthcare the one of the most important spheres of Ukrainians life.
The education system which is being reformed at all levels also often violates a set of human rights. So, in March 2018 the Ministry of Education changed the rules for admission of children to schools. Now children could enter the school to which they are assigned by the place of their residence registration. In other cases, the entry is possible only on the basis of a casting system. That is, the inclinations, needs and abilities of children are not taken into account. It matters only the place of residence registration. This approach will make secondary education in Ukraine really low grade. “We will not be able to guarantee a high level of training for everyone, especially in senior school,” says Nelya Klimenko, director of Perspektiva Boryspil Gymnasium. This will also harm children who are not living at the place of residence registration, because there are a lot of such children, taking into account the difficult economic situation in regions and the war going on in the east of country. In the context of decree of Ministry of Education and Science, children can study only at the place of actual residence if there is an official Residential lease agreement. But lessors are reluctant to do this. That is, in fact the Ministry of Education and Science violates the right of children to get education and restores the analogue of “serfdom law” for school children.
Ministry of Education and Science also interferes in educational processes in higher education system. So, in May 2018, the government decree was issued to hold a unified state qualification exam after graduation in a number of specialties: military science, cyber security, medical sciences, nuclear energy, but also including law and international law. Moreover the draft resolution on procedure for these examinations has been prepared. Several moments raise questions. Why there is discrimination in the field of education and among all humanitarian disciplines only the Law was chosen among specialties to which people’s lives are really related to? Secondly, when adopting such acts, the Ministry of Education and Science actually interferes in autonomy of universities, because in fact they are deprived of right to hold final exams. These exams would be hold by some other institution. And thirdly, universities are deprived of right to issue diplomas on completion of training; such diplomas will be issued by some third-party body holding this exam. At the same time, even schools, in spite of holding ZNO (external independent testing), can issue High School Diplomas.
In Kyiv Oblast, 100 km away from the capital, the construction of storage facility for spent nuclear fuel was started. The potential threat of this “nuclear depository” to which they now plan to take the spent assemblies from all over Ukraine, although potentially it can become a depository for European wastes, is great. The country where accident at Chernobyl NPP happened knows this not by hearsay. But the government solemnly reports only about some mythical “leading positions in the world on nuclear generation“, thanks to depository. Moreover the question remains about processing wastes from depository which is not cleared by anyone.
Tortures and murders of citizens
The constitutional norms on State’s duty to protect human life (Article 27), the prohibition of tortures (Article 28), freedom and personal immunity (Article 29) were grossly violated in Ukraine during the reporting period.
In February 2018, the international organization Amnesty International presented a report on state of human rights respect in the world for 2017. In Ukraine the tortures were noted, the existence of secret prisons belonging to Security Service of Ukraine, illegal detainment of people (the Mastikasheva case), the State Bureau of Investigation still did not start functioning, the Cabinet officers including representatives of Special services in some cases, are suspected of inciting violence; the investigation of murder of journalists, namely Oleg Buzina and Pavel Sheremet, did not take any effects. At the same time, referring to data of UN Monitoring Mission on human rights respect in Ukraine, experts note that in cases of sexual violence associated with the conflict, the Ukrainian justice system was not able to adequately protect victims, including both women and men. Most of them were people who were being held by soldiers or government forces, the report said.
The report of UN High Commission on human rights respect in Ukraine dated March, 2018 recorded 66 cases of tortures and kidnappings, the most of which, 38 cases are under responsibility of Ukraine’s government, the 28 cases are on conscience of the “LDNR/DNR”. The victims reported that they were blindfolded or the bags were put over their heads, they were handcuffed and taken to unfamiliar place (building, cellar, garage) where they were beaten, threatened with rape, underwent simulated tortures or raped, while coercing to confess in cooperation with the FSB (Federal Security Service) or separatists. They were also tortured by electric current, strangled with gas mask, and torturers twisted their joints. This lasted from several hours to several days or weeks, during which the victims were blindfolded or the torturers hid their faces. The main “stream” of illegal detainees was provided by volunteer battalions. The members of separatist team were more subjected to torture. At least 25 such prisoners are hold without ability to apply to lawyer.
According to monitoring report of Kharkiv Institute for Social Research and Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group the illegal violence in Ukrainian police took place every 49 seconds in ten regions of Ukraine in 2017. More than 640,000 Ukrainians were injured by police violence last year and 96,000 were victims of tortures.
The National Police itself, reorganized in 2015, is at low personnel and organizational ebb. The Director of one of National Police department was seized, who monthly collected money from other subordinate police officers and embezzle it. At streets the policemen themselves flee in panic from football hooligans, as it was in May 2018 in Dnipro. Riots and threats against the police, including ones from deputies (O. Petrenko, one of leaders of National Corps), were issued during football matches in May 2018 in Kyiv and Cherkassy. Valery Kur, the former head of Department of Criminal Intelligence of UBOP (Directorate Combating Organized Crime), said in March 2018 that crime in Ukraine has sunk to the level of banditry, but there is still no one to combat it: “There are very few of them (professionals – editorial comment), and they are barely able to cope with tasks assigned. I think that there is nobody to do such tasks, there is any reform. There is no one to combat criminality. And it is simplified to primitive forms. Today it is not classified, it does not turn into a very sophisticated, complex, and it is simplified. The mere banditry. There are two people, there is a weapon. All these are enough to rob anyone. Twenty dollars is paid to rob peoples. Thousand dollars is paid to rob bank“.
“The old system was destroyed; the new one was not created. Therefore, chaos arose, disregard for their work and general disintegration. This, briefly, is a diagnosis“, said one of the senior officials of Police at capital of Ukraine. And in general, according to Ministry of Internal Affairs, as of January 01, 2018, the National Police should be manned up by 15.9 thousand people.
The facts of existence on 2014-2016 in Ukraine the secret prisons of SSU (Secret Service of Ukraine) in particular in Kharkiv, where citizens of Ukraine suspected of separatism were held without charge or trial. These prisons were closed only after UN and Amnesty International had announced about their existence. Since 2017 this form of illegal detention has been transformed. This was reported by member of UN Monitoring Mission on Human Rights Respect in Ukraine, Volodymyr Shcherbov. He immediately noted that UN reports on Human Rights Respect do not use the term “secret prisons”.
“We call them unofficial places of detention. There are official ones: prisons, jails, and there are unofficial ones. Even if there are comfortable cells and excellent conditions, it is still unofficial detention, and this should not be” the UN representative explained.
Since 2017 another phenomenon is noted. “We do not receive evidence that someone was held at unofficial detention places. Now we see that people are sometimes detained by some unknown people in balaclava helmets, without insignias, people are placed in unfamiliar place (cellar, garage, in short something makeshift, not administration building), and things turning ugly with that person. The beatings, threats, sexual violence take place for a few days or weeks. The capturers demand something of such person (they coerce to cooperate, extracted confessions, etc.), or punish in such way for something. Then the person is taken from such place with a bag up on his/her head to a certain place, where suddenly the SSU officers appear and officially detain him/her. And from then everything goes in compliance of procedural rights: the lawyer is provided; a person is taken to official detention place, etc. Often such people are detained under Art. 208 of Criminal Procedure Code i.e. as if they were detained at the crime scene, if they are running murderers with a smoking gun or knife. And before that, the detainee has been staying in hands of unknown capturers“, said the representative of UN.
The General Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine has been investigating already four years the murders at Maidan occurred in January-February, 2014 and only now, in February 2018, the General Prosecutor’s Office announced that it had conducted tender and ordered services from a private company to search for bullets and their fragments on the facades of two buildings in Kyiv. The motive of such actions to be performed four years later, after the trees with bullets on Institutskaya Street were cut down already in 2014 still raises questions. In December 2017, information was also received about the “Georgian snipers” who actually shoot in Maidan in 2014, which is totally different from official version of “person, who organized the shooting of Yanukovych”.
In total, for 4 years with regard in “Maidan Case”, as investigator Gorbatyuk said, 49 verdicts were delivered, and 2 of them were factual. In general, during the years 2017-2018 the active closure of mass of cases opened against the representatives of previous “criminal regime” takes place: these are the cases of ministers: Zlochevskyi (February 2018), Kolobov (February 2018), the change of persons involved in case of Boyko drifts (2017) etc.
Meanwhile, Interpol stopped searching people representing the team of escaped former ex-President Viktor Yanukovych, against which numerous cases are being investigated in Ukraine. Gorbatyuk also told about this: “In fact, Interpol stopped international searching most of people. Among them are Klyuev, Pshonka, Yanukovych, Azarov, Kolobov, Zakharchenko. … The Interpol concluded that these crimes, which are incriminated to officials, took place during power shift and therefore they have signs of political persecution“.
The EU Court removed sanctions from two people from team of runaway President, the ex-Justice Minister Elena Lukash and former people’s deputy of Party of Regions Sergei Klyuev.
In April 2018, the US State Department published a report on human rights respect activities in Ukraine, which noted abuses involving “extra-legal executions and politically motivated disappearances in context of conflict at Donbas; tortures, as well as harsh and life-threatening conditions in prisons and places of detention; arbitrary arrests and detentions, lack of judicial independence“. As noted in the report, the government, as a rule, does not take appropriate measures to prosecute or punish officials who committed abuses; as a result the impunity continues to be present.
UN also confirms the facts of tortures in Ukraine. For example, the UN Special Rapporteur on tortures, Niels Melzer, noted in June 2018 that “despite the visible improvement in the recent past, tortures and cruel treatment continue to be applied, that goes unpunished throughout the country“. After visiting the entire country except Crimea, he stated that “in all parts of country my team and I have heard persistent allegations of tortures and cruel treatment during arrest and during interrogation, both from National Police and Security Service of Ukraine, and from the side of security services organized by de facto authorities in Donetsk and Lugansk“. The Special Rapporteur reminded all parties in Ukraine of their obligations under both human rights law and international humanitarian law. “The prohibition of tortures and cruel treatment is one of the most fundamental norms of international law and does not allow for any exception under any circumstances,” Melzer said.
Problems of state building and reforms
The State administration continues to be in permanent crisis. When hearing words “reforms” said by officials, citizens already consistently associated them with price rise of services and goods or confusion in certain life sphere.
Over the past six months the problem with the representativeness of Ukrainian authorities was especially acute. So, the current composition of parliament represents interests and values not so much as half, but about 1/5 of population.
According to Rating Sociological Group, which closely cooperates with one of the most influential and authoritative analytical centers of the world the International Republican Institute, as well as SOCIS Center for Social and Marketing Research and Ukrainian Centre for Economic and Political Studies named after O. Razumkov, the main parliamentary forces in Ukraine are “Block of Petro Poroshenko” (~ 6-7%), “People’s Front ” (~ 1%), “Samopomich” (~ 3-4%) represent and reflect interests no more than 21% of the country’s population.
At the same time, the ruling coalition represents interests of even smaller percentage of the country’s population (~ 6-7%). Analysts clearly state that the current parliamentary leadership in general does not reflect the interests, values and desires of the majority of Ukrainians. In this case, the striking example is the “Euro-optimistic” agenda imposed by current authorities. Thus, values that are literally propagated as a state ideology, according to the research of analytical and sociological centers do not exactly meet the interests and priorities of the majority they even go against such values.
It is important to note that value-based orientations can’t be “right” or “wrong” they are social and cultural heritage of society, which, of course, can change in process of state and society development. However, the current leadership, proclaiming certain values to be ”correct”, while others to be “retrograde”, “conservative” and “wrong”, makes a direct attack on freedom and the rights of citizens.
In continuation it should be noted that because of such low rating and popularity of current government, as well as the complete failure of “state ideology” targeting at expectations and value-based orientations of Ukrainians and, at the same time, the desire of current pro-governmental elites to remain in the country’s leadership the current search of manipulative solutions for implementing such scenario is being held. Thus, the mass media controlled by authorities and “analysts” are actively discussing in the information sphere the need for another constitutional reform, which will be called upon to reduce the powers of President and move to a parliamentary form of government as the most adequate from the point of view of Ukrainian reality.
As political scientists openly point out, such initiative of constitutional reform could have a positive result if it was developed for the development of country. However, this project is developed by Presidential Administration to preserve the current leadership in power and serves to preserve the current political elites.
So, according to sources in power, political technologists and analysts in Presidential Administration are currently working out so-called “Armenian variant” the scenario for the early withdrawal of current head of state, Petro Poroshenko, with his simultaneous arrival as Prime Minister. As a part of this scenario, it is envisaged to further accept changes to Constitution to reduce the powers of President, but to extend powers of Verkhovna Rada. At the same time, the extension of parliament powers can’t be called otherwise than a political bribe for the implementation of such a scenario.
In parallel, the pro-government political advisers are working to eliminate the two main elements that could hamper the implementation of this scenario: the opinion of Western partners and the opinion of population of Ukraine. It is for this, as well as for the activation of its own small electoral core, that the government actively implements the theses on the need for establishing peace in Donbas, while using the “language of hatred” and militaristic rhetoric not only and not so much towards the Russian Federation or pro-Russian fighters, as against the inhabitants of Donbas, who are full-fledged citizens of Ukraine.
The crisis of state administration in Ukraine is vividly illustrated by the attempts of various kinds of local leadership to use force to retain power and enrich themselves. So, the mayor of Hlukhiv town in Sumy Oblast, Michel Terestchenko, asked military officers to help him return to budget the bonus amounted to many thousands. This was publicly told by an activist, teacher of Teachers Training College Lyudmila Kochubey.
Kochubei reacted to the post of Michel Terestchenko on Facebook, in which he appealed to military officers of 16th battalion.
“Yesterday the mayor Michel Terestchenko appealed to military officers, who came to Hlukhiv, and urged them to help him with financial support. Subservience of Terestchenko to military officers is the special cynicism: to use our defenders for his own mercenary purposes, for his own bonus is beyond good and evil”, commented the activist.
She stressed that the budget was adopted, but Terestchenko has not signed it yet.
“The mayor is disingenuous when he says that the budget has not been adopted,” the deputies adopted it by majority of votes. And in this budget, money is provided to finance military forces. But the budget has not been signed yet. First, the mayor went on vacation (yes, again on vacation, once the situation in town become insecure), now he simply ignores and does not sign the legally adopted budget“, Kochubei wrote.
According to activist, the school bus stopped going exactly because of unsigned budget.
“Terestchenko does not care that the town does not have money for a bus for schoolchildren. There is no money for paying salaries. The main thing for Michel is that in adopted budget there is no money to pay Mayor’s bonus, so Hlukhiv town has been existing for the third month without the main financial document“, Kochubei wrote.
The activist is sure that Terestchenko’s appeal to military officers is cynical and reminded that last year the military officers returned to half-constructed barracks.
“And where was our mayor Michel, when last year the soldiers arrived in the middle of winter to half-constructed barracks? He rested in Miami with his wife! For some reason in 2017 he did not come to cringe before military officers and did not tell how “bad deputies” do not let him work. Probably, if he came, he heard how glad the guys were to return from ATO to cold barracks … “, Kochubei wrote.
Another “effective manager” at the head of Ukrzaliznytsia (Ukrainian Railways) E. Kravtsov, who was appointed after the unsuccessful work of Polish manager at the head of the same state structure, began his activity by annulment on December 10, 2017 the ten “unprofitable” in his opinion trains and suburban electric trains. He was not conscious that his decision affected thousands of citizens for whom these trains were the only available means of communication with the outside world. In his opinion the most priority task is to get profit, although in Statute of this State public joint stock company (2015) the most priority task is to “render transportation services for passengers”. Only thanks to the personal intervention of people’s deputy A. Derkach, the train No. 327 connecting “Sumy-Zernovoye”, which had been previously annulled, was reestablished that prevented isolation of inhabitants of Sumy.
At the same time, the authorities of Sumy Oblast make a great fuss about projects like “vacuum trains using Hyperloop technology will appear in Ukraine in 5 years” (Minister Omelyan, June 2018) or “we will build space-launch complex in Australia” (State Space Agency of Ukraine, March 2018).
During the reporting period, the lead time for elections was actively started in the country. Prominent Ukrainian politicians are working upon creation of their own electoral projects. Often, especially when it comes to power, such projects infringe the human rights; much has been said about it in this and previous reports.
However which is also very important none of the major Ukrainian politicians speak about the need to protect human rights in the country and restore the already usurped state obligations to each certain person.
Ukrainian politicians are obsessed with so-called “innovations”, but completely ignore the needs of their own electorate. The striking example in this case is the “New Deal of Ukraine” provided by Yulia Tymoshenko.The most ranking candidate for the presidency uses a lot of neologisms and terms (in particular, there has been a lot of talk about implementing blockchain technology in state administration), but when speaking about protection of civil society, she does not mention the importance and necessity of protection the constitutional human rights, the primacy of freedom of speech and the priority of each certain person in the state.
Ukrainian politicians completely ignore the protection of constitutional rights of citizens. This fundamental position is not displayed as an element of electoral concept by either of candidates.
As we already mentioned, U. Suprun as acting Minister headed Healthcare Ministry for 2 years, and the coalition does not submit a candidature for approval and in this connection in November 2017 the people’s deputies filed a lawsuit against Prime Minister V. Groysman. According to far-fetched reasons the court rejected claim against Prime Minister. Deputy A. Derkach said that law enforcement auhorities will check information on pressure on court by the Cabinet, lawyers and activists will pay attention to studying the way of life and motivations of Judge Pashchenko: “I do not know who called the Judge and how much money he received to “cover the case up”. But one thing is obvious Groysman is afraid to be responsible for his actions. In due time I won the case before the court even against Yanukovych, when he was Prime Minister. But the first decision of “reformed” Kyiv District Administrative Court is a shame for the country“, summed up Derkach.
Meanwhile, the Helathcare Ministry is actively fighting with E. Amosova the Rector of Medical University named after E. Bogomolets, trying to dismiss her from the Rector’s post to which she was recently elected by labor collective. For this purpose, among other things, the passing of licensed exam “Krok” by students was disrupted. As a result, by decision of Ministry in February 2018 E. Amosova was dismissed from post. But the Supervisory Board of University spoke in favor of Rector.
The budget for 2018 can be called the perfection of cynicism. The government sharply increases the funding of all law enforcement authorities, for which the funding will be 2.7 times higher in 2018 than in 2013 that is, they will even all inflation of the last four years. Similarly, the government’s funding is being also increased. And against this background, minimum pensions and other benefits will increase by only one and a half time compared to 2013 that is they will not even the inflation of 2014-2017.
The activity of Institute of National Memory raises questions. The body proposed to make changes to calendar of Ukrainian holidays: to postpone the day off from May 9th to May 8th, to reformat the March 8th from International Women’s Day on Women’s Rights Day and this day is proposed to deprive the status of the day off, to change the status of May 1st and to rename it from the ” International Workers’ Day ” to “Labor day”.
In January 2018, the head of Institute Volodymyr Vyatrovich called the entertainers Vysotsky and Tsoi the “tentacles of Russian world”, and in early February 2018 he urged to de-communize the Motherland statue in Kyiv by removing the Soviet coat of arms from it. At the end of February 2018 he proposed to de-communize the name of Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. Such activity shows an exceptional desire to stay within the framework of popular information noise, rather than creating specific ideological concept for the state and society.
But the biggest challenge is posed by current managers towards further existence of Ukraine as such, in the draft law No. 7521 “On the Succession of Ukraine Regarding the Ukrainian People’s Republic”, proposed by the group of people’s deputies and Volodymyr Vyatrovich in January 2018. They want to declare the present state of Ukraine to be the successor of Ukrainian People’s Republic (UPR), and to declare USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) as “state-occupier”. In this norm there is one significant problem: the territory of UPR does not coincide completely with the territory of the Ukrainian SSR and Ukraine will have to part with the territories in the South, the West and the East, which will be legally ceded to their owners that were then. Moreover the Verkhovna Rada proclaimed Ukrainian SSR as new state Ukraine in 1990/1991. Moreover even as a member of United Nations, Ukraine is a successor of Ukrainian SSR, and many other treaties the current Ukraine performs as legal successor of USSR and the Ukrainian SSR.
The state bodies get powers to which they are not entitled under the Constitution. So, in December 2017, the Verkhovna Rada as to return legitimacy of the National Energy Commission, lost because of President Poroshenko actions, handed it over to Petro Poroshenko office. The draft law No. 7342-1 was adopted as a whole, which authorized the head of state to independently appoint members of commission for vacant posts for a period of three months. Since mid-November, the commission has lost the ability to make decisions because of a lack of quorum. The Main Department for Research and Evaluation of Verkhovna Rada negatively assessed the draft law, directly pointing out that adopted norms were inconsistent with Constitution: “Part one of Article 106 of Constitution contains an exhaustive list of powers of President of Ukraine, which does not include powers defined by the draft law, the Rada’s management says. According to the point 31 of the first part of Article 106 of Constitution, the powers of President are defined only by the Basic Law“.
In February 2018 the preparations for elections started. The President made his proposals on composition of CEC (Central Election Comission). On the second try, there was elected one representative from the team of Yulia Tymoshenko the authorities’ rivals, no representatives of other opposition forces were elected. The elections that take place during the reporting period in the newly created United territorial communities are marked by shooting, fighting and mines laying.
In March 2018 Verkhovna Rada elected the new Ombudsman L. Denisova. Particularly piquant is the fact that both the controller (Denisova) and the main controllable, the head of Ministry of Internal Affairs (A. Avakov) now represent one political force, the “People’s Front” and thus the effectiveness of control by Ombudsman will be fallible.
The very election of Denisova was performed along with violation of law provisions on electing Commissioner. In particular, the law specifies that Verkhovna Rada elects the Commissioner by secret ballot. This time the Rada performed open ballot. Besides the time frame for election of Ombudsman was violated and no new competition was announced for this post after Verkhovna Rada failed to elect the Commissioner on June 6, 2017.
Other bodies that need to be established under the law are not functioning. So, from November 20, 2017 in Ukraine, the State Bureau of Investigation should start functioning. This is required by Criminal Procedure Code. Ukrainian authorities have five years to establish it. However, during this time the organization appeared only on paper. Experts explain the delay in completing the contest for purely political reasons: “The two political forces the People’s Front and the Bloc of Petro Poroshenko, whose representatives are the main ones in the competitive commission, can’t agree on candidate for the post of Director of State Bureau of Investigation“.
Since January 1, 2018 the protection of courts in Ukraine should be carried out by the Judicial Protection Service, but it has not been established, although 300 million UAH have been financed from the budget for its establishment.
The reform of Security Service of Ukraine, which is being carried out with the help of an international advisory group with the participation of NATO mission since 2015, after sabotage, delays and other unconstructive activities of Ukrainian authorities, was presented in March 2018 by President Poroshenko as draft law on National Security of Ukraine. But this draft was harshly criticized by European officials. A number of politicians voiced their objections in the letter addressed to Petro Poroshenko. Among them were US Ambassador Marie Jovanovic, Head of the EU Delegation to Ukraine Hugues Mingarelli, Head of the NATO Delegation to Ukraine Alexander Vinnikov, Head of EU Advisory Mission Kęstutis Lančinskas. The main complaint is that no parliamentary control is provided over the activities of Security Service of Ukraine. Diplomats also talk about transparency in defense sphere, which is neglected by law. If transparency norms require disclosure of certain information to those public and parliamentary bodies that control the use of financial resources in the security sphere, then it is not completely specified in the law.
Later in June 2018 NATO Delegation to Ukraine determined that revised text of SSU reform didn’t comply with NATO standards: “I can say that we would like to see the Security Service to be demilitarized, depoliticized and effective internal security service. Of course, such change requires the transformation of certain functions of Law enforcement agencies related to sphere of economic crimes enforcement, fight against corruption and terrorism. Moreover the delineation of powers with other Law enforcement authorities is required. The process of reforming the Security Service should continue“. This is not surprising, considering the number of fake crimes organized and valiantly “solved” by SSU in recent times. We are talking about the provocation of arms sales in March 2018 by the negotiator V. Ruban (the decription given by Prosecutor’s office was very representative: “… he was engaged in integrating FSS agents to Ukraine disguised as captives. To perform such task he was given the role of negotiator … ” at the same time the head of SSU V. Gritsak as the head of Anti-Terrorist Center at the SSU in 2014 authorized the small businessman V. Ruban to negotiate with terrorists on hostages release), to prepare the fake terrorist attack in March 2018 in Verkhovna Rada together with N. Savchenko (two years ago the Ukrainian domain mobilized the entire international community to ensure her release from Russian prison), to “assassinate” in May 2018 on blogger A. Babchenko, which was condemned by international community and many other actions. It should be recalled that the provocation of betrayal of Motherland, as well as the provocation of a bribe are prohibited in our country. For example, in case of Savchenko 4 of 6 persons involved were the agents of SSU.
SSU continues to spy upon political opponents of rouling government. For example, deputy A. Derkach in March 2018 reported: “SSU on the tip from NABU (National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine) started spying on me and my assistants. It started after my communication with NABU detectives on the interference of anti-corruption bureau in election of US president. The Head of SSU at Sumy Oblast Kosinsky and the director of Kharkiv territorial NABU Kravchenko arranges this provocation. The adviser to Head of Sumy SSU Dulsky coordinates this activity without having sanctions to collect data. It is natural that the police opened criminal proceedings No. 12018000000000268 dated 28/04/2018 on part 2 of Art. 344 CC of Ukraine on the fact of crime “Intervention in activity of a statesman”. The Confirmation of which is the answer from Interior Minister Arsen Avakov“.
The deputies who are opponents to ruling government are continued to be pressurized. Their immunity is being lifted of, the criminal cases are opened against them, and they are being spied upon and put in jails. So, on the so-called accusations in May 2018, a proposal was made to Verkhovna Rada to lift immunity of O. Vilkul, N. Savchenko was imprisoned in April 2018.
The business rivals of authorities are continued to be eliminated. Yevgen Sigal the former deputy of Party of Regions and current owner of “Gavrylivski kurchata” (company producing chicken meat) suffered from aggravation of competition on the most liquid agribusiness. He was arrested in June 2018 for violating environmental legislation when disposing remains of chicken. According to A. Portnov, the main gain acquirer in this situation is Yuri Kosyuk the large businessman and advisor of Petro Poroshenko.
Under active pressure from Western institutions and countries in June 2018, Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine voted for establishment and functioning of Anti-Corruption Court (it adopted law No. 7440 on Supreme Anti-Corruption Court of Ukraine), establishing in such way the closed system of fighting corruption: NABU – Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office – Anti-Corruption Court. In this process and the most anti-corruption mechanism a number of legal issues arise.
The very pressure from West on Ukraine related on adoption of this law was unprecedented. Joint decisions of embassies in Ukraine were adopted, the allocation of tranches by IMF was canceled, EU and USA made statements demanding to adopt this law. All this can’t be regarded otherwise than an interference in internal affairs, which contradicts, in particular Art. 1 of Constitution of Ukraine (Ukraine is a sovereign and independent state).
Secondly, this court essentially contradicts Art. 125 of Constitution: “the establishment of special courts is prohibited”. This article also provides that the Supreme Court is the highest court in Ukraine, but Anti-Corruption Court also considers the appeals against its decisions and the Supreme Court is excluded from this system.
Thirdly, the text of Law and proposals of Venice Commission diverge. In particular, although the Commission as a whole supported the adoption of law, it noted it didn’t support the completion of consideration of already initiated anti-corruption processes by courts of general jurisdiction, and not by the Anti-Corruption Court, initiated by deputies from the coalition.
Since all the cases brought against identified corrupt officials from ruling government such as “Nasirov case” are automatically deprived of an opportunity to be considered on appeal at Anti-Corruption Court. According to the deputy M. Nayem “this amendment was not voiced during the discussion and voting in the session hall. Speaking from the rostrum, the head of committee read out all the key amendments to document, except this one“.
Fourthly, the composition of Anti-Corruption Court will be formed according to very specific formula with the participation of “international experts”, although this is also an actual interference in the affairs of sovereign state. But the Venice Commission actually inclined the Ukrainian authorities to this approach: in its conclusion, the Commission noted that the appointment of judges can take place with a deviations from the general procedure. Certain deviations from the general rules for judges and courts may be acceptable given the “special challenges for Ukraine in fighting corruption at the higher levels“. At the same time, “deviations from general rules should be limited“.
In conclusion, it should be noted that the very term “corruption” isn’t defined either in Constitution or in Criminal Code and there is a problem with the very attempt to bring any material right to this whole fight against corruption. As a result, it will be more like the opportunity to punish displeased officials and those in power for an extremely wide range of activities, not taking into account legal motives, but political expediency.
The next scandals are related to substitution of norms in the voted and later published laws. Such a situation occurred with the judicial reform that was adopted in October and entered into force in November 2017. That is, according to their wishes, the staff of Presidential Administration and the Secretariat of Verkhovna Rada change the norm accepted by deputies! Otherwise as usurpation of powers, this fact can’t be called!
The peak of repaying debts collected by authorities since 2014 inexorably approaches in 2019-2020 in Ukraine. According to vice-President of the World Bank Cyril Muller, the Ukrainian authorities should change their approaches to debt policy, planning not only raising funds, but also to make future repayments of borrowings, stretching these repayments over time: “It’s important for Ukraine to preserve access to financing not only by World Bank and IMF, but also by foreign borrowing markets. And Ukraine will have to raise funds to finance current debts … Ukraine shouldn’t accumulate debts, because in the future the part of state’s revenues will go to their repayments, so the process of borrowing should be conscious, realizing that the growth of public debt is no less risk than refusing to service debts“.
Now Ukraine annually spends 130 billion on debt service. In general, according to information of expert E. Naiman, the total amount of state debt of Ukraine is unknown: “Official information from the Ministry of Finance web-site is $77 billion. But I know quite different figures ($118 billion) that deputies shared with me, who sent a deputy request to the Ministry. And why no one takes into account, for example, $3 billion for which we have legal proceeding with Russia, where we actually lost a lawsuit in the first instance?” . In general Ukraine in 2017 gave the IMF more money than it received: it paid to this organization $1.268 billion, and received only one tranche of a billion dollars.
NATO told directly to representatives of Ukraine that it was not satisfied with the pace of accomplishing the tasks in the sphere of army reformation. The fact is that Ukraine is taking on too ambitious tasks, which then it can’t fulfill.
Ukrainian officials continue to engage in grandstanding at the state expense. In January 2018 the information appeared that in summer 2017 in Donetsk Oblast the campaign was conducted to find journalists and bloggers for posting positive messages about the Head of regional military civil administration Pavlo Zhebrivsky in social networks and local publications. President Poroshenko in March 2018, due to lack of gas, tried to actively promote the action “to turn the gas down”, and when journalists, social networks and the people of Ukraine began to laugh at this “initiative” openly, he was very offended and threatened to punish the dissenters. In May 2018 the Kyiv authorities hired bloggers to justify the increase in fare price.
But the key problem of current political regime in Ukraine in general and specifically of President Poroshenko in the reporting quarter is fatigue with him and general disappointment in his policy among Western allies. There are many manifestations of this situation. The most vivid is the ongoing undercover struggle between defense and Law enforcement authorities, oriented toward the President which are formally independent, but in fact actively supported by US and EU, by the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) and the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAPO). The conflict between them broke out in November 2017 and continues to be present until now.
In November 2017 NABU launched criminal proceedings against the parking lots of the head of National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption (NAPC) N. Korczak. As a result, Korczak called the head of NABU A. Sytnyk for a conversation. Sytnyk called Korczak for questioning.
On November 10, 2017 new players appeared on the proscenium. Firstly SAPO on its Facebook page made a critical statement against Artem Sytnyk. In fact, the Head of NABU was accused of settling personal scores with Korczak for her perseverance in reclaiming documents on the case of Kyiv County Administrative Court. Representatives of defense and Law enforcement authorities say that attack on Sytnyk is coordinated by the People’s Front and the President. That is, both “pillars” of Ukrainian authorities. However, the Western partners and their embassies in Ukraine remain the main defender of A.Sytnyk.
Later, three NAPC employees headed by A. Solomatina, the head of department for financial control and monitoring of NAPC mode of existence, publicly announced the facts of violations and falsifications in NAPC, in particular, accused Korczak of falsifying the checks of electronic declarations, and the Presidential Administration in full control over the NAPC and in coercion to falsify checks of officials’ declarations. She handed the documents confirming the accusations to NABU. “In fact, in one corner of the ring is Government, in the other the West. And NAPC think government lost this round. The top of agency is discredited. But the fight is not over“, says political scientist Ruslan Bortnik.
In response, on November 29, 2017, the officers of Security Service and the Prosecutor General’s Office detained NABU agent under cover during an attempt to bribe Deputy Head of State Migration Service D.Pimakhova. The scandalous story at Surikov Street was already called “sabotage”, as a result of which the secret division of Bureau was detected. This time the provocation of “pro-American” NABU failed, its secret group on “provocations of officials” was detected, which previously managed to provoke deputies Rosenblat and Polyakov to accept bribes. In this case, the “provocateurs” were charged under two articles of Criminal Code of Ukraine the provocation of crime (Article 370 of Criminal Code) and giving a bribe to official. It should be noted that the European Court of Human Rights is also against provocations (the case “Vanyan v. Russia” and the case “Ramanauskas v. Lithuania”). And in December 2017, Prosecutor General Y. Lutsenko said that all undercover agents working under the protection of NABU are outlawed: “The law requires that all employees of NABU to be recruited at open competition. But dozens of agents, including those two who were detected in a safe house, who were elected during some closed procedures, violate the law”.
Such critical situation forced the US curators to speak out in defense of their subordinates: the US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Jovanovich stated that Washington will continue to support the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine and the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office. The US State Department condemned Prosecutor General’s Office for thwarting the special operation of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau. And it expressed concern about the arrest of NABU officials. In Washington they emphasize that such actions undermine public confidence and international support of Ukraine. The British Foreign Ministry also supported its protégés.
Another evidence of crisis in attitude towards ruling government is the active appearance in the Ukrainian and, first of all, in foreign media, the information about various kinds of corruption committed by President Poroshenko personally and his entourage. So, in the investigation of “Slidstvo.info” of the so-called “Paradise Papers” it is stated that the head of state had an offshore company in British Virgin Islands with the aim of minimizing the payment of taxes by his company Roshen. The article of The New York Times dated February 19, 2018, reported that in Ukraine there is a massive embezzlement of funds intended for the protection of the country’s borders and ensuring the safety of citizens. In January 2018 the German edition of Der Spiegel published an article on the rich rest of Poroshenko in Maldives (at least $ 500,000) the President who heads the poor and warring country. President Poroshenko is accused of corruption, lack of reforms, that he didn’t indicate the owners of German plant in German Transparency Register, that his wife embezzled the funds intended to help children.
Furthermore US Vice-President J. Biden in January 2018 published his memoirs where he reports how he openly blackmailed the Ukrainian President by forcing him to dismiss General Prosecutor Shokin from the post otherwise President will not receive 1 billion tranche from US.
- Onishchenko the deputy and former comrade-in-arms of Poroshenko who fled to Europe published a book in April 2018 and presented another record of talks with Poroshenko about a number of corruption actions: in particular, the closure of criminal prosecution for giving up business against a number of politicians since Yanukovych was in power. According to this record O. Onishchenko met with N. Zlochevsky and discussed the proposal to conclude contracts with Naftogaz and other State-owned companies. “He is ready to conclude all contracts with Naftogaz and other State-owned companies and is ready to give 50% of company and share profits 50/50,” he captured the essence conversation with N. Zlochevsky to a man whose voice is similar to Poroshenko’s voice. This man promised to voice his decision “in a week”. The case against Zlochevsky was closed.
The third evidence is the closure of various assistance projects and the termination of IMF tranches provision. So, in February 2018, the European Union closes the project on modernization and construction of border checkpoints with Ukraine because of doubts about Kyiv’s ability to carry out reforms by using billions of European aid.
The project on modernization of six Ukrainian checkpoints on the borders with Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania was established in 2014. The projects were aimed at reducing the time for border crossing and improving customs procedures. By the end of 2017, none of six checkpoint projects had been completed, although the EU provided financing for 29.2 million euros.
In early 2018, a number of Ukrainian politicians still do not feel the change in the world trend towards Ukraine and think in terms of categories of early 2014. So, the deputy from the “Bloc of Petro Poroshenko” Oleg Barna states that today Ukraine is a shield for Europe, therefore the International Monetary Fund should not only make demands related to Anti-Corruption Court, but also think over how to write off all credit debts from Ukraine.
The Ukrainian authorities do not understand how stupid it looks on the international arena, when two contradictory media statements appear in course of one day. So on March 07, 2018: “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine made a plea for Poland to pray and to make compromise settlement” and “Zhytomyr Regional Council approved the procedure for using the red-black flag of the OUN (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists) throughout the region”. We wonder what Ukraine expects to hear from Poland thereafter?
Even with the limited number of Ukrainian embassies that still exist throughout the world (84 permanent embassies) as of January 2018, Ukraine has no ambassadors in 17 of these states. In this context, as of February 2018, about 200 Ukrainian seafarers are in custody in Greece on suspicion of transporting illegal migrants and illegal border crossing. At the same time, relatives of the detained seafarers, who are awaiting consideration of their cases, had to ask not diplomats but Human Rights Commissioner of Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to provide interpreter.
The issue that Ukraine has not bought gas from Gazprom for more than a year was actively promoted by Ukrainian authorities, including President Poroshenko. As a result, it turned out that Ukraine bought the same gas from Russia, but with an extra charge through EU intermediaries. Later, Naftogaz sued Gazprom in Stockholm arbitration court about the illegality of contract and unreasonable high prices. The Arbitration Court delivered the judgment. Naftogaz and Poroshenko again announced that “they win a victory”, but the joy was again exaggerated. Ukraine must pay Russia 2 billion for gas already received and should buy 4 billion cubic meters of gas each year till 2019. Therefore, it is not surprising that Naftogaz refused in January-February 2018 to provide a copy of Arbitration decision to both journalists and the Cabinet of Ministers. Later, in June 2018, the top management of Naftogaz granted to itself a multi-billion dollar bonus “for the victory over Gazprom”, it is interesting that this bonus was covered not from Gazprom payments which are not performed still now, but from payments of millions of Ukrainian citizens due to gas tariffs raised in 7 times. Moreover, a week later, Gazprom received a decision of Swedish Court of Appeal to suspend the execution of judgment of Arbitration Court. But the “winners” still did not return the bonus. Moreover, the question is for what the Naftogaz top management received the bonus, if Norwegian law firm «Wikborg, Rein & Co DA Advokatfirma» which was paid 25 million Euros for its services handled a case in Arbitration Court.
In the reporting quarter, the situation around the announced case of “confiscation of 1.5 billion belong to Yanukovych” solemnly declared by President Poroshenko in April 2017 continued to unfold. The decision made by Kramatorsky Court was classified and was absent in the register of court cases. In this regard, Transparency International filed a lawsuit against General Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine. According to lawyer, “We can’t know whether these funds were actually confiscated from representatives of the former regime of Yanukovych and his team, what kind of funds they were, in what version they were. It is also not clear who contributed to confiscation, what companies were involved. All these questions, for which we have no answer, give us grounds to question the legal accuracy of this judgment, and whether all procedures were taken in accordance with the law when making this judgment. Now representatives of offshore companies, from which these funds have been taken, are already beginning to challenge this judgment, which no one has seen, and sooner or later, the State and us the taxpayers, will have to repay these funds, the 1.5 billion dollars. When these companies undergo the entire Ukrainian procedure, they will appeal to European Court of Human Rights, which due to heap of procedural inaccuracies, will decide to abolish this secret judgment, which was announced to everyone by General Prosecutor’s Office in April, 2018“.
In January 2018, Al Jazeera TV channel presented this secret judgment, and the reason for its concealment became clear. This process was a poorly concerted stunt in which the accused signed nolle prosequi with Investigation team. Accordingly, the likelihood of appealing this judgment at international judicial authorities and, accordingly, the return of money to their previous owners is very high.
The level of professionalism of Ukrainian officials is also demonstrated by the fact that they openly proclaim what is hidden in normal countries. Thus, Avakov’s adviser and People’s Deputy A. Gerashchenko openly stated that President Poroshenko and Ukrainian diplomats deceived Putin by signing the Minsk agreements, which in practice they were not going to implement. In general, such intentions in politics are normal. But it is not normal when they are declared by Authorities. Moreover, in this case Poroshenko deceived not only the Russians, but also the Western allies, with whom he signed these agreements in Minsk. How can he then continue to count on their support?
An even greater mystery that lacing with the threat of EU energy security and contributes to successful implementation of the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline was the statement of Deputy Minister for Temporary Occupied Territories and internally displaced persons Yuri Grimchak that the issue of undermining the gas pipeline, coming from the Russian Federation to Europe existed at the State level of Ukraine in 2014-2015.
Even more oppressive situation at the Civil Service for veterans and participants of ATO unfolded in January 2018. In the competition for the post of its chairman, the winner was Valentin Manko, a former fighter of “Right Sector”, who in 2015 appeared in a criminal case for robbery and put on the international wanted list. But, he made a deal with Investigation team. He was ready to give evidence against Gennady Korban, who at that time headed the party UKROP (Ukrainian Association of Patriots), in exchange for relief from criminal prosecution and removal from wanted list. The deal took place and now he picked up the award.
The corruption remains to be key issue among President Poroshenko retinue. In April 2018, the Mayor of Dnipro, Boris Filatov, admitted that he was lobbying the interests of American companies in circumvention of mandatory tender procedures.
In January 2018, the author of the phrase “Ukrainians eat a lot”, the minister of social policy A. Reva employed the 30-year-old red-haired model Alexandra Churkina as his Deputy with salary ($ 3,450) 93,000 UAH per month, and the head of State Auditor Service Lydia Gavrilova dumbfounded the public with a statement that such gold bars, like hers, has every citizen of Ukraine. In March 2018, the head of Naftogaz, Andriy Kobolev, said that politicians were to blame for the difficult economic situation of the company, as well as the population that consumed too much gas. Once again deputy Volodymyr Parasyuk, a member of activists, stood out by his illegal actions: while using deputy immunity he bet policemen in the courthouse. The deputies are fighting among themselves regularly. So, in April 2018, the non-factional People’s Deputy Sergei Melnichuk after the airtime on the television channel smashed the nose of his former colleague Dmitry Linko the member of Radical Party by Oleg Lyashko.
Ukraine in processes of European integration and international relations
It should be noted that governed by current authorities, Ukraine loses its subjectivity in international relations. Decisions on its fate are made behind its back by other participants in international relations. So in course of year the representatives of Russia and United States carry on negotiations introduce peace makers to the territory of Donbas, in which Ukraine does not participate and will only carry out the will of other powers on its territory. It suffices to note that Russia has no Ambassador in Ukraine since 2014.
At the Munich conference in February 2018, Poroshenko delivered his speech in empty hall. The meeting of “Norman Quartet” regarding cessation of war at the East of Ukraine was derailed several times, due to non-appearance of French and German foreign ministers engaged in other, more important matters.
The intervention of foreign countries in the internal affairs of Ukraine is under way. Ambassadors of countries being the members of G7 called on Ukraine to change the composition of Central Election Commission. Diplomats also stated that Ukraine should make election reform so it establish in the country, just in time for the elections in 2019. The same ambassadors expressed their opinion on the attempts to detain Saakashvili. The situation reminds the end of 19th century, when ambassadors of “Great Powers” dictated their will to Chinese emperor in the semi-colonial China.
The Atlantic Council in February 2018 issued the open report in which it threatens to bring down the Poroshenko’s regime “in consequence of third Maidan, which will be supported by international community” if authorities fail to fulfill four “unfinished tasks”. First task: to withdraw and revise its draft law on the Anti-Corruption Court, allowing this body to act independently, “as required by Ukrainians and Western funders“. Second task: to stop attacks on National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine. Third task: to lift immunity of Parliament deputies. Fourth task: to prohibit political propaganda on TV in the lead-up to the elections in 2019, “in order to neutralize the influence of oligarchs”. “If necessary transformations are not carried out, the outbreak of street protests on the eve of elections is possible. They will be widely supported by international community. And, having military power to resist Russia, the Ukrainians will finally get a chance to overthrow odious elites“.
Ukraine as a result of current Government policy is appeared to be surrounded from all sides by “enemies”, true or imaginary. From one side is Russia the “aggressor country” which received this status for the third time in the last four years from Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, with which Ukraine wages undeclared war, but which at the same time is also the largest trading partner of Ukraine. From the north Ukraine shares borders with Belarus, which was blamed for “the second stab in the Ukraine’s back» by Irina Gerashchenko the deputy Chairman of Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine in speaking out on the vote of Belarusian delegation at the third UN committee on the resolution on human rights at annexed Crimea, and the speaker Parubiy said that Ukrainians aren’t safe and secure in Belarus, for what he was met with adequate response by the Foreign Ministry there.
With Poland, the situation is escalated because of glorification of Bandera, Shukhevych and OUN-UPA (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists – Ukrainian Insurgent Army), whom the Poles accused of genocide of Polish population. The relations with Hungary and Romania are spoiled by the law “On education”, which banned the teaching at secondary school in languages of national minorities.
The relations are being exacerbated by the law “On education” norms wherewith actually prohibit teaching in languages of national minorities. The Prime Minister of Hungary V. Orban said that firstly Budapest is concerned not only with the already adopted law, but also with draft laws on languages and on citizenship, which will hit the rights of national minorities. Secondly, Budapest does not care what Venice Commission will say about the law “On education” the Hungary will block all Ukraine’s Euro Initiatives until the discriminatory norm against the national minorities is lifted. Thus, in response to the absence of changes in discriminatory rule, Hungary began blocking Ukraine’s initiatives in NATO and EU. In particular, Hungary vetoed the convocation of December meeting of the Ukraine-NATO Commission, the April meeting of the same commission and having been blocked it for the entire reporting period. And in May 2018, the Secretary General of North Atlantic Treaty Organization Jens Stoltenberg received an official appeal from Hungary on the revision of NATO’s policy towards Ukraine. In it, the Hungarian government proves that “the reformation of Ukraine has failed.” “The Ukrainian state has become so weak that it is now unable to fulfill its basic obligations, including ensuring the rule of law and effective economic, social and political governance.” “Despite the unprecedented level of political support and financial assistance …” Ukraine “poses risks to its neighbors“.
Moreover, in July, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban openly stated that at the NATO summit in Brussels, which is also scheduled for July, Hungary will block any decision following the meeting with Ukraine and Georgia.
In March 2018 Poroshenko removed Russian diplomats in solidarity with UK. The number of removed persons is at third place in the world. After accuses of UK and its direct ally the United States. The question arises: why did Poroshenko remove diplomats of aggressor country only now, at the fourth year of the declared war with Russia, but not in previous years? Just in solidarity with UK, but not with his citizens who are fighting under his leadership already four years. How this action will affect the citizens of Ukraine staying in Russian prisons and because of this decision they lose effective consular assistance from their native state after the symmetrical reaction of Russia. Either millions of Ukrainian workers in Russia, whose interests can’t be protected by Ukrainian consular officers who will be removed by Russians in return?
Trying in their own way to fight against occupation of Crimea, Ukrainian diplomatic institutions around the world get involved in scandals with publishers and newspapers that do not display Crimea as part of Ukraine in their illustrations. In a number of cases, especially in small countries, they are suceed, but sometimes it turns into a scandal when the media refuses to change information, and diplomats thus lower the prestige of the country even further by requesting changes and receiving a refusal that actually legitimizes the existing situation. For example such situation happened with American newspaper The New York Times, which denied the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, saying that it would not change anything. The logic of American refusal is quite understandable. The logic of Foreign Ministry’s request is unclear, which seems to confuse the media with official cartographic publications.
The head of diplomats, Minister Klimkin, decided to go even further and in January 2018 reported that he was in talks with football associations and fans about boycotting the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The issue of intervention of Ukrainian authorities in the elections at USA in 2016 on the side of losing candidate continues to remain relevant. This fact, of course, directly violates the UN Charter, which prohibits interfering in internal affairs of foreign countries (Article 2). The consequence is the following, the US administration ignores Ukrainian officials, who previously could freely make state and business visits to United States. Now this possibility is preserved only through the purchase of lobbists’ services, the latest example of which was published in the media that Poroshenko paid 400 thousand dollars for the opportunity to meet with Trump which later was confirmed by former Ukrainian diplomats.
The situation in the country in the first half of 2018 is marked by general deterioration in human rights protection. The total elimination of opposition media is outlined in the area of freedom of speech and journalists’ rights. The chief editors of leading media seek political asylum at EU from persecution. Law enforcement officers are smashing the editorial offices of media holdings.
Top-managers of number of popular media, regional journalists, as well as representatives of public organizations (the Interfraction Association “Forbidden to Forbid” acted as one of the signatories) sent the appeal to the President, the head of Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the Prosecutor General, the Prime Minister, and diplomats of European countries and USA.
The first result of this appeal was the decision of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU) to hold a discussion “The threats for freedom of speech in Ukraine.” The forum participants clearly defined several issues: the authorities’ attempts to restrict the activities of media which is “disadvantageous” for them; the division into “pro-Kremlin” and “patriotic” media; numerous inspections of TV and radio channels by regulating authority; as well as open criminal cases against journalists, all these promote dictatorship and total control over freedom of speech in Ukraine.
The signatories of appeal and participants in discussion at NUJU marked out specific demands to President, Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and Prosecutor General’s Office. Despite the fact that journalists’ appeal drew a wide public response and was supported by National Union of Journalists of Ukraine, none of the demands of media representatives was fulfilled! The authorities completely ignored the request of media representatives.
The TV channels that are unwelcomed by authorities are blocked by “activists”. The country has revived censorship, which pettyly interferes in editorial policy. Journalists are forced to write appeals to democratic states for protection.
Attempt by the authorities to close the morning news TV show “Dobroho Ranku, Krayino!” (“Good morning, Country!”) produced by “Era-Media” and broadcasted daily from 6:30 am to 9:30 am on the main TV channel of Ukraine “UA:Pershyi” can be called one of the most striking instances of the attack on freedom of expression in Ukraine.
On July 5, Yulia Tymoshenko, one of the most famous and high-rated politicians in the country, on air of “Dobroho Ranku, Krayino!” announced plans of Petro Poroshenko to impose martial law to maintain power by escalating the conflict in the Donbass. As the politician herself indicated, she literally threw a wrench into the president’s plans when revealing this information.
Following the day of Tymoshenko’s speech on the air, Zurab Alasania on behalf of “The National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine” (the NPBCU) and the TV channel “UA:Pershyi” made a statement on the termination of “Dobroho Ranku, Krayino!” broadcasting.
During the reporting period, it became especially obvious that the authorities are engaged in creating controlled information sphere for their manipulative use in their own interests, in particular, in electoral interests.
Thus, one of the most dangerous mechanisms for manipulating the freedom of information distribution was the abolition of analogue broadcasting in all regions of Ukraine and the complete replacement of it with digital broadcasting. In this context, the corresponding replacement of licenses for digital broadcasting is also relevant. This creates a field for manipulation and restriction of broadcasting rights.
It’s difficult to obtain information in the country, citizens’ personal information of citizens is publicly available, government databases are not protected. State bodies illegally collect information about politicians; track the movements of ordinary citizens.
Discrimination on the basis of language and ethnicity continues to be under way. Over the past six months, anti-Semitism began to appear vividly in Ukraine. The bashings against Roma renewed. The struggle against education in languages of minority populations continues, although the Venice Commission clearly expressed the opinion that this rule is subject to change.
Discrimination of Ukrainian citizens continues in LDNR, they are not paid pensions, they are subjected to depreciatory inspections; authorities want to introduce the concept of “collaborator”.
The judicial branch of power is disorganized and is subject to pressure from three sides: the authorities require to accept the decisions that suit them, by leaving the courts unprotected and permanently reforming them, the “activists” require to fulfill their demands by arranging bashings of courts and releasing “close friends”, and the West demands to establish and bring into functioning the Anti-Corruption Court.
The security situation is deplorable in the country. The law on the deoccupation of Donbas was adopted, Russia was determined as aggressor, the ATO is over, but no way out impasse is presented. Mass exchange of prisoners raised a lot of questions to Ukrainian authorities. The first of which is how lawful it is to exchange some citizens of Ukraine for others. Moreover the very clarity of such exchange causes doubts.
In the reporting quarter, there has been an increase in the number of robberies, as well as attacks for the purpose of robbery. Abductions of people for the purpose of ransom became more frequent.
In the reporting quarter the right to freedom of religion in Ukraine has been thrown in at the deep end. The state openly interferes in the religious sphere, grossly violating the Constitution, forcing to establish “the one autocephalous local church.” The Ukrainian Orthodox Church is being attacked deliberately by state bodies and “patriotic activists”, coordinated by Security Service of Ukraine. The attempts to set fire to religious buildings became more frequent. There is a probability that authorities attempt to organize a religious war in the country. At the same time, various kinds of destructive cults and charismatic churches, openly hypnotizing and plundering citizens, continue to exist.
The practice of limiting the constitutional norm on freedom of meetings and freedom of expression of one’s views and convictions continues to exist. The far right radicals being hounded by authorities attack the meetings of opposition-minded citizens. The criminal cases are being opened against People’s deputies concerning their statements.
During the first 6 months of 2018, there was a trend towards formalization of paramilitar organized criminal groups as a part of Law enforcement authorities. The authorities divided among themselves different groups of “activists” and actively use them in business interests against competitors or in the fight against political opponents. The “C14” being subordinated by SSU is especially zealous. “Activists” are trying to get the official right to become violent and to take up the torch for controlling megacities from police which is weakened by reformes.
The “Activists” continue to ram through their views to population in country, they attack churches and courts. Morever activists manage here to spoil international relations. The consequences of Donbas blockade have a negative impact on the country’s economy.
The situation in the sphere of social protection and public health is in deep crisis. The population of the country is diminishing due to high mortality and mass emigration.
During two years the Healthcare Ministry is headed by Acting Minister, and attempts of People’s deputies to force the government to nominate the permanent minister are unsuccessful.
New higher tariffs have been introduced, the number of subsidy recipients is increasing, but the crisis of non-payments is also increasing every month. The disconnection of cities in winter season for gas debts starts out. The law on housing and public utility services is adopted, which introduces a penalty for non-payments and a monthly fee for a number of housing and public utility services. The responsibility of service providers now ends at the entrance to apartment building. The utility lines frequently broke down, but authorities decided to shed responsibility for their repairs on ordinary citizens. The country has high monetary and commodity inflation. 20% of the working-age population receives salaries less than minimum level. There is a measles epidemic in the country, but vaccines aren’t available in sufficient amount. The health care system after reforms performed by U. Suprun is approaching to collapse. The construction of storage facility for spent nuclear fuel was started in 100 km from Kyiv.
Tortures and murders continue to be the urgent problem in Ukraine. The facts of existing secret prisons of SSU are being confirmed. The people getting to police stations are subjected again to tortures and violence. Government members, including representatives of special services in some cases, are suspected of inciting violence. Previously committed much publicized crimes, including the murders of journalists and politicians are not investigated.
Over the past six months, the problem with representativeness of Ukrainian authorities was especially acute. So, the current composition of parliament represents interests and values not so much as half, but about 1/5 of population. According to sociological research centers, the major parliamentary forces represent and reflect interests no more than 21% of the country’s population. At the same time the ruling coalition represents interests of even smaller percentage of the country’s population (~ 6-7%). Analysts clearly state that the current parliamentary leadership in general does not reflect the interests, values and desires of the majority of Ukrainians. In this case, the striking example is the “Euro-optimistic” agenda imposed by current authorities.
At the moment current leadership of the state is actively searching for manipulative solutions to preserve power in their hands. Thus, the need for another constitutional reform is actively discussed, which will be called upon to reduce the powers of President and move to a parliamentary form of government. As political scientists openly point out, such initiative of constitutional reform could have a positive result if it was developed for the development of country. However, this project is developed by Presidential Administration to preserve the current leadership in power and serves to preserve the current political elites.
So, according to sources in power, political technologists and analysts in Presidential Administration are currently working out the scenario of early withdrawal of current head of state Petro Poroshenko, with his simultaneous arrival as Prime Minister. As a part of this scenario, it is envisaged to further accept changes to Constitution to reduce the powers of President, but to extend powers of Verkhovna Rada. At the same time, the extension of parliament powers can’t be called otherwise than a political bribe for the implementation of such a scenario.
State building and reforms in the country can be considered to be at a deadlock. The problem of current political regime in Ukraine in general and specifically of President Poroshenko is fatigue with him and general disappointment in his policy among Western allies. The word “reforms” in the mouths of officials is already firmly associated with the citizens with the rise in price of the next services and goods or disorganization of the next sphere of life.
The problem of current political regime in Ukraine in general and specifically in President Poroshenko is fatigue with him and general disappointment in his policy by Western Allies. The word “reforms” in the mouths of officials is already firmly associated with the citizens with the rise in price of the next services and goods or disorganization of the next sphere of life.
During the reporting period, lead time for elections was actively started in the country. Prominent Ukrainian politicians are working upon creation of their own electoral projects. Often, especially when it comes to power, such projects infringe the human rights; much has been said about it in this and previous reports. However which is also very important none of the major Ukrainian politicians speak about the need to protect human rights in the country and restore the already usurped state obligations to each certain person.
The striking example in this case is the “New Deal of Ukraine” provided by Yulia Tymoshenko. The most ranking candidate for the presidency does not mention the importance and necessity of protection the constitutional human rights, the primacy of freedom of speech and the priority of each certain person in the state.
The Law enforcement authorities actually conduct a war among themselves, in which external sponsors are also involved. The budget for 2018 provides for a sharp increase in funding for Law enforcement authorities and power structures, but not raising pensions and benefits.
The processes of European integration can be considered already curtailed by EU. They aren’t provided new loans, started to close the previous programs. The relations with neighbors are spoiled by Ukarianin authorities’ actions. Hungary is blocking any rapprochement with EU and NATO; Poland demands to stop glorifying Bandera and UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army).
In general, there is no need to talk about any international subjectivity of Ukraine. The question of introducing peacekeepers into Ukraine’s territory is being resolved without its participation. Western countries put pressure on large and small issues of domestic policy of Ukraine. They demand to establish corruption control system not influenced by Ukrainain authorities, but which is directly subordinated to them due to which they could control any Ukrainian politician.
 http://timer- Odesa.net/news/v_obse_prizvali_ukrainu_vozderjatsya_ot_ogranicheniy_svobodi_slova_996.html
 http://timer- Odesa.net/news/lvovskaya_uchitelnitsa_istorii_pozdravila_s_dnem_rojdeniya_gitlera
 https://khanna.house.gov/media/press-releases/release-rep-khanna-leads-bipartisan-members-condemning-anti-semitism-europe; http://nk.org.ua/politika/evreyskoe-lobbi-v-kongresse-ssha-obratilos-v-gosdep-v-svyazi-s-rostom-antisemitizma-na-ukraine-142348
 https://24tv.ua/na_skandalnih_plivkah_onishhenka_nachebto_figuruye_petro_poroshenko_audiozapisi_rozmovi_n955422; https://www.unian.ua/politics/10087289-nardep-utikach-onishchenko-opublikuvav-zapis-rozmovi-poroshenka-pro-torgi-po-zlochevskomu-v-ap-nazvali-jiji-feykom.html
 https://ukranews.com/news/543149-neftegaz-zasekretyl-svoyu-pobedu-v-stokgolmskom-sude-ne-pokazav-ee-ny-ap-ny-kabmynu-ny-profylnomu; https://ukranews.com/news/545642-neftegaz-otkazalsya-pokazat-v-pravytelstve-reshenye-stokgolma
 «Атлантический совет» — американский неправительственный аналитический центр в области международных отношений, обеспечивающий и обслуживающий идеологию развития НАТО.