During the reporting period, the situation of respect for and protection of human rights in Ukraine by the state has been deteriorating rapidly.
The rights of journalists are violated, and political repressions against unwanted media are carried out; rampant far-rightists and nationalists are encouraged by the state, para-military structures (private armies) are acting, the state actively intervenes in the activities of religious organizations by advocating at the highest state level the discrimination against one of them, and creating another in the form of a practically State Church, the rights of national and linguistic minorities are violated, the electoral process is full of all kinds of violations and falsifications, the independence of the judicial system is collapsing, various “reforms” that worsen the standards of services provided are being carried out including in the sphere of health, education, housing and communal services.
Foreign states and international organizations interfere in the internal affairs of the country by dictating to the existing authorities the appointment of specific candidates and the creation of the necessary bodies. At the same time, relations with the majority of neighbouring states remain in a conflict stage.
Restriction of the right to freedom of speech and functioning of independent media
The level of pressure on the media by the authorities in Ukraine reached the highest level during the period of independence in the reporting period. Article 34 of the Constitution of Ukraine on guarantees of freedom of speech and article 171 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine are actively violated: “Obstruction of legitimate professional activities of journalists”.
A reaction to this situation was reflected in the appeal of top managers of a number of popular media, together with regional journalists and representatives of public organizations (inter-faction Deputy Association “Forbidden to Ban”, or ZAPRESHCHENO ZAPRESHCHAT, acted as one of the signatories) to the President, the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the Prosecutor General, the Prime Minister, as well as diplomats of European countries and the United States. The appeal states that the level of threat to freedom of speech in Ukraine has reached its critical point.
Last year, public organizations recorded almost 300 violations of freedom of speech, of which about 100 consisted in attacks on journalists. The appeal was open for new signers, and within several weeks dozens of people and professional journalists joined it every day.
The first result of the appeal was not long in coming. Thus, a few days after its publication, the National Union Of Journalists Of Ukraine (NUJU) held a discussion on “threats to freedom of speech in Ukraine”.
The forum participants clearly defined that the authorities’ attempts to limit the activities of “unfavourable” media, the division into “pro-Putin” and “Patriotic” media (mass media), numerous checks by the TV and radio channel regulator, as well as open criminal cases against journalists are nothing but the way to total control over freedom of speech in Ukraine, and dictatorship.
“We in the NUJU believe that the situation with freedom of speech in Ukraine is unacceptable, and the situation with with physical security is threatening, – commented the NUJU Chairman Sergey Tomilenko. –Over the past few months, there have been more than a dozen lofty rhetorics from national media and journalists about threats, harassment and attacks.”
The discussion participants stated that each statement should be the subject of detailed consideration, discussion and public report of officials. Instead, only attempts to divide journalists into “right” and “wrong” were recorded, as well as selective pressure from the National Council, and abuse of office.
Tatiana Goncharova, chief editor of ERA media, spoke about the pressure from the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council of Ukraine, in particular. Thus, in October 2017, radio station “ERA” was fined for violation of language quotas in the May air.
However, said Goncharova, the air related to “Eurovision”, that is why sang songs were not in Ukrainian language. But for the fact that the Ukrainian songs made not 25%, but 23%, the channel had to pay a fine of more than UAH 300 thousand.
Despite the fact that the appeal of journalists caused a wide public outcry and was supported by the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine, none of the requirements of the media representatives was met! The government completely ignored the request of the media.
The National Union of Journalists stated that officials completely ignored the largest OSCE conference on freedom of speechheld in Kiev in July 2018. Moreover, experts and bloggers supporting the government attacked the speakers of the forum with criticism for “wrong” comments.
Among the most striking examples of the attack on freedom of speech in Ukraine can be the attempt by the authorities to close the television morning news show“Good morning, the Country!” produced by the TV company “Era-Media” and broadcasted every day from 6:30 to 9:30 at the frequency of the main TV channel of the country “UA:Pershi”.
On July 5, one of the most famous and ranking politicians of the country Yulia Tymoshenko declared Petro Poroshenko to introduce martial lawfor retaining the power with the escalation in the conflict in the Donbas in the air of the program “Good morning, the Country!”. According to the politician, she literally violated the President’s plans by giving publicity to this information. As we will see, later, by the end of the year, these plans were fully confirmed.
The authorities have expressed a negative attitude towards TV company “Era-Media” and its products for quite a long time. Especially after the staff of the TV company had signed the above-mentioned collective letter to the President, the Prime Minister, the Verkhovna Rada and the Prosecutor General with the request to stop curtailing freedom of speech in the country.
The next day the speech of Tymoshenko in the air was followed by the statement of the board of “National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine and Public Broadcasting TV channel” (UA:PBC) and the channel “UA:Pershyi” represented by Zurab Alasania, on the termination of broadcasting the show “Good Morning, the Country!”.
Due to the situation, “Era-Media” channel filed a lawsuit and received a ruing that prohibited the termination of broadcasting the show “Good Morning, the Country!”. The trial is still ongoing, and the show goes on air, against the will of the UA:PBC.
At the same time, the show “Good morning, the Country!” made a statement about the violation of freedom of speech and obstruction of journalistic activity, which caused a huge stir in the Ukrainian information environment, in particular in the Ukrainian segment of Facebook. Many users of the social network expressed support for the show.
It is important to emphasize what many media analysts were talking about at that time: UA:Pershiy position was actively supported by the pro-presidential army of fake accounts in Facebook (it was created about a year ago, and Petro Poroshenko was directly asked about it by the representatives of Radio Liberty, but he evaded the answer). In addition, the head of UA:PBC Zurab Alasania presented his arguments only on the TV channel called “Priamyi”, it 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 creation and operation of the TV channel “Priamyi” are unknown.
In the course of constant attempts of the authorities to impose censorship in the country, the Board of the National Television Company of Ukraine (NTU) in the person of Zurab Alasania supports them, instead of defending freedom of speech and the interests of citizens. Zurab Alasania allows to broadcast on the main national TV channel such dubious events as the Marsh dedicated to the SS Galizien Division, while telling that he will reform Public television only at his absolute discretion, and “he doesn’t have a clue of turd”.
For such loyalty, the government allows the top management of NTU to draw out huge bonuses for themselves, and Zurab Alasania personally does not see anything criminal in it. At the same time, there is a constant reduction in funding for NTU, permanent employee termination, and, in fact, permanent destruction of the country’s main TV company. 
Other means of pressure from the authorities include opening of criminal cases against unwanted journalists. Thus, several criminal cases were opened against I.Guzhva, the editor-in-chief of the largest Internet media in Ukraine “Strana.UA” which helds an independent position. Due to such pressure from the security services and the Administration of the President, I.Guzhva fled Ukraine in January 2018, and applied for political asylum in Austria. In October 2018, the sylum was granted, which means that Austria recognizes the existence of political repressions and threats to the life of the journalist in Ukraine. Another Ukrainian journalist, the owner of the news Agency “Open Ukraine” and a former soldier A. Medinsky due to pressure from the authorities and members of the fringe in April 2018, appealed to the Finnish authorities for political asylum, as he became the object of persecution in Ukraine. On May 31, 2018, another opposition investigative journalist A.Dubinskyi stated on the attempt of the SSU to turn around with him a provocation similar to the case of Guzhva .
In August, the seventh criminal case was opened against the Internet publication “Strana.UA”. It had been the second one for the summer 2018. And again – under the article “disclosure of pre-trial investigation”. That is, as the case would not be against the journalists (but against those who divulged), but in fact just “Strana” was the object of investigation. Now it is about the investigation carried out by Valeria Ivashkina on the incident in Odessa when the nationalist Sternenko put a knife into a man. Since then, this case has gradually been lead to oblivion and the publication is one of the few following it. Well, as expected, they do not like Sternenko, he has repeatedly threatened with trial and other punishments. At long last, he, aided by MP Andrey Denisenko, achieved initiation of a criminal case on the fact of “disclosure”.
On September 20, the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council appointed an unscheduled field check of NewsOne channel for finding out whether the satellite TV channel complies with the norms of the current Ukrainian legislation. The Security Service demanded the National Council to check NewsOne channelfor using the phrases “war party” and “fratricidal war” in the air. In October, another unscheduled check of NewsOne channel was appointed for finding out the fact and circumstances of the transfer of the channel in the management of A. Portnov.
In October 2018, The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine supported the resolution on sanctions against independent TV channels NewsOne and 112. The sanctions include a number of restrictions, including the revocation of channel licences, prohibition of the use of radio frequencies and freezing of assets. In the draft resolution, seven companies are proposed to be sanctioned, namely: “Ariadna TV”, “Novyi Format TV”, “TV Vybor”, “Teleradiokompaniya “112-TV”, “Lider TV”, “Partner TV” and “Novosti 24 Chasa”. The first six companies are associated with the Channel 112, and the last one — with NewsOne channel. The Verkhovna Rada is not able to impose these sanctions on its own, it has to apply to the National Security and Defence Council to approve them.
On this occasion, the journalist V. Cecilo noted: “The sanctions against the two TV channels were initiated by the deputies-journalists. It proves once again that there was not and could never be any journalism in Ukraine. There are only media servants of certain organized crime groups, and foreign grant recipients. Alas, there is no journalism in countries where there is no civil society. There are only individual journalists. And they beat those journalists’ heads in with impunity from time to time“.
The OSCE representative on freedom of the media in this regard noted “I would like to confirm that f reedom of speech and freedom of the media are the basic obligations of the OSCE participating States, which must be respected and implemented” Désir said. “Even within the framework of protecting the interests of national security and countering propaganda, any countermeasures, including restrictions on the rights of media freedom, should be strictly limited in scope, proportionate and protected from abuse by an independent judiciary. I’m concerned about any possible decision to stop or potentially block media activities in Ukraine,” the politician said.
April 4, 2019 In view of the results of the previous competition, the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council gave FM-frequency 104.6 MHz in Kiev to LLC “Ch K”, Kiev (“Radio JAZZ”), which is the subject of litigation with “Vesti. Radio” which in 2017 was illegally refused to renew the license. In “Vesti. Radio”, they note that the frequency can not be considered free, because at the moment they are defending in court their right to continue broadcasting. As well, according to “Vesti. Radio”, the decision of the National Council to refuse to renew the license is politically motivated, because it was taken contrary to the direct ban of the Frankovsky district court in the city of Lvov.
It is important to note that for the first time, in December 2018, going into recess for the new year holidays, the Verkhovna Rada did not introduce a suspension of media checks for the election period. This means that repressions against independent media during the election period will only increase.
In August 2018, journalist of the Ukrainian newspaper Nikvesti Ivan Kazora declared that the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko snatched the microphone from his hands. According to Kazora, he intended to ask a question to the Ukrainian leader about his promises during his visit to “Zorya-Mashproyekt” enterprise in Nikolaev. In may, 2018 Poroshenko declared that hi would allocate several millions hryvnias from the charitable fund for reconstruction of Sobornaya square in Nikolaev. The Ukrainian President called this help “a personal gift to the residents of Nikolaev”. As well, Poroshenko promised to allocate 10-15 million hryvnias from the budget for reconstruction of the municipal stadium. “I had no time to ask when we would see the fulfillment of these promises, Peter Poroshenko grabbed the microphone and put it down with his strength, holding it in his hand, so that he could not hear what he was saying to me. And I was told the following: “You will leave, I’ll tell you,” Kazor wrote on his Facebook page. According to him, at that moment the head of the Nikolayev Oblast Alexei Savchenko pushed him away from Poroshenko.”
Law enforcement agencies are actively conducting searches in the media offices, in the apartments of editors and journalists.These actions are carried out primarily in the independently operating media. Thus, from 2016, searches are regularly conducted in the editorial office of the Media Holding “Vesti”. During the reporting period, in February 2018, there were two seizures of the Holding’s editorial office by security forces,and during the second seizure the editorial office was physically crushed and “activists” settled there.In February 2018, the authorities began to pushback one of the largest TV channels in the country, “1+1” TV Channel, from the National Bank of Ukraine by sending a request in which they demanded to provide data on flow of funds in the Bank accounts of several dozen journalists and presenters led by the famous actor and TV presenter Vladimir Zelensky (who led the protest against the ban of the series “Matchmakers” (“Svaty” in Russian language),and investigative journalist Alexander Dubinsky (he conducted investigations of corruption in power structures, in response to which the presidential Administration demands to accuse him of high treason).
In March 2018, the SSU conducted mass searches in different cities of Ukraine against 25 opposition bloggers and journalists, who were described as “persons assisting the predatory regime in carrying out anti-Ukrainian actions”. In particular, the search of Kiev journalist Yury Lukashin was conducted. It was at the same time that when the journalist and volunteer Olga Reshetilova broke a story that one of the defendants in the “Case of Ruban” nicknamed “Cedar” was Pavel Balov, major of the 8th special forces regiment of special purpose; the defendant called her personally and demanded under duress to remove the information.
The SSU and the Prosecutor’s office actively try to influence the media space.So, in July, 2018 the editors of the Ukrainian sites were visited by SSU officers and offered the “assistance” in tracking “theses of the Russian messaging”. Allegedly, they would advise editors how to recognize information that can be “damaging material” from the neighboring country and sabotage the national security issues. As well, the SSU officers allegedly gave orientations to journalists on how to treat some resonant news of the Ukrainian policy: “In the midst of the scandal with the case Babchenko, we were visited by the SSU officers who explained us for a long time why the story was very important, and that it should be interpreted in such a way as not to jig to the tune of the enemies of Ukraine,” – said the an employee of a major publication. In September 2018 The SsU tried to recruit the journalist of an oppositional publication.
The law enforcement agencies continue to bring pressure to bear upon journalists and their associations. So, once in March 2019, journalists of the regional television and radio company “AVERS” (Lutsk) published an interview with the famous opposition blogger A. Shariy, information appeared about the plans of the SSU to bring criminal proceedings against them. In January 2019, it became known about the attempt of recruiting, blackmailing and subsequent arrest by the SSU and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of V. Seleznev, a journalist who picked photos of Poroshenko’s villa in Spain.
In September 2018 The SSU initiated a check of the NewsOne channel due to the use of the words “war party” and 6 other phrases. In particular, the security service considered the following statements to be “clichés of Russian propaganda”: “war party”, “party of peace” and “Russia protects its interests”. As well, the SSU claims that they heard in the air of the TV channel the phrases “fratricidal war”, “the mechanism of Orthodoxy schism” and “the world doesn’t recognize Russia as an aggressor”. However, the SSU’s letter specifies neither where nor when such phrases were heard. As well, the SSU claims that the TV channel prsenters Ruslan kotsaba, Vyacheslav Pikhovshek and Evgeny Chervonenko allow statements “containing signs of the hidden appeal to aggressive actions and programming of aggressive behavior of the audience”.
At the same time, while the SSU is trying to control local journalists, foreign intelligence agencies kidnap foreign journalists in Ukraine. Thus, in July 2018, Turkish special services kidnapped a Turkish journalist in Ukraine, and took him to Turkey. Later, with reference to sources in the diplomatic sphere, it was reported that round-ups against Turkish citizens living in Ukraine, opponents of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, as well as their extradition to Ankara take place by personal agreement between Erdogan and Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko. In fact, it is a legitimate kidnapping. The OSCE condemned the Ukrainian government for the extradition of journalist in Turkey. The European Parliament called on the Ukrainian authorities to stop the kidnapping of Turkish citizens.
In September 2018, the Prosecutor’s office received permission to access the data in the phone of Kristina Berdinskikh, a journalist of the “Novoye Vremya” magazine. The European Federation of journalists called for an end to involvement in telephone conversations of journalists.
On March 27, 2019, an acquittal was announced in the case of Zaporizhzhya journalist P. Volkov who spent more than a year in remand prison being charged of encroachment on the territorial integrity of Ukraine due to his professional activities.
Investigations of crimes already committed against journalists, including the most grievous crimes, included murders, are not sufficiently investigated, for example, cases against the murderers of Sheremet and Buzina have not been brought to court, and the suspects are released. The trial of the Yu. Krasin accused of organizing the murder of Journalist Yu. Veremey during the events on the Maidan in the winter of 2014 ended in a fiasco: the accused was put on probation for involvement in this murder. The OSCE criticized the probation in the case of the murder of journalist Veremiy. Media associate such a lenient sentence with a long-standing friendship of Krysin with the current head of the Nikolaev regional state administration and former employee of the MIA Organised Crime Division A. Savchenko. As for the incidents that took place during the period from 2015 to 2018, the Office of the high commissioner for human rights (OHCHR) doubts the effectiveness and transparency of the investigation. Police reported a lack of progress in the investigation of the murder of Pavel Sheremet killed in Kiev in July 2016.
A certain innovation implemented by the authorities in the reporting period on restriction of the right to freedom of speech and functioning of independent media was the use of various “experts” and “monitoring organizations” for forming biased reflection of reality.In Ukraine, there are two organisations engaged, namely, the Institute of mass information (IMI) under the leadership of Oksana Romanyuk and “Media Detector” (former NPO “Telekritika”) under the leadership of Natalia Ligacheva. In particular, in March 2018, these organizations carried out a real persecution of the leadership of the National Union of journalists of Ukraine in the person of Sergei Tomilenko. The reason is that he protects all the media from the attacks of the authorities, regardless of their editorial policy. And also due to the fact that he regularly draws attention to the egregious situation with physical violence against journalists. Participants of the media environment consider that many cases of bringing pressure to bear upon journalists are silenced by IMI, thereby distorting the overall picture. It should be noted that MP Leshchenko accused the chief editor of “Media Detector” Natalya Ligacheva of lobbying of interests of Poroshenko and being instructed by the close colleague of the President, the MP Igor Kononenko. Workmanship of these “media experts” can be judged by a quote of Natalia Ligacheva from Facebook: “Will the Tax Inspection, SSU, and others procrastinate with “News” and “Country”for a long time? Three years – isn’t it enough?”.
Partners in conversation with “Strana.UA” in the media environment consider: many cases of bringing pressure to bear upon journalists are silenced by IMI, thereby distorting the overall picture. The fact of existing of a certain secret filter at monitoring of threats directed gainst mass media is confirmed by the head of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU) Sergey Tomilenko. Due to the fact that IMI slants the picture of the pressure to bear upon media, the NUJU even introduced its alternative “Index of physical security” – monitoring of attacks on journalists. “In 2017, we recorded 90 cases of the use of force. Do you know what statistics is reported by IMI? We have 90 attacks, while they have 29. So, as we may talk: look, there’s a problem. While IMI says: it’s Ok, no problem!”, – Tomilenko notes.
Government agencies that are directly related to journalistic activities are also actively creating restrictive measures for the media.The most active is the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council of Ukraine. In January 2018, The National Council came up with a legislative initiative, which is is another restriction of the rights of citizens on the one hand, and on the other hand it is an open intervention in editorial policy. This refers to the legislative restriction of conducting TV programs and broadcastings by politicians. It is impossible to see any logical reasons here, except the desire not to allow political opponents to TV airtime.
Investigative journalists published in July 2018 evidence of President Poroshenko’s involvement in the pressure to bear upon the media and freedom of speech in Ukraine through the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council and its head Yuriy Artemenko. The National Council itself continues to perform censorship functions, meticulously examining the work of opposition and non-government-controlled channels. Thus, in September, unscheduled inspections of 6 TV channels (“1 + 1”, Newsone, “Pervy Kyivsky”, Hromadske, “Pravda Zdes Kiev” and “34” (Dnepr)) were appointed, the channels did not pay due attention to the Day of memory of the “Red Terror” on September 5.
Another initiative restricting freedom of speech is the draft law on defamation, or as it was branded by the Ukrainian Pro-government deputies “the law on fakes”. Such an initiative appeared again in January 2018 after the fake news by TV channel “Rustavi-2” about Poroshenko’s statements to the FSB in 2007, although the TV channel declares them genuine.
There are standards of journalistic ethics, but it is impossible to legally determine the authenticity of any given news, and the harm caused by the potential self-censorship of journalists will be immeasurably greater. The European Court of Human Rights proceeds from this interpretation of article 10 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms: “freedom of expression is linked to ‘duties and responsibilities’, which also apply to the media in relation to matters of serious universal interest. …public officials in the performance of duties, like politicians, subject to wider limits of acceptable criticism than private individuals” (case “Thoma v. Luxembourg”).
In Dundin V. the Russian Federation, the Court found that national courts must strike a balance between the need to protect the reputation of a police officer and the right of a journalist to disseminate information on issues being of general interest. The court also noted that the question was not whether a journalist could prove the validity of the allegations, but whether a sufficiently proven and reliable factual basis commensurate with the nature of the charge could be established. However, social networks have already ridiculed the desire of the authorities to deal with false information, as the main source of fakes in Ukraine is the government itself.
Upward June 2018, direct disconnection of undesirable national channels occur. Thus, in June 2018, the channel “112” was physically disconnected from the broadcast. In September 2018 Broadcasting, Radiocommunications & Television Concern disconnected Public channel “NTU” for alleged debts. On December 31, 2018 provider “Lanet” stopped broadcasting of the TV channel “NewsOne”.
the authorities are threatening bodily harm against unwanted journalists. MP from “Radical party” Igor Mosiychuk called for murders of oppositional journalists. In January 2018, ZIK journalist Natalia Vlashchenko before an interview with an official during the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych Andrei Portnov received “a call from MP from the “People’s front” threatening her: “You know what became of Buzina.” He threatened with right-wing radicals and other people, if the broadcasting had been conducted. MP from the power coalition Pashinsky in April, 2018 threatened journalists of the “Novoye Vremia” newspaper for his corruption activity investigation carried out and published by them.
In February 2018, it was known that the first Deputy Head of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleg Gladkovsky (his former surname was Svinarchuk) accused journalist Alexander Dubinsky of high treason, and demanded the SSU Head Vasily Gritsak to start criminal prosecution. High treason, according to Gladkovsky, consists in Dubinsky’s critical publications about his business.
In September 2018, in his annual address to the Parliament, President Poroshenko put forward the idea of a new restriction of freedom of speech: adoption of the law on registration of the Russian Federation influence agents. Such laws usually appear in countries where politics is under strong international pressure, facing the challenges of international terrorism; or if the state itself is engaged in some kind of expansion that can be achieved with the help of non-governmental structures. And even more often, control over foreign agents is introduced in poor countries, whose governments are looking for ways to find those responsible for their own problems.
The practice of manipulating public opinionand information by the presidential Administration is still ongoing: every month new gag orders are published for journalists and bloggers with “correct interpretation” of the current situation and its necessary public coverage.
For the stance conflicting with the state one on Donbass, and its interpretation in social networks, the State Security Service of Ukraine in January 2018 searched the apartment of the soloist of the Lviv National Opera and Ballet Theatre Nikolai Sanzharevsky, who had previously been included in the database of the site “Myrotvorets”. The dancer is connected to the proceedings under the article of the Criminal Code on material, organizational or other assistance to terrorist group or terrorist organization activities which provides for 8 to 15 years of imprisonment.
Expulsions and arrests of foreign media journalistsare actively practised, they are defined with a non-conventional definition of “propagandists”.In March 2018, SSU expelled from Ukraine the Russian journalist Natalia Goncharova, the employee of TV channel “Russia-24”. According to SSU “in early March, the journalist prepared 4 provocative videos, distributed distorted information in the territory of Ukraine, misinformed the world community and harmed the international image of Ukraine.” In fact, she was expelled for journalistic activities the results of which the SSU did not like. In May 2018 The state border service did not let journalists from Italy, the Czech Republic and Russia in Ukraine who came to write about the anniversary of the tragedy in Odessa on May 2. In June 2018 The journalist of “RIA Novosti” claimed that the SSU tried to recruit her. In December 2018, 4 journalists from Russia were refused entry at the border between Ukraine and Russia. On January 2, 2019, the SSU officers detained and deported to Belarus the founder of news portal “Glavnovosti” Pavel Krnaxytsky “for anti-Ukrainian propaganda.” The statement of the SSU says “he contested the evidence of the presence of troops of the aggressor country in the temporarily occupied territories of our state recognized by the international community.”According to the lawyer of the journalist Andrey Domansky, the security forces did not inform the Centre of free secondary legal aid about the arrest, thereby depriving Pavel Karnazytsky of legal rights to defense.
If previously such practice was not evaluated by international organizations, now the situation has changed. Thus, in June 2018 the OSCE expressed its regret in connection with refusal of Ukraine to admit to its territory the journalists of the Russian TV channels Yevgeny Primakov and Paula Slier: “I reiterate that all OSCE participating states should facilitate free travel for journalists across the region.”
In may 2018, the head of the news Agency “RIA Novosti-Ukraine”, a journalist with dual Russian-Ukrainian citizenship K.Vyshynsky was arrested. – The SSU accuses him of “subversive activities” in the interests of Russia. The wording of charges against Vyshynsky are extremely surprising. The following is written on the SSU website: “as part of the criminal proceedings on the facts of the unleashing an aggressive war in the information sphere by the Russian Federation…» But the fact is that there is no such crime – “aggressive war in the information sphere.” In practice, the SSU began proceedings, but according to the article 437 “Planning, preparation, initiation and waging of aggressive war”. Can this article be applied to a journalist? Very doubtful. For the unleashing of an aggressive war the heads of state can be judged, or the heads of the general staffs, the highest generals, but not a journalist! It was shown by the Nuremberg Trials. As for other charges, according to the State Political Administration message: to put to justice on the basis of part 1 of Art. 111 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine: high treason. Among all the provisions of this article, either “espionage” or “assistance in subversive activities against Ukraine provided to a foreign state, a foreign organization or their representatives” are appropriate. Most likely, the SSU kept in mind just subversive activity because the following is written at the website: “Organization of subversive information campaigns in the framework of a hybrid war against our state.” But there is no responsibility for “hybrid war”, there is for “aggressive war” in the Criminal Code. With regard to “subversive information activities”, the legislation does not explain the meaning of the expression “subversive activities”. Therefore, if the judge does not recognize the information content of of the news Agency “RIA Novosti-Ukraine” as subversive activity, he did not violate the law.
USD 200 thousand and the contract with INA “Russia Today” as of 2014 were presented as evidence base.Hardly it can be a crime for the journalist and the director of news agency . According to the activities launched by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, one of the main goals of Vyshinsky’s arrest was the creation of certain “exchange fund” for the exchange of Sushchenko imprisoned in Russia. The head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Communications Department Artem Shevchenko: “That is why I propose to trade him for Roman Sushchenko. It will be true.”
It is characteristic that at that time there is no criminal case, there is no court decision, but they already offer to trade him for someone. It likely becomes resembles to trafficking in human beings who are our own people!
Another version may be the continuation of the state policy on the attack on freedom of speech on the eve of the presidential election. The OSCE kind of thought so about the arrest of Vyshynsky, as they stated: “I reiterate my call on the authorities to refrain from imposing unnecessary limitations on the work of foreign journalists, which affects the free flow of information and freedom of the media. The fight against propaganda must not fall short of international standards and should not represent disproportionate interference in media activities“. It is important, as the OSCE Representative noted, that foreign media as such should not be included in the sanctions lists.
In 2019 the SSU tries to use Vyshinsky’s case for “cobbling” large-scale spy process in the style of the 1930s, involving other journalists known for their independent and opposition judgments. Thus, in March 2019, Kiev journalist V.Skachko was charged; and a search was conducted by the SSU at his place. Charges included infringement of territorial integrity of Ukraine for articles about the events in the Crimea in 2014 that contained phrases “civil war”, “nenka” (“mom” in English) in quotes, “the Kiev regime”, and creation of criminal group with the employer – K. Vyshinsky – for the publication of articles on the website “RIA-Novosti”. After the search, Skachko was hospitalized. The OSCE Representative on freedom of the media Arlem Desir said he was following the investigation of the case against the journalist: “It is important to establish all the facts and ensure media freedom.” On March 12, 2019, the SSU broke into the apartment of the Kiev journalist Yuri Lukashin.
The monitoring mission of the UN human rights Office in Ukraine in May noted that in the current month alone, “there have been a number of disturbing incidents that require our attention and analysis.” In particular, OHCHR “is studying the situation regarding the attempted arson of the editorial office of Inter TV channel in Kiev on May 9, as well as the searches in Kiev by the security Service of Ukraine in the offices of RIA Novosti Ukraine, and the detention of the Head of its Bureau accused of high treason.”
In November 2018 in Kiev political consultant and TV presenter Vladimir Petrov and blogger Alexander Baraboshko (Krus) were detained, and another blogger Vasiliy Krutchak was searched. This is connected with the involvement of bloggers in the organization of a loud sex scandal in which the Deputy Head of the Department of Economic Protection of the National police, cohbitation partner of the Deputy Head of the State Bureau of investigation Alexander Varchenko was involved. As a result, Baraboshko was arrested for twomonths.
Apart from the media threats is the case of an “attack” against blogger A.Babchenko in May 2018 in Kievorganized the SSU. Less than a day Babchenko was listed as “killed”, and Russian connection was found here at once, by force of habit, without any investigations. Minister Klimkin raised this topic even at the level of the UN Security Council, the support was expressed by British Foreign Minister B. Johnson, and then Babchenko “came to life”! He was solemnly presented by the Head of SSU Vasily Gritsak as an example of a brilliant special-forces aid.
But the reaction from the international community was quite different from one the manipulators expected. The staging was condemned by the international non-governmental organization “Reporters Without Borders”: «RSF(Fr. Reporteurs sans Frontieres) expresses its deepest indignation after discovering the manipulation of the Ukrainian secret services, this new step of a war of information. It is always very dangerous for a government to play with the facts, especially using journalists.” Minster of Foreign Affairs of Belgium Didier Reynders condemned Ukraine for staging a murder Babchenko: “We are not fighting with the fake news using other fake news. I don’t think the same methods should be used.” The OSCE representative on freedom of the media Harlem Desir condemned the decision of Kiev to spread false information about the murder of the Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko. “Relieved that Arkady Babchenko is alive! I deplore the decision to spread false information on the life of a journalist. It is the duty of the state to provide correct information to the public.”said Desir. The Committee for the protection of journalists (CPJ) asked the Ukrainian authorities to explain the need to stage the death of journalist Arkady Babchenko calling it “emergency measures”. Staging the murder of journalist Arkady Babchenko by the security services of Ukraine can undermine trust in the free press and be used to fuel propaganda. This statement was made by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. In turn, the State Political Administration has threatened every Ukrainian media and all the politicians who have not supported the “special special-forces aid”: the Press Secretary of the Prosecutor General Larisa Sargan published a list of those politicians who criticized the work of the Ukrainian Security Service. At that, the SSU changed the version about “the killer” of Babchenko several times a daypublished and denied the existence of a list of alleged new “victims” of assassination.
The authorities are also trying to limit in every way the freedom of expression of thoughts and ideas on the part of opposition deputies. Thus, in June 2018, the Prosecutor General’s Office files a case over high treason against the MP Murayev for expressing value judgments regarding the ambiguous approach to the prisoner in Russia O. Sentsov. Incriminated articles: part 1 of article 111 (high treason) and part 2 of article 383 (knowingly false report of a crime) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. Let us make this quotation in full: “ From the point of view that the man planned arson attacks and explosions, for a part of the population he is a terrorist, for the nationalist part he is, probably, 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.MP A. Gopko in May 2018 after the Victory Day concert on the TV channel “Inter” 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, members of the parliamentary Committee on freedom of speech tried to ban the broadcast of the World Cup in Russia. They even supported the draft resolution on the prohibition of the world Cup matches, the exclusive rights to which the TV channels “inter” and “NTN”had. The project was not supported in the sessionhall. But the very fact of such a project violates European norms. In particular, the EU Directive on audiovisual services provides for the right of public access to significant sporting events, to which the world Cup clearly refers. Characteristic reaction to such a ban of the President of the football Federation Andrei Pavelko: “I am for the ban, but I will watch football – on foreign channels.”What to do the rest of the fans, officials and deputies do not care. MP from the faction “people’s front” Sergei Vysotsky, at a meeting of the Committee on freedom of speech on June 20, 2018, announced the need to “destroy” the TV channel with alleged “Russian roots”. In June 2018, MPs from the BPP and “People’s Front” factions put a bill No. 6688 on the agenda, allowing to block any site in the country without a trial. Controlled by the deputies of BPP and the People’s Front, the regulatory Committee proposed to ban filming of MPs in the Parliament, and to give the opportunity to withdraw already filmed videos.
In October 2018, The Verkhovna Rada Committee on information policy and freedom of speech recommended the Parliament to adopt in the first reading the draft law No. 9068, authorizing the national Council on television and radio broadcasting to fine TV and radio organizations for “justifying the occupation of Ukraine”. The meeting was essentially secret, it was not announced publicly. Accordingly, all interested representatives of the press, the public and TV channels could not attend this meeting. The bill banned “statements justifying and recognizing the lawful occupation of the territory of Ukraine, if such a broadcast is aimed at inciting hatred and enmity”.
The second pain of prohibitions is the use of terminology that contradicts the law on “reintegration of Donbass”. He, we will remind, calls Russia the aggressor country, and “DNR” and “LNR” – occupation administrations. This is the most uncertain point. And so it gives a wide field for interpretation by the Supervisory authorities. Enough to listen to the broadcast of the “Donetsk people’s Republic” (albeit with the prefix “the self”) – and theoretically, the TV channel or radio station waiting for a big fine.
For the above violations, the national Council for television and radio broadcasting fines TV and radio organizations by 25% of the license fee. In addition, the bill increases the responsibility of the broadcasters (up to 25% of the amount of the license fee, and without sanctions in the form of warnings) for broadcasting the TV programs produced after August 1, 1991 containing promotion or propaganda of the aggressor’s authorities. The Main Expert Directorate of the Verkhovna Rada noted that the law can not be adopted in such a form. Lawyers stressed that the text of the document did not explain the meaning of the phrase “inciting hatred and enmity”, that is, this provision of the law can be interpreted in two different ways. Lawyers consider that “According to the offered formulation, if broadcasting of the statements justifying and recognizing lawful occupation of the territory of Ukraine is carried out without the purpose of incitement of hostility and hatred, such actions are lawful“, – the Main Expert Driectorate of Rada noted.
It is obvious that the main practical purpose of the bill is to wean TV channels from inviting speakers who have an alternative point of view on the events taking place in the Donbass. Thus, no guest in the TV and radio Studio (and certainly not a media owner or employee) will be ever able to express the opinion that there is a “civil conflict” in the East of Ukraine. Also, it will be impossible to talk about the fault of Kiev for the events in the Donbass or in the Crimea – it will be an excuse for the aggressor country. In case of multiple violations, the national Council may initiate revocation of the license. And since there are a lot of restrictions in the law, and it will be difficult to comply with them, it is possible that they will gear up for revoking licenses.
On November 20, 2018 a bill №9306 on amendments to the Criminal and Criminal Procedural codes of Ukraine on the establishment of liability for libel was introduced in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. Legislative initiative was shown by three MPs from BPP. They proposed to set the penalty for libel from fines in the amount of 200 to 500 tax-free minimum incomes of citizens (UAH 3400-8500) and correctional tasks to imprisonment for 3 years. This bill grossly violates the procedure of civil liability of journalists for libel adopted in democratic countries. In this regard, the National Union of Journalists Of Ukraine (NUJU) calls for a boycott of bill No. 9306 on the criminalization of libel.
On March 2, 2019, another bill aimed at restricting freedom of speech (No. 10139) was presented to the Verkhovna Rada. Its author – a Deputy from the party “people’s front” Lapin proposes to establish criminal liability for disseminating false information in the media and the Internet, regardless of the fact whether they are deliberately distributed or as a result of an error. In the first case, the author of the bill proposes to punish the “guilty” with a fine (up to $ 1900), or correctional tasks for up to 2 years. It is also proposed to ban broadcasting of programs in which “the participation of the aggressor state in the armed aggression against Ukraine is denied or justified”. The National Union of Journalists of Ukraine called the scandalous bill №10139 another attack on the rights of journalists and stressed upon the fatigue of repelling attacks on journalists. The bill has already been opposed by such public organizations as “Platform of Human Rights”, “Digital Safety Lab”, “Freedom House”, “Detector media” and others.
Journalists are simply attacked and beaten in the performance of their duties. The number of attacks on media workers has increased. In January-March 2018, the NPO “Institute of Mass Information” recorded 71 cases of violations of freedom of speech, while in the same period of 2017 there were 52 such cases. The National Union of Journalists of Ukraine recorded 21 cases of physical aggression against journalists for the same period. OHCHR documented 12 similar cases. In two cases, the perpetrators were identified as police officers, in three cases – as members of extreme right-wing groups; in other six cases where the perpetrators could not be identified, the victims were journalists who investigated allegations of corruption at a regional or national level.
In March, Berdyansk journalist Vladimir Demin was beaten at a rally of ATO veterans,. The authorities are reluctant to investigate the case. “It seems that the local police are afraid of these so-called activists, who use the title of war veterans to do just what they want,” he said“, – told Vladimir Demin.
Особенно активно преследует журналистов, находящаяся под контролем СБУ, группировка «С14»: 25 Dec, after the publication of the investigation activities of the group, her head attacked the chief editor of “Страны.UA” of the Igor Guzhva; in January 2018, its members attacked the editor of the Church newspaper in Kiev. On July 18, in Kiev, near Holoseievski district court there was a conflict between the journalist of Gromadsky Igor Burdyga and nationalists from C14. The journalist was in court on an editorial assignment. The journalist left the court and was surrounded by representatives of the C14 and its leader, Yevhen Karas gave the journalist a slap in the face. In September 2018, the leader of the Ukrainian radical group “Bratstvo” (“Brotherhood”) Dmitry Korchynsky threatened to kill the NewsOne TV channel journalist, who had previously been beaten by radicals. He posted the threats on his Facebook page. The NEWSONE’s journalist Daryna Bilera Daria was beaten on September 17. She was reporting about clashes between the members of nationalist movements and the police were taking place near the General Prosecutor’s Office, but suddenly she was attacked by radicals, they started offending the journalist, also throwing eggs right at her, and kicked her in the ear. Police officers at the scene were inactive. Another journalist of journalist of the TV channel Anastasiya Pshenichnaya was attacked by nationalists in October 2018 at the time of her report beneath the Prosecutor General’s office. She was poured over with glue. At first, the police detained the attackers. However, “C14” activists were standing up and liberated their “colleagues”. Tellingly, both attacks were committed by the radicals who collaborated with the power for quite a long time – “C14”, openly collaborating with the SSU, and “Bratstvo” of Korchynsky. And it’s not the only connection of the attacks with the highest leadership of the country.
Physical attacks on journalists continued in 2019. According to the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine, in 2018, they recorded 86 cases of physical aggression against media workers, against 89 cases in 2017. Obvious leadership in this anti-rating belongs to the city of Kiev and Kiev Oblast, in particular, 29 incidents of physical aggression were recorded. During the first two months of 2019, they recorded 13 cases of physical aggression against journalists in Ukraine, namely, 7 in January and 6 in February. Most 5 attacks on journalists were recorded in Kyiv Oblast, 2 attacks in Odessa, one attack in Kherson. Another 5 incidents took place in Western Ukraine, in particular, 2 of them in Bukovina, and one attack each in Lviv, Transcarpathia and Ternopil Oblast. In particular, in January 2019 in the Goloseevsky district in the city of Kiev the unknown beat and robbed journalists of the project “Stop to corruption” Alexander Zolotnik and Vladislav Marchenko, who were preparing a story on illegal mining of sand. On February 9, 2019 during the detention of C14 group representatives of the near the Podolsk District Police Department of Kiev, law enforcement officers broke the microphone and did not give back the camera tripod. On February 22 in Kiev the journalist’s car was burned down completely. The journalist connects the incident with his professional activity. Daniel Yakovlev from ZIK TV channel, the program “Warpaths” was beaten on February 26 in the performance of professional duties, and he was not allowed into the premises of the Central Military Medical Commission of the Ministry of Defense in Kiev. Further, in March 2019, with the participation of the Deputy head of the Village Council near Kiev, a journalist was beaten, and the operator of Radio Liberty was concussed. A criminal proceedings was opened upon under Art. 171 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (“obstruction of legitimate professional activities of journalists”). In February 2019, journalist, presenter of the TV channel ZIK N. Vlashchenko was threatened by imprisoned fighters of “Tornado” unit. On March 17, at the meeting of President Petro Poroshenko in Mikhailovskaya square in Kiev, during an attempt to ask the President a question, the “titushkas” attacked the journalist of “Strana.ua” A. Chernenko.
A rash of attacks on journalists of the TV channel coincided with the campaign launched against the channels NewsOne and “112” in the political plane, in the form of sanctions against TV channels. At the TV channels themselves, the editorial policy, which allows speakers to criticize the current government, is considered the prime cause of the problems. On 20 March 2019 The National Security and Defense Council instructed the Security Service of Ukraine to complete the inspection of legal entities for imposing sanctions against TV channels NewsOne and “112 Ukraine”. It was stated in the message delivered by the press service of the Council. It should be noted that in accordance with Art. 1 and 5 of the Law of Ukraine “On sanctions”, sanctions are applied to legal entities – residents of Ukraine only if they are involved in terrorist activities.
The leader of “C14” group urged to bear with the desire to kill the journalist, and called it “human nature”. According to him, some cases of attacks on journalists in Ukraine are justified. He declared it in the air of the channel “Magnolia-TV”. The head of “C14” right-wing radicals believes that attacks on journalists are a “people’s justice”, to which people, in his opinion, resort due to the fact that the authorities do not cope with their duties. Such statements provide in fact criminal punishment as justifying violence over journalists, but there is no reaction of the authorities.
Right-wing radicals also attack foreign journalists in Ukraine. In December 2018, the Austrian ORF TV channel Christian Wehrschutz, who was in Ukraine, asked the government of his country for help. The media representative said he feared for his life, and complained that the Ukrainian authorities created obstacles to work: In Ukraine there are militarised and ultranationalist groups that threaten journalists illuminating the policies of the leadership of Ukraine from a critical point of view. Two journalists were already killed, I don’t want to be the next.” The reporter added that on one of the Ukrainian sites he was called an “agent of the Kremlin”, and stressed upon that he and his employees in the Ukrainian territory could be threatened with physical violence. Far-right opponents of the Marsh for the rights of the transgender people attacked Canadian journalist Michael Colborne and two Ukrainian journalists during the marsh in the Ukrainian capital on November 18. The attackers broke the Canadian’s glasses. After that, the Council of Europe assigned the first level of danger to the absence of state reaction to the attacks of right-wing radical groups on journalists in Ukraine.
The practice of expulsion and prohibition of entry into Ukraine of foreign journalists criticizing the Ukrainian authorities continues is still ongoing. The chief of the Ukrainian bureau of the Austrian TV channel ORF, Christian Wehrschutz, has been banned from entering Ukraine. Among other things, he had scheduled interviews with candidates for the presidency Yu. Timoshenko and V. Zelensky. The Union of journalists of Austria criticized Ukraine’s ban on entry of the Austrian journalist. Federal Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs of Austria Karin Kneissl and the OSCE representative on freedom of the media, Harlem Desir called upon the Ukrainian authorities to lift the ban on entry into Ukraine from the Austrian journalist. Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs called these actions of the Ukrainian authorities “an act of censorship.” Later, on March 14, it became known about the non-admission and ban on entry to Ukraine for 3 years of a Canadian journalist accredited to the Central Election Commission and went to cover the election. The reason for the ban was the information that the journalist visited the Crimea. Ukrainian Authorities considered that the journalist posed a threat to national security. On March 24, 2019, Italian journalist Marc Innaro and his colleague-operator were not allowed to enter Ukraine by employees of the State border service. Journalists planned to cover the upcoming election. On March 21, 2019, three employees of the SSU under the guise of employees of the Migration Service broke into the apartment of the Moldovan and Russian journalist Rita Bondar. They threatened the journalist with initiation of criminal proceedings under article 161 of the Criminal Code (Violation of equality of citizens) and forced her to cooperate. On March 27, The SSU confirmed that, together with the State Migration Service, they decided to expel the Moldovan and Russian journalist Margarita Bondar from the territory of Ukraine and ban her entry for 3 years. The SSU said that Bondar allegedly published false and provocative materials about the violation of the rights of national minorities by representatives of nationalist organizations and the alleged inaction of the Ukrainian law enforcement system.
In October 2018, once again for the 5th time, the court did not consider the case on the attack on the reporter of “Magnolia-TV”. If earlier the court was postponed because of the non-appearance of the defendant, that time the problem was in the Prosecutor. The Secretary came in the corridor from the courtroom and said: sorry, the Prosecutor felt ill. The next session was appointed not earlier than on February 18.
In December 2018, The chief editor of “Novyi Chas” magazine, the member of the Secretariat and of the Presidium of the Lviv Regional NUJU Department Andrey Danilets claimed that he was threatened from the People’s Deputy, member of fraction “Radical party” Andrey Lozovoy, and related the incident to the recent publication in the magazine. The article being allegedly the reason of threats from Lozovoy told about the leader of the “Radical party” Oleg Lyashko called by the author “Ukrainian Zhirinovsky” and generally described the biography of the famous politician.
On December 27, a briefing of the Odessa Mayor Gennady Trukhanov took place in the building of Malinovsky District Court, after the court session in the case of the mayor. “Radio Liberty” Journalist Mikhail Shtekel wanted to ask his question, but Trukhanov decided to urgently finish the briefing, went to the Plug and not saying that he wants to go, pushed him into the hands of his ecurity.
The National Union of Journalists of Ukraine reported on the fact of obstruction of journalistic activity. The victim is a well-known journalist Antonina Beloglazova famous for working for the controversial blogger Anatoly Shariy. She complained that on June 21, during the action of several right-wing organizations near the head office of the capital patrol police, she was attacked by protesters. Beloglazova claimed that she was poured over with an unknown chemical solution, it hit her on the head and caused red spots and itching. In July, 2018 radicals in Nikolaev attacked journalists, but the police didn’t prevent.
Blocking of undesirable TV channels by controlled “activists”are still ongoing. In may 2018, ultra-right members of the “National corps” blocked the TV channel “Inter” in connection with the Victory Day concert, . The main thing that caused their anger was the phrase from the promo video: “Eight million Ukrainians died at the hands of the fascist invaders – this is our history, this is our genetic memory. And today, we can’t let the streets of our cities to be named after Nazi criminals, and their portraits with impunity to be carried in the torchlight processions in the capital, where every meter is drenched with the blood of our compatriots.” Later they tried to set fire to the administration of the channel. In December 2018, several dozen radicals of the group “UNA-UNSO” came under the TV channel “NASH” of Yevgeny Murayev, and tried to block its work. “Protesters” tried to cover the building the TV channel is located in with barbed wire, but they failed to do so. The head of “NASH” TV channel Tigran Martirosyan noted that “protesters” did not understand why they came and what their own demands consisted in.
Besides, other types of pressure are exerted on TV channels that are not under the control of the authorities. Thus, in June 2018, the owner of the premises, leased by the channel “112” demanded to release it, and a DDoS attack began on the channel. In July 2018, the Pro-government network of fake accounts in the network controlled by the authorities initiated a mass blocking of opposition bloggers in the Internet.
During the election, the candidates’ staffs actively used journalistic documents for the purpose of pre-election campaigning and influencing the election. In particular, according to NUJU, in Kiev on the eve of the day of voting, unauthorized persons were hired for working as observers with journalistic badges at polling stations iin the capital. In Zhytomyr Oblast, mass registration of journalists in polling stations from the same publications was registered, however their names were not entered in some certificates. In particular, we are talking about the journalists of such newspapers as “Popilnya na Doloniakh”, “Ruzhin na Doloniakh” and “Dilovyi Berdychiv”, who were registered by two, and three at a time and behaved aggressively. In Khmelnitsky Oblast, voting process at the polling station was freely controlled by the Chairman of the Village Council personally, upon presentation of a journalistic certificate.
Foreign countries and international organizations began to actively point to the oppressive situation with freedom of speech in Ukraine. “Events around the media may be retaliation for the critical nature of the materials Strana.ua’s reporting, including in relation to high-ranking government officials,” OSCE Representative on Freedom of the MediaHarlem Désir wrote in the report. 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. 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 heю
According to the Amnesty International report in relation to Ukraine, the year of 2018 was marked by violations of freedom of speech and media. Criminal cases were initiated against those who openly challenged the official version of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. Those who criticized the authorities on topics related to corruption were persecuted and intimidated. On 4 October, the Ukrainian Parliament has taken the unprecedented step of taking the closure of channels 112 and NewsOne, who regularly criticized the Ukrainian authorities. Anti-corruption journalists Natalia Sedletskaya and Kristina Berdinskikh in late August found that the Pechersk District Court of Kiev allowed the Prosecutor General’s office to track the location of their phones, call logs and text messages. Vasily Muravitsky, a journalist from Zhytomyr, faced many charges, including high treason, threat to the territorial integrity of Ukraine, participation in terrorist activities and incitement to hatred. All charges stem from his work on Russian-language websites suspected by the SSU of administering from the territory of Russia or from territories under the control of separatists in the Eastern Ukraine. The authorities arrested him on 2 August 2017. The trial against Vasily Muravitsky was overshadowed by a number of violations, including intimidation of the lawyer, pressure from the SSU and far-right groups. The key evidence against Muravitsky was his employment relationship with the Russian news agency RIA Novosti. The mere fact is not a criminal offence under Ukrainian law. The SSU also published a list of articles written by Muravitsky which allegedly violated the Criminal Code of Ukraine. Amnesty International analyzed those articles and could not find statements that contained calls for violence or incitement to hatred, or signs of any other crime.
In October 2018, international organization IREX noted the decline in the media index and defined the media in Ukraine as “Near Sustainability”, according to the Media Sustainability Indexfor 2018. The following negative trends are noted in the report: blocking websites from Russia, issues related to the work of the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council, excessive requirements for licensing digital TV, decisions on licensing are politicized, harassment of journalists, in particular “surge of violations by the security Service of Ukraine”, attacks on journalists, regular interference of media owners in editorial policy.
Europe is seriously concerned about the problem of freedom of speech in Ukraineand the government’s attacks on unwanted media and journalists. In July 2018, the European Parliament were ready to exert pressure on the responsible persons, whose actions lead to the violation of the rights of journalists and threatened freedom of speech, and urged countries to introduce the monitoring of freedom of speech in Ukraine for the election period in 2019.
According to the OHCHR report on the human rights situation in Ukraine (March 2019),, attacks against journalists are often not classified under the criminal article “interference into the activities of journalists’”, which would allow the attackers to be put in prison (instead, the attackers are charged but with simple hooliganism). “Such attitude of law enforcement officers leads to an increase in impunity. Investigators, thus, deny journalists the protection guaranteed by the law”, – state the UN. Also, the manipulation of the law aimed to arrest of opposition journalists are noted separately: “The authorities interpreted the provisions of the criminal law on terrorism, treason and encroachment on the territorial integrity of Ukraine in their own way. It was during the proceedings against journalists, bloggers and users of social networks for posting or reposting information that was considered as anti-Ukrainian one.”
The Department of State issued a report concerning human rights, including in Ukraine for 2018, pointed to various types of violations of journalists’ rights in Ukraine. So, the facts of pressure by the authorities on mass media employees were reported. For example, the chief editor of the weekly magazine Novoye Vremya reported threats to the journal’s editorial staff by the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on National security and former head of Ukroboronprom Sergei Pashinsky, as well as the Deputy Chairman of the National Security and Defence Council Oleg Gladkovsky. There were cases when pro-Russian, according to the authorities, journalists were arrested and prosecuted under the pretext of national security. Thus, the report mentioned the case of Kirill Vyshinsky, chief editor of RIA Novosti Ukraine. The Committee for the protection of journalists, Reporteurs sans Frontieres and the OSCE representative on freedom of the media expressed concern about the case. As well, the authorities deported and banned foreign journalists. On July 10, border guards banned the entry for John Warren Graham Broderip, a British citizen and presenter of Russian TV channel NTV, and imposed a three-year ban for violating by him the rules of entry to the Crimea in 2015. Attacks by nationalist groups against journalists were also reported. For example, on July 19, the members of C14 in Kiev attacked the journalist who covered the trial for the attack against the Roma. The Department of State also noted that there was no progress in the investigation of the murder of Pavel Sheremet. And there is still no verdict in the murder of Oles Buzina. Personal search on 21 February 2018 was reported as well. Several journalists who came to the trial for treason committed by former President Yanukovych reported that police officers forced them to get off clothes, and undergo a humiliating search procedure. Only after that they could get access to the courtroom, where Poroshenko testified through conference connection. Cases of arbitrary detention of SSU journalists are also highlighted. Thus, on March 12, 2018 The SSU searched the apartment of the opposition journalist in Kharkov. The suspect was presented with a search warrant, but was not allowed to contact his lawyer. After the SSU had seized a plastic bottle with ammunition cartridges, which was allegedly found in the journalist’s apartment, he was taken to the regional department section, where he was interrogated for 12 hours – and later released without formal charges.
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. In particular, in electoral 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 becamethe 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 Oblast 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”.
The value of all these changes is intensified by the fact that they will take place shortly before the Presidential election. 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.. Therefore, in the regions it was a paradoxical situation on the eve of election, when broadcasting in the absence of digital decoders was implemented only by regional broadcasters and “UA.Pershyi”, which very often acted from the position of support of only Pro-government candidates.
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 citizenson 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.
In October 2018, The Committee on information and communication at its meeting considered the bill No.8602 on public electronic registers and recommended the Verkhovna Rada to adopt it as a basis. This bill proposes to create a common system of registers, to identify common requirements for maintenance and administration for all databases, etc. Also, electronic interaction System “Trembita” was developed which will help to combine all the registers with each other. All these measures will allow the state to quickly monitor citizens and get all the information it needs very quickly, for example, to refuse subsidies, control expenses, movements, etc. As well, there is a question of security of such a consolidated database including all the citizens of Ukraine, which, given the existing practice, can be very easily sold to criminals.
The situation withthe protection of personal datain Ukrainian state structures is extremely sad. In April 2018, representatives of the regional center for education quality assessment in Kiev found out personal and confidential information from underage students under the guise of a questionnaire: the questionnaire included questions about how many cars and computers, and mobile phones were in the family of the child. It should be noted that the survey was carried out without the participation of parents, and this alone violated the rights of children.
The state bodies of Ukraine continue to perform censorship functionsby watching and listening to television and radio programs, and looking for riot in their content, and punishing the undesirables for that. In January 2018, The National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council (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 LLC “Radio and TV channel “112” until 7:58. The licensee is pointed finger that violation of the applicable law in future is inadmissible.” In April 2018, 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 9thCompany”, 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.
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.
Against such background, there was a scandal in the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council, and the first Deputy Head of the National Council Olga Gerasimyuk filed an application for dismissal. The well-known journalist accused the Pro-presidential wing of this structure of manipulating freedom of speech.
Gerasimyuk said that such behavior of the regulatory authority is unacceptable, and the principle “first the fines, then licenses” only shows the level of engagement. “I am back from a business trip, I thought, I read a manipulated message, which I consider unacceptable on the official website of the National Council. I can not be in a situation where decisions in a collegial body are made nontransparently, when you are assigned the role of an extra who just has to come to the meeting and provide a quorum. My name is Olya, not “Quorum,” she explained.
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. 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.
In February 2019, The SSU announced a new list of Internet sites “threatening the national security of Ukraine” for blocking: “This year, another 100 sites have been submitted, and in the near future, the next presidential decree will introduce a decision of the NSDC for blocking these sites.”
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 introduced in 2017 is continuing. At the same time, in October 2018, Facebook was in the first place among social networks in terms of attendance (55%), but Vkontakte was in the second place (31%). As we can see, the Ukrainians actively get round the prohibitory pains of the Ukrainian government to block out media.
At the same time, the courts continue to sentence the administrators of anti-Ukrainian pages in “Odnoklassniki” and “VKontakte”. “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 SSU reports. 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. In August, the arrests of “anti-Ukrainian” social network administrators repeatedly condemned by the OSCE continued. In February 2019,, the Prosecutor’s office in Odessa sent to the court an indictment against a 38-year-old inhabitant of Odessa, who was suspected of distributing separatist publications through reposts in social networks. In October 2018, the SSU in Odessa exposed a local resident, who disseminated anti-Ukrainian materials through the social network. In total, the SSU in 2018 charged 49 people for “anti-Ukrainian propaganda” in social networks, 20 sentences were awarded by the courts.
In 2019, arrests for “reposts” continued. On January 22, the SSU reported that they established the identity of a Russian journalist in Sumy, who allegedly administered and carried out the information content of anti-Ukrainian Internet communities “by order of the Russian special services”. On January 24, the SSU reported about the detention of the inhabitant of Kiev, in the same wording. Investigators claimed that the man helped the Russian intelligence services to interfere in electoral processes in Ukraine through social networks. On February 15, the SSU reported that they blocked an attempt of the Russian Federation to intervene in the electoral process in Ukraine. Allegedly, curators from the Russian Federation engaged the residents of the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast in distributing provocative materials that affect the electoral mood of the population through social networks. On February 25, the SSU announced the detention of another resident of Dnipro, who, according to the SSU, “was e – mailing with a resident of Russia, who tried to get data on the communication network used for the election of the President of Ukraine.” On March 12, the SBU reported on the detention of social network users for published information. According to them, there was an “agent network of the Main Directorate of the General staff of Russia” in the territories of Donbass controlled by Ukraine, which was engaged in distribution in social networks of “anti-government actions by allegedly Patriotic forces” aimed at fighting corruption and impeachment of the incumbent President on the eve of election. Four “agents-informants”were remained in custody. On March 21, SSU detained “a network of anti-Ukrainian Internet-propagandists consisted of four inhabitants of Nikolaev and four inhabitants of Odessa”. According to SSU, their activities consisted in producing “Internet materials with signs of separatist content aimed at artificially aggravating the socio-political situation in the region on the eve and during the presidential election in the country.” Extremely vague accusation subject to any opposition statement, in the current Ukrainian reality. In April 2019, in the Odessa Oblast, the SSU detained an Internet propagandist who “regularly posted information on personal pages in social networks and called upon changes in the state border and the constitutional system of Ukraine.”
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).
Despite repeated condemnation by international human rights organizations, the Myrotvorets website continues its activities.OHCHR declared that the web-site published personal data of people calling them the followers of the actioners and “terrorism”. Such a list violates the presumption of innocence, the right to privacy and the protection of personal data, besides, it is often used as the sole basis for detention of a person. There has been still no progress in the criminal investigation of the case against the Myrotvorets website. Some personal data of Ukrainian journalists (sometimes, with scanned copies of passports), previously published on “Myrotvorets” are transferred to a similar site “Center “Parasite”. From September 2018, Ukrainians from Zakarpattia who received Hungarian citizenship are included in the “Myrotvorets” database. In total, data of 313 people from Zakarpattia were published in the public domain. A whole group of priests of the UOC is also included in this site database. As well, the site database contains data of journalists. Thus, in March 2019 the journalist O. Medvedeva was entered in the site database, she revealed Poroshenko’s electoral “Net”. It should be noted that the website “Myrotvorets” is actively used by Ukrainian law enforcement agencies in their work, despite repeated denials of this fact. For example, in relation to ban of certain persons from the territory of Ukraine. Very often, they appeal to investigating judges with a request for information retrieval from communication channels (phone numbers) solely according to the information posted on the website “Myrotvorets”. The use of these website “Myrotvorets” by the judicial system, as reflected in the decisions of certain judges, violates article 6 of the European Convention on human rights and fundamental freedoms, which guarantees everyone the right to a fair trial. The The National Bank of Ukraine refers to the website “Myrotvorets” as to one of the bases for obtaining data for financial monitoring (NBU letter dated 17.05.17 No.25-0008/35441).
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).
In February 2019, The Ministry of Defense sent the Cabinet of Ministers proposals on change the legislation on the military situation that restrict the rights and freedoms. They simply prohibit the use of radio frequency devices during the state of war or emergency. Moreover, “the list of such “electronic devices” includes among others mobile phones,” – said the expert of communications and technology market Roman Khimich. The fact that mobile phones can also be included in the list of prohibited devices was confirmed by the ex-head of Kyivstar Petr Chernyshev. It turns out that the authorities are trying to be safe from the new Maidan, hoping that such restrictions on the use of mobile phones will prevent people from self-organizing. As a result, this project was approved by the Cabinet and transferred to the Verkhovna Rada in March 2019 in the form of draft law No. 10142.
In the end of February 2019, the SSU organized a DoS attack on the Internet publication “Strana.UA” website which published shortly before the information about vote-buying through Poroshenko’s electoral “Net”. According to journalists in Kiev IT circles, one of private structures engaged in cyberattacks was the performer of the action. And the customer was the SSU. The attack was also carried out at the data center of the OVH provider in France. A criminal case was opened.
In October 2018, Freedom House in its rating “Freedom on the net” defined Ukraine as “partially free” in terms of freedom on the Internet and occupying the 45th place. While in 2012 it was defined as absolutely free” and took the 25th place. Human rights activists noted that “Despite the fact that the Revolution of Dignity took place in Ukraine, after which democratic values should reign, the level of freedom in the Ukrainian Internet continued to decline.” Reporting experts attribute this fact to signs of censorship in the Internet, blocking content and harassment for messages in social networks. In addition, Ukrainian experts attribute this to the aspirations of law enforcement agencies to “control and prohibit” freedom of speech in the Internet, despite Ukrainian legislation. Also, experts noted extrajudicial blocking of Internet resources in Ukraine by relevant decisions of various authorities.
According to the report concerning human rights issued by the Department of State, including in Ukraine for 2018, the authorities regulate and censor information that is considered a threat to national security – especially the one that is arbitrarily defined as “Pro-Russian”. In this context, the Department of State recalled the ban on websites, TV channels and social networks. Moreover, non-compliance with these prohibitions was used to pressure the media. For example, on January 25, TV channel “Inter” received a notification from the SSU on the check connected with broadcasting of “forbidden films”. And on October 4, the Parliament called upon sanctions against TV channels 112 and NewsOne in relation to their allegedly Pro-Russian activities.
Discrimination on Linguistic and Ethnic Basis. Limitation of Rights of Non-Ukrainian-Speaking Citizens
During the reporting period anti-Semitism accidents, Russian and other 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.
The draft law containing discriminatory and degrading norms of citizens of Ukraine was presented in March 2018 at the Institute of the future. It is a draft laaw called “On forgiveness”, its author is BYuT ex-member, the head of all-Ukrainian public movement “Force of the right” Andrey Senchenko. According to the text of the draft law, residents of Crimea and the territory of Donbass beyond the control of the Ukrainian government, will have the opportunity to apologize for being in these territories during the annexation of Crimea and the anti-terrorist operation, which has been going on for the fourth year. The residents of Donbass will have to apologize in writing to the Ukrainian people and the state.
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 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.
IIn 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 marsh devoted to 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”, volunteer regiment “OUN”, regiment “Karpatskaia Sech”, regiment “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. In December 2018, the Ukrainian military launched a flash drive under the hashtag “stormtrooper”, the essence of which was to publish photos with a stripe in the form of the emblem of the SS division “Totenkopf” – a skull.
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. At the same time, in the same city of Lviv the Monument of Glory dedicated to the fallen soldiers of the great Patriotic war was being dismantled in the period from January to March 2019. This monument did not fall under the law on decommunization.
In December 2018, The Ministry of education and science of Ukraine obliged the publisher and authors of the textbook on the history of Ukraine for the 10th year to remove the mention of cooperation of one of the leaders of Ukrainian nationalists Roman Shukhevych and the SS Galizien Division with the Nazi army units. This was reported by the director of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee Eduard Dolinskii.
In May 2018 Kyiv Council took a decision to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Koliivshyna on May 29. 83 persons voted the corresponding decision. 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,” but this did not stop the celebration.
In June 2018, in the interview with Insider magazine, the chief military Prosecutor of Ukraine A.Matios in his comments compared the suspect in the organization of the assassination attempt on the Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko – Boris Herman – with the figure of the Russian and German social democratic movement of the early XX century Alexander Parvus, by which he ambiguously hinted at the existence of a Jewish conspiracy. This statement was regarded by the American magazine Newsweek as support for anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. According to the text of the article, it was a “sharp reminder” of the manifestations of anti-Semitism and racism in the public discourse of Ukraine. In September 2018, when trying to justify renaming of another street in Kiev named after the Soviet intelligence officer tortured by the Nazis in Kiev, I. Kudria, pro-government journalist M. Veresen accused him of organizing murders committed by the Germans in Babii Yar. According to Veresen, he mined and blew up the street Khreshchatyk; kievans lost their homes and began to murmur. The Germans decided to appease the residents of the city and shoot all the Jews, including children and women, who in the eyes of Ukrainians were associated with the NKVD. As it was noted by the director of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee E. Dolinskii, this heavy nonsense based on the denial of the Holocaust was caused by the need to support renaming of the Hero of the Soviet Union Ivan Kudria after Senator McCain. To do this, a campaign of lies against the hero-scout was launched, and even the Holocaust was lugged into.
In September 2018, the head of the Verkhovna Rada A.Parubiy on a TV talk-show program called A. Hitler the “greatest Democrat.” In July 2018 documents were presented at the exhibition in the Verkhovna Rada devoted to the proclamation of the Ukrainian state in Lviv in 1941 according to which “the Reviving Ukrainian State will work closely with the National Socialist great Germany, which under the leadership of its Leader Adolf Hitler creates a new order in Europe and in the world.“In September 2018 greeting of Ukrainian nationalists cooperating with Hitler during the Second world war “Glory to Ukraine!” recognized as an official greeting in the AFU.
In January 2019, a commemorative plaque in tribute to anti-Semite, OUN ideologist and Nazi collaborator Dmitry Dontsov was opened in Kiev. An event organized by the local cell of the “National corps”was held in Uman on January 20. The meeting was devoted to the event that occurred the day before: vandals damaged the statue of Jesus. However, the radicals staged an anti-Semitic meeting on this occasion, at which, among other things, they said, “J@des discredit our faith and our country.”
Pro-government political scientist A. Paly compared the “free” gas from Russia to the gas chamber of the Holocaust, then quickly deleted his post on Facebook. Political scientist Mikhail Chaplyga noted that the press Secretary of the Prosecutor General Larisa Sargan liked the post of Paliy. “Look at written by your mouthpieces and by whom it was “liked”!“- appealed Chaplyga to Petro Poroshenko. According to journalist Andrei Manchuk, together with Sargan the post of Paliy was “liked” byb MP from the BPP Vladimir Aryev. In March 2019, A. Paly declared that the President of Ukraine shouldn’t be a Jew.
In November 2018, in the 315th gymnasium in Kiev, a representative of the Ukrainian military honor delivered a lecture on the SS Galizien Division for schoolchildren. “It should be noted that this glorious military formation is not presented accordingly in the school curriculum. We decided to improve this situation. The audience liked it,” the Ukrainian military honor reported. In turn, the head of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee Eduard Dolinsky was outraged by this event on his Facebook page. “A model of valour was a Nazi formation — the SS Galizien Division. A lecture about the “glorious” SS men was delivered for children by a representative of the community engaged in the praise of Ukrainians who served in the Nazi units. This is the newest trend for schools when valor and courage are taught in the examples of collaboration, SS, schutzmannschaft and auxiliary police service and fight against civilians“, — he wrote.
In October 2018, The chief Rabbi of Ukraine accused NACBU of spying on the synagogue and anti-Semitism. In particular, according to his statement, that the community security service has identified a number of persons who carried out covert surveillance of the premises of Brodsky Central synagogue situated in the street Shota Rustaveli, and parishioners. Also it is claimed that vehicles with counterfeit numbers were used for supervision. During the inspection, devices for recording information were found directly in the premises. Also the Rabbi accused one of officials of NACBU of the highest level of anti-Semitic statements.
The level of domestic anti-Semitism is also extremely high in Ukraine. 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, Lvivare carried out. 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 July 2018, the mayor of the city of Dnipro Boris Filatov admitted that he had been collecting data on school leaders for three years and promised to dismiss all those who had ever shown sympathy for the LPR, the DPR and Russia in social networks. The reason is that these teachers, “since 2014, supported separatist sentiments in social networks or non-publicly, despised their own country and loved the neighboring state.” He stressed that such a dismissal is “perfectly legal” and teachers will not be “capable to recover at law.” “After all, we do not violate labor laws and do not pursue for beliefs. It will be better for you just not to submit to the competition,” he said.
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 July 2018 in the capital, a group of persons, members of the All-Ukrainian Non-Governmental Organization “Sokol”, picketed shopping center “Ocean plaza”, due to the fact that there were Russian shops and restaurants.
In July 2018, during the World Cup in Russia, the struggle of various patriots with “Pro-Russian” citizens intensified. Thus, in Chernivtsi, the nationalists handed a black mark an immigrant from Donbass Eugene Semagin aged of 32, as he supported the representative football team of Russia in social networks.
The new trend of the authorities of Ukraine in 2018-19 was the use of rules on incitement of international hostility against their ideological opponents. Thus, in 2018, it was used by the SBU and the Prosecutor’s office in relation to the priests of the UOC, who refused to support the creation of the OCU (Vice-Regent of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra Pavel and priests of Zhytomyr and Volyn Oblasts). In 2018, the SSU accused, and in 2019 the National Council fined independent channel NewsOne for UAH 100 thousand for interviews, reports and opinions of journalists and politicians on the channel. Ukrainian journalist P. Volkov was imprisoned from 2017 to October 2018 and charged of the same charges.
At the same time, there are materials really inciting religious and ethnic dissention prepared by such journalists as S. Zaporozhan in “Vechirniaya Gazeta”, but there is no reaction of the authorities despite pointing them out.
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. On September 18, at the next session the deputies of the Lviv Oblast Council decided on a moratorium on the public use of Russian-language cultural product in the Oblast.Canadian Ambassador to Ukraine Roman Vashchuk and British Ambassador Judith Gough criticized the decision of the Lviv Oblast Council to ban the public use of Russian-language cultural product in the Oblast: “The Lviv oblast ban as formulated is narrow-minded, discriminatory and #justplaindumb. And I say this as a diasporic native speaker of Ukrainian, and consistent advocate of affirmative action for cultural products in that language — but also #diversity,” he tweeted on September 20. But, other regional councils continued discriminatory behaviour during throughout the year. In October 2018, Zhytomyr Oblast Council introduced a temporary ban (moratorium) on the “Russian-language cultural product” – broadcasts of Russian films in the Oblast, performance of Russian actors, etc.In December 2018, Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast Council declared a moratorium on Russian films and music. The adopted document notes that “moratorium on the public use of Russian films and music has been established in the Ivano-Frankivsk region until complete cessation of the occupation of the territory of Ukraine. The purpose of the decision is to avoid “escalation of tension in society and prevention of incitement of ethnic hatred.” During the discussion of the draft decision, the Deputy from deputy from “Svoboda” Vasily Popovic proposed, in support of this decision, to residents of the region to hold a flashmob called “Kill your inner Moskal” and to attract the attention of the drivers of minibuses and sellers who play Russian music. In December 2018, the Volyn Oblast Council also introduced a moratorium on the public use of the Russian-language cultural product in the region. The Council recommended to local governments recommended to forbid the use of the Russian-speaking cultural product on the territory of the region in any forms until the complete termination of occupation of the territory of Ukraine.
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.
Discrimination on the basis of language is carried out even in the hall of the Verkhovna Rada. So, the speaker Parubiy in March, 2019 switched off the microphone twice when the people’s Deputy Nemchenko tried to speak in Russian.
In Western Ukraine, there are cases of personal discrimination against Russian-speaking citizens. Thus, in March 2019, it became known that in Lviv local students (school № 57) scoff at 12-year-old I. Balabay, who moved with his parents from Kharkiv. “They pushed Illya, called him “moron”, “damned separatist”, say, “you have come here in numbers”. I have a video, how they hurt my son,” his mother says.
In February 2019, the national selection for the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest was accompanied with the scandal and discrimination on the part of the host and judges. The Duo Anna Maria from the Crimea was persecuted for the civil position and the origin of its singers. The winner of the selection Maruv was also subjected to obstruction by Deputy Prime Minister Kirilenko, as she is touring in Russia. As a result, the NOTU drawn up bonded and politicized contract with the winner, it was refused by Maruv, as well as a number of participants following her in the ranking, and as a result, no one from Ukraine participated in the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest.
In February 2019, during the scandal with the selection for Eurovision 2019 from Ukraine, Deputy Prime Minister Kirilenko openly proposed to introduce a discriminatory rule in the selection rules, namely “that touring in Russia Ukrainian artists should not perform at the song contest “Eurovision-2019”.
The State Service of Ukraine for Drugs And Drug Control banned the import and sale of more than 40 drugs manufactured in Russia in August 2018. Besides, many of them have no analogues in the Ukrainian market. In September 2018, the vaccine “Pentaksim” was prohibited in Ukraine because of violations of the law: A permanent ban was introduced due to the fact that the label was in a foreign language (Russian), which violates the requirements of the legislation of Ukraine.
In December 2018, the SSU forced all its employees to fill out questionnaires about the presence of ties in Russia or the territories controlled by it. However, this information was classified.
In January 2019, The chief military Prosecutor of Ukraine Anatoly Matios said that all Ukrainians should be subjected to polygraph test for finding out whether they cooperate with the LDPR. This statement is a flagrant violation of the presumption of innocence.
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. It should be noted that the grounds for cancellation were purely procedural violations, namely “piano voting”. At the same time, almost any law in Ukraine could be abolished due to this reason, since the laws are often adopted in such a way.
In October 2018, The Verkhovna Rada voted the new law on languages in the first reading. Even the title of this document has a fundamental difference from the previous one: the draft law “On Ensuring the Functioning of the Ukrainian Language as a State Language”. It means that the law main purpose is not equality and equal development of the languages as stipulated in article 10 of the Constitution of Ukraine, but a brutal glorification of the state language at the expense of marginalization, destruction and reduction of the use of languages of minority. The document regulates the use of the Ukrainian language in all spheres of public life throughout Ukraine. The draft law obliges all citizens of Ukraine to speak Ukrainian, but there is no such a provision in the Constitution, and the Law on citizenship contains such a requirement only for persons receiving citizenship through the naturalization procedure. In addition to civil servants, the requirement for knowledge of the Ukrainian language shall apply as well to pedagogical, scientific and pedagogical, and scientific employees of educational institutions, public and municipal health institutions and others. According to the document, the language of cultural, entertainment and leisure events shall be the state language. Other languages can be used during such events if it is justified by the artistic, creative plan of the event organizer, as well as in cases defined by the Law of Ukraine “On national minorities”. Support of cultural and entertainment events should be in Ukrainian. If the host of the event is a person who does not speak the Ukrainian language, the organizer must provide simultaneous or consecutive translation into Ukrainian. Entrance tickets, announcements, posters and other information materials related to such events should be published in Ukrainian. Other language may be used for writing the names of creative teams and performers, but in this case, such names shall be duplicated in phonetic transcription in Ukrainian. Theatrical performance in a foreign language in the state or municipal theater must be subtitled in Ukrainian. Museums and exhibitions should present their content in Ukrainian, while other languages can be used in the descriptions together with the Ukrainian. Films (including serials, animated films and documentaries) must be in Ukrainian. If they were created by “Ukrainian cinematography entities”, such a movie should be distributed and shown in Ukraine “with the speech in the sound in Ukrainian”. Cinemas can show foreign films in the original language, accompanied by Ukrainian subtitles.
Total number of screening sessions of such films may not exceed 10% of the total number of screening sessions in the cinema per month. Print media in Ukraine should now be published in Ukrainian. A newspaper or a magazine can be published in two or more language versions, one of them must be in the state language. All language versions must have the same name, be identical in content and be published on the same day. The publisher included in the state register of publishers, manufacturers and distributors of publishing products must produce in Ukrainian at least 50% of all titles of books issued annually. Every bookstore, and every place where they sell books should present at least 50% of book titles in Ukrainian. New state bodies will be created: the National committee for standards of the Ukrainian language, the Commissioner for the protection of the Ukrainian language. The latter shall be vested with the authority to conduct a “language inspection” of “enterprises, institutions, organizations, regardless of ownership, public associations, political parties” suspected in violation of the law. An article on violation of the legislation in the sphere of application of the state language will be included in the Code of administrative offences. As well, it provides for fines from 200 to 600 non-taxable minima.
In view of such obvious discrimination of the language draft law in October 2018 The EU insisted that the draft law “On ensuring the functioning of the Ukrainian language as the state” must comply with international norms and obligations of Ukraine: “Ukraine must continue to comply with its international obligations, including under the European Charter for regional or minority languages and the framework Convention of the Council of Europe Convention on the protection of national minorities,” the EU said. In the preparation of proposals for the second reading, the Ukrainian Parliament needs to consult with the parties that are affected by the new legislation, including representatives of national minorities. “We recommend to submit a draft law to the Venice Commission for opinion (in compliance with European standards).”
In March 2019, on the eve of the election, the discussion in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine in the second reading of the Law №5670-d on ensuring the functioning of the Ukrainian language as the state language began.
The draft law actually reduces the possibility of using Russian and other minority languages to the sphere of personal and family communication of citizens, which violates the Constitution of Ukraine and Ukraine’s obligations under international treaties. European organizations urge not to adopt this law at such a time and in such a version. On March 13, the Commissioner of the Council of Europe for human rights Dunja Mijatovich called on the Parliament of Ukraine to consider the law after the election. “In discussing any new law or policy reform on the use of languages, the Council of Europe Member States should carefully balance the legitimate aim of supporting the state language and the duty to protect and promote the use of minority languages and to preserve cultural diversity.”
The Commissioner noted that the different language groups should be effectively involved in the development of laws and policies, and their views should be duly taken into account. As we know, there is no trace of it. At least, the largest language group – the Russian-speaking population – is not represented in any way in the discussion of the draft law.
No information is known about consultations with the most active national minorities – for example, Hungarians, who have recently been fighting for their language rights – in particular, for education. Now, the new law further narrows the use of other languages.
OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger on March 11 suggested the leadership of Ukraine to engage in dialogue with all the parties concerned to resolve the problem of the state language, including in the dispute with Hungary, as well as for excluding further situations affecting the interests of national minorities on linguistic grounds: “It is necessary to establish communication with communities representing linguistic minorities, to conduct a close dialogue with all stakeholders, the majority and the minority. I think the most important thing is dialogue and respect. Don’t rush. Dialogue, respect – that is what I would call for. This would also facilitate a lot with Hungary.” The EU insisted that the draft law “On ensuring the functioning of the Ukrainian language as the state” must comply with international norms and obligations of Ukraine. Apparently, now there is no such compliance.
In Brussels, they noted that the mandatory condition is compliance of the law with the EU conventions, to which Ukraine is a party: “Ukraine must continue to comply with its international obligations, including under the European Charter for regional or minority languages and the framework Convention of the Council of Europe Convention on the protection of national minorities”. According to the EU, in the preparation of proposals for the second reading, the Ukrainian Parliament needs to consult with the parties that are affected by the new legislation, including representatives of national minorities. However, the Ukrainian government did not do any of this. For six months “Venetian” had not seen the controversial draft law.
At the same time, legalized discrimination on the basis of language has been successfull, according to President Poroshenko. In a country where more than half of the population speaks Russian, Ukrainian-language books and brochures in bookstores account for almost 78% of the total, while Russian-language books account for only 15%. At the local and regional level, the actual share of news programs in the state language today makes 99%, and in Volyn, Kirovograd, Rivne, Chernihiv, Cherkasy, Khmelnytsky Oblasts this share is 100%. According to President Poroshenko, those who do not like TV and radio quotas can “go to Russia and communicate in Russian, nobody forbids.” The place of the Russian language only in everyday life – but in this case English is much better, says Poroshenko (who, as you know, not only in everyday life, but also in closed-door workshops speaks only in Russian).
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. In December, another 26 Russian books were prohibited.
In January 2019, The State Committee for Television and Radio Broadcasting in Ukraine refused licensing import of 13 books from Russia containing “signs of propaganda of the aggressor state.” In particular, it was not allowed to import a number of children’s books, including a textbook on English for schoolchildren published by the Russian publishing house “R-Plus” “decorated with flags of the armed formations of the Russian Federation”. Among the prohibited books: “Convince and Win. Secrets of effective argumentation” by Nikita Nepryakhin (contains the propaganda of Communist ideology), “The Way beyond: World Religions. Psychotechnics and Transpersonal States” by E.Torchinov (promotes the aggressor state), “Balkans: Margins of Empires” by Russian journalist Andrei Sharii ” (promotes the aggressor state). As well, a book by Sergei Dovlatov published by “Azbuka Atticus” was prohibited for import, because it contains a Preface “promoting the famous Ukrainophobic Sergei Bezrukov” included in the list of persons posing a threat to national security of Ukraine. In March, the same body banned other 23 books from the Russian Federation. Including books about corporate culture, networking, business manuals, children’s books, as well as a book about PR, in which, according to the agency, “Russian social networks “Odnoklassniki” and service portals “Yandex” are popularized. In total, in 2018, the State Committee 97 times refused to license import of 477 thousand copies of books with allegedly anti-Ukrainian content.
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.
In March 2019 as part of a new package of sanctions folowing Russian publishing house were prohibited: the largest Russian publishing group “Eksmo – AST” publishing house “Piter”, “Yauza”, “Veche” and “Tsentrpoligraf”, “Algorithm” and “Knizhnyi Mir”. The list includes the online bookstore “Labyrinth” and e-book sale service “Litres”. The document also says that Ukrainian Internet providers have to block access to the site Ozon.ru !
In the course of four years, from 2014 to October 2018 in Ukraine, the state banned 780 Russian films. They contain “popularization or propaganda of the bodies of the aggressor state and the punitive bodies of the USSR, they were created with the participation of persons included in the List of persons posing a threat to national security; as well as the produced by the aggressor state after January 1, 2014“.
For four years, from 2014 to October 2018 in Ukraine, the national Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting banned the broadcasting of 81 of 84 Russian TV channels. And if we take into account the almost rampant Ukrainization of TV channels broadcasting from Ukraine, the Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine are virtually deprived of access to Russian-language television content, which can not be considered otherwise than a direct restriction of rights and discrimination on the basis of language tens of millions of people.
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. As of August 16, the authorized officials from the State Committee drew up 14 protocols on the imposition of administrative fines. The total amount of penalties is UAH 521 220. on March 14, 2019, an entrepreneur was fined in the amount of UAH 41730 in Kiev for online sale of books from Russia.
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 Romania as “intimidation”. During February 2018, the office of the Alliance of Hungarians in Uzhhorod city had been set on fire twice. In November 2018, the rector of the Hungarian Institute in Beregovo Ildiko Oros was summoned to the SSU. It was connected her speech in Budapest, where she said she stated that Hungarians in Ukraine were “infringed on fascist methods”.
In December 2018, in Poltava, the SSU officers carried out searches at the homes of participants of the Coordination Council of Russian Compatriot Organisations of Ukraine. During the searches printed materials, equipment, computer equipment, and personal awards and certificates were confiscated from the public figures. Also, the SSU noted that the detained “propagandists” acted “in accordance with the order and financing of the special services of the Russian Federation. The propagandists, in particular, created and disseminated material that aims to violate the territorial integrity of Ukraine.” The participants of Coordination council of the organisations of the Russian compatriots of Ukraine are incriminated with committing a crime against the foundations of the national security of Ukraine according to part 1 of Article 110 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.
“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 June 2018, the ICTV channel reporter, producer of “Antizombi”program Anna “Akhava” Teslenko called the Romes “Gypsy biodegradable waste”. Later, the participants of the bashing were released from custody. In June 2018, the Council of Europe condemned the attacks on Romes committed in Ukraine in February-May 2018, and expected an adequate response from the Ukrainian authorities.
In May 2018, the right-wing extremists from various groups wreaked havoc of the Caucasian on Darynok market in Kyiv city. In October 2018, the court sentenced one of the rioters to a year in prison and admitted two other rioters to bail to labour collectives.
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. 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 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 July 2018, the Cabinet of Ukraine developed a draft law that proposed to financially punish Ukrainian artists for touring in Russia. In addition, the performers will be entered in a special register. The draft law obliges the Ukrainian artists performing in the territory of the aggressor state about their participation in all entertainment events in the Russian Federation. In addition, a performer must pay a tour fee of 20% for touring in Russia.
In March 2019, a group of Ukrainian MPs have demanded that the SSU chief Vasily Gritsak ban Italian singer Toto Cutugno from holding a concert in Kiev in the Palace “Ukraine” on March 23 due to alleged pro-Russian positions. The reason was the singer’s “position on the occupation of Crimea” and his “Pro-Russian position”.
In October 2018, 14 people’s deputies proposed to the Verkhovna Rada to ask the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine to permanently deprive singers Philip Kirkorov, Nikolai Baskov, Taisia Povaliy and Ani Lorak the title of people’s artist of Ukraine. This is stated in the draft resolution №9156 “On making proposals for the use of personal special economic and other restrictive measures (sanctions)”. Also the NSDC was suggested to consider a proposal to deprive Vitaly Kozlovsky, Svetlana Loboda and Russian Director Vladimir Bortko the title of “Honoured Artist of Ukraine”. Explanation given by one of the authors E. Rybchynskyi: “These performers are traitors who entertain the occupier during the war.”
Due to imposition of martial law the state border service of Ukraine banned entry to the territory of the country for male Russian citizens aged 16 to 60 years. During 30 days of martial law from November 26 to December 26, the border guards did not let 1650 Russians in Ukraine. Despite the fact that the restrictions applied only to men, in fact, Ukrainian border guards were not allowed women in the country, as well. Passengers of the aircraft were rejected at their arrival at Ukrainian airports, and train conductors warned passengers in advance about the situation on the Ukrainian border. Despite the abolition of martial law in December 2018, according to the state border service, more than 800 Russian citizens were not allowed into Ukraine in January 2019 after the end of martial law. The restriction on the entry of Russians due to the military situation was the reason for cancellation or postponement of a number of concerts of Russian artists scheduled for 2018-2019. So, on February 15, 2019 the concert of the punk band “Cockroaches” (Tarakany) was postponed, which was to be held on December 8 in the capital’s club Atlas. The concert of rave group Little Big scheduled on December 9 didn’t take place. This performance has been rescheduled for March 24, 2019. The December tour in Ukraine of rock band “Aquarium” led by Boris Grebenshchikov didn’t take place. Evening event “What is impossible” with 50-year-old writer Dmitry Bykov was held on December 15 in Kiev in the format of a video conference.
But the people of Ukraine do not really support these actions of the authorities. 57% Ukrainians believe that the ban on Russian TV channels in Ukraine is a mistake, according to an all-Ukrainian poll conducted in October 2018, and only 27.7% believe that the ban on Russian TV channels in Ukraine is a necessary step to protect the state. According to another survey, about 60% of Ukrainians prefer to watch TV programs in Russian. According to the opinion of the survey conducted in March 2019, 53.5% Ukrainians believe that the ban on Russian TV channels in Ukraine is a mistake and only leads to restriction of citizens’ rights. About 53.2% of respondents believe that the ban on Russian TV channels in Ukraine is a mistake and only leads to restriction of citizens’ rights. The introduction of quotas of the Ukrainian language on radio and TV is supported by 32.2 percent of survey participants, while 42.2 percent of respondents do not support it.
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. At the same time, the population expresses regret for such canceled names. Thus, according to the sociological survey, the majority of residents of the former city of Kirovohrad renamed by the Verkhovna Rada in Kropyvnytskyi would like to return the former name. In April 2018, Ukraine’s constitutional court (CC) adopted a positive opinion regarding the renaming of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast in Sicheslavskyi. The population of the region does not support such renaming.
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 LGBTs 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. Thus, 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 who remove security from the premises of the courts and make them defenseless. Characteristically, in such situations, the court claims that an “activist” who inflicted a gunshot wound to police was released because: “Alexander Fedorchenko has “strong social ties”, a reputation as a defender of national interests, and awards for participation in the ATO.”
In February 2018, 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.
In March 2019, the head of the Constitutional Court S. Shevchuk claimed about pressure on himself from President Poroshenko and calls for resignation. As well, he said that he would not swear the President elected through fraud.
A landmark event for the “reformed” judicial system was termination of the “Yanukovych case”. In January 2019, the verdict in the Yanukovych treason case was announced. The trial was carried out in absentia. The announcement was held in violation of procedural rules. The former President was found guilty of committing high treason (part 3 of article 111 of the Criminal Code) and complicity in Russia’s aggressive war against our country, which resulted in the annexation of Crimea (part 2 of article 437 of the Criminal Code). However, he was acquitted under the profile article 110 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine the so-called “separatists” are massively accused of.
Draft Human Rights Monitoring headed by the German section of the ISHRwith the support of the Ministry of foreign Affairs of Germany allocated the following among the gross violations of human rights in the process in the “case of Yanukovych”:
- refusal of the court to apply the mandatory rules of the European Convention on mutual assistance in criminal matters ratified by Ukraine;
- involvement of state lawyers by the court, despite the protests of Viktor Yanukovych and the presence of the maximum allowed number of lawyers under the contract;
- refusal of the court to hear the testimony of the majority of defence witnesses, including those whom the defence considers to be the main witnesses;
- refusal to attach expert opinions of independent international experts from the United States, Great Britain, Switzerland, Ukraine and other evidence for the defence;
- pressure, threats and even physical impact by the authorities upon the former President’s lawyers;
- refusal of the court to allow lawyers to finish their speech in debate;
- the reluctance of the court to wait for Viktor Yanukovych’s discharge from the hospital for giving him the opportunity to make the final plea.
As you can see, the “judicial reform” is a small part for ensuring protection of the rights of accused, even in such a landmark case.
The speaker of the Verkhovna rada Parubiy refuses to satisfy judgment. On April 9, 2019, he stated that “the decision of the District court is not final, it will be appealed by me, according to the law in the appellate instance, and if necessary – in the cassational instance. Therefore, the law is in force.”
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 February 2018, Odessa activist 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.
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. On October 4, near Kharkiv, a group of unknown made a raid on the house of the judge of Appellate Court in Kharkiv Region Vladimir Pletnev. Masked unknown tried to get in the territory of a private household; they shouted that “they will slash everybody”. The intruders tried to erect a gallows near the house.
March 19, 2019 judge of the economic court in Kharkiv Oblast Usatov Vitaly Alexandrovich was attacked at the Higher qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine who had to take part in the qualification assessment procedure.
In November 2018, during the court session in the Primorsky court of Odessa on “land affairs of the Gulf”, “activists” tried to make a mess and disrupt the court session, there was a crush, which nearly turned into a mass brawl.
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 organizationsimpeaching 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.
Lawyers are massively dominated. They are prevented in their professional activities. The law provides for the inviolability of attorney-client privilege. According to Ukrainian law, the legal profession shall be protected from the intervention of state bodies, but in fact, these requirements are met only formally.
Thus, on December 24, 2018, the lawyer V. Rybin reported that unknown set fire to his Toyota Venza car parked in an underground parking near his house in Kyvi. Valentin Rybin is sure that it was a purposeful arson in order to make an unofficial “warning” in relation to his activities in Ukraine. As well, the lawyer reported that he would draw the corresponding conclusions. Firefighters and police work at the scene. Attorney Valentin Rybin involved for the defense in several high-profile cases such as “Raphael of Lusvardi”, “Savchenko-Ruban”, “Groysman’s translator Stanislav Yezhov” and others.
In November 2018, the specialists of the Coordination center for legal assistance complained of pressing and unlawful interference in the work of the Regional center for the provision of secondary legal assistance in Kiev (RC), as well as lawyers cooperating with the BPD system.
In the OHCHR report on the human rights situation in Ukraine (March 2019), there were six cases of attacks on lawyers in high-profile cases. All the attacks were carried out by right-wing radicals, moreover, right in the courthouses. “There is no progress in the investigation of these attacks. Also, security is not provided in the courthouses and around, law enforcement officers do not take measures to prevent or suppress attacks of nationalists,” the authors of the report say.
in November 2018, the presidential administration presented a controversial draft law draft law № 9055“On the Bar and Advocacy” . In November 2018, the Council of lawyers announced the manipulation of the draft law No. 9055, and accused the Association of lawyers of Ukraine “which does not represent the interests of the bar community” in lobbying the adoption of this document by the Verkhovna Rada. “Lawyers-civil servants representing another significant group of members of the UBA try to implement access to the court on the principles provided by the legislation on advocacy. Therefore, it becomes absolutely clear why the bar Association is lobbying this draft law. It implements the ambitious plans of the majority of members of this organization, that is law enforcement and court officers for strengthening their professional rights by pressing towards lawyers,” the resolution reads. In February 2019, The UN special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Diego Garcia-Sayan sent a letter to the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko regarding the initiation of the draft law on the bar. The UN believes that the bill includes a number of provisions that may jeopardize the free and independent exercise of the legal profession and the ability of the national bar Association to protect the interests of its members and the independence of the legal profession as a whole. Comments of the UN special Rapporteur, in particular, relate to these sections of the bill, as the access to the profession, disciplinary proceedings, requirements of incompatibility and independence of the professional organization of lawyers. In this regard, the special Rapporteur recommends to “reconsider the draft law On advocacy and legal practice to ensure compliance with existing international human rights standards relating to the independence of the legal profession”. “The lack of adequate consultations with the lawyers during the legislative process is a source of concern,” the letter reads.
One of the consequences of the judicial reform was that at the very end of December 2017, in the last days when he was authorized for doing so, President Poroshenko disbanded local courts by his decree with their subsequent transformation into district courts.
After all the “reforms” and pressing towards them, it is not surprising that judges massively resign from their jobs, and the recruitment of new judges goes behind filling vacancies. According to the head of the Supreme Council of justice Igor Benedisiuk, during the work of the Supreme Council of Justice about 2,500 judges resigned. Now the country is critically short of judges. There are courts of appeal, where only 20-22 judge employments are accepted out of 70. In this regard, citizens are deprived of the right to a fair trial.
OHCHR documented state interference in the independent work of the judiciary. Criminal proceedings were opened against judges who released from custody persons detained on charges related to the conflict in the Donbas. And access to justice in such cases is still limited: judicial proceedings last for years, in violation of all reasonable terms, and prolonged detention violates the right to a trial.
OHCHR documented 60 violations of the right to a fair trial. The majority concerned the lack of access to lawyer, and the coercion of detainees to confess. On the other hand, members of volunteer regiments and SSU officers are often released from custody during court sessions on charges of violent crimes against civilians in conflict-related cases. Five members of the Donbass volunteer regiment, accused of a number of crimes against civilians (kidnapping, robbery, extortion, banditry, etc.), were released on 30 August 2016 during the preparatory court session after four deputies of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine applied for the release of the above-mentioned persons under their personal guarantee. In another case, three members of the “Right sector” tried for a number of incidents of extortion, ill-treatment and arbitrary detention of civilians were released in the courtroom. Two SSU officers accused of torturing to death Alexander Agafonov, were released on bail.
Access of citizens to justice continues to be restricted due to the absence of judges. Thus, in August 2018 Yaremchansky city court of Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast ceased to administer justice. In total, in August 2018, 22 courts do not operate in Ukraine due to lack of personnel.
Situation with National Security
The conflict in the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts has continued since 2014. According to UN statistics for 2018, 55 civilians were killed and 224 wounded. The authorities do not take any effective measures to end the conflict and make the lives of Ukrainian citizens caught in it easier.
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 provision of “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, in Ukraine 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 may be prohibited. 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 have been 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 territories and 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“. At 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 opinion polls in March 2019, the majority of Ukraine’s population – 51% – supported the cessation of hostilities, and the peaceful settlement of the conflict in the Donbas by granting autonomy within Ukraine to the uncontrolled territories of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts (DPR and LPR). However, Ukrainian authorities believe such an option impossible, as we know.
According to the report of the Office of the United Nations high Commissioner for human rights, just Ukraine is responsible for 6 civilians killed and 27 civilians wounded under shellfire (out of 43 victims) in the conflict zone in the Donbas in the first quarter of 2018, as well as for 12 (out of 13) civilians wounded from small arms.
According to theReport on Violent Crimes Committed During the Armed Conflict in Eastern Ukraine between 2014–2018prepared by Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) in October 2018, since 2014.: among civilians: 3144 dead and 3350 wounded, 20 001 destroyed or damaged houses, and 2502 infrastructure. It was recorded 108 murders in the East of Ukraine, out of which 17 cases of mass murder of civilians when the victims were two or more persons. Extrajudicial killings, torturing to death are among such killings. As of August 15, 2018 1286 cases of illegal detention (of disappearance) were recorded, 1024 persons were kidnapped, 541 servicemen were detained or went missing during combat operation, 76 persons disappeared at checkpoints, 18 persons disappeared in captivity, 2584 persons went missing. It shall be noted that illegal detention was systematically practiced both in the controlled and uncontrolled territories. About 40 people were illegally detained by the AFU and volunteer regiments. The reasons for the detention were suspicions of sympathy for Pro-Russian forces, espionage, detention for ransom. Much information was received about human rights violations committed by volunteer regiments. In particular, the soldiers of the volunteer regiments “Chernigov” and “Tornado” held the population in the railway hospital of the village of Novaya Kondrashovka, and in warehouses, in the village stores. Human rights activists also note that both sides of the conflict used “human shield” tactic. In particular, both illegal armed groups (IAG), and AFU placed military equipment in settlements. According to human rights activists, all these crimes including illegal imprisonment, ill-treatment, etc. are not only not investigated, but also denied by the leadership of law enforcement agencies.
So, the reluctance of Ukrainians to serve in the army is not surprising. According to media reports, the drafting plan has not been implemented throughout Ukraine. Therefore, military enlistment offices began illegal “hunting” for men of military age in the cities of Ukraine. Attempts to “grab” recruits were registered in Kyiv near undergoround stations, in Cherkassy, Kharkiv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Volyn, Rivne. Such attempts of military enlistment offices are illegal as they do not have the right to grab people in the street and to drag them to military enlistment offices. Only the police have the right to detain people on the street.
Inhumane practice of long-term admission of Ukrainian citizens through the line of military contact in the Donbas and the occupied Crimea is still ongoing. Citizens of Ukraine lose their health and die under inhuman conditions, near torture. For example, according to a UNHCR report, on 23 March, a 60-year-old man died of a heart attack while crossing the Hnutovo checkpoint. At the Maryinka checkpoint on March 27, a 60-year-old man had a heart attack, and on April 19, a woman died of a heart attack. On April 20, two men were hospitalized for an epileptic attack and fainting. On April 24, two women lost consciousness due to blood pressure problems.
Torture, arbitrary detention are continually being practised by Ukrainian law enforcement agencies, their total number has doubled according to UNHCR. Thus, 93 cases of violations included unlawful or arbitrary detention, torture, ill-treatment, sexual violence and/or threats to personal integrity took place. So, on March 12, 2018 the SSU searched the apartment of an opposition journalist in Kharkiv. Although the SSU officers issued a search warrant, they did not allow the victim to contact a lawyer. After the above-mentioned officers confiscated a plastic bottle with cartridges found by them, according to them, in the journalist’s apartment, the journalist was taken to the regional SSU Department, where for 12 hours he was interrogated and forced to cooperate with the SSU, in particular, to collect compromising information about others. The SSU released the journalist without any official charge.
According to the military expert 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.In June 2018, in the city of Hlukhiv, Sumy region, a combat blast grenade thrown by the former military exploded in a two-storey building. In August 2018, two former ATO combatants were suspected af attack against the public activist Handziuk. Previously, one of them appeared with a swastika in the photo demonstrated in the European Parliament. In February 2019, In Odessa, a former soldier of the 72nd infantry brigade, ATO combatant and prominent activist of Revolution of Dignity and the war in the East of Ukraine Serhiy Bars blew up on his own grenade. At the place of residence of the victim, the police found 14 grenades, 12 detonators, bullets and a gun.
As a result, the Chief Military Procurator Anatolii Matios informed that the servicemen commit about 20 thousand crimes annually. In his opinion, every participant in military operations in the Donbas brought some weapon from there. 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, but then again, ordinary citizens are in pain. 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. In July 2018, ATO combatant, resident of the city of Vasylkiv Yu. Konotopenko, and a native of Lugansk Oblast E. Pashkevich, accused of raping a police officer last year were acquitted.
In March 2019, Azov fighter Sergei Korotkikh said that the SSU at the behest of President Petro Poroshenko placed “plants” with explosives in Kyiv for further blaming the national Corps. Korotkikh declared that subordinates of the Deputy Chairman of SSU Victor Kononenko (Latysh) were placing “plants” with explosives in Kyiv for further blaming the national Corps and, thus, breaking the Saturday’s action of nationalists, and, maybe, the election.
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 a grenade was detonated in the night club of Sumy city – 7 injured as a result,and in Kyiv a car was detonated.
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 Knyazev.
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.
In 2018, 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.
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. A balaclava and a starting gun were withdrawn from the detained. 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.
In June-September 2018 in Kyiv, the cases of robbery and theft where the victims were iconic people, officials and VIPs of different levels, including foreigners, became more frequent. I the Ukrainian office of the Council of Europe Morten Enberg, and the head of the constitutional court of Lithuania Dainius Zalimas was the victim of pickpockets in Kyiv in a drugstore in Hochar street. In this regard, the Department of State posted on its website in August 2018 a special memo for tourists on how to behave in connection with the criminal situation in Kiev. In March 2019, Olexandr Bukhtatyi, the employee of the Administration was robbed and killed in Kyiv . In mid-March 2019, in the downtown, French representative of the OSCE Office for democratic institutions and human rights was robbed. In relation to this fact of infliction of bodily harm the police launched an investigation, but the attacker was not detained.
Far-right activists from “Azov”, “National corps” and “National Militia” beat police officers. On November 20, 2017 representatives of “Azov” stormed a police station in Kyiv and win away their companions, having broken windows and the patrol car. In February 2019, C14s stormed a district police station in Kyiv.
In July 2018, as part of the Global Slavery Index, Ukraine was ranked 49th out of 167 countries in the ranking of the prevalence of modern slavery. According to data in the table region-wise, the absolute number of victims in Ukraine is 301 thousand.
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.” In November 2018 the Chief Military Prosecutor Matios stated the defeat of the law enforcement system in Ukraine, and predicted the Lynch law, commenting on how Kharkiv dwellers rabbled a suspected of theft after his release from the police.
In November 2018, after the death of Kherson activist E. Handziuk 73 public organizations signed a joint statement demanding the release ofof a number of officials due to the inability to reform the law enforcement system. In the statement it is mentioned that attack on Handziuk at first was qualified as hooliganism; and only when the case became widely publicized, it was re-qualified as “serious bodily harm in the form of intimidation”. Then the qualification was changed again and was defined as “murder attempt”. “And only after two months, on September 25, 2018, at the request of the attorney Yevheniya Zakrevska, the General Directorate of the National Police in Kherson region, added the sign of contract crime (Paragraph 11, Part 2, Article 115 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine). However, the sign of “contract” crime still does not appear in the notices of suspicion handed to performers of the attack,” – reads the statement. In February 2019, Vladyslav Manger, the Chairman of Kherson Regional Council, accused in court the General of the security Service of Ukraine Daniel Dotsenko of arranging this crime. In January 2019, the father of the murdered activist publicly accused Head of the Kherson Regional State Administration, Andriy Gordeev (BPP protege) of involvement in the murder of his daughter.
In November 2018 President Poroshenko signed a law (draft law No.7017) on criminal liability for illegal border crossing (imprisonment for up to eight years). It should be noted that this law caused a mixed reaction on the part of human rights defenders. Particular attention is focused on the article providing for liability imprisonment for up to three years for crossing the border bypassing the checkpoints or without required documents or with the documents with unreliable information. According to the law, this provision will apply to persons “crossing the border to damage the interests of the state”, but this is an assessment judgment that does not have actual established legal criteria. Accordingly, this rule will actually apply to all residents of the occupied territories of Ukraine, who will go to Russia through points not controlled by Ukraine, despite the fact that they previously could only bear administrative responsibility.
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 2018, Poroshenko’s regime chose the pre-election slogan “Language, Army, Faith”, so the pressure on the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) as the largest and independent religious organization was very strong. The authorities tried to force it to participate in their political projects, incited nationalists against it, used various power levers of coercion. Later, the authorities, headed by President Poroshenko and speaker Parubiy, conducted the process of creating Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) which is de facto a state church. It was a direct violation of the Constitutional provision on the separation of state and church: “Church and religious organizations are separated from the state” (article 35, second paragraph, of the Constitution of Ukraine).
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. According to Attorney Elena Lioshenko: “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!”
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 UOC. 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.
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 election.
September 28, 2018 all sorts of nationalists with the participation of deputies of local councils in the settlement of Bohorodchany seized the buildings of the Metropolitan Chambers at the Holy Trinity Church in Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast. They broke the doors, broke the Windows, and beat the believers. The attackers did not confine themselves to the parishioners and the rector of the church, Archpriest Vladimir Shuvar. In turn, local police later reported that the capture was led by representatives of the District Council and the administration, and the building was “transferred to the ownership of the music school.” Save for cynicism, any other justification for such robbery cannot be found.
In February 2018 in Lviv city was burnt the UOC church which the activists demanded to dismount. The main version is an arson. 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.
July 29, 2018, on Sunday, several unknown persons committed an act of vandalism upon the Church of St. Spyridon Sviatoshyn deanery of the capital. The attackers threw a smoke bomb into the church through the window by breaking the mosquito net, and painted one of the walls of the church with offensive inscriptions.
In June 2018, the nationalists from “Svoboda” threatened Archbishop Clement of Nezhin. They attacked the Deputy Chairman of the RGA Borznyanskiy Alexander Maximov and members of the administration Elena Taran and Eugene Tarnow. Under the threat of physical violence, they forced the officials to write letters of resignation under the threat of physical violence while insulting and humiliating them. Their fault was cooperation with the UOC.
Nationalists from “Svoboda” tried to intimidate the carriers of Nizhyn to refuse to provide transport services to believers of the UOC for arriving in Kiev on July 27, 2018 at the Procession, threatening to burn the buses.
Nationalists are also pressing upon journalists covering religious topics, thereby violating the right to freedom of the media. So, in July 2018, nationalists from “C14” beat up the chief editor of the newspaper of the city of Borzna of Chernihiv region, and forced him to write letters of resignation for “promoting “Moscow priests”; he published an article about the rest of the Orthodox summer camp for youth «On the sea of Galilee», hosted by the diocese of Nizhyn of the UOC children from Chernihiv region.
In total, from May 16 to August 15, 2018, according to the UN report on the human rights situation in Ukraine, six cases of attacks against the churches of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church were recorded.
In October 2018, in Lviv, the Holy Prince Vladimir Church of the UOC was covered with the inscription, “The true canonical name of the Moscow Orthodox Church is ‘Stalin’s Patriarchate”. In February, the church was set on fire. In November 2018 in Lviv 3 churches of the UOC were covered with provocative graffiti “The Moscow Patriarchate—a branch of the FSB”. On the night of November 26 to 27, unknown poured over the building of the Rivne diocesan administration with paint and left provocative inscriptions. Vandals painted the walls with the inscription: “FSB agents! Blood of our sailors rests on your hands” and poured red paint near the entrance.
With the adoption of the “law on Church raiding” on January 17, 2019, which opened up opportunities for legitimizing the forceful seizure of the UOC churches, the situation with the seizure of churches “for the needs” of the OCU became critical. As usual under the current leadership of the Verkhovna Rada, the law was adopted with procedural violations – it was adopted after several repeated votes. The first vote gave only 223 votes. Now, the decision to make the transition and make the appropriate changes to the statute of a religious community should be made by at least 2/3 of the number of community members (previously, such a decision was taken by simple majority), and voting members must personally sign the decision. The term “self-identification” does not exist in the new bill, and the criteria for membership in communities shall be defined by the religious communities themselves. Real property of the diocese should neither be sold nor collected or pledged at the transition. If during the transition it turns out that members of the community who refuse to move can form a new community — they might continue to hold services in one temple with those who joined the other church .
In practice, active seizures of the UOC churches with the help of local officials and involvement of radicalists. The government has set the task to execute a part of Poroshenko’s pre-electional triad “Army, language, and faith” by forcibly breaking off parishes from the UOC and “attaching” them to the OUC, against the wishes of people of faith. The situation is approximately the same. On January 15, the meeting of the community took place in Olenivka village, Borznyansky district of Chernihiv region, and about 25 unknown people joined it, while they were not Olenivka dwellers. They demanded to put the issue of the transition of the local religious community from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) to the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC) to a vote. Only two locals supported it and 24 unknowns gave their votes. Moreover, another 11 votes were added to the final report; thus, there were 37 votes “for” the transition in the end. Local citizens were outraged as the Orthodox community stated earlier that it is not going to join the UAOC. Nevertheless, the present Head of Borznyansky Regional State Administration signed the report of the voting. Today in the morning, the outraged local parish gathered near the church but those 25 unknown people, who called themselves to be the patriots, were waiting for them there. The quarrel occurred. The local parish went home in the end as the unknowns threatened to use force. The authority of Chernihiv Oblast reported that the first parish of the Oblast transited to the UAOC.
On January 16, in the village of Shandrovets of the Turkovsky district of Lviv Oblast, supporters of the UAOC broke the door to the Church house with a crowbar, demanding to give them the keys to the St. Michael Church. At the moment, two priests and the mother stayed in the house. They did not have the keys of the church, so the audience, about 200 people, were going to “cut off the locks and after having opened the door, place the church under the seal.” The decision to transit the Michael the Archangel Church to OAUC was made at a meeting held on January 13. The UOC parishioners did not take part in it, Archpriest Ilya said: “At the meeting, the head of the District Council, with the participation of the head of the Village Council told people that we were Muscovites, and His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufriy was Moscow agent. People at the meeting voted the transition to the UAOC. Our parishioners did not attended the meeting and were praying during it.”
On February 3, 2019, supporters of the so-called UAOC staged a brawl near the Svyato-Preobrazhensky Cathedral in the village of Hnizdychne in Zbarazh district, Ternopil Oblast, while a special unit of the police beat parishioners of the UOC and the priest.
On February 22, representatives of the UOC-KP and supporters of UAOC stormed the St. Nicholas Church of the OUC in the village of Zhydychev in Volyn.There were law enforcement officers at the site, who did not prevent the capture of the temple, but on the contrary, did not let the parishioners of the Church closer to the building.
On March, 1, supporters of the UAOC attacked the community of the UOC again in Trebukhivtsi village, Buchach district. A group of 15 people surrounded the priest’s house and demanded his eviction together with his family. In their opinion, the house father Yaroslav lives and serves in also belongs to the new Church, after the capture of the temple. On February 28, UAOC supporters tried to evict the priest’s family to the street.
The long conflict over the temple of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the village of Baranovka in the Sumy region continues. On March 10th another attempt was made to seize the temple, but the UOC believers managed to repel the attack. On March 12th a deputy of the local council (representative of the Radical Party, Oleg Lyashko) and his supporters organized a gathering of local residents for an action to capture the temple. Believers appealed to law enforcement bodies, demanding to protect the church from “OCU supporters”, but the police reported that they did not have information about an upcoming capture attempt. On March 13th the Baranovsky city council voted in favour of the “transition” of the temple to the OCU and recognized the actions of the Abbot of the temple, archpriest of the UOC Roman Klim, as “anti-state and illegal”.
On March 13th in the village of Selets in the Rovno region, supporters of the OCU cut the locks off the doors of the St. Nicholas temple, did not allow UOC parishioners to go to church, and intimidated the Abbot. The UOC emphasizes that the religious community has all the documents confirming their ownership of the temple and the land. The head of the Dubrovitsky district state administration, who is a resident of the village, helps supporters of the OCU capture the temple.
On March 16th supporters of the OCU disrupted divine services in the Spaso-Preobrazhensky temple of the village of Luka-Meleshkovskaya (Vinnytsia region) and blocked access to the temple, for preventing the divine Liturgy, scheduled for Saturday morning. However, the parishioners cut off the locks and spent the whole night in the building. On Saturday morning, March 16, uAOC supporters closed the parishioners of the UOC inside the Church and blocked the entrance to prevent the service.
On March 16th supporters of the OCU disrupted divine services in the Spaso-Preobrazhensky temple of the village of Luka-Meleshkovskaya (Vinnytsia region) and blocked access to the temple.
On March 17th in the village of Pogreby in the Kiev region aggressive-minded activists once again tried to capture the UOC temple. It should be noted that representatives of the territorial community, who are not members of the temple, voted on its “transition” to the OCU and entered the church during the divine service. “Our parishioners stand behind the Church fence and pray, UAOC representatives stand a little further and sing songs. In total, about 700 people arrived, they had camouflage, some special clothes on, there were representatives of the Right Sector. There were quite a lot of transport and buses and cars around. Some of them came by car, some came on foot,” said the UOC priest. Now the police has arrived at the scene.
On March 17, In the village of Rude Selo in the Kiev region supporters of the OCU stopped the procession of believers of the UOC. According to the attackers, the refusal of the abbot of the local church to switch to the OCU, which is a betrayal, is one of the reasons for the attack on the UOC believers.
On March 24, 2019, in the village of Tovtry, Zastavna district, Chernivtsi Oblast, the UAOC activists tried to capture the Holy Dormition Church of the UOC. There was a fight, believers called the police and filed a statement about the fact of provocation to law enforcement agencies.
On March 30, 2019 number of activists of the UAOC/PCU in the village Yasinya/Plytovaty Rakhiv district, Transcarpathian region came to the house of the priest of the local Holy Transfiguration Church of the UOC Archpriest Ioann Tkach with threats of violent eviction.
On April 2, 2019 in Dubrovitsky district of Rivne region activists together with the officials cut off the locks and illegally entered two churches of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. These actions were preceded by illegal registration in the regional administrations of the UAOC communities with the same registration data as the UOC parishes. Capture of the Svyato-Pokrovsky Church in the village of Berestye in Dubrovytsky district,Rivne Oblast occurred with the support of the police and District Administation officials, the activists cut off the locks with an angle grinder and beat several of UOC parishioners.
It should be noted a clear illegal trend in these actions, even according to new rules of the law. The religious community is identified with the territorial community of the village, however, they are different subjects.
At the same time, representatives of the Ukrainian authorities within the framework of various international organizations blatantly lie and deny any seizures of churches in the state at all, according to them, only voluntary transitions of the UOC communities to another denomination occur. But how understand the fact that forceful seizure of churches, attacks on believers are recorded in the OSCE and the UN monitoring reports on Ukraine?
It is not surprising that the hierarchs of the UOC in September 2018, having lost hope for the existence of the law enforcement system and the right state in Ukraine, began to hang out calls for believers to defend Orthodox shrines from capturing by nationalist pogromists .
In this case, we are actually dealing with various criminal offences against religious organizations (UOC) committed by “Patriotic” persons and their groups in favour of other religious organizations (UOC-KP). The mask of such “patriotism” serves them as an indulgence for criminal offenses: beatings, seizures of churches, pressure and intimidation of citizens and clergy. As a rule, law enforcement authorities do neither interfere and nor stop these crimes. Accordingly, in fact we are talking about a whole set of violations: violation of the rights of citizens to the freedom of conscience, violation of the rights of citizens to performance of acts of worship, seizure of other people’s property, hooliganism, creation of armed groups, failure to protect citizens by the National police, often inciting religious hatred, etc.
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 autocephalit. 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.
The current government consider “Local Church” as one of the pillars of the presidential campaign. So, the Deputy head of the faction Block Petro Poroshenko in the Verkhovna Rada, Serhiy Berezenko declared: “We are just going to start the campaign, as we are now focused on the other. First of all, we are talking about getting autocephality by our Church. I believe that it is more important for the whole nation today.” At the same time, state officials of the highest rank, starting from the President, make statements with threats and discrimination against one of the religious organizations – the UOC. President Poroshenko: “And today Russia wants to prevent us from having our own independent Church. Russian Church is the Church of the aggressor country. Ukrainian Church is a Church for Ukrainians. This is a great difference” (July 5, 2018),”Let Constantinople, Moscow, and the Vatican hear us today: We intend to cut last knot Russia uses to tie us. We are determined to put an end to the unnatural and the uncanonical stay of a significant part of our Orthodox community, depending on the Russian church.” The said Church “, which sanctifies Putin’s hybrid war against Ukraine, prays day and night for both the Russian authorities and the army” (August 24, 2018), “Dear, you have nothing to do here. Nothing to do with your Church, nothing to do with your armed forces, nothing to do with your weapons. Go home to Russia” (7 November 2018).
Chairman Of The Verkhovna Rada Of Ukraine A. Parubiy: “Unfortunately, despite the fact that Ukraine has very harmonious relations between different Churches … we see how one of the Churches – the Church of the Moscow Patriarchate sometimes behaves not like the Church. They cause great pain and great regret. “At the beginning of the aggression, I was the secretary of the National Security and Defense Council. The first subversive groups that came to Ukraine, unfortunately, received shelter in the monasteries of the Moscow Patriarchate. At daytime, they killed Ukrainian citizens in Slaviansk, in other parts, and at night with their hands covered in blood, they hid in these monasteries. Putin does not use the Church as the Church, but as a tool of aggression and the spread of the ideology of the so-called “Russian world” as an element of propaganda,” (October 7, 2018), “the Church of the Moscow Patriarchate” is not a Church. … “Gundiayev’s priests… are guilty of murder of the Ukrainian soldiers … It’s not a Church! Today Ukraine returns to its own Church!“(18 October 2018).
Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine V. Kirilenko: “If there is such a need, the Church will again be able to ask the authorities to revise the terms of the lease of the shrines managed today by the Moscow Patriarchate. Then the state will be able to change or terminate the relevant terms of the transaction in the legislative field. “There is a common mechanism of leasing such property can either be further leased, a mobile contract, or how the relevant lease relationship can be changed. Therefore, if the hierarchs of the Moscow Patriarchate are against, it is of no importance. They will continue to serve as part of the Russian Orthodox Church, but the property used by them now will be transited to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, legitimate and canonical“” (October 17, 2018),“And all the Lavras, most likely, on the basis of the current Ukrainian legislation and, most importantly, according to Church statutes and rules will come under the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. Not only Kiev Pechersk Lavra, but all the Lavras” (September 15, 2018).
Foreign Minister P. Klimkin: “Now it turns out that the Moscow Patriarchate has nothing to do in Ukraine, since it is the canonical territory of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and the UOC-MP is historically based on a violation of the canon and is the result of usurpation” (October 11, 2018).
Minister of infrastructure of Ukraine V. Omelyan: “He [Vladimir]‘d definitely be surprised by the fact that the world would be divided into Catholics and Greek-Orthodox, and unwashed beasts of Moscow swamps suddenly would declare him Prince of Russia, ruler of the “Kievan” Rus in order to try to prove the legitimacy of the other territories named “Rus”, and would rename Muscovy “Russia”, declaring themselves warlords over Khan’s label his heirs and the third Rome,” – said the Minister and added that Prince Vladimir would be very surprised that “the Moscow religious sect” in the XVII century would have established control over the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, cheating Constantinople and insisting that Volodymyr, ” baptized the Kievians not simultaneously with the Muscovites who would build the first “izba” on wetlands only a few centuries later” (July 28, 2018).
Head of the “Ukrainian Institute of national memory” V. Viatrovych: “Everyone understood this from the very beginning – it is said about the Russian Orthodox Church. If this Church wants to continue its activities in Ukraine, it should be called appropriately: ROC. Everyone understands that this Church is not the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and cannot further use the brand used by it for more than 25 years in our country” (November 9, 2018).
People’s Deputy I. Mosiychuk (faction of the Radical party of Oleh Lyashko): “That’s when this sect will lose its Lavras, monasteries, churches … They will be taken from the schismatics by the believers themselves. This will be the coffin of the “Russian world”!“(12 October 2018), People’s Deputy OleH Barna (fraction BPP): “The Ukrainian competent authorities should conduct a large-scale audit of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate regarding the amount of money transfers to Russia” (22 April 2018).
Such actions and statements of state officials contradict both article 35 of the Constitution on freedom of religion and the separation of state and church, and the relevant Law of Ukraine “On the freedom of conscience and religious organizations” (1991). In particular, to such its norms: “Any direct or indirect limitation of rights and the granting of any advantages to citizens based on their attitude to religion, or incitement to enmity or hatred in connection with religious beliefs, or insulting citizens’ feelings, entail the legal consequences established by law.” (art. 4). “The state does not interfere in the activities of religious organizations carried out within the framework of the law, does not finance the activities of any organizations established on the basis of attitude to religion. All religions, creeds and religious organizations shall be equal before law. Establishment of any privileges or limitations of one religion over the other shall be prohibited. Religious organizations shall not perform state functions” (art. 5). In addition, the Constitution of Ukraine establishes the possibility for state bodies to act exclusively within the powers provided by the Constitution and laws (art. 19). Therefore, it is not clear on what legal grounds the Ukrainian authorities are engaged in issues of obtaining Autocephalous status for the UOC-KP, as well as in other Church issues.
in his speech in the Verkhovna Rada, President Poroshenko directly threatened to dismember the UOC: “I guarantee that the state will protect the rights of the priests and laity of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate who voluntarily decide to come out from under Moscow to create a unified church together with other Orthodox Christians,” Poroshenko said. This is a serious statement of interference in internal church affairs. State protection may be carried out only by law enforcement agencies. Thus, the President essentially announced opening of criminal cases (or simply extrajudicial pressing) against the UOC. For comparison – the President obliged himself to simply “respect” those who chose the affiliation to the Moscow Patriarchate. He is not going to take any active actions to protect them. Moreover, according to Poroshenko’s quote, not a name remains of UOC after Tomos: “I guarantee that the state will respect the choice of those who decide to stay in that church structure, retain unity with the Russian Orthodox Church. And we will call it the same in order to facilitate understanding.”
The fact that the creation of the UAOC is a part of Poroshenko’s election strategy is evidenced by his active direct participation in all processes related to obtaining Tomos for the UAOC: Signing by President Poroshenko a secret agreement with Patriarch Bartholomew (November 2018), obtaining of Tomos itself in January 2019, and the organization of the so-called “Tomos tour” over 17 regions of Ukraine together with the head of the new Church, for which the public sector extras are brought by local officials. In December 2018, the head of the UAOC directly stated about Poroshenko’s support in the election race. In concluding the procedure of obtaining Tomos from Istanbul in January 2019, Poroshenko awarded Patriarch of the UOC-KP Filaret with the title of “Hero of Ukraine”. But this award was illegal, because there was neither representation of clearly defined state bodies, nor nomination of the candidate from the place of work. In January 2019, the head of the AUOC Epiphany came to support the nomination of Poroshenko as a presidential candidate, and later the UAOC priests accompanied President Poroshenko during the Tomos tour around the country. On February 5, 2019, the first meeting of the Holy Synod of the UAOC took place at the Metropolitan’s House on the territory of the National Reserve “St Sofia of Kyiv” , subordinated to the Ministry of Culture. Honorary Patriarch Filaret (Denisenko) said that the Ukrainian Church maintains contact with the Security Service of Ukraine. Discrimination against other Orthodox churches, primarily the UOC, is carried out in favour of the UAOC. They try to deny the UOC its name, to take away the monasteries, churches, to win over the priests.
An attempt at the end of March 2019 to challenge the legality of Poroshenko’s participation in the UAOC creation was rejected by the court for formal reasons. In mid-March, the Constitutional Court refused to consider the legality of the appeal of the Verkhovna Rada to the Ecumenical Patriarch with a request to provide Tomos.
Parish priests are requested by the authorities to transit from the UOC to the UAOC. In December 2018, the priests of the Vinnytsia and Tulchinsky dioceses of the UOC of the Moscow Patriarchate received the prepared forms of the protocols on the transition to the UAOC. These documents were sent to the regions by the regional administration being an authority separated from the church, according to the Constitution. In November 2018, Metropolitan of Rivne and Ostroh Bartholomew was visited by a group of radicals. They came to the Rivne diocese of the UOC on the Bishop’s reception day, and demanded the Metropolitan to accept the idea of creating a Local Church in Ukraine. In November 2018, In Krivyi Rih, supporters of the provision of autocephaly to the Ukrainian church tried to break into the residence of Metropolitan Efrem of Niikopil and Krivyi Rih. On December 15, when departing from Ukraine, Metropolitan Bartholomew of Rivne and Ostroh was detained at Boryspil airport. The border guards pressured Met. Bartholomew for a long time to go to the “council” held in the capital.
A number of senior hierarchs of the UOC on the eve of the “unification council” in November 2018 were called to the SSBU for “preventive talks”, where they were actively persuaded to participate in the event. Thus, the vicar of the Rivne diocese of the UOC, Bishop Pimen, Metropolitan Luke of Zaporozhye and Melitopol, and other hierarchs were interrogated. In December 2018, His Eminence Metropolitan Agapit (Bevtsik) of Mogilev-Podolsky and Shargorod was approached by people from the SSU in church in Bukovina, despite the SSU’s denial of having had contact with him, who offered to take him to Kiev to speak with His Eminence Metropolitan Simeon of Vinnitsa.
In the framework of martial law in November-December 2018 the SSU conducted a number of searches, interrogations and persecutions of the UOC priests. Searches took place in the priests’ private premises and in churches in Kyiv, Zhytomyr, Ovruch and Korosten. The case was opened under the article “on inciting ethnic hatred.” Thus, In November 2018, a search was conducted at the place of residence of the vicar of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra Metropolitan Pavel of Vyshgorod and Chernobyl. Earlier, at a briefing on November 29, Metropolitan Pavel spoke about the pressing by the authorities, and noted that he did not exclude searches by the Ukrainian special services. In December 2018, the search took place directly in the Holy Cross Cathedral in Zhytomyr.
In December 2018, 14 priests of the diocese of Rivne and Sarny deans of the diocese received a summons for interrogation from security Service of Ukraine in Rivne region as witnesses in the criminal case “on inciting ethnic hatred” and “high treason”. Mitred-Archpriest Alexander Egorov visited the interrogation, he also commented: “We are accused of being not patriots, they say that we do not like Ukraine, that we have to go away. We were born here, we went to Ukrainian schools, we received Ukrainian education, we studied in Ukrainian seminaries, we are patriots of our country, we love our state, we defend the interests of our state, we recognize the integrity of our state. And at the same time, we have an inflexible Orthodox position – we are Orthodox, we stand on the same steps of Orthodoxy as our Primate does, on the steps of our sacred Church which granted our office, and to which we took oath of allegiance to God“.
On March 12, Archpriest Viktor Zemlyany, the head of the Rivne Diocese’s Department for the Settlement of Interfaith Conflicts, was handed a summons by the SSU Deputy Head in Rivne for questioning,they tried to accuse him of inciting inter-religious strife. The court denied.
On February 13, 2019 UOC Bishop Gedeon (Kharon) was to be deported from Ukraine, and his internationa passport was cancelled, which the fact is a gross violation of the Constitution and the legislation of Ukraine guaranteeing the citizen of Ukraine the right to return to the country. The detention of the hierarch of the UOC was carried out by the SSU, which seized the passport from him and declared it “lost”. The reason was the active civil position of the Bishop who reported around the world about the facts of oppression of the Church in Ukraine. On February 5, 2019, Bishop Gedeon (Kharon) of Makarov, vicar of the Kiev Metropolis, abbot of the Tithe Monastery of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God, presented the evidence of discrimination of the canonical Church by the Ukrainian authorities to the US Congress. Bishop Gedeon also conveyed to the US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and the American congressmen an official appeal of the UOC, in which the Church asks to consider cases of violation of the rights and freedoms of believers.
Those actions were clearly aimed at intimidating priests and encouraging them to take part in the Unification council of the Orthodox churches of Ukraine” or to support its further existence and not to spread the truth about the situation in Ukraine. At the same time, in December 2018, the SSU itself issued brochures describing the alleged involvement of Russian special services in the activities of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Relative information appeared on the official website of the Department.
In December 2018, On December 7 the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church stated that its episcopate, clergy, and believers were put under pressure and subjected to criminal prosecution after the Council of Bishops of the UOC held on November 13, 2018. The UOC stated that the groundless criminal prosecution and exertion of pressure on the episcopate, clergy, and believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is being done by state bodies in order to force them to take part in the so-called Unification Council and further transition to the UAOC. The UOC considers that such actions are a violation of the constitutional right of Ukrainian citizens to freedom of religion.
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 A. Derkach, “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.”
A number of people’s deputies also did not join the approval of illegal actions of the authorities of Ukraine; in September 2018, they sent a letter to Bartholomew, Patriarch of Constantinople with a warning against hasty actions and involvement in internal Ukrainian political games.
Another goal of the whole campaign for autocephaly is to seize the UOC property, as evidenced by the words of one of its initiators – the head of the non-canonical UOC-KP Filaret: “The State has transferred its property to be used by the Ukrainian Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. But when the Ukrainian Church is recognized here, the Lavras (both Kyiv-Pechersk and Pochaev) will be handed over to the Ukrainian Church.” At the same time, the Law of Ukraine “On freedom of conscience and religious organizations” (1991) directly establishes “A religious organization shall not interfere in the activities of another religious organization or in any way preach enmity or intolerance towards non-believers or followers of other faiths ” (art. 5). Director of the Department of religious and ethnic Affairs of the Ministry of culture A. Yurash declared that Lavras were let out to the UOC for rent by the state, and to dispose of their further destiny is in the competence of the state. That is, if violations were revealed in the sanctities’ transfer procedure, this could be a reason for revising the contract leas. This issue is within the competence of the Cabinet of Ministers”, and accordingly the official excluded the possibility of termination of contracts through the court, although article 124 of the Constitution clearly establishes that the jurisdiction of the courts in Ukraine extends to any legal dispute, and this is exactly the case. The property of religious organizations and their property rights are protected by the law (article 18 of the Law of Ukraine “On freedom of conscience and religious organizations”), and the appeals of Filaret and Poroshenko to change the existing property rights should receive a legal assessment. At the same time, a number of churches was transferred by the state for the use of religious organizations (Art. 17 of the Law of Ukraine “On freedom of conscience and religious organizations” (1991)), and such use is carried out in fact by regional and Kyiv and Sevastopol state administrations; and it is due to such transfer to the use, and not to the property an open struggle may begin, when the administrations appointed by Kyiv in the regions will begin to collect churches and transfer them to ne UAOC.
It should be noted that Ukrainian authorities chose the way proclaimed by the Director of the Department of religious and ethnic Affairs of the Ministry of culture A. Yurash in the case of taking-off Lavras from the UOC. Thus, on November 28, 2018, the government canceled Order No. 438 “On the Exclusion of the Buildings of the Holy Dormition-Pochaev Lavra from the Kremenets-Pochaev State Historical-Architectural Reserve,” dated July 17, 2003. And, earlier, on November 26, the Ministry of justice satisfied the complaint of the Kremenets-Pochayevsky State Historical and Architectural Reserve and canceled re-registration of the complex of buildings of the Holy Dormition Pochayiv Lavra. In response to the government’s decision, the UOC stated that the monastery is still in use of the denomination, and the right of use acquired before 2013 is not subject to mandatory state registration.
In January 2019, the media reported that the Poroshenko’s administration has instructed the leadership of the Kiev Caves Lavra Museum and the Kremenets-Pochaev State Historical-Architectural Reserve to prepare administrative court claims on the termination of the monasteries’ leases to the canonical UOC.
Creation in September 2018 by the Ministry of culture of Ukraine of the commission of assessment of the property of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is also aimed at implementing the idea of “autocephaly”. The purpose of this Commission is to attempt to inventory the property before its raider seizure. The inventory of the property of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra began in November 2018.
The authorities are trying to create the appearance of support for the idea of “Autocephalous Church” and thus face open forgery and diplomatic scandals. The Ukrainian foreign Ministry issued a statement that the Vatican «respects» the decision of Kyiv on the establishment of an Autocephalous Church. At the same time, the Vatican denied it: “The Apostolic Nunciature in Ukraine once again confirms the position repeatedly expressed by the Holy see, for whom the question of creating a single Ukrainian Orthodox national Church is an internal matter of the Orthodox Church, which the Holy see has not given and does not intend to provide any assessment.”
Rector of the Moscow theological Academy Archbishop Vereysky Ambrose (Ermakov) appeared in the database, the infamous Ukrainian site of the «Peacemaker» as «the enemy of Ukrainian people», besides, this website places private data of opponents of the authorities, a lot of human rights organizations required its closure in September 2018. It should be noted that the same database contains data of a number of hierarchs of the UOC: archbishops of Genichesk and Nova Kakhovka, Lviv and Galitsky, Krivyi Rog and Nikopol, Kamenets-Podilsk and Horodok, as well as heads of Khust and Vynohradiv diocese and of Donetsk diocese.
Supervised by the authorities, “the establishment of autocephaly” is contrary to the laws of the state both as part of the separation of Church and state (article 35 of the Constitution), and violates the freedom of citizens in the performance of rites and union of citizens in religious organizations enshrined in the Law of Ukraine “On freedom of conscience and religious organizations” (1991).
UOC believers do not want to receive “autocephaly” from an alien religious organization – the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Thus, the believers of the UOC, led by Bishop Pimen, vicar of the diocese of Rivne, made a pilgrimage to the Holy cities of Constantinople, Izmir and Ephesus on May 21-26. The Ukrainians met with the representative of the Patriarch of Constantinople and conveyed an appeal signed by 50,000 believers asking that the issue of granting autocephaly be considered only within the framework of Canon law. As of the end of June 2018, about 400 thousand relevant signatures had already been transferred. In addition, the Patriarchate of Constantinople itself, which sent two exarchs to Ukraine on September 7, 2018 for creating an “Autocephalous Church”, is not a religious organization registered in the country. According to the Law of Ukraine “On freedom of conscience and religious organizations” (1991) there is no obligation to inform the state about the establishment of religious communities (art. 8), but “Religious authorities and centers operate on the basis of their statutes (provisions) registered in the manner prescribed by article 14 of this Law” (art. 9). These undoubtedly include the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” created by it. At the same time, this appointment violated the 2nd rule of the Second Council of Constantinople: “Without being invited, may the bishops not go beyond their area.”The appointment of exarchs in Kyiv by Phanar took place without the knowledge of Metropolitan Onufryi, as a single canonical Bishop of the city of Kyiv.
In the framework of the process of UAOC creation, seizure of the temples of the UOC took place. In December 2018 in Vinnitsa, Metropolitan Simeon transited to UAOC sent a group of people to seize the Holy Transfiguration Cathedral. Most of the Vynnytsia priests of the UOC did not support him (500 against 19), and demanded the authorities to leave the Church alone and return the Cathedral. After Tomos, the process of seizure of churches became avalanche-like.
The authorities both in the center and the regions actively prevented the Procession of the UOC in July 2018 devoted to the 1030th anniversary of Christianization of Kievan Rus. Representatives of the Security Service of Ukraine blocked the passage of five buses with the faithful from Zaporozhye eparchy during the technical stop on the embankment highway in Zaporozhye. Officials banned all carriers Ovruch district to go July 27 to Kiev. Information about the obstruction of the Procession of the UOC was recorded by representatives of the OSCE Special monitoring mission in Ukraine.
At the same time, the structures of the UOC-KP were assisted in organizing their Religious procession at the state level. On July 28, local administrations themselves organized buses to participate in the celebrations of the UOC-Kyiv Patriarchate. Archbishop of Sumy and Okhtyrka of the UOC Evlogy (Hutchenko) shared similar information. “On the instructions of the “top” Sumy regional state administration is engaged in the organization of vehicles and delivery of people to Kyiv on the so-called Procession of the so-called UOC-KP, – wrote his Grace on his Facebook page. – Instructions are given to the heads of districts, village and settlement councils to organize people for this event.” Similar information came from Zaporozhye, Cherkassy and Kherson, as well as Ternopil Oblasts. During the organization of the UOC in October 2018, Kyiv-Svyatoshyn District administration ordered the heads of local governments to provide people for participating in the event “in the maximum possible number” from each settlement.
In anticipation of the organization of the UOC in October 2018, The VRU decided to transfer the St. Andrew’s Church to Patriarch Bartholomew. At the same time, this decision is extremely doubtful from a legal point of view, which drew the attention of the Main Scientific and Expert Department of the Verkhovna Rada: “The decision to transfer to use a state-owned property is essentially a legal act of an individual nature and cannot be the subject of the law.
Transfer to use of specific a state-owned property facilities does not belong to the powers of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, and is the constitutional prerogative of the Cabinet of Ministers, according to law.”The transfer of the St. Andrew’s Church to the Greeks has no historical justification, as well: The Church was built in the 18th century, on the personal instructions of Empress Elizabeth.
These actionscontradict the Law of Ukraine “On freedom of conscience and religious organizations” (1991): “All religions, creeds and religious organizations shall be equal before law. Establishment of any privileges or limitations of one religion over the other shall be prohibited” (art.4).
The AFU and MIA structures continue to illegally interfere the work of the UOC priests among military officers and national guards. So, on August 14, 2018, on the day of the feast of the Support of the Honorable Cross, believers and clergy of the Odessa diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church were not allowed to worship in the Saints Cyril and Methodius Church at the Odessa Military Academy. At the same time, chaplains of the “Kyiv Patriarchate” and the UGCC were freely admitted to the territory of the Academy. The military officers simply did not let them at the checkpoint of the Academy, explaining that by “oral order” of the authorities. In November 2018, there was information about the existence of an order with the stamp “for official use” on barring the chaplains of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church out military units. “Lists with the names of priests of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church called “participants of hybrid war” were formed”… These documents were sent on-site by the General Staff.” In January 2019, the priests of the UOC stopped their liturgical activities in the Church in the territory of one of the military units of the Rivne garrison. This was reported on the page of the operational command “West” in the social network.
All sorts of media actively incite religious hatred in the country by throwing information fakes and distorted news into the information space. Thus, in June 2018, the publication “SNN-news” with reference to “Corruption.Info” without any names, dates or other details, hinting at least some reliability reported that the priests of the Holy Dormition Pochaeyiv Lavra do not commune children saying “our father” the Lord’s Prayer in Ukrainian. This fact was denied in the Lavra. In July 2018, many Central Ukrainian media were happy to spread a fake video from the Procession of the UOC devoted to the 1030th anniversary of Christianization of Kievan Rus, where a representative of nationalists dressed as a cleric of the UOC spread anti-state appeals. Later, none of them came out with a refutation. There were active manipulations of the number of participants of both processions. Certain “religious media” accused the participants of the Procession in August 2018 in Pochayiv of quoting the Bible. This provision contradicts the Law of Ukraine “On freedom of conscience and religious organizations” (1991): “Any direct or indirect limitation of rights and the granting of any advantages to citizens based on their attitude to religion, or incitement to enmity or hatred in connection with religious beliefs, or insulting citizens’ feelings, entail the legal consequences established by law.” (art. 4).
Several regional councils of the Western Ukraine required the SSU to check “anti-Ukrainian activities” of the UOC denying the title of the UOC: “Throughout its existence in the territory of our state the Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, which in the future should be called the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine, acted as an instrument of Russification of the Ukrainian people, however, it still remains the leading information force in the hybrid war waged by the Russian Federation against Ukraine” (Ivano-Frankivsk regional Council, December 8, 2018),“the anti-State activity of representatives of the UOC has become a serious challenge to the national security of Ukraine. It is with the assistance of the UOC that the literature of an expressive anti-Ukrainian tenor is distributed in Ukraine, refuring Russia’s aggression. While the war in the East of Ukraine is presented as a civil war… Given this, we ask you to take all urgent measures to prevent the subversive activities of the Russian Orthodox Church as the UOC in the territory of Ukraine, including in state and local authorities, the Armed Forces of Ukraine, law enforcement agencies and educational institutions” (Rivne regional Council, March 16, 2018).
In December 2018, amendments were adopted to the Law of Ukraine “On freedom of conscience and religious organizations” (1991) (draft law No. 5309), which, in the opinion of their initiators and pro-government “experts” should force the UOC to change the name. The new provisions provide that the draft law obliges “the churches included in the structure of a religious organization, the center of which is located in the state that committed military aggression against Ukraine, to indicate such affiliation in its name“. As stated in the draft law, renaming should take place within three months. If the renaming does not occur within 4 months, the Charter of the church organization in the part of the provisions defining the name shall be cancelled. At the same time, it should be noted that the UOC falls under these rules neither formally nor legally, as it has repeatedly stated. According to its Charter, it is a Church unaffiliated with Moscow.
However, in January 2019, the authorities decided to use the newly adopted norm of renaming religious organizations in order to increase pressure on the UOC. The Ministry of Culture published a list of religious organizations that should change the name. The Ministry of Culture, based on the results of religious studies, found that the updated law “On freedom of conscience” covers a number of religious organizations, including the UOC. In order to hide obvious personal orientation of the law, a number of Old Believers’ churches was included in the list, but the word “Russian” had been already present in their names. Now these churches are given three months to change their Charters and submit their new version to the Ministry of Culture. But, according to the Charter of the UOC, the Supreme bodies of Church power and administration of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church are the UOC Council, the Council of Bishops and the Holy Synod of the UOC headed by the Metropolitan of Kyiv and all Ukraine. At the same time, the law clearly states that the renaming should take place if the Charter of the Church refers to the decision-making center located in Russia. That is, the UOC does not legally fall under the law. Ideologically and practically, the UOC of the Kyiv Patriarchate wants to own this brand for a long time. And the last statements of Filaret only confirm the fact. Therefore, the actions of the authorities are going in this direction. At the same time, according to the state registration of legal entity in January 2019, the UOC was officially registered as the Kiev Metropolis of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Orthodox Church of Ukraine). The canonical church called the registration of the UOC as “Kiev Metropolis of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church” raiding and reminded that this name was assigned to them.
In addition, according to the main scientific and expert Department of the Verkhovna Rada, the draft law No.5309 should not have been adopted: «1. It is not consistent with the secular nature of the Ukrainian state, which is enshrined in the Constitution of Ukraine, 2. It can lead to destructive processes in the religious sphere, 3. The document “excessively details the peculiarities of entry of one religious organization into another religious organization”. It is noted that such an approach is incorrect, because religious organizations have an exclusive right to determine their canonical subordination. 4. The draft law does not explain the concept of “management center (directorate)”, which the fact creates conditions that make it difficult to implement the legislative provisions in practice. 5. The norm on the prohibition to clergy of the UOC-MP to perform divine services and to stay in places of deployment of the Armed Forces of Ukraine was also criticized, because it contradicts article 35 of the Constitution of Ukraine and violates the principle of equality of all religious denominations in Ukraine.”
Due to the fact that the situation with counteraction of ordinary crime in Ukraine is in a deplorable state, Law enforcement agencies do not cope with the crime wave that has engulfed the country.places of worship and their ministers do not remain out of attention of criminal elements.
In the first weeks of 2018 alone, there were more robberies of the UOC churches committed than in the last six months. What can we say about the results for the whole year. In particular, in the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Holosiivskyi Deanery an unknown intruder broke the frame of icon cases and stole jewellery that were brought by believers for two icons as a sign of gratitude to God. A few days earlier, before the feast of Circumcision, donations were stolen from the Our Lady of Kazan Church at the National scientific center of radiation medicine of the National Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine. Thieves took out Church utensils and heaters from the Church. At the same time, previously, about 6-7 penetrations of thieves into the temples were recorded annually. In the remaining part of the year the situation was not improved. On may 1, 2018, an attempt was made to rob the Resurrection of Christ Church of the UOC at Lesnoyie cemetery in Kyiv. The attacker, who tried to steal the censer, the incense and the Gospel Book was detained. On May 22, 2018 an attempt was made to rob the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God “The Sign” in Solomyanskaya deanery of Kyiv.
The situation is even worse in the regions. Thus, in the Odessa diocese of the UOC, it is stated that last year none of the 19 robberies and desecrated churches was disclosed.On the night of 7 February 2018, of the Holy virgin Church in the city of Chernomorka in Odessa Oblast was robbed. For the second time for the month, The attackers entered the Church and stole donations of believers. On the night of March 27, 2018, in the village of Roksolany in Ovidiopol district of Odessa Oblast a desecration of St. Seraphim of Sarov Church was committed. Attackers got into the Church through a window, preliminary having pulled out the grid and having broken glass. As a result of vandalism all the locks were broken, all donations to the church were scattered, and oil brought by parishioners at the memorial service was spilled . Church utensils and vestments were scattered on the floor and desecrated. Committing desecration of the Holy place, the offenders escaped unpunished. Another daring robbery occurred on the night of June 27 to 28, 2018 in The Don Icon of the Mother of God Church of the UOC located in the Western cemetery of Odessa. Breaking the window blinds and the window, the four criminals entered the church and began to destroy everything inside. The attackers disconnected the alarm system and damaged the block with surveillance cameras, scattered and broke church utensils. Then vandals began to break boxes for donations with funds raised for the construction of the first in Ukraine Orthodox hospice for oncological patients “Pokrov”. Over the past few years, more than 50 churches have been robbed in the Odessa Oblast – none of the crimes have been solved.
On the night ofFebruary 26 to 27, 2018, the the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Marywas robbed and desecrated in the village of Klinovo, Holovanivskyi district, Kirovohrad Oblast. The criminals took out of the Church two local ancient shrines: the icon of the Holy Great Martyr Panteleimon and the icon of Blessed Virgin Mary “”Axion Estin””, which were of great value to the villagers. They were brought from Athos mount about three hundred years ago. Vandals also damaged the altar part of the church: the Cup from the Eucharistic set was on the floor, and the altar Gospel Book was moved. The crime has never been solved.
On the night of February 23 to 24, 2018 unknown robbed the temple of the Molchensky women’s monastery of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Putivl in Sumy Oblast. Vandals broke windows, broke doors, broke precious icons, stole the silver, damaged the Church utensils. The crime has never been solved.
On June 19, 2018, at about 1 am, two unidentified men brutally beat the 66-year-old guard of the Great Martyr Panteleimon Temple in Melitopil when they committed a robbery. The man died in hospital.
On June 27, 2018 In Transcarpathia rector of Holy ascension Church in village of Chornotysiv 78-year-ol Archpriest of Ephraim the Rosoha was severely beaten. On the night of July 23 to 24, 2018, in the village of Loknyste in Mensky district, Chernihiv Oblast an armed assault was made on the house of the priest. As a result, Archpriest Stefan Haviy, the mother and 6-year-old grandson suffered. Criminals turned everything in the house, but their prey was insignificant savings of the priest and the mother’s earrings. The attackers disappeared on the father Stefan’s car, an old VAZ-2106 which was left by them in Chernigov.
On March 30, 2019in the village of Mnyshyn near the temple of the UOC, an official of Goshchansky district administration beat a believer. According to eyewitnesses, Deputy Chairman of the Goshchansky District State Administration Taras Homenyuk arrived on March 30 in the Church of the UOC in the village of Mnyshyn for discussing alternate services. Representatives of the Kyiv Patriarchate and believers of the UOC first discussed in the Church, and the official openly took the position of the UOC-KP community, and when he realized that the negotiations did not give the desired result, he finished them and went outside. According to local residents who watched from afar, there was a verbal skirmish between Taras Gomenyuk and the young believer of the UOC, after which the official began to beat the guy. One of parishioners of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church filmed the fight on the phone, it subsequently helped the victim as the official wanted to write a statement to the police.
On March 17, 2019, unknown attackers desecrated and robbed the UOC Church in Kyiv. Burglars broke into the temple building through the window in the altar part of the temple. “The vandals threw the Holy Sacraments from the thrones, knocked down the seven-branched candlestick. All the donations from the box, as well as silver crosses and chains were taken by thieves.” A police squad arrived and recorded the event.
In December 2018, the founder and leader of the right sector group, the leader of the Ukrainian volunteer army, ex-Deputy Dmitry Yarosh called on for a “hunt” for “Moscow priests” . This fact clearly falls under the crime under part 1 of article 161 of the Criminal code of Ukraine.
Therefore, it is not surprising that the churches of the UOC are blown up. So, in January 2019, during the evening service in the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Cathedral of Sumy, an explosive device was detonated.
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. After all, they pray for the success of Poroshenko and Klitschko.
Within the whole set of ordinary crimes committed against the clergy and churches, the state law enforcement agencies, and first of all the National police fail to perform their direct functions – the fight against crime. An oppressive impression is made not only by the fact of commission of crimes, but also inability to solve them by law enforcement agencies. This is contrary to the relevant law, which states that “the national police of Ukraine is the Central Executive body that serves society by ensuring the protection of human rights and freedoms, combating crime, maintaining public safety and order” (article 1 of the Law of Ukraine “On National police” (2015)).
The report of OHCHR on the situation of human rights in Ukraine (March 2019) says: the UAOC creation contributes to the exacerbation of inter-faith conflicts in Ukraine. Its target – is exclusively the UOC. This fact contradicts the statements of Petro Poroshenko and Patriarch Bartholomew that the split has finally been overcome. “During the reporting period, 10 cases of threats and acts of intimidation against clergy and parishioners predominantly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate were documented,” the document says. The UN is concerned about further aggravation of the political situation in the country. This, in turn, violates freedom of religion and belief. From here, violations of other human rights, such as freedom of thought and expression, are at hand. This is especially important on the eve of election. It is noted that in November 2018, During the reporting period, the SSU in several regions of Ukraine initiated several criminal investigations into incitement to religious enmity and hatred; “One of these cases has an additional charge of high treason, without issuing notices of suspicion” the report says. The SBU conducted searches in the premises of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate and places of residence of clergymen. Mass interrogations of priests in different regions of Ukraine should be added. “Many respondents regard these actions as pressing upon them. Despite the absence of direct threats or coercion, they consider these actions attempts to influence their opinion about autocephaly,” the authors of the document write. They also recalled the forced renaming of the UOC, emphasizing that this Church is implied in the discriminatory law. The UN also considers the law on military chaplains which prohibits the priests of the UOC MP to feed the army to be a violation of human rights. “This is contrary to the provisions of the International Covenant on civil and political rights, because security is not an acceptable basis for restricting freedom of religion or belief,” the document says.
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. Later 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.
Obstacles are often put in way of opposition political parties. Representatives of the organization “C14”, July 6, 2018, broke into the building of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Ukraine and disrupted the event carried out by the political party “Rozumna Syla”. Radicals burst into the room rented by the “Rozumna Syla” and beat the Deputy Head Oleksandr Savchenko. In September 2018, “activists” in Lviv threw tomatoes at the participants of the action from the parties “Za Zhyttia” (“For life”) and “Ukrainian choice”. People rallied for lower gas prices, refusal of IMF loans, increase in salaries and pensions. In December 2018, “activists” members of the group “C14” attacked the representation of the party “Nashi” in the Dnipro. In December 2018, unknown people attacked the office of the party “Rozumna Syla” in Kiev. A gang of aggressive masked young men in camouflage burst into the room and, without looking what is what, began to severely beat all those present. It was a real bashing: furniture and equipment were broken. Several party employees were injured, among them the head of the Central staff and the chief political consultant of the Party Andrei Bodrov. Pogromists were so confident of their impunity that they haven’t forgotten to film beating.
In December 2018, in Rivne, unknown people tried to disrupt feminist training. 10 people blocked the entrance to the “INFOHUB” premises in Rivne, trying to disrupt the training “More equality! Feminism in everyday life.” The consultant of the Womens International League Nina Potarskaya told about that fact on her Facebook page. The patrol police arrived at the scene. The Police let one of the attackers into the room and invited him to “negotiate with the organizers.”
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 names of the Russian hero-cities of the World War II were painted off.
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. 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 November 2018 The SSU conducted a search in Kiev in the apartment of the famous human rights activist Elena Berezhnaya.
On November 28, in Odessa dwellers of Gagarin plateau protested against the greenfield site development, they were dispersed by police officers. Some participants of the action were subjected to force by the police. According to protesters, they wanted to prevent developers by blocking entrance to the construction site for equipment. Before the arrival of the squad, the police promised that law enforcement officers will take no violent measures towards the protesters. However, at the scene, the police brutally dispersed the protest and detained one participant of the action.
Criminal cases continue to be brought against opposition politicians for their statements. In January 2019 The the Prosecutor General’s Office has opened the criminal case against one of the leaders of “Oppositional platform For life” V. Medvedchuk in connection with possible treason and separatism. The reason was his statement at the party Congress on January 29, 2019 in Kiev on the need for the formation of the so-called “Autonomous Donbass region” with the formation of its own Parliament and government, with further entrenchment of such status in the Constitution of Ukraine.” The Prosecutor General initiated the same question after Boyko and Medvedchuk’s trip to Moscow in March 2019.MEPs condemn criminal case against the representative of the “Opposition platform – For life” Viktor Medvedchuk. “It looks very much as he is being prosecuted or persecuted for views he held. Quite write views which he expressed, for some sort of solution for the problem in the Donbas region. Viktor Medvedchuk voiced his (views), he has the right to say what he thinks,” – David Coburn, MEP, says.
On March 13th in Cherkassy employees of the National Police searched the home of the writer Oleg Slepynin because he published articles against the granting of Tomos to Ukraine. According to the police, the investigative actions against the writer were carried out on the basis of criminal proceedings under Article 161 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.
The public figure Eduard Kovalenko, convicted under Article 114-1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine – “Preventing the lawful activity of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and other military formations” on August 13, 2018, went on hunger strike and demanded from the authorities to release him from custody and to completely acquit him and other political prisoners after the events of 2014. 100 days later, in connection with his deteriorating health, he switched to partial starvation. In January 2015, E. Eduard Kovalenko opposed mobilization in Ukraine. As a result, he was detained by the SSU and sentenced. In March 2019, the sentence of E. Kovalenko – 5 years of imprisonment for speaking at an anti-war rally against mobilization in Henichesk was upheld by the Supreme court of Ukraine. This case is a flagrant violation of the norms of the European Convention on human rights, which provides for the right to freedom of assembly and speech, trampled by the Ukrainian “reformed” Supreme court. This sentence is the first in Ukraine to come into force under the Article 114-1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine – “Preventing the lawful activity of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and other military formations”.
In March 2018, policemen destroyed tent camp of supporters of Mikheil Saakashvili set in front of the Ukrainian parliament in Kiev, many of them were beaten and detained. The journalist of Radio Liberty R. Nuzhnenko was also beaten. 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, 111 people were taken to the police station, most of them were 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.
On October 14, 2018 in Kyiv near the Independence Maydan activists fought with the police due to an attempt to set up a tent. Activists tried to carry the tent to Maidan, but policemen took it away. As a result, there was a skirmish in Mikhaylovskaya. The parties used batons and tear gas.
On March 8, 2019 the March of women, feminists and LGBT community was held. The demonstrators were attacked by the representatives of right-wing organizations. As a result of clashes with the police, at least four people were detained.
Freedom of assembly was also violated during the election campaign. On March 16, 2019 at the meeting of the candidate Poroshenko in Uzhgorod (Transcarpathia) unknown persons beat and violently brought out in an unknown direction a person who shouted the question inconvenient for the President. Law enforcement officers were present at the meeting, however, they did not react to the beating. During the incident, the candidate Poroshenko continued his election speech from the stage. On March 16, before the campaign appearance of President Poroshenko in Poltava, the police detained and beat the representatives of the right-wing radical group “National Corps”, who threw toy pigs, symbolizing corruption at the police. On March 17, during the campaign appearance of President Poroshenko in Kyiv, unknown assailants attacked a group of protesters against the policy of the President. The attack was carried out in the presence of police officers.
On March 16, 2019 in Poltava police have arrested about dozen people before the campaign appearance by President Petro Poroshenko. Representatives of “National Militia” threw toy pigs at law enforcement officers with the requirement to bring to responsibility Oleg Gladkovsky, First Deputy Secretary of National Security and Defence Council for theft in the defense sphere.
On January 2nd 2019 the Kamenka-Bugsky district court of the Lvov region sentenced the public activist Oleg Litvinenko to 3.5 years of imprisonment for his participation in a protest meeting. The court approved a deal involving a guilty plea between the prosecutor and the defendan. Being in custody in the pre-trial detention center for more than 20 months – since March 30th 2017, the defendant had actually served the sentence imposed on him. As a result, the court released Litvinenko from prison (under “Savchenko’s law”).
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.
In November 2018 in Kiev, unknown masked persons broke into the premises of the news agency “Interfax-Ukraine” during a press conference on the topic “Corruption in Ukrainian Football” with the participation of sports journalists, the chief editor of the magazine “Football” Artem Franco and lawyer, representative of NPO “Initiative for the future” Oleg Skopinskyi. They said that would be interfering with a press conference, while speakers would not withdraw from the Agency. A similar case occurred on August 3 in Kyiv. The press center “Ukrainski Novini” was attacked by about 20 radicals. They tried to disrupt the press conference of ZARINA jewelry house. Radicals began to insult speakers at the press conference, and to shout loudly in order to disrupt it. They also pated the press center over with leaflets and bombarded the speakers, and the administrator of the press center with eggs.
There are further infringements of the right to freedom of expression in the scientific and pedagogical process. In March 2019, Professor of the Department of modern history of the National University “Odessa Maritime Academy” Andrei Pospelov was dismissed for the development of the textbook for Odessa students called “My hometown Odessa”. Among others, it was mentioned in the manual that Odessa was the administrative center of the Novorossiysk Governorate General which the fact activists considered “promotion of Novorossiya”. In addition, they were outraged that the textbook did not sufficiently reflect the role of Ukrainian nationalists in the life of Odessa, aand the legitimacy of the Kiev Central Rada during the Civil war was placed in doubt. Activists appealed to the Ministry of Defense, the latter convened a special commission to study the works of Pospelov. After two months of work, the commission concluded that “the ideological concept of Pospelov is unacceptable for a scientific and pedagogical worker of a military educational institution.” As well, Pospelov was accused of carrying out “paid propaganda work in favour of the aggressor country”; and the commission decided to transfer the relevant materials to the SSU counterintelligence for subsequent response. “Members of the Commission signed their full commitment to the ideology and the complete lack of respect for the basic law of Ukraine — our Constitution”, — Pospelov stated.
In January 2019, The administration of the National Academy of fine arts in Kiev expelled Spartacus Khachanov, the author of anti-war installation, called “the Parade of members” about the war in the Donbass. The decision was made after visiting the Academy by representatives of the right-wing organization “C14”. In this case, there is a clear pressure against the self-expression of the creative person. A former student was granted asylum in Finland.
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. 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.
In February 2019, During the duration of the martial law, Amnesty International observed reports that the authorities began restricting public assemblies, freedom of movement for non-residents, in particular, citizens of the Russian Federation, and freedom of the media. Another regular target of attacks by members of far-right groups were lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) rights activists and events dedicated to the rights of LGBTI people. There is no significant response from the authorities to such acts. Thus, forexample, an open public event ‘The Offensive against LGBTI Rights as a Form of Censorship: The Russian experience” was due to be held at the privately hired. More than 20 attackers arrived at the venue and threatened theparticipants with violence unless they left. Five officers from Pechersk District Police force were present but refused to intervene. Only after the arrival of a group of City Patrol Policemore than an hour later were the participants able to safely leave the venue, but the event hadto be cancelled.
The OHCHR report on the human rights situation in Ukraine (March 2019) notes constant attacks on peaceful assemblies and police inaction. The UN recorded 17 violations. It is about the activities of minorities and people who represent alternative views. “In ten documented incidents, the police did not provide security of participants of such meetings, and no action was taken against the attackers on such events. In at least seven cases, the attackers were members of extreme right-wing groups,” the report said. And in some cases, the police was standing next to attackers, however, did not even try to detain them – neither at the time of the attack, nor after it. “Instead of opposing the violators, the police detained the participants of the event, or simply dispersed them from the place of the meeting,” the UN members stated.
Interfering in the election
On March 31, 2019, Ukraine will hold presidential election. The election promise to be the most “dirty” in the history of Ukraine. The scope of violations in the pre-election period and direct interference by the authorities in the electoral process for the sake of re-election of Poroshenko is amazing. As noted by the Office of the UN high Commissioner for human rights (OHCHR) – to date, an atmosphere of intimidationprevailed in Ukraine, and the citizens can not openly discuss socially significant issues.
All types of violations can be divided into several groups. First, it is violation of campaigning regulations. Second, it is manipulation of survey results. Third, interfering in the election. Fourth, bribery of voters. And fifth – direct change the outcome of election.
The election campaign was preceded by a whole chain of events directly violating the rights of citizens and democratic principles of the electoral process.
A year before the election, President Poroshenko and his political strategists put forward his pre-election motto “Army, language, faith”. After that, appropriate campaigning materials having the nature of pre-election were distributed over the cities and villages of Ukraine, although pre-election campaigning is prohibited in Ukraine earlier than 3 months before the election.
Then, the embodiment of these theses of Poroshenko were implemented by means of all power of an administrative resource, with violation of the rights of citizens. First, they launched policy of building the state Orthodox Church of Ukraine of unrecognized by certain people Orthodox churches. For this purpose, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and the diplomatic corps were mobilized. As a result, having violated the canonical principles and legislation of Ukraine several times (separation of church and state, signing on behalf of the state of the agreement with the Patriarchate of Constantinople, statements about the UOC discrimination) Poroshenko organized the UAOC, to which some parishes of the UOC began to be joined by force, despite the firm position on non-alignment of priests and parishioners of the UOC.
In order to implement the thesis “mova”, a draft law on Ukrainization of all spheres of life in Ukraine was developed, discriminating the rights of millions of citizens from national minorities, primarily Russian-speaking people. Its adoption is timed to the election.
Another implementation of the motto of “Army” was attempt to use martial law to disrupt the election date, aggravation of the overall situation of “the fight against the aggressor” requiring sticking by the “national leader”, the announcement of all his competitors “agents of the Kremlin”.
From the beginning of the election campaign, a number of draft laws affecting its course were adopted. First, in February 2019, a law was passed on restricting the opportunities of foreign election observers – a law banning Russian citizens from being observers at election in Ukraine, including as part of international observer missions (for example, the OSCE or the Council of Europe). This law, as noted in the OSCE, ” is without precedent and contravenes commitments made by all participating States to invite observers from any other OSCE participating States that may wish to observe election proceedings to the extent permitted by law.”
In addition, in the course of the campaign, a draft law was proposed on toughening criminal liability for violations in the course of the election (Draft law No. 8270 “On amendments to some legislative acts of Ukraine on strengthening responsibility for violation of the electoral law” by the Prime Minister of Ukraine V. Groisman). It proposes to exclude from the disposition of part 2 of article 160 of the Criminal Code the promise to provide the voter with unlawful benefit. Therefore, the promise to provide the voter with illegal benefit does not fall under the elements of the crime, and will not be considered a crime at all. At the same time, the adoption of such a promise by the voter will be qualified as a crime under part 1 of article 160 of the Criminal Code. Lawyers of the main scientific and expert department of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine believe that this leads to excessive criminalization of acts: “For example, accepting a proposal or receiving a bottle of vodka by a voter… will have to be recognized as a crime.” Experts consider such rules excessive, and note that the law should be aimed at prosecuting those who carry out bribery, and not Vice versa.
On the eve of the election campaign, Ukraine’s state policy was aimed at restricting freedom of speech and opinion significantly. The National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting, at the expense of its functions of licensing and imposing fines, remained a tool of pressure on independent media in order to gain a loyal editorial policy towards President Poroshenko. For example, in contrast to the previous campaigns the VRU have not adopted a resolution on a moratorium on media inspections during election. Therefore, the National Council appoints unscheduled checks on the opposition TV channels “Nash” (“Our”) and “112 Ukraine”. There are introduced “black lists” of candidates and experts who are not invited to certain TV channels and are not published in the media. The regional print media actively publishes smear campaign against presidential candidates. Thus, in February, an article against the candidate Volodymyr Zelensky was posted in several printed regional publications ..
The key election campaign body, the Central Election Commission, is formed in such a way that 10 of its 16 members are oriented towards the current president. There is not a single representative of the opposition faction – the Opposition Bloc. It should be noted that the entire leadership of the CEC is directly affiliated with President Poroshenko people. Thus, the head of the CEC celebrated the New Year with the President and the presidential candidate Poroshenko , which directly indicates an existing conflict of interest.
The government attempted to set up the same controlled majorities in 199 district and 30 thousand precinct commissions. At the same time, understaffing, the lack of a quorum and a change in the representatives of candidates remain constant problems for the PECs. In a number of commissions, there is no lawyer.
Journalists and the Ministry of internal Affairs of Ukraine revealed series of violations in the form of bribery of voters. First, the so – called “Net” was launched, that is, purchase of votes of low-income citizens for voting for Poroshenko under the guise of issuing them financial assistance. Data collection was carried out through the state social assistance bodies.
First, in a number of regions of Ukraine (Kiev, Odessa, Chernigov, Khmelnitsky, Sumy, Lugansk, etc.) in January, it was recorded the the so-called “sociological survey” on the readiness to vote for the incumbent President Poroshenko. Formally, it was conducted not by the headquarters of the candidate or his party, but by the public organization “Institute of the development and promotion of democracy” (established in December 2018). The journalists found out that the employees of budgetary institutions were actively involved in carrying out such survey on a paid basis. According to the law on election (part 6. 64), conclusion of paid contracts for carrying out pre-election promotion with voters at the expense of electoral fund is forbidden. In the specified case hidden propaganda activity out of frameworks of expenses of electoral fund was actually carried out under the guise of sociological research.
Then, people who have expressed support for the current President Poroshenko are offered the opportunity to receive additional social payments from the state. The money for social assistance programs, which are approved by local and regional councils, is given to those who are on the “white list” of Poroshenko’s potential supporters. In the Mykolaiv region, 70 million UAH were allocated from the local budget for these programs, 90 million UAH in the Odessa region, 140 million UAH in the Dnipropetrovsk region. The Kharkiv regional program initially provided 18 million UAH for 2019, and then the decision of the regional council session (December 6, 2018) increased the amount to 50 million UAH. From all over the country comes information about the massive bribing of voters – the distribution of so-called “material assistance”, money and products on behalf of the Bloc of Petro Poroshenko. Such facts are recorded on photos and videos, ”the ex-deputy and public activist Yegor Firsov wrote on Facebook and published a video.
On March 30, the public project “Carousel-2019”, which talks about buying votes in the presidential election, published the scheme of the “net” of Petro Poroshenko in Dnipro. The Deputy of the Verkhovna Rada Andriy Pavelko is involved – he supervises all the system of bribery of voters in the city. Alexander Petrovsky, known as a criminal authority “Narik”, is also involved in the scheme of his matchmaker , he is responsible for the power cover of the #Net in Dnipro
In March 2019, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said that they tried buying the electoral votes of pensioners in Kyiv, the Kyiv region and other regions for the fund of the budget program. “I will give an example of one criminal case, which is being investigated in Vasylkiv, Kyiv region. We are talking about buying votes… One of the offices of the pro-government team hires agitators; they choose one hundred people, usually the poorest ones, go to their apartments and ask if they are ready to support the candidate and, if so, they offer to help. Out of a hundred people, 30 says “yes, we are ready.” They write down names of these people, go to the district council or social services with a list and tell the head of the district council or the mayor to give these people a thousand hryvnias. Using the tools of the program “Turbota” which is budgeted”, – said the Minister.
IIn February 2019, the recipients of the minimum pension in the Odessa region were asked to write an application for the provision of one-time financial assistance in the amount of 1000 UAH, representatives of civil society organizations also determine that as an attempt to buy voters. “The launch of a large-scale campaign to provide one-time financial assistance to the general population during the election process can be considered as a kind of abuse of financial administrative resources.
The current national legislation on election does not clearly identify possible abuses of financial administrative resources, which makes it difficult to make a legal assessment. However, the advantages of managing financial resources and the possibility of using them to influence the results of the will of citizens are in conflict with the basic principle of election – equality,” the civil network “OPORA”reported.
In February 2019, Interior Minister A. Avakov announced a search for a case of buying voters by the office of Petro Poroshenko, the so-called “net”. The Minister confirmed for the first time that the buying is being carried out at the expense of the state budget. In total, one and a half billion hryvnia will be allocated for these purposes .
In January 2019, state employees in a number of Ukrainian cities were awarded cash bonuses along with greeting cards from Poroshenko. This is an open bribe to voters and the use of an administrative resource.
In addition, the so-called monetization of subsidies became the quasi-sub-buying of voters, when instead of virtual money that could only go to pay utility bills, citizens began precisely from March 2019 to obtain these sums in their hands.
In addition, in the Odessa region, the activity of the “Mobile Polyclinic” was fixed, which provides free medical examinations and consultations to patients under the auspices of President Poroshenko. In the villages of the Lviv region, residents were invited to discuss the village development plan on the initiative of the President. Such activities bear signs of indirect agitation for Petro Poroshenko as a potential presidential candidate.
The court rejected a lawsuit filed by Ukrainian Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko against the Central Election Commission’s decision not to register him as a candidate in the presidential election. On February 2, the CEC refused to register him as a candidate for the post of President because his party’s charter, name and symbols violate the law “On the denouncement of Communist and national-Socialist (Nazi) totalitarian regimes in Ukraine and ban on propaganda of their symbols”. The Supreme court decided to support the decision of the court of first instance, which refused to satisfy the claims of the leader of the CPU.
Experts note that a number of 44 candidates registered for the first round of the election do not have any electoral support rating and look like “write-in candidate” in comparison to larger participants in the election race. In addition, a “duplicated candidate” was registered against one of the opposition leaders (a candidate with a similar last name and initials “Yu. Timoshenko”). An attempt to establish through judicial proceedings the numbering of candidates for their clearer identification was rejected. With the help of members of district and precinct commissions of “write-in candidates”, the main candidates can manipulate and create profitable composition of the leadership of the commissions. The relevant facts were published in March 2019 by journalists.
Election campaigning of different candidates throughout the country also occurs with violations. The administrative resource is widely used. Covert campaigning for incumbent President was held, campaign materials were placed in the premises of the authorities and public institutions. According to the law on presidential election, it is prohibited to use the premises of public authorities and local self-government for election campaigning (part 20 of article 64) and place there campaign materials and political advertising (part 21 of article 64).
In February-March 2019, Ukrainians on behalf of President Poroshenko send out campaign letters in which they talk about a bright future and recruit extras for his rallies. At the same time, the letters contain information that not all the envelope materials were made for budget money. If so, then this is the official campaign product. However, the CEC does not know anything about it. To date, the President’s letters still continue to be recieved in the regions. The total circulation of Kharkiv, Transcarpathia, Kramatorsk and Donetsk amounted to nearly a million copies.
In the regions that President Poroshenko visited in January-March 2019, regional development councils were held, in which representatives of local self-government and executive authorities took part. According to the OPE (part 1 of Art. 64), campaigning by the specified persons is prohibited. In addition, voters are spreading a campaign package in support of the President with a proposal to write a letter to the President as the head of the Rada of Regional Development This package is accompanied by an appeal in support of the initiatives of the President of the Governor of the relevant region. Such cases were recorded at least in Zaporizhia, Rivne, Vinnitsa.
One of the candidates (Yulia Tymoshenko) demanded in court to recognize illegal actions of the candidate for a post of the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko on carrying out election campaign and establishment of the fact of use of other means for financing election campaign, except the means of the electoral fund. On February 20, the panel of judges of the Sixth administrative court of appeal dismissed the claim.
The authorities are trying to manipulate all sorts of civic organizations observing the election. Thus, on February 12, 2019 “The Committee of Voters of Ukraine” called on the presidential candidate, showman Volodymyr Zelensky to pay for the “Servant of the People-3” from the election fund, evaluating the series as an election campaign. And on February 13, Journalist A. Dubinsky published evidence that this was done by the CVU on the order of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine.
Fake news technology was largely used in the election. Thus, candidate Yu. Timoshenko at the end of March 2019 reported that two structures were investigating against President Poroshenko — OLAF — the European anti-corruption office, and the British SFO — the Serious Fraud Office. However, the next day, this information was refuted by both organizations. On March 24, fake messages appeared in the media that on the day of presidential election in Ukraine on March 31, representatives of military commissariats would be at each polling station. Representatives of the military commissariats will check the documents of all men of military age. The purpose of this message is to bring down the voter turnout in the election.
Experts noted that law enforcement agencies in the framework of the election campaign were divided into two groups to support the company’s participants: The SSU and the Prosecutor General’s Office were accurately positioned on support of incumbent President Poroshenko, while the Ministry of internal Affairs supported the candidate Yulia Tymoshenko. On February 21, the SSU conducted more than 50 searches in various regions in connection with the creation of so-called “election pyramids”, saying that they were suspected of being created by a member of the Batkivshchyna party. Also in the SSU stressed that Russian agents are part of the organizers of this “pyramid”. It is important to stress that on the eve of those searches there were several journalistic investigations about plans of bribery of voters and influence on work of district election commissions by the President Petro Poroshenko. In March 2019, In March 2019, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, not far from the office of the presidential candidate and showman Volodymyr Zelensky, identified listening devices belonging to the SSU.
On February 22, the Interior Ministry representatives detained several representatives of the so-called “nets” of President Poroshenko in Sumy region. In response, the Prosecutor’s office of Sumy region reported suspicion to the chief of police of Sumy region, accusing him of knowingly illegal order. The same day candidate Yu. Tymoshenko praised the work of the MIA in ensuring law and order in the election at a press briefing. Interior Minister A. Avakov, in an interview with one of the Ukrainian media, stated that deputy head of the Petro Poroshenko Bloc in parliament Serhii Berezenko was involved in violations of the electoral legislation.
The work of candidates agitators is paid despite the legislative ban. Among the website ads you can see relevant applications; it is also confirmed by journalistic investigations. Total for the end of February 2019, according to the data of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, there were 50 cases involving buying of 74 criminal proceedings for electoral violations in total .
In January 2019, the Chief of the State Bureau of Investigation, Roman Truba, supported the candidature of Petro Poroshenko, whle he chaired ex officio a neutral department which in theory has the right to open cases against the President.
Suspicious manipulations occur with the Register of voters of Ukraine. Thus, their number suddenly increased: in the early election of 2014, when Poroshenko was elected, there were 34.6 million people in the voter list, and in January 2019, there were already 35.6 million. Thus, the number of voters by the March 2019 election was suddenly increased by a million. Although data on mortality and population says that this cannot be possible: according to the State Statistics Service, the population of Ukraine is only falling – in January-October 2018 Ukrainians decreased by 188 thousand. As stated by the head of the election office of Anatoly Gritsenko, Mykola Katerinchuk “IThere are many inaccuracies in the voter lists, they have not changed since 2015, since the last election. Nearly 1.5 million “dead souls” will be able to vote if we cannot remove them from the voter lists.” According to Katerinchuk, leaving 1.4 million “dead souls” on the voter lists (or 4% of the total number of all voters) was an instruction of the Presidential Administration. Due to mass migration to Europe, to Russia, there are much more voters on the register than they are actually. Moreover, not all of them will be able to come to the polls abroad (and the CEC, who lives in the Russian Federation, directly prohibits it). TAn attempt by Gritsenko’s office, first through the CEC, and then through the court, to gain access to a copy of the voter register in order to analyze it for the presence of “dead souls” was rejected. In March, in Vyshgorod, Kyiv region, a man who died in November 2017 became the secretary of the election commission.
The possible manipulation of the election results is also focused to the including representatives of the SSU controlled President to the groups ensuring the transfer of information about the election results to the CEC. By decision of the CEC, the groups should stop work on March 28, but by the decisions of the district commissions themselves, their presence is extended until the day of voting and data transfer to the CEC. The very presence of representatives of special services at polling stations is not allowed by any legislation of Ukraine. That is, as a result, representatives of the SSU, controlled by one of the presidential candidates of Ukraine, will have access to transfer data to and from district commissions on election day and may influence these results.
On March 28, 2019, journalists described preparations for falsifying the results of presidential election through electronic media. It is noted that the manipulations are prepared at several levels at once – both in the precinct election commissions (PECs) and when sending information from district commissions (DECs) to the Central Election Commission. It is indicated that, in particular, it is planned to replace the data in the process of their transfer from the DEC to the CEC using the technology called “tunnel”. Specialists in the field of IT-technologies explained that we are talking about Tunnel IPsec. In fact, this is an encrypted data transmission channel that can be used to substitute numbers. “How it will be implemented technically, generally, does not matter. The main thing is that between the DEC and the CEC there is another electronic intermediary, where the data are deformed and go to the CEC like that”. It is noted that frauds are being prepared in favor of the current President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko.
According to the Ministry of the Interior, from the beginning of the electoral process and as of February 22, 1,741 allegations and reports of irregularities related to the electoral process were registered. For the most part, these facts were related to illegal agitation (1102), the vote-buying (130), damage to property (130) and hooliganism (27). The police opened 77 criminal proceedings, of which 39 relate to violations of electoral law, and 38 – on the facts related to the election campaign. In addition, law enforcement officers made 401 administrative protocols on violations in the electoral sphere.
The impact on the objectivity of the electoral process may be caused by the fact of the status of observers in the election received by representatives of right-wing extremist organizations known for their military actions: “National Militia”and “Yarosh State Initiative”. So, February 21st, in Dnepr, district election commission No. 24 could not start its work since representatives of the group “C14” blocked access. A significant part of DEC members refused to or simply did not attend the meeting. Representatives of “C14” did not allow the DEC Chairman to perform any actions with respect to the commission. “C14” reported that the claims against the head of the DEC were caused by his supposedly pro-Russian and “separatist” position.
During the entire campaign, cases of damage to campaign materials and billboards of presidential candidates, as well as campaign tents are recorded. In a number of regions, representatives of right-wing groups “C14” and “National Corps” reported about the facts of damage to billboards of opposition candidates (A. Vilkul, E. Muraev) through their pages on social networks. AThere were also reported cases of an attack on the campaign tents of candidates Anatoly Gritsenko (Mykolaiv, February 8), Yulia Timoshenko (Lugansk region, February 16), the Narodny Front party (Kyiv, January 23). On February 22, in Vinnitsa, unknown persons smashed the windows of the front door of a public reception of the party Petro Poroshenko’s Block “Solidarity”. On February 19, presidential candidate O. Bogomolets stated that the head of her election office in Odessa was intimidated, and routed an apartment. Unknowns climbed into the apartment of her trustee, Irina Yarotska, everything was smashed there, but they did not take anything. According to her, “the Election campaign in Ukraine turns into dirty terror, intimidation and threats. That’s how in the 30s of the last century in Germany, Nazi assault troops terrorized their opponents, and then it ended with gas chambers and concentration camps.” In Kyiv, on the night of March 27, unidentified persons burned the car of the trustee of the candidate for the office of President of Ukraine, a deputy of the Kyiv City Council from the All-Ukrainian Association of Volodymyr Nazarenko “Svoboda”.
In January 2019, in fact President P. Poroshenko carried out his election campaign with Tomos from the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the priests from the OCU (the so-called “Tomos- tour” to Rivne , Vinnitsa , Lutsk , Zhytomyr, Cherkassy, Kyiv region, Kharkiv, Ivano-Frankivsk and Lviv). During the “Tomos- tour” as noted by journalists, the spectators were specially taken by bus. Also, in February-March 2016 P. Poroshenko conducted a pre-election tour of the cities of the country with the use of the administrative resource. As a rule, participants of the campaign meetings of the candidate Poroshenko are transported there in a centralized way. Only people listed in the pre-compiled lists can enter the specially fenced and guarded by police zone. Ordinary voters, as well as journalists, are not allowed to Poroshenko’s meetings. In January 2019, journalists of the publication “Strana.UA” were not allowed to Poroshenko’s forum, during which he would announce a campaign to the election.
During the Poroshenko’s campaign, citizens wishing to ask hard-hitting questions to the candidate were attacked, including by Poroshenko himself (he slapped them, twisted noses, stripped of hats, knocked phones from their hands). Officers in plain clothesand hired “PeTushkys” (new name of the former Yanukovych titushkys) attacked journalists and activists at the meetings.
On March 16, before the campaign appearance of President Poroshenko in Poltava, the police detained and beat the representatives of the right-wing radical group “National Corps”, who threw toy pigs, symbolizing corruption at the police and the demands for an honest investigation in the “case of the Svynarchuks”.
At the same time, PeTushkys controlled by the authorities wreck the rallies of other candidates and attack them. Thus, on February 9, 2019 in Kyiv, activists of “C14” under the control of the SSU tried to wreck the rally of candidate Yulia Timoshenko. Presidential candidate A. Gritsenko accused the SSU in attacking him in December 2018, in Odessa. During the campaign, presidential candidates reported cases of physical violence against staff members and themselves. Thus, in January in Kyiv, the cars of the staff of A. Gritsenko were fired at. . In February, the presidential candidate of Ukraine from the association “Opposition Bloc – Party of Peace and Development” O. Vilkul was poured with brilliant green at a meeting with voters in Berdyansk.
The SSU is putting pressure on opposition presidential candidates. On January 15, deputy N. Savchenko, who is in the detention center, said that the SSU was preventing her from registering as a candidate for the post of President of Ukraine. She noted that law enforcement officers do not allow her to meet with a notary in the detention center, that makes it impossible for her to issue documents for registration. On February 13, the Presidential candidate E. Muraev was summoned for questioning to the Prosecutor General’s office in the case of non-payment of taxes under part 3 of article 212 of the Criminal Code. The candidate’s lawyers argue that the case shows signs of political persecution. On 15 February, the General Prosecutor Yu. Lutsenko declared that he filed a statement to the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office on possible crime of candidate Yu. Tymoshenko (illegal enrichment and declaring false information by the candidate). In February, O. Vilkul wrote on his official page on the Facebook, that he was haunted by the staff of the Ukrainian Security Service. On February 7, 2018, the presidential candidate of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, addressed the National Police with a statement about the recorded facts of spying on him. In March 2019, 73 heads of the primary party organizations of the political actors of presidential candidate Yulia Timoshenko in Zaporizhzhya were summoned for questioning in the SSU . In Zhytomyr, representatives of the Batkivshchyna party also said that over 100 of their representatives had already been summons for questioning, and another 300 are planned to be summons.
The CEC of Ukraine in March 2019 by its decision increased the number of ballots in the first round of election by 263 thousand, although there was no objective increase in the number of voters in the register, on the contrary, their number should have decreased, according to the state statistics service of Ukraine, due to the General reduction of the population. It can also be a reserve for fraud.
By all means, the government is trying to limit the electoral right of the residents of Eastern Ukraine who are not loyal to the existing regime. First, in December 2018, has been closed all polling stations in Russia, where about 2 million Ukrainian citizens are employed, most of them are antipathetic towards Poroshenko. In addition, almost 1 million citizens will be deprived of the right to vote in the presidential election 2019 due to the lack of registered residence, they are mainly from the conflict zone in the Donbass. In March 2019, a draft law on disqualification from voting appeared (No. 9007). It provides “to introduce a new type of additional punishment in the form of deprivation of the right to vote in election for crimes against the foundations of national security of Ukraine, electoral rights and certain crimes against public security… The adoption of the law will eliminate the expression of political will by persons who have violated the foundations of a democratic society and the security of the state as a whole.” The Constitution of Ukraine does not provide for such punishment: “Citizens of Ukraine who have attained the age of eighteen on the day election or referendums have the right to vote at the election and referendums. Citizens deemed by a court to be incompetent do not have the right to vote” (art. 70). That is, the draft law itself is unconstitutional and discriminatory, and aims to prevent more opponents of Poroshenko from taking part in the election.
At the same time, at the end of March 2019, another scheme of election fraud by the authorities was revealed. We are talking about the use of votes of residents of uncontrolled territories of Donbass and Crimea. First the procedure for registering such voters was simplified – only passport data and a new address where they will vote were requested. At the same time, the Head of the Council under the Ministry for the occupied territories declared that 90% of immigrants will take part in the election, and 80-90% (1.2 million people) have already received absenteeism coupons. At the same time, the CEC Head previously stated that only 4% of immigrants changed their addresses for voting.
During the 2019 election campaign, the National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting continues the practice of appointing checks to opposition television channels (Nash, 112 Ukraine). In addition, a number of candidates reported the presence of their names in the “black lists” of people who are not invited to certain TV channels and are not published in the media. The campaign is also characterized by broadcasting defamatory information (“smear campaign”) against opponents on TV channels owned by candidates or persons close to them (for example, the “Zashkvareni” cartoon series on close to President Poroshenko “Pryamiy” TV channel).
On March 30, on the day of silence before the presidential election in Ukraine, the National Police of Ukraine received 159 reports of violations of electoral legislation. Most violations were recorded in the capital. For example, 79 applications to the police are related to illegal election campaigning, two cases are hooliganism, one is a threat of physical violence, 69 relate to other facts.
The first round of election on March 31, 2019 passed with violations that did not significantly affect the overall results of the election, but which enabled the pro-government candidate Poroshenko to reach the second round with a difference of 2% from third place.
The following violations were recorded on March 31:
The deputy of the Volyn regional council, Oleksandr Omelchuk, witnessed how a woman at a polling station in the village of Didichi of Kivertsov district noted in her own list of voters people who had come to vote. Subsequently, the deputy’s car was blocked, his mobile phone was torn out and he was threatened.
Near the sites were seen people who stood with some paper lists. This is the grassroots and the most massive link in the “net” – agitators and their coordinators. In the Dnipro district of Kyiv, at station number 800316, two observers were detained from Poroshenko’s office. The police were called after suspicions that both organized a controlled vote – they found lists of apartments and instructions for campaigning. There are many such cases in the province. Controlled voting in favor of Poroshenko was recorded in Zaporizhia. A woman was discovered who gave out money to the voters. Her list was taken away, but she ran away. She picked up the car. 10 persons from this list managed to vote. Members of the commission know many people – these are neighbors. One of these neighbors said that he was given 250 UAH and he voted for Poroshenko. The list is a little over 300 people. Supposedly, the pluses are putted for people agreed to vote, and the minuses are where there is none. The head of the commission explained to the observers that she did not go to the police on the fact of buying-vote, because it was happening outside the polling station. Groups of people who were on duty with voter lists near polling stations were also seen in Kyiv, Chernihiv, Volyn, and Kherson regions. For example, in the Chernihiv region observers recorded people who are on duty near the sites with lists of agitators in their hands. The woman who was called the elder had a list with the names of agitators and supporters. And sometimes it comes to excesses: activists begin to chase people with lists by force. It happens that voters from the list are brought to the polls in an organized way – so that they do not run away.
In Lutsk, on a special voting station 071102 (district 22) at the premises of the regional psychiatric hospital, each voter was given 2 ballots. The PEC members reported to the observers that they were given such instructions by the district commission.
There are violations related to photographing a ballot (to get money for a photo) and an attempt to remove the ballot from the site for the same purposes. In particular, in Zhytomyr, in PEC No 181445, the head and observers recorded how the voter made a photo of the ballot in the voting booth. “Photographer” was taken to the police to draw up a protocol. The Mayor of Zhytomyr Serhii Sukhomlin and the head of the Zhytomyr Regional State Administration Igor Gundich also decided to make a “selfie” with a ballot near the ballot boxes. The observer from the “Uspіshna Varta” in Kyiv gave the police a statement about a crime committed by a blogger Miroslav Oleshko, who made and posted on the social network a photo of the ballot with a mark, which intentionally violated the secrecy of the vote.
At one of the polling stations in Kyiv in the Dniprovskiy district, a female employee of the commission found a pen with ink that disappears. According to representatives of the commission of the polling station, this unusual pen with a surprise was threw to them by unknown persons.
Turnout indicators of a part of the voting stations, especially in the Donbass show an abnormal tendency to increase compared with 2014. That may indicate the stuffing of ballots for residents of uncontrolled territories present in the lists. For example, there are such famous separatists as Givi-Tolstiy and Zakharchenko. Izyum, Kharkiv region, district 177, poll station 630954, the main complaints from voters – “dead souls” in the list of voters.
There were violations at the voting stations abroad – in the embassies of Ukraine. Thus, in fact, there were no observers, and when the activists of the NGO “Countering Electoral Fraud Office” in Madrid and Düsseldorf tried to go to the polling stations, they were rudely prevented from entering. In addition, a number of cities refused to declare intermediate turnout figures .
In addition, due to prevarication on the part of the employees of diplomatic missions of Ukraine and illegal work of polling stations many citizens of Ukraine who came to vote abroad could not do it. In a number of cases, the reason was long queues, in other cases, the absence of citizens in the voter list.
Another mass manifestation of fraud – the issuance of ballots without an internal passport. This violation varied in different ways – in some cities it was allowed to vote with pensioner’s identity document, foreign passport or as in one village in Transcarpathia they gave ballots just for coming – because “we already know each other here”.
In Transcarpathia, at one of the polling stations in Uzhgorod, a voter published on a social network a photo of his ballot, that he made in an election booth with the inscription: “Shoot everyone except candidate X”.
Often there were problems with the lists of voters. In Kyiv (district No 194, polling station 710981), a woman could not find herself in the voter list, although she had received an invitation and had previously voted on this polling station. The same problem occurred in Rivne on precinct 560983. In Lviv (district No 117, precinct 462061), cadets of the Hetman Petro Sahaidachnyi National Ground Forces Academy could not find themselves in the electoral lists, although previously received an invitation from the appropriate PEC. In all regions, there have been cases when voters did not find themselves on the lists or vice versa, they found the data of their dead relatives (the so-called “dead souls”). In addition, observers recorded cases when the commission, for formal reasons, refused to to vote at the place of stay (at home) for those, who had previously filed a corresponding application.
According to the CEC, the number of voters included in the list amounted to 29 468 783 people. Ballots for the first round of election were printed int he amount of 30 028 913. However, the number of voters who received ballots in the presidential election, was 18 711 933. Thus, 10 756 850 voters did not come to the election. At the same time, there are no statistics on how many people did not find themselves in the lists.
At 18:00, photo recordings of signed protocols of district commissions appeared. For example, in Kyiv region. In Dobropillya, Donetsk region, the head of the precinct election commission made the members of the commission sign a blank paper. However, it is required to sign the protocols after the closure of polling stations.
An unknown woman approached members of PEC No 480911 at the entrance to the DEC No129, introduced herself as a member of the district commission and said that they urgently needed to give her a package with protocols on the counting of votes at the polling station. The woman’s face looked familiar to the PEC chair, so she handed over the package. Which she tore up and, taking one copy of the protocol, ran away.
Mass violations recorded in Toretsk, Donetsk region. The election observer from the Strong Communities group in district commission No 52 reported that a large-scale ballot stuffing was carried out in favor of President Poroshenko in Toretsk. Activists report that unknown people took ballots at polling station number 140702 and fled. Your new city” also published a photo of the thrown in bulletins. Valentina Yerimicheva, the representative of the presidential candidate Yurii Karmazin published a video from polling station number 140704 in Toretsk, in which she shows a neat pack of thrown ballots in favor of Poroshenko .
According to “Uspіshna Varta” observers, on the election day representatives of the SSU were present in the server rooms in a number of electoral commissions, but facts of significant intervention were not recorded. At the same time, after 90% of the protocols were submitted to the CEC, a number of DECs recorded delays in the introduction of protocols, including because the system did not accept the data. In this regard, conflict situations were recorded (for example, in the Kyiv-Svyatoshinsky district of Kyiv, district95). Intervention of the security forces in the electoral process including at the stage of entering data into the IAS “Election” is unacceptable. The presence of employees of the Security Service of Ukraine and the Cyber Police in the server rooms of the commissions in the second round of voting should be under close attention of Ukrainian and international observers.
The NUJU also recorded facts of aggression against journalists. SThus, on the square in front of the Central Election Commission, young men did not allow the journalist of the Russian TV channel “Rain” to take the plot, accusing him of distorting the facts and roughly pushing the journalist out of the square.
As of 19:00, one hour before the end of the voting, the police reported about 1.7 thousand violations: illegal campaigning – 122; photographing ballots – 109; vote-buying – 40; ballots damage – 31; false mining reports – 18; attempt to remove a ballot from a polling station 11.
Dariusz Rosati, Head of the European Parliament (EP) election observation delegation, made a statement following the first round of presidential election in Ukraine and mentioned “the clearly imbalanced and unequal access of candidates to media”, which was “reinforced by biased coverage of certain candidates and of the campaign; the lack of genuine debate between candidates;the process remained too cumbersome, lengthy and difficult for too many voters to register or vote, which are internal labor migrants and Ukrainians who live abroad… he noted cases of vote buying and of misuse of administrative resources, the questionable neutrality of some high-level officials due to their campaign activities.”
Many falsifications were also recorded when calculating the results of the first round of election:
According to the counting results, in a number of districts there were anomalies that mathematically indicate a change in voting results. For example, in Toretsk and Pokrovsk in the Donetsk region there are abnormally high results of 30% or more for Poroshenko, with his overall results for the region at 8%  . “Islands” of strange victories of the President in the region, where he, to put it mildly, is not liked, are also found in other cities of the region. There are polling stations with 63.9% and 61.3% for Poroshenko in Bakhmut, with 27.8% and 41.3% for him in the city of Volnovakha. Other polling stations where Poroshenko won were in the village of Shcherbinovka, where Poroshenko unexpectedly received 47.7%. In the village of Petrivka, the President received 66.9%, in the village of Oleksandro- Shultynske – 39%, in the city of Druzhkivka – 70.2%, in the village of Zaitseve – 36.5%, in Ocheretino – 53.5%, in the village of Novoselivska Persha 51.5%, in the village of Pokrovske – 69.8%, in the city of Yalta – 46.6%, in the city of Urzuf – 73.2%. At the same time on a nationwide scale Poroshenko gained 15.9% of the vote. And his support in the Donetsk region, according to a February poll of the Rating agency, did not exceed 7%. That is, the explosion of popularity of the current President here is a real anomaly.
In the Donetsk region, members of one of the territorial election commissions appealed to the police about the violation of the electoral process in the presidential election in Ukraine. According to them, the data transmitted to the CEC on the distribution of votes among presidential candidates of Ukraine do not coincide with the information provided on the official website of the CEC.
At the voting station in Konstantinivka in the Donetsk region in the calculation was recorded the fact of throwing a pack of ballots from one candidate to Poroshenko. The region is de-facto under marital law, local authorities are controlled by the military-civil administration under the control of tPoroshenko and military representatives. Apparently, due to this reason they decided here to “get” votes en masse by using ballot box stuffing, “carousel” and other similar methods.
In District No 46 in the Bakhmut district, a stuffing of unissued ballots was established during a rash from ballot boxes and an increased turnout. “Carousel” was recorded at polling stations 140616, 140612 and 140613. According to the voting results, 40 statements were made to the police. Human rights activists claim that the mayor Oleksii Reva and his son Dmytro were engaged in fraud. The official repeatedly gathered his deputies, secretary and other subordinates, heads of local housing authorities, and Chief Medical Officer. At such meetings, Reva allegedly instructed how to vote and work on election day.
In the village of Zaitseve, Bakhmut district, electoral district No 51 includes only two polling stations. Half of the settlement is controlled by the military-civil administration, half is under the control of the so-called “DNR”. The IDPs who predominantly voted in this district, according to members of the commissions, are under the influence of the administrative resource of local authorities, social services and the civilian-military administrations. For example, 64 IDPs who cannot move independently and live most of the time on uncontrolled territory, after visiting members of the election commission, all, as one, cast their votes for Poroshenko. Residents of the Yasinovatsky district located near the line of demarcation are also under pressure from the civilian-military administration. The members of the commissions confirm the fact of commissioning Poroshenko’s protocols, but they are afraid to file a violation in the form of an act or statement. In Nikolsky and Volnovakhsky districts (district No 60), a deputy from BPP Dmytro Lubinets carried out serious pressure on heads of enterprises and organizations, and Oleg Reshetnyak, head of the district administration of Nikolsky district, actively “helped” the deputy. Voters also reported buying votes at a price of 500-1000 hryvnia for “one vote”.
Transportation of election documentation from PECs to DECs was carried out by means turned out to be at hand (as a rule, these were garbage bags). Such transportation caused packet damage and confusion with the documentation. Recall that the CEC did not conduct an advance tender purchase of boxes for transporting documentation. At PEC No 19. Volodymyr-Volynsky, three cases were recorded in which PECs handed over unsealed envelopes with ballots; two PECs who were sent to clarify the protocols had an attempt to rewrite the protocols directly at premises of the DEC.
At the final stage of the counting of votes, conflicts arose due to the slow process of accepting documents from the PECs in the DEC. Some DECs interrupted the meeting on the morning of April 1 to continue accepting documents in the evening. Such a situation is fixed in Zhytomyr, Kramatorsk. Conflict situations arose in a number of district commissions due to delays in receiving documents in district commissions (for example, in DEC No 21 of the Volyn region, DEC 95 in Kyiv-Svyatoshinsky district of Kyiv, as well as in Ternopil).
Observers recorded the complexity of the reception of the ballots and election documents to PECs, due to which scandals and even scuffles flared up on sites, and the likelihood of falsification of results of election of the President of Ukraine increased. Thus, in Ternopil region DEC members fought for the place in the queue to PEC; a woman suffered. The incident occurred on the night of March 31 to April 1 in Zboriv, when the PEC began to accept ballots. The conflict arose over that who should hand over documents quicker and where was the place in the queue. Because members of two PECs arrived almost at the same time. It is reported that during the scuffle, one woman received a leg injury. Police officers found out how serious the injury was for the victim, in order to give a proper legal qualification. DEC members were waiting inthe queue from 00:00 and couldn’t deliver ballots to PEC # 21. They claimed that they stood at the doors until 06-00, and were tired, hungry and thirsty. They were about going home. The DEC Head delivered an ultimatum, if the PEC did not accept the ballots, the PEC members would have to go to the polling station themselves, or they would be left at the PEC door. The DEC members claimed that the “exemplary” work of the PEC is done only for show. For example, when OSCE Monitoring Mission officials arrived, polling station No. 168 was able to report, and to deliver ballots in minutes. Consequently, PEC members were deliberately delaying the process of receiving ballots and electoral documents.
There were manu namesakes in the lists of candidates. As a result, on election day, the observers of “Uspishna Varta” repeatedly recorded appeals made by voters for a second ballot paper due to an error when voting for Yuliya Tymoshenko. As a result of this technology, the candidate Yuliya Tymoshenko actually lost 0.62% of the vote (115 079, according to the results after processing 97.83% of the ballot papers). According to observers, during the counting of votes in the commissions, ballots containing a crossed out tick in front of Yury Tymoshenko and a normal tick in front of Yuliya Tymoshenko were also recorded. Accordingly, such ballots were deemed invalid. In total, according to the voting results, 1.18% of ballots were recognized as invalid. With the gap between candidates being 2.5%, this level of “erroneous” voting for a double candidate became critical for Yuliya Tymoshenko’s progression to the second round.
Foreign states also try to interfere in the electoral process. Thus, Chairman of the CDU/CSU faction Johann David Wadephul exacted an account from the winner of the first round of election V. Zelensky on his main goals, and tries to set the conditions for further co-operation. In April 2018, Special representative of the Department of State Kurt Volkerdeclared that Ukrainians should vote for incumbent President Petro Poroshenko in the second round of presidential election. This is an open forays into domestic politics and the electoral process.
Preparations for the second round of election are also fraught with irregularities.
Campaigning for Poroshenko is continued by UAOC. In April 2019, the deputy chair of the Verkhovna Rada, Oksana Syroid, stated that the OCU priests receive instructions about prayer for the victory of a particular candidate in the presidential election. In addition, according to Syroid, pressure is being exerted ftom Bankova on military units. “There is very alarming information about the pressure on military units, because there are a lot of military people who voted for Zelensky, as well as in all budget institutions.”
In April 2019, the Ukrainian public organization “Vidsich” began to post leaflets in Kyiv against Zelensky. Moreover, they have a direct relationship with the authorities. For example, one of the participants of the action Artur Perevesiyev on Facebook indicated that he was an employee of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, and had previously worked at the National Security and Defense Council.
On April 7, the Peacemaker Center appealed to the National Security Council of Ukraine, the Security Service of Ukraine and the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine about financing the election campaign of presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelensky and intervention by the aggressor country in the electoral process in Ukraine.
According to representatives of non-governmental organizations, before the second round, citizens will have to go through the procedure of changing the place of voting again. Given the complexity of this process and the massive queues faced by voters in some cities in the last days before the end of the statutory period for changing the voting place (5 days before the election), it is necessary to provide at the legislative level the possibility of changing the voting place by 2 rounds of election at once. Also, at the legislative level, it is worth returning the possibility of registering voters on the day of voting by a court or district commission. In general, voter lists need considerable clarification.
On April 9, 2019, a political advertisement appeared in Kharkiv with the image of Poroshenko and Putin and the slogan of the campaign Poroshenko: “April 21 is a decisive choice. On the one hand, this contradicts Poroshenko’s statements on April 8, about the erroneousness of the slogan “Either Poroshenko or Putin”, and on the other hand, violates the Law of Ukraine “On Advertising”: Article 8 – It is prohibited in advertising: to place an image of an individual or use his name without the written consent of that person. In addition, Article 64 – Restrictions on the conduct of pre-election campaign 1. Participation in pre-election campaign is prohibited: 1) to persons who are not citizens of Ukraine.
Poroshenko`s “Nets” are intensified again. Thus, on April 5, 2019 in the city of Vyshgorod, Kyiv region (TEU No 96), local activists discovered the office of the current President Petro Poroshenko, where voters were given out 1,000 hryvnias each. The office was located in the Privatbank building, inside of which people with passports and money were found. It is reported that a large number of different staff documents were also found, including the originals of the protocols of the local electoral commission with wet seals. One of the Ukrainian bloggers also published documents that show the work of the “net” in the favor of the current President P. Poroshenko in Kyiv region. The documents indicate the leaders and “foremen” of the net in the region, as well as the amounts that the “volunteers” received for campaigning in favor of the current President (we recall, according to the law, the payment of volunteers is prohibited).
Professional “Public Activists’” Activities
Various “professional patriots” became especially active by 2018. 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. By 2019, there was a trend of widespread use of groups of “activists” in the election campaign of candidates. Most of the former “wild” activists are united in groups under the authority of a certain power structure. The most powerful of such groups are “C14”, “National Corps” and “National Militia”.
In 2018, continued the earlier outlined trend for full transition into control of various uniformed services of the groupswhich 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. In February 2019, this was stated by the former Minister of Defense and presidential candidate A. Gritsenko, and later by acting interior Minister A. Avakov.: “We unexpectedly recorded the cooperation of the security Service and the far right radicals from C14. Under the guise of correct slogans with demands to investigate the case of Handziuk and in certain conjunction with the employees of the SSU, “C14” implemented very unseemly things… We recorded the cars of the SSU employees delivering visual propaganda materials for these “protesters patriots.” I do not exclude, however, that it was a private initiative of individual SSU employees”, – said the interior Minister. 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 addition, since December 2017 “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. In January 2019, Yevgeny Karas, leader of the right-wing nationalist group, attended the OCU’s hierarchical liturgy on the granting of the Tomos together with the President Poroshenko and the Pro-government deputies.
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 in 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.
In November, the EuronewsTV channel showed the summer children’s camp in the Ternopil region of Ukraine. The age of children is from 8 up to 16 years. Their main pastime – initial military training, first of all training in shooting with a Kalashnikov. Children are trained by Yurii Cherkashyn nicknamed Charnota, an activist of the “Sokil”, the youth organization of the far-right party “Freedom”, and a veteran of anti-terrorist operation: “We do not aim at people alive in any case. Residents of the LPR and the DPR, separatists, Novorossiya residents, uniformed Russian soldiers, Moscow invaders are not humans, therefore, you can and have to aim on them.”In 2015. Charnota was wounded near Donetsk, where he fought in the far-right volunteer unit “Carpathian Sich”. Now he educates young people on the ideals of the Ukrainian insurgent army and “White Europe”. Their enemy is not only located in the East, but also in the West. According to the head of the youth wing of “Freedom” Ruslan Andriyko explained to young people that new Bolsheviks seeking to seduce the younger generation came to power in Europe. Children’s camps of right-wing radical groups are funded by the Ministry of youth and sports in support of “national-patriotic education of youth”. Far-right organization “C14” is among the recipients of such funding, in addition to “Freedom”. Its members are accused of murdering the oppositional writer and journalist Oles Buzina, of attacks on gypsies and homosexuals.
The representatives of the already existing “activists” go on supporting the government’s business-interests by crashing its competitors. In November 2018, “activists” of the group “Sokil” blocked the entrance doors of the Mall “Ocean Plaza” in Kiev with tires, and painted the doors and windows. In spite of the fact that the police were in close proximity to the incident, they didn’t interfere with a situation and didn’t stop actions of radicals. The reason for the “action” was the alleged Russian citizenship of the owners of the Mall “Ocean Plaza”. “Activists” require “to stop Russian business in the territory of Ukraine”. On July 6, several dozen activists from nationalist organizations “C14” and “Sokil” carried out another protest action against Russian business under the building of the Mall “Ocean Plaza”. Young people surrounded the building “Ocean Plaza”, lit flares, and pasted the entrance to the Mall with stickers and threw dye over it. It should be noted that at that time negotiations were carried out on the purchase of the Mall by the Ukrainian company Dragon Capital. It was reported that the parties had made progress, but the deal had not yet been closed. In December 2018, “National teams” tried to capture the Mall “Darnytsia”. The police intervened, but all the invaders were released.
In October, 2018 residents of the town of Vynnyky (Lviv region) declared that ex-volunteers served the interests of the company, illegally building up their yard. Those people intimidated the villagers and beat them, even in the presence of law enforcement officers. According to the residents, at their request to intervene, the police replied that first of all they should take care of their own security, and keep their weapons. When the judge of district court S. Hrich tried to cancel the decision on allocation of the earth for construction, the representatives of NGO “ALL-UKRAINIAN ASSOCIATION OF PARTICIPANTS OF ANTI-TERRORIST OPERATION” came to his workplace and put pressure upon him. The judge appealed to the High Judicial Council for interventio,n and filed a recusal. On December 21, in connection with the investigation of this situation by the resource Zaxid.net, hundreds of “activists” with smoke bombs tried to break into the editorial office of the resource Zaxid.net. There were “activists” from “Development of society”, “National Corps”, NGO “USU ATO” among the participants in the picket, as well as persons involved in recent publications of Zaxid.net.
In October 2018, activists from “National corps” and the organization “National Militia” came to the building of the Ukrainian National Agency for Asset Tracing and Recovery and demanded to stop the transfer of the Parkovy Exhibition and Convention Center known as the so-called “ex-president Viktor Yanukovych’s Helipad to allegedly fictitious firms. In fact, since 2017, this premises had been seized by nationalists and used for their personal purposes. Naturally, owning this area illegally they do not want to transfer it to new owners.
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.
In November 2018, activists of the far-right organization “C14” held an action at the bus station Demiivka in Kyiv. Members of “C14” claimed that carriers refused to carry ATO participants. Also the organization pays attention to bus transportation to isolated districts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions and occupied Crimea, which, in their opinion, should not be carried out. Activists painted the walls of the building with the following messages: “There is no respect for the fighters here”, “Respect for fighters”.
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 Petro Poroshenko’s “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 fact, the authorities have created a system of impunity for any crimes committed by “their” activists. 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!.He was taken on bail and patronized by putting pressure on the investigationby several pro-government deputies. And this despite the fact that previously there were two criminal cases initiated against him: for kidnapping a person and for arranging mass disorders. Former commander of the battalion “Kharkov-1” S. Yanholenko detained on October 3, when receiving a bribe in the amount of 200 thousand hryvnia from the farmer, was taken on bail by the people’s deputy from the coalition T. Chornovol. In October 2018, former fighter battalion “Aidar” A. Plotitsyn taken on bail and released from Odessa prison by people’s Deputy Yuri Timoshenko, killed killed a resident of Zhytomyr, 34-year-old businessman Vadym Timofeyev.
According to the report prepared by Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group in October 2018 on violent crimes during the conflict in the Donbas, since 2014, in those rare cases where Ukrainian combatants have been prosecuted, the outcome of criminal prosecutions clearly does not correspond to the number and severity of crimes. In particular, the soldiers of the battalion “Tornado” were sentenced to imprisonment for a term of 5 to 11 years. Trials of the Aidar fighters have not yet been over.
In October 2018, the organization “Tradition and order” tried to racketeer in Kyiv entrepreneurs working in pedestrian crossings near the underground stations “Arsenal”, “Lva Tolstoho” and “University”. Three groups of 30 young people each blocked the passages at the underground stations and extorted tribute from traders. A little earlier, they extorted tribute from street flower dealers in the underpass on Pobedy Square.
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. Five persons are suspected of murdering in July, 2018 of acting Managing Director oа administration at Kherson City Council’s Executive Committee, an advisor to the mayor of Kherson, activist E. Handziuk. Thун are Viktor Gorbunov, Sergei Torbin, Vladimir Vasyanovich, Vyacheslav Vishnevsky and Nikita Grabchuk. All of them are ATO participants in the Ukrainian volunteer army. In September, the Kherson court of appeal released two defendants in the case – Vishnevsky and Vasyanovich under house imprisonment. Later it appeared that the official “customer” Sergey Torbin was paid by Igor Pavlovsky, the assistant to the people’s Deputy from “Petro Poroshenko’s Block” Nikolay Palamarchuk. He is the Deputy Head of public establishment on protection of public order in the Kherson region “Black Fog”.
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. In September 2018, in the court of Zhytomyr, the representatives of the “C14” attacked and beat the lawyer of the journalist Vasily Myravitski arrested by the authorities. Law enforcement agencies had failed to act. On August 3, activists and deputies disrupted the meeting of the Bar Association.
“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”.
On October 14, the nationalists from the OUN nationalist movement tried to demolish the general Vatutin’s monument in Mariinskyi Park in the center of Kyiv city. However the police didn’t allow to make it, participants of the action had to be limited to pelting the monument with eggs. At the same time, right-wing organizations “C14” and “Tradition and Order” posted on Facebook a video of the attack on the premises called by them “Medvedchuk’s office” in Kyiv.
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.
In August 2018 in Odessa breifing with Nobel laureate Alexievich was cancelled because of threats against her. 4 hours before the briefing, the writer was included in the “Peacemaker” database, allegedly for “propaganda aimed at inciting ethnic hatred and manipulation of socially significant information” contained in her speech in Brooklyn in 2016. On February 28, 2019, the former leader of the Odessa “Right sector” Sergei Sternenko accused of stabbing a man announced plans to disrupt the planned concerts of people’s artist of Ukraine satirist Mikhail Zhvanetsky in Kyiv and Odessa. It was posted on the radical’s Facebook page.
On July 12, 2018, in Kropyvnytskyi, demobilized soldiers decided to demolish a kiosk built right in the flower garden. On July 12, the participants of the protest action against rise in prices for public transport of up to 8 UAH broke into the session hall of the Kyiv City Council. On July 13, in Lviv, the “National Corps”broke into a meeting of the City Council. In August in Mariupol 30 people in balaclavas attacked the participants of the concert, there were victims. “They broke into the room, sprayed gas, smashed equipment and instruments, attacked musicians and spectators. The attackers destroyed everything and everyone in their path, using our furniture as a weapon,”the report read. As a result, 10 people were injured, including artists, spectators and the Manager of the Youth Theater. According to the organizers of the platform, the attackers were well prepared, they attacked the room simultaneously from all sides. The organization members said that the two attackers had T-shirt of the “National Corps” on.
In July 2018, in Chernyhiv, nationalists tied a man to a pole right in the street, and attached a sign with the inscription “I’m Vatnik” against his chest. The police did not prevent the crime of bullying, deprivation of liberty of a person. In September 2018, in Kyiv region, a bus driver refused preferential travel to a woman whose son died in the battles in the Donbass. After this incident, “Cossacks of Vyshgorodshchyna” forced the bus driver to kiss the hands of the mother of the deceased military. In September 2018 in Zhytomyr a cafe was almost burned because of the map of Ukraine without Crimea. Right-wing radicals threw smoke bombs at the cafe; the employees and visitors of the cafe had to be quickly evacuated.
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.
In November 2018, FBI investigators said that the “Azov” Ukrainian nationalists are believed to have participated in training and radicalizing United States-based white supremacy organizations, and incite them to riots in the United States, including the recent riots in Charlottesville.
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.
During the 2019 election campaign, different political forces used different far-right forces for protecting and fighting against political opponents. Thus, on February 9, 2019, in Kiev on Kontraktova square, “C14” group tried to disrupt the rally of Yu. Tymoshenko. After that, there were mass clashes with the police and armed group assault of the police station. Leader of “Batkivshchyna” Yulia Tymoshenko called the incidents in the Kontraktova Square and in the regional department the SSU provocation. As a result, one police officer who detained the radicals at the police station was arrested actually for ideological reasons (for shouting “Get down – Bandera!”), and no other participants in the brawl were arrested. However, there is no article prohibiting to call people “Bandera” in the Ukrainian legislation. Therefore he was arrested under article for abuse of office. At the same time, other police officers treated the ultra-right rudely, as well. But they didn’t shout. The issue is the exclamation. But the exclamation is not an abuse of office: there is no regulations on what a police officer may shout during the arrest of rioters in the police station.
Later, in March of 2019 after the beginning of the case of the Svinarchuks/Gladkowskys of the theft in Ukroboronprom, the group “National Militia” carried out a flash mob at election campaigning of Poroshenko in different cities, demanding to bring the Svinarchuks to justice. Periodically there were skirmishes between police officers and Poroshenko’s PeTushkys.
In April 2019, the leader of the right-wing radical group “Brotherhood” D. Korchinsky in an interview called the residents of the occupied territories of Donbass “traitors”, “collaborators” and “second-rate” citizens. Such applications should be considered under article 161 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.
In June 2018, the rights advocates from Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, Amnesty International and Front Line Defenders drew a focus toward the insistent responsibilityof 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 letterwith such request. 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.
OHCHR documented 22 cases of discrimination, hate speech and violence in 2018. In 21 cases,perpetrators of the acts of violence were members of extreme right-wing groups. Police and prosecutors failed to prevent the acts of violence, to properly classify the acts as hate crimes, and effectively investigate and prosecute the commission of discriminatory crimes. This, in the view of OHCHR, leads to an environment of impunity and lack of justice for victims OHCHR documented four attacks against participants of peaceful assemblies. The attackers beat, threatened with physicalviolence and splashed paint on participants. In Uzhgorod, the attacks were carried out by the Carpathian Sich group, in Lviv – by the “National corps”, and in Kyiv, there were members of various extreme right-wing groups, for example, “Tradition and Order”.
In March 2019, OHCHR published a Report on the human rights situation in Ukraine on the eve of election: “Civic space and fundamental freedoms ahead of the presidential, parliamentary and local election in Ukraine.” According to it, the key problem is riotous behaviour of ultra-right groups. They are associated with almost every human rights violation established by the UN.
In February 2019, Ukraine has failed to prevent or investigate “numerous” human rights violations committed last year against rights activists, political opponents, and ethnic minorities committed in 2018, according to Amnesty International. 2018 was marked by a sharp surge of violent attacks against a range of individuals and groups, often in the name of patriotism and “traditional values.” Those subjected to violence included journalists; human rights activists – in particular those defending the rights of women and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community; members of ethnic minorities, especially Roma; and “those whose political views the attackers regarded as ‘pro-Russian”. In almost all instances, the law enforcement authorities have been slow to react and perpetrators were rarely, if ever, brought to justice. People are afraid of far-right groups.
In the report of the State Department for human rights, including in Ukraine for 2018, the name of the radical group “C14” is mentioned nine times. It is called “hate group”. “During the year, human rights organizations have expressed growing concern about the growing activity of nationalist groups committing violent attacks on ethnic minorities (especially Gypsies), LGBTI people, feminists and others whom they consider to be “non-Ukrainian” or “anti-Ukrainian’,” the report says. At the same time, observers noted failure of police and prosecutors to prevent these acts of violence, properly classify them as hate crimes, and effectively investigate and prosecute them . Thus, the government has created an atmosphere of impunity and injustice: “Inadequate response of the authorities makes it clear that such actions are permissible.” In addition, members of nationalist hate groups, such as C14 and National Corps, at times committed arbitrary detentions with the apparent acquiescence of law enforcement.
The situation in the field of social protection, health, education
Social obligations of the Ukrainian state fixed in the Constitution: Preamble (Ukraine – social state), Art. 46 (Citizens shall have the right to social protection including the right to financial security in cases of complete, partial, or temporary disability, loss of the principal wage-earner, unemployment due to circumstances beyond their control, old age, and in other cases determined by law), Art. 48 (Everyone shall have the right to a standard of living sufficient for themselves and their families including adequate nutrition, clothing, and housing), art. 49 (Everyone shall have the right to health protection, medical care and medical insurance. State and communal health protection institutions shall render medical care free of charge; the existing network of such institutions shall not be reduced.), article 50 (Everyone shall have the right to an environment that is safe for life and health, and to compensation for damages caused by violation of this right) are completely not implemented by the state and 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. Not to mention the other 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. 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. Wholesale market prices have increased by 9.5% since January 01, 2018 and by another 6.1% since April 01, 2018. Following them, retail prices of course will increase, too. Totally, 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, 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. In January 2018, due to a significant rise in the cost of fuel, the fare in Kiev minibuses rose by 1-2 UAH, in July 2018, there was another rise in the price of minibuses from 6 UAH on average up to 8 UAH. In July. the fare in all means of municipal transport in Kiev has risen from 4 to 8 UAH. Since January 1, 2019, heat tariffs for the population increased due to the increase from November 1, 2018 in the cost of natural gas by 23.5%. At the beginning of December 2018 The National Energy and Utilities Regulatory Commission approved new tariffs for heat for a number of heat-generating enterprises. The tariff increased by 10-24%. In Kiev, heating and hot water price rose by 22.7 % from January 1, 2019. In January 2019, it was reported that the authorities substantiate the tariffs rising, in particular for gas tariff by another 15% based on Memorandum with IMF. In December 2018, at the meeting of the NEURC, draft resolutions were adopted on change tariffs for centralized water supply and drainage and tariffs for centralized supply of cold water, and wastewater up to 20-22 UAH.In addition, on January 1, price for garbage collection was increased in Kyiv by 27%, and water tariff – by 11%. In the near future, the price of electricity will rise by 15-20%. Gas prices for the population will be increased from May 1, 2019 by another 20%, in accordance with the resolution of the Cabinet. It was declared by the Minister of social policy Andrei Reva.
At the end of January 2019, the “Method of distribution between consumers of volumes of utilities consumed in the building” (Order No. 315 of the Ministry of Regional Development) came into force. According to this document, the residents of high-rise buildings have to pay for so-called “unbalance”, that is, “excess” water and heat consumed in the house, but not recorded by apartment counters. It can be, for example, water losses through leaky pipes in the entrance hall, or heat lost due to “outdoors heating”.
Following tariffs increase in Ukraine, the number of subsidies recipients continues to increase. 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.
But subsidies do not save the situation. The debt of Ukrainians for utilities as of September 2018 exceeded UAH 38 bln. The debt for cold water and sanitation was UAH 3 bln., for central heating and hot water – 10 bln. And the biggest debt of Ukrainians is owed for gas, it is almost UAH 17 bln. In December 2018, the debt of the population for consumed housing and communal services increased by 17.1%, or by UAH 7 381.3 million up to UAH 50.75 bln., compared to November. At the same time, the debt of consumers for electricity in Ukraine increased from UAH 28.9 bln. to 33.6 bln., or 16%. In January 2019, the debt of the population for housing and communal services increased by 12.3%, or UAH 6 245.4 million. Thus, it exceeded the bar of 57 bln. Debts for utilities have never reached such an amount since the introduction of Hryvnia.
At the same time, the money for subsidies is catastrophically tight. And their amount is reducing. “The budget for 2018 allocated more than UAH 60 bln, on subsidies, while the budget of 2019 allocated only UAH 55 bln. At the same time, utility tariffs will definitely increase, that is, the number of applicants for subsidies will increase, too” — economist Viktor Skarshevsky said. So if there is no reason to take off the benefits, such a reason will simply invented. In an effort to save and reduce the number of government subsidy holders, from May 2018 the state introduced property criteria for subsidy holders (CMU resolution No. 848, according to which compensation for communal services is not allowed to citizens who have a car older than five yearsб or who made a purchase exceeding ГФР 50 thousand), which sharply reduced their number (by 30%). At a meeting on August 22, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine cancelled subsidies for consumers who do not have gas meters.
In 2018, Ukrainians were massively deprived of subsidies for renting apartments after the launch of the Unified state register. Since the beginning of May, there were about 1 million such households. The Ministry of Social Policy stated that they were working on broadening of powers of the commissions at district administrations, which would decide on granting a subsidy to a particular applicant. And this is a sharp increase in the human factor and a direct path to corruption. In October, the Head of the Ministry of Social Policy Reva explained that the right of citizens staying abroad for more than 60 days to subsidies should be preserved only in a few cases. For example, if a person receives a pension, scholarship, child support or other official income in Ukraine, but stays abroad on a business trip, study or treatment, and declares their foreign income in Ukraine and pays relative ERU. That is, this measure is directed against subsidies for foreign employees. Under the conditions of another rise in prices for utilities, such a measure puts millions of families in Ukraine in a critical position.
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.
In accordance with the new Memorandum with IMF (January 2019), Ukraine has made a commitment that from January 1, 2020 Naftogaz will sell gas to households and thermal utilities at a price that will dominate the market. It means a complete equalization of tariffs for households and industry, with a corresponding significant increase in prices for households.
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.
In January 2019, the state developed a bill that greatly complicates the procedure for obtaining subsidies by citizens. The project has a new schedule for verifying all the applicants for assistance from the state. And it is kept unchanged in the last version of the document, and includes three stages — preventive, current and retrospective verification. Preventive verification will be carried out prior to the appointment of payments. It provides for the collection of personal data of the applicant and their verification. At this stage, payments may be refused if it is found that the person has no right to them. Current verification includes verification throughout the budget payment period. And if the property and financial situation of a person suddenly changes, the right to a benefit can be taken away from them. Retrospective verification provides for verification after the end of payments. Here is the most interesting: if it is suddenly found that you were paid illegally, all the money must be returned. In Ukraine, will be “police on benefits” which will check all the applicants for budget money. The Commissioner for the European court of human rights at the Ministry of justice still had a lot of questions to the project. In his report, he stated, inter alia, that the document provided for the collection of a whole array of personal data and thus violated article 8 of the Convention on Human Rights — the right to respect for private and family life, housing and correspondence. “It does not matter how such data will be used in the future and whether such collection of will lead to any inconvenience for the person,” the report reads. The conclusion of the Commissioner for the European court of justice is unambiguous states that the draft does not meet the Convention on Human Rights and the practice of the European court.
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. So, in Kyiv there are 10-12 damage of central heating networks a day. In Berdyansk the main collector burst several times during the winter of 2018-19, and the city remained without water supply for weeks. 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..
In 2018, disconnections of debtor cities of Naftogaz and regional gas from gas supply were quite a frequent reason for the lack of heating. On 31 January 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. In November 2018, 80 thousand residents were left without heat in Smila city. The city imposed a state of emergency. Such a situation was created due to multi-million dollar debts of the former gas supplier, Energoinvest company. At the same time, according to the Deputy Lyashko, Naftogaz refused to supply gas in a number of cities due to indebtedness: “The city of Pavlograd, 108 thousand inhabitants – no heat, no gas. The city of Severodonetsk, 106 thousand inhabitants – no heat, no gas. The city of Smila, 68 of thousands of residents no heat, no gas. The city of Kropyvnytskyi, 226 thousand inhabitants – no heat, no gas. The city of Kryvyi Rih, 634 thousand inhabitants – no heat, no gas. The city of Shepetovka, 42 thousand inhabitants – no heat, no gas”.
The authorities in the future want to deprive the population of centralized hot water supply. Now in practice it exists only in the largest cities – Kyiv, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Lviv, Zaporizhzhia. At the same time it has been disconnected in Kyiv since April due to a conflict of the city power with the service provider.
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. From January 1 to February 25, 2019 forced winter holidays will last in Lviv Polytechnic National University for the sake of saving on heating. The same situation is in Odessa National University named after Ilya Mechnikov: It will operate in a limited mode from the New year until the end of February 2019: students will be allowed to go on vacation, and researchers will be forbidden to stay long at the workplace.
In October 2018, Ukrposhta declared stopping the delivery of pensions and closing thousands of offices across the country. Effective Manager Igor Smelyansky is going to close 7 thousand “Ukrposhta” offices in the villages. Because “average monthly loss for each of them is almost UAH 3 thousand”. I. e. for the sake of saving of 100 euros, the state enterprise will deprive inhabitants of 7 thousand settlements of an opportunity to send a letter and to receive pension. And put ten thousand people on the street. As a result, the state will lose many times more on lost taxes, unemployment benefits and other costs.
International ratings also confirm the extreme poverty of the majority of Ukrainian citizens. In August 2018, according toThe Economist, Kyiv become a world leader in the rate of deterioration of quality of life. In October 2018, IMF report identified Ukraine as the poorest country in emerging Europe is Ukraine, and the 134th poor country in the world, with just GDP per capita of just 2,656 thousand US dollars. Ukraine takes 123rd place among 140 countries by level of the personal wealth of the citizens. As at the half of 2018, this rate made $1,563 for each adult citizen as it is stated in the Global Wealth Report.
The inflation in prices for everyday goods, including food continues to rise, which hits all segments of population in Ukraine. Vegetables prices for preparing borsch (sour soup) have risen by 2.5% in 2018.
Arrears in wages are increasing in the country. The total amount of arrears in wage in Ukraine increased by 6.5%, and as of September 1, 2018, it amounted to UAH 2.9 bln. ($102.9 million). As of February 1, 2018, it amounted to UAH 2,535 bln.At the same time, the State Labor Service notes that every third employee or about 5 million Ukrainians work illegally. To date, one of the key problems in Ukraine is massive non-payment of wages and pensions. It is more and more difficult for the Pension Fund to find the necessary amount for payments, which makes about UAH 30 bln. ($1 bln.) monthly. The budget—2018 allocated for subsidies to the Pension Fund the amount of UAH 139 bln. ($4.9 bln).
Citizens leave Ukraine on a massive scale. 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.
9.9 million people left for Poland. Number of people left for to Russia was more than twice less, about 4.3 million people. Hungary was in third place (3.1 million Ukrainians). According to the Minister of Social Policy A. Reva, in December 2018, there were more than 3.2 million Ukrainians were employed abroad on a regular. Labour migration is currently seasonal and up to 9 million Ukrainians are involved in it. But the authorities do not consider the fact as a problem. It is not a disaster, according to the Foreign Minister of Ukraine Pavlo Klimkin.
But here two points should be considered here. As for Russia, the statistics does not take into account the citizens of Ukraine-LDPR who crossed the checkpoints in the territories of Donbass not controlled by Kiev, and Ukrainians who visited Crimea. Even so, the statistics of migration of Ukrainians looks threatening to the state. According to Eurosta report published in October 2018, in 2017, about 661 874 Ukrainians received a residence permit in the EU; and they are absolute champions in this matter. Most residence permits were issued to Ukrainians by Poland – 88%.
In general, the population of Ukraine is declining. The population of Ukraine decreased by 138 300 people from January to July 2018. As of August 01, 2018, there were 42.20 million citizens in the country. Moreover the death rate exceeds the birth rate; there are only 57 live births per 100 deaths, it leads to a gradual extinction of the population.
During visa-free regime with EU, the situation with illegal Ukrainian migrants in EU countries became more complicated. 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. During the year, since March 2018, the number of refusals to the EU for Ukrainian citizens increased by 55%. The main reasons are the lack of documents confirming the purpose of the visit and the conditions of stay, and insufficient means of livelihood. For the second year in a row Ukraine ranks first in the number of refusals to the EU. This is evidenced by data of the Frontex agency. Last year, the number of such cases increased by 55% – Ukrainians received 57 593 thousand refusals, which is 20 thousand more than a year earlier.
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. Civilians are victims of the armed conflict in Donbass, and according to the decision of the Ukrainian courts they should receive compensation for the destroyed property, but in reality no one has received compensation yet. The Ukrainian government has never established an effective mechanism for restitution and compensation for destroyed or damaged private property as a result of the armed conflict. Now neither a mechanism of damage and destruction of property of civilian populations, nor methods of assessment of the need of their repair and recovery exist. For property owners filing claims in court, the process can be expensive, long and inefficient due to failure to enforce court decisions.
The practice of deprivation of citizens of Ukraine registered in the territory of uncontrolled Ukraine and not underwent the so-called procedure of verification of residence in the territory controlled by Ukraine of their pensions is ongoing. From 2017, there are 200 thousand such persons among them the famous scientist Kozlovsky, captured previously by the separatists. A number of them were later able to pass the verification procedure. As of April 2018, 123.5 thousand people have filed lawsuits in court to restore their rights to pension provision. Claims were satisfied for 91,6 thousand pensioners. On April 24, 2018, by resolution No. 365, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine allowed to receive unpaid amounts to the pensioners whose pensions were suspended and subsequently resumed. However, the procedure for such payment was not approved by the Cabinet. In August 2018, Human Rights Watch noted that Ukraine’s policy requiring pensioners to leave and register as displaced persons in government-controlled areas to receive their pension is discriminatory: “When the government demands older people in separatist areas abandon their homes to receive their pensions, they forget or ignore that these payments aren’t a gift, but a right. This policy is unjustified and discriminatory. It also creates needless hardships for older people, many of whom are among the most vulnerable affected by the conflict in eastern Ukraine“.
According to the UN human rights Monitoring mission in Ukraine on March 12, 2019, as a result of the conflict in the Donbas, access to pensions was lost by 700 thousand residents of the region. As noted in the UN, “This is direct result of state policy, which links access to pensions to registration as internally displaced persons and the verification procedure that follows this linkage… The linkage to registration for temporarily displaced persons for receiving pensions must be canceled.” Judicial practice of Ukraine obliged the authorities to do the same. Thus, on May 3, 2018 The Supreme Court found illegal the actions of the Pension Fund, which deprived a migrant of pension payments, and ordered to restore them from April 2017. The woman was initially refused payment because she did not pass the verification at the place of registration. The Pension Fund appealed the judgment. On October 17, the Grand chamber of the Supreme Court ordered the Pension Fund of Ukraine to pay off the pensioners having IDP status. But the authorities ignore the order.
The situation is so depressing that even the US Ambassador stood up for them in January 2018: “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.
The 2018 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Ukraine of the State Department states that temporarily displaced persons do not receive the social benefits due, they are not provided with housing, discriminate in hiring. Local departments of the Ministry of social policy regularly suspended payment of pensions and benefits pending verification of the physical presence of recipients in government-controlled areas – ostensibly to combat fraud, requiring recipients to go through the cumbersome process of document recovery. More than 15 per cent of respondents indicated that their social benefits had been suspended. According to the law, the government must also provide them with housing, but the authorities have not taken any effective measures. Discrimination in employment against displaced persons is also reported. They continued to have difficulties in obtaining education, medical care and the necessary documents.
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 2017not recognized by the Ministry of Health. The epidemic covered Odessa, Ivano-Frankivsk, Ternopil, Dnipro, Zaporizhzhya and Kyiv. In general 54 thousand people came down with measles in 2018. The highest morbidity rates in the Western regions: Lviv (11 873), Ivano-Frankivsk (5 617), Transcarpathian (4 733), Ternopil (3 658). The country has the highest incidence of measles in Europe. However, from December 28, 2018 to March 14, 2019 there had been 30794 people ill with measles. During this time, 11 people had died (7 children and 4 adults) because of complications caused by measles. WHO is sounding the alarm – Ukraine in recent years has become the epicenter of measles in Europe. One of the largest cases was recorded in early November in the Lviv region, in a week almost 500 people caught the disease. 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.”
After the reform, “Ambulance” limits the number of visits on calls, emergency care has been eliminated, it is impossible to call a doctor at home, emergency care does not come in case of high temperature. At the same time, prices of medicines in Ukraine are the highest in Eastern Europe. According to experts, highly profitable business off drugs “is sheltered” by the government, it earns billions. “The scheme works because those who set the rules of the game are interested in it. And they are based in the Ministry of health”, – te expert of the pharmaceutical market Andriy Kozhemyaka says.
From April 1st, 2019 the Ministry of Health made the decision ahead of schedule to stop financing the so-called “red list”, i.e., the patients who did not sign a declaration with doctors. The list should be funded until July. But the Ministry of Health suddenly decided to stop paying earlier. there have been still about 13 million people without declaration across Ukraine. “In villages, about 20% population have not signed declarations, in cities – 30-40%. Most of all in Kyiv. About 5 million people live here, although only 2.7 million are registered. About 60% of citizens with a residence permit signed declarations, and less than 2% non-resident”, – Konstantin Nadutyi says. About 60% of people have signed declarations in Kiev region, the process is hampered by an acute shortage of doctors – about 170 people. Apparently, the National Healthcare Service is simply not able to simultaneously pay the bills both of growing “green list” (patients with declarations), and of “red list” – plainly, there is not enough money.
Deputy Healthcare Minister O. Linchevsky A. 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. Strange cases of poisoning in schools in Ukraine are continuing. In March 2019, 512 students of one of Dnipro schools did not come to classes. About a hundred of them complained of feeling unwell, 12 schoolchildren were hospitalized. In April 2019, 28 kids were hospitalized in the infectious diseases hospital in Kyiv with preliminary diagnosis gastroenterocolitis. It became clear that children used production from dairy kitchen of Khmelnytsky City Children’s Hospital. It should be noted that 5 children among them were in intensive care department.
The education system which is being reformed at all levels also often violates a set of human rights. Thus, in March 2018, The Ministry of education 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.
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 Internationalpresented 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”. In 2017, the trend of 2014-2015 to kidnappings and knocking out of confessions in the territory controlled by Ukraine increased again. 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 Groupon illegal violence in Ukraine during the conflict in the Donbas, as of 2014, both sides practiced tortures, for example, during detentions, interrogations, including in relation to women Among the methods used by illegal armed groups – beating, electric current, gauntlet, extinguishing cigarettes on skin, cutting pieces of skin, torture with an iron, hanging, cutting off ears, shooting at the limbs, dipping the head in a bucket of water while the hands are handcuffed, knocking out teeth, spilling over with boiling water. Cases of sexual violence – both by the Ukrainian army and separatists-were documented. Some cases relate to the actions of soldiers of the battalion “Tornado” who equipped a torture chamber in Lysychansk in the school basement, where they tortured and raped the local population, including pensioners and minors, mainly for the purpose of profit or intimidation. In conclusions it is noted that the authorities of Ukraine show obvious unwillingness to investigate the crimes committed by army and security officers. This is especially true in those cases where the probable perpetrators of crimes are the SSU officers.
The National Police itself, reorganized in 2015 Is at low personnel and organizational ebb. Detained in June 2018, 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 Department of State issued a report concerning human rights, including in Ukraine for 2018, noted numerous reports of arbitrary detention in connection with the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. As of mid-August 2018, there were 28 cases of alleged members of armed groups being detained by military or SSU personnel and placed in informal detention facilities – before their arrests were properly recorded. The SSU also charged with unlawful interference with privacy, family, home or correspondence. Under the law, the SSU cannot conduct surveillance or searches without a court order, but this provision has been repeatedly violated. The report also states that the government had access to private communications and controlled the movement of people without legal authority. For example, on 26 April, a judge of the Uzhgorod city court complained of illegal surveillance. The SSU is also mentioned in the context of kidnapping. According to the report, victims were blindfolded or hooded, handcuffed and transported to an unknown location (building, basement, garage) where they were beaten, simulated execution or rape. All of them were coercing to confess in cooperation with the FSB (Federal Security Service) or separatists. After that the victim was transferred to the SSU, or released right in the street where the person was arrested by the same SSU officially.
On March 23, 2019, former Right Sector fighter and Russian citizen Luan Kingisepp, died in March as a result of an explosion in a rented apartment in Kyiv, he was wanted on suspicion of killing the driver of BlaBlaCar Taras Poznyakov. According to the Ministry of internal Affairs “there was information that Luan was sheltered by the SSU… most Likely, in Kiev on the eve of election “Luka” appeared not casually. And that he has collected an improvised explosive device is no coincidence. Most likely, after the murder of Poznyakov, “Luka” was stuck with his SSU curators, who asked him to make a provocation, like a kind of fake attack.”
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: Moreover, this happens at the instigation of the Prosecutor General’s office: These are the cases of ministers: Zlochevskyi (February 2018), Kolobov (February 2018), the change of persons involved in case of Boyko drifts (2017) etc.
Imprisoned journalist K. Vyshinsky was taken on March 14, 2019 to Kyiv, Lukyanovka jail, for trial. He spent four days without electricity and without a mattress. There are five people in the same cell together with Vyshinsky. In addition, the lawyer said that Vyshinsky is not allowed to see his family members.
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. the Prosecutor General’s office itself shall be responsible for removal of EU sanctions from former Ukrainian politicians as it doesn’t show noticeable progress in investigation of criminal offenses of team of the fluent President for the third year in a row. Every year the European partners have more and more reasons to doubt the validity of the extension of sanctions. It happened in the case of Sergei Klyuev. It turned out that the case investigated by the GPO, in which Klyuev appeared as a suspect, was suspended in March 2016. But, sending documents to Council of the EU, the Ukrainian law enforcement officers kept silent about this fact. But even more powerful argument for the Court of justice of the EU located in Luxembourg was the fact that charges of money laundering in Austria brought against Klyuev’s brothers by the Ukrainian law enforcment agencies were not considered reasonable by the Prosecutor’s office of Vienna.
Despite the statements of the Prosecutor General, this Office has never submitted the high-profile case to the court. As well, the case of Voronenkov was not submitted there, although the Prosecutor General said in May 2018 that the pre-trial investigation was completed. In June 2018, information was published that despite all the statements of the Prosecutor General Office, the Head of the State Property Fund was not informed about the suspicion in the case of illegal privatization of the building in Khreshchatyk street.
In April 2018, 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 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.
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 spher.
In 2018, 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 Researchand 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.
2018 is the last pre-election year, and politicians actively started preparations for the election. Major Ukrainian politicians are working to create their own electoral projects. Often, especially when it comes to power, such projects infringe on human rights – much has been said in this report as well as in previous ones.
However, what is extremely important, none of major Ukrainian politicians spoke about the need to protect human rights in the country and restore the already trampled obligations of the state to the individual.
Ukrainian politicians are obsessed with so-called “innovations”, but they completely ignore the needs of their own electorate. A striking example in this case is the “New course of Ukraine” from 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 issue of protecting the constitutional rights of citizens. This fundamental position is not reflected as an element of the electoral concept by any of the candidates.
In preparation for the election 2018, a new composition of the Central election Commission (CEC) was formed. The term of office of 12 of the 15 CEC members ended in 2014, and no re-election were held for 4 years. In February 2018, The President made his proposals on the composition of the CEC. On the second attempt, in September 2018, the CEC was increased to 17 members and consisted of the 6 new representatives from the “Petro Poroshenko Bloc”, 3 members from the “People’s Front”, and one member from the “Samopomich”, “Radical party”, “Batkivshchyna”, “Revival” and “Will of the people”. “Opoblock” has not yet got a candidate, although they have been left a place. At the same time, PACE in its resolution recommended to all parliamentary parties have their representatives in the CEC. The situation was argued by People’s Deputy from BPP Serhiy Leshchenko: “They manipulated, adopted a special law on illegal procedure for increasing the CEC to 17 members…Poroshenko will be able to resolve issues – not only to make the necessary decisions, but also to break the quorum, if he is not satisfied with the agenda.”
All concerns about the control of the CEC by authorities are justified by the CEC activities. The Head of the CEC was elected behind closed doors and without the involvement of the press. And the very first election in the newly created United territorial communities were marked by shooting, fights, miningand were recognized by the CEC as completely legitimate. According to Yu.Tymishenko, the second part of the local election in December 2018 was “in fact, electoral Armageddon when rigging, bribery were impressive. They broke people, forced them to withdraw from elections”.
According to media reports, in December 2018, the following violations were recorded in Odessa in the United territorial communities: In Lopatinska community two members of electoral commission from UKROP party voted twice at one polling station. The police were called to the polling station; in the village of Staroselsky (Rivne region), illegal distribution of campaign leaflets against one of the candidates for the post of the head of the community was recorded; in Rivne region, candidates from the Batkivshchyna party, who were running for councils of Kornynsky and Dyadkovitsky communities, were called on the eve of the election by allegedly law enforcement officers and demanded to appear in the local village council for conversation; in the territory of the polling station in the village Ratniv, Lutsk District a womanwas noticed who marked in the lists of voters those who came to vote. It turned out that the woman was a confidant of the candidate who was running as an independent candidate, but openly supported BPP; In the village of Kolodenka, Rivne region, lists of voters and ballots were locked the in safe from Friday, and the voters “could not check the availability of their data in the lists”; the Main Directorate of the National police in Kyiv region reported that during the day the police received four complaints about violation of electoral legislation.
The CEC did not notice all those violations and recognized the election results as legitimate. In December 2018, The CEC in fact deprived millions of Ukrainians working in Russia of the right to vote: all polling stations in the consulates of Ukraine in Russia were closed. It was another manipulation of the authorities before the elections – Ukrainians working in Russia were unlikely to vote for Poroshenko, so that electorate should not take part in the vote.
Ukraine continues discrimination of electoral rights of internally displaced citizens of Ukraine (IDPs). Thus, they are legally deprived of the right to participate in the elections of local authorities (finally – by the decision of the Supreme court made in August 2018). In addition, due to difficulties in re-registering voters, more than 1.5 million temporarily displaced persons may be left behind in the presidential and parliamentary elections. Thus, according to the report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for human rights, ensuring the full right of IDPs for voting is extremely important for the legitimacy of the electoral process and is an important prerequisite for achieving sustainable peace and long-term reconciliation.
Once again, the authorities tried to manipulate the presidential election in November 2018. Under more than a far-fetched pretext, there was an attempt to impose martial law in the territory of the country for a period of 3 months, which would allow to postpone the presidential election from March 2019 to a later date, and thus made it possible to manipulate the results with less participation of potential voters in May 2019. Warning about such a plan of the Presidential Administration, as we pointed out earlier, was made ibyYu. Tymoshenko. As a result of the resistance of the Verkhovna Rada martial law was introduced only in part of the country and for a period of only a month. The authorities ‘ plan failed. However, many additional restrictions were introduced in 10 regions of Ukraine. Thus, the Sate Border Service of Ukraine declared that foreign journalists, as well as human rights activists and representatives of humanitarian missions would be able to get to the Crimea and Donbass from the territory of Ukraine only with special permits issued by the State migration service at hand. In each case, exceptional decisions will be made directly at the checkpoints.
Freedom House called upon the Ukrainian government to carefully balance national security and human rights considerations as it responds to security threats in the Sea of Azov and implements provisions of the declaration of martial law. “The declaration removes protections on a number of fundamental freedoms, particularly the freedoms of assembly, movement, and expression. We urge the Ukrainian government to limit implementation of any restrictions to those which are focused on the specific security threat, rather than broadly applied. Any restrictions to fundamental freedoms must be transparently justified and consistent with a democratic society. The fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution must be maximally protected in Ukraine, particularly ahead of its 2019 electoral season,” was stated by Freedom House with reference to Marc Behrendt, Regional Director for Europe & Eurasia Programs.
The current government was unable for two years to completely form the Cabinet headed by V. Groysman. 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. In this connection in November 2017 the people’s deputies: A. Derkach, V. Dubil, and Yu. Odarchenko filed in January 2018 a lawsuit against Prime Minister V. Groysman and the coalition to Kyiv administrative court of appeal and the Supreme Court of Ukraine. The case was set for hearing. Previously, according to far-fetched reasons the court rejected several such claims. Deputy A. Derkach said: “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.”
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 office. But the Supervisory Board of University spoke in favor of Rector.
The budget for 2018 and 2019 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 Budget-2019significantly increased funding for two “ideological” departments – the Institute of National Memory (UAH 105 260 million against UAH 57 376 million) and the Ministry of Information Policy (UAH 545 639 million against UAH 522 109 million), being, in fact, “Prokhobots”. For comparison – UAH 18 823 million will be spent by the state for rehabilitation of children with disabilities due to cerebral palsy, and UAH 445 954 million will be spent for basic research in the field of health.
The Institute of National Memory has been splitting the society by promoting ideas, dates and personalities that are not perceived by the majority of the population. . In January 2018, 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 facts of piano voting by deputies proceed. Thus, the President of the Football Federation of Ukraine A. Pavelko was elected to the UEFA Executive Committee on February 7, 2019, he was voting at a meeting of the Verkhovna Rada at the same time as the Congress was being carried out.
In March 2018 Verkhovna Rada elected the new Ombudsman L. Denisova. The very electionwas 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. 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: 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.
In October 2018, another “Russian agent” was charged of an extremely dubious crime by using SSU provocateurs and arrested, it was businessman T. Nahorny. 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.
In December 2018, after a series of searches at the priests of the UOC, in order to somehow justify their actions, the SSU published materials allegedly indicating that the vicar of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra Metropolitan Pavel coordinated provocations against the “Unification Council” in the capital and other regions of Ukraine. It can not be considered otherwise than further attempts of domestic security officers to curry favour, and also to show “effective results” of their work before the first persons of the state, and frenzy in the society.
SSU continues to spy upon political opponents of ruling 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, in May 2018 A. Derkach was spied.
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.
As a result, in 2019, on the eve of the presidential election, all the ostentatious anti-corruption struggle of the last five years ended with a logical ending. In February 2019, The Constitutional Court of Ukraine declared unconstitutional article 386-2 of the Criminal code on illegal enrichment adopted with great fanfare in 2015. As a result, all the cases opened under this article, including by NABU, should be closed. If a new version of the article is adopted, all the cases should be opened on the basis of new facts. All in all, on the results of 2018 5 thousand dollars were confiscated in the state budget by the courts from corrupt officials.
In February 2019 another corruption scandal burst in the President Poroshenko’s inner circle, when his trusted friends and relatives Svinarchuk/Gladkowsky plundered the military budget and smuggled spare parts for military purposes from the aggressor state of Russia. Common people are actively asking the President about corruption, what he accuses the questioners of working for Moscow.
Liquidation of business competitors of “Poroshenko’s friends” is ongoing. The owner of “Havrylovski Kurchata”, company and a former Deputy from the Party of Regions Segal suffered from increased competition in the most liquid modern agribusiness. He was arrested in June 2018 for violation of environmental legislation in the disposal of chicken residues. According to A. Portnov, chief beneficiary of this fact is Poroshenko’s advisor Kosiuk.
Ukraine is inexorably approaching the peak of repayment of loans collected by the authorities since 2014 in 2019-20. According to world Bank Vice President Cyril Muller, the Ukrainian authorities must change their approach to their debt policy, by planning not only to obtain financial resources, but also future payments for loans, stretching these payments in time: “It is important for Ukraine to retain access to the financing not only of the World Bank and the IMF, but also of loans in foreign markets. And it is necessary to raise funds to finance current debts… There isn’t a need to accumulate debts, because in the future a part of the State’s revenues will be used to pay them off, therefore there is a need to borrow, being aware that an increase of the State debt is a no smaller risk than refusing to service debts“.
Ukraine annually spends 130 billion on debt service. While according to 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.
On March 16, 2019 it became known that contrary to the expectations of the Ministry of Finance, Ukraine will not receive the second tranche of macro-financial assistance with a nominal volume of 500 million euros in March. It was told with reference to the Deputy Minister of Finance Vasily Schurakov.
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.
The authorities make a great fuss about projects like “vacuum trains using Hyperloop technology will appear in Ukraine in 5 years” (Minister Omelyan, June 2018″ (Minister Omelyan, June 2018)or “we will build space-launch complex in Australia” (State Space Agency of Ukraine, March 2018).
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 16thbattalion: “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.
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. They eavesdrop, arrest, accuse each other of all sorts of crimes. At the same time, the public points to another official who has not fulfilled the requirements of anti-corruption legislation (for example, in June 2018, Newly Appointed Head of the Donetsk Oblast State Administration Oleksandr Kuts did not file an income and assets declaration), which does not cause any reaction from the anti-corruption bodies.
Fight against corruption announced by the government has no practical consequences despite the creation of many anti-corruption bodies and loud statements of the authorities. The State Treasury of Ukraine declared that throughout 2018, law enforcement agencies confiscated 60 thousand hryvnias, that is 2 thousand euros, from all the corrupt officials.
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.
Struggle of anti-corruption bodies continues in 2019. So, in March of 2019, the head of the Specialized anti-corruption Prosecutor’s office (SAP) Nazar Golodnitsky at the meeting of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on national security and defence declared about disappearance of certain materials from the case of schemes in the defense sphere, and accused NACBU of it. Later SAPO opened a criminal case on the fact of concealment by the Director of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau Artem Sytnik of information about the involvement of NACBU detectives for corruption in the defense sphere.
In March 2019, a recording appeared on the network, which heard how the Director of the National anti-corruption Bureau Artem Sytnik in 2016 “leaked” “black accounting” of the Party of Regions to the headquarters of US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. The recorded conversation was released by the people’s Deputy from BPP Boris Rozenblat, against whom NACB is litigating a criminal case. Later, Prosecutor General Yury Lutsenko said that the State Bureau of Investigation is already investigating possible intervention of the Director of NABU Sytnik in the US presidential elections in 2016.
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. 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 Spain 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. Thus, 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. Thus, 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. Thus, on March 7: “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. In December 2017, 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 March 2019, the text of “secret” agreement signed by President Poroshenko with Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople on November 3, 2018 was finally published. This act violated a raw of provisions of the legislation of Ukraine. In this case, President Poroshenko acting on behalf of Ukraine clearly exceeded his powers, as the Patriarchate of Constantinople is not a subject of international law the President is authorized to sign treaties with. The very “classification” of the contract for a period exceeding four months, by more than 6 times exceeds the period of 20 days permitted by the law “On access to public information”, and then only in the case of “providing a large amount of information or requiring information search among a significant amount of data.” In addition, in exchange for Tomos on autocephaly, he undertook to transfer “buildings and premises, as well as other objects of property” to the Stauropegion of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Ukraine. The document contains a number of provisions indicating Poroshenko’s violation of the provisions of the Constitution of Ukraine on the separation of state and church. Thus, the guarantor of compliance with this Constitution agrees that the purpose of the agreement signed by him is “systematic cooperation on institutionalization of the Autocephalous local Orthodox Church in Ukraine within the framework of the Tomos on autocephaly provided by the Ecumenical Patriarchate” (Art. 1). That is, the state separated from the Church is not only obliged to engage in institutionalization (creation, formation, organization) of a certain Church, but is also ready to do it according to a document (“Tomos”) issued by a foreign religious organization. Article 2 of the agreement specifies the role of the state in the creation of a new Church: “systematic work on the creation and institutionalization of the Autocephalous local Orthodox Church in Ukraine” (V. 2.1). In fact, it is direct recognition that the “Church” created under this agreement is de facto a state Church.
The level of professionalism of Ukrainian officials is also demonstrated by the fact that they openly proclaim what is hidden in normal countries. Thus, some deputies 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 Hrymchak 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. From time to time journalistic investigations reveal facts of top-level corruption. In June 2018, it was revealed that during the year spent by P. Petrenko’s on the position of the Minister of Justice, his niece got apartments and cars for an amount of UAH 7 million. 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 June 2018, it was revealed that the Deputy head of the presidential Administration Alexei Filatov did not declare a civil wife-lawyer, who after her husband’s appointment to the AP received a number of profitable contracts (investigation of the program “Nashi Groshi” with Denis Bigus”). According to a study by the American chamber of Commerce, more than 90% of its members faced corruption in Ukraine in 2017.
Ukraine, according to the audit, is extremely inefficient in spending grants of international organizations. In particular, the lion’s share of the financial assistance allocated to Ukraine by donor countries and international organizationsfor reformsis spent on the maintenance of offices of recipient organizations. The target consumer receives no more than 20% of all funds.
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. 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.
In July 2018, the second stage of medical reform began, which severely limited the right of citizens to health care, in particular, the list of cases for calling an ambulance, and a doctor at home remained extremely narrow. At the same time, Acting Minister of Health U. Suprun topped the ranking of politicians hated by Ukrainians in August 2018. In September 2018, the implementation of school reform began, due to which classes were overcrowded, there were no necessary books, after-school center baecame paid, and a number of children was deprived of the right to education. In Podolsk, Odessa region, double school desks were cut into two parts, for meeting the standards of the “New Ukrainian school”. The judicial reform ended in a virtual failure, when a number of courts was closed due to a shortage of judges, and the rest of them was under the control of the President. The new Supreme court appointed the necessary judges, including many employees of the law firm “Vasyl Kisil and Partners”, who worked together with the chief lawyer of the presidential Administration Alexei Filatov.
State officials continue to promote the “language of hatred”. Thus, in April 2019, Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman during the government session said that he would allow direct flights to Viktor Medvedchuk and Yuri Boyko to Moscow by “crop duster” An-2 with a one-way ticket.”
In April 2019, in violation of the procedure and norms of the Constitution, President Poroshenko tried to dismiss the Governor of the Odessa region, M. Stepanov, who did not fulfill the indicators for him on the election campaign. Illegality of the President’s actions was confirmed by the Cabinet.
Therefore, it is not surprising that according to Gallup poll a week before the 2019 elections, citizens of Ukraine have the lowest level of trust in the world to the authorities in their state — only 9 % of Ukrainians trust the national government.
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 Statescarry 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. Neither Russia, nor US are interested in Ukraine itself as a state. 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. Undisguised pressing is made by international organizations for creating anti-corruption court. This court, according to the idea of its initiators, should be independent from the Ukrainian authorities, but managed from abroad, and should complete a closed anti-corruption system, through which foreign states will be able to punish unwanted Ukrainian politicians and businessmen accusing them of corruption. Thus, European Commissioner Johannes Hahn said: “In my opinion, in terms of fighting corruption, the actual results are quite modest. I believe that it shall be closely monitored by the authorities: by the government and other bodies. It is not only about creating institutions or having the necessary legislation, but also how it is implemented.”According to him, it is the practical implementation where the EU sees a serious flaw Kyiv should pay attention at. “This is where the international community is increasingly running out of patience,” said Hahn. Moreover, according to him, President Petro Poroshenko shal be responsible for the problems with e-declarations in Ukraine.
On March 22, 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine expressed concern about the changes in the Charter of Naftogaz, according to which the decision to elect and dismiss members of the Board of NAC Naftogaz is made by the shareholders ‘ meeting without the intervention of the supervisory board.
In mid-March 2019, an appeal was sent to the Verkhovna Rada by the IMF, the US Ambassador and the head of the EU Delegation to Ukraine, in which people’s deputies were asked to postpone the adoption of the law on illegal enrichment.
Prosecutor General Yu. Lutsenko in March 2019 declared that U.S. Embassy transferred to him a “list of untouchables” in relation to whom Ukrainian prosecutorial authorities could not conduct an investigation and arrest.
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 Councilin 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 the 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. However, the Ukrainian authorities already seem to care little about them. Since it is already being pressed in full due to Anti-Corruption court, the threats of Budapest and Bucharest to block what has already been blocked do not matter.
In December 2018, the Czech Republic joined the “anti-Bandera coalition” of Ukraine’s neighboring countries. “Members of the UPA carried out cruel murdering of the Volhynian Czechs”. This was stated by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, who intends during his visit to Ukraine to raise the issue of the law equating all members of the OUN – UPA to war veterans. Czech Republic is unhappy with the heroization of Bandera and other leaders of Ukrainian nationalists. “Ukraine will have to accept the pain points in its history,” – said the head of the Czech foreign Minister Tomas Petricek.
In December 2018, Simon Wiesenthal center stated that “Honoring Bandera, whose people have committed countless terrible crimes is an insult to the victims and an unthinkable perversion of the history of the most horrific genocide in the world. Unfortunately, in recent years, Ukraine has become one of the main distributors of the distorted history of the Holocaust, the purpose of which is to conceal or minimize the crimes committed by Ukrainian nationalists.” According to the Director of government Affairs of the Center M. Weizman, “Ukraine chooses the rehabilitation of anti-Semitism and historical censorship.” He noted that along with the celebration of Bandera, Lviv region declared the 2019th the Year of Stepan Bandera, and the prohibited the book referring to anti-semitic actions of Simon Petlyura, who led the anti-Semitic pogroms against Jews. “Joining other countries rewriting history, Ukraine shows how little it has learned from the tragedies of the past. Such actions are a shameful statement of the dark past and an absolute denial of democratic values,” Weizman says.
The General policy of the Ukrainian authorities in praising Nazi supporters includes non-voting in the UN General Assembly in November 2018 for the resolution against the glorification of Nazism. Ukraine became one of the two countries that voted against it.
The relations are being exacerbated by the law “On education” norms wherewith actually prohibit teaching in languages of national minorities. The President 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 November 2017, 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. In October 2018 Once again, Poltorak was not invited to a meeting of NATO Ministers. 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.”
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 task of the media is to show the reality as it is. We may add that similarly, all the Newspapers showed the line of the Soviet-German front at Stalingrad in 1942, and not at the state border of the USSR in 1939. But it seems, in the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs no one has never seen maps of the Second world war. 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 success of Klimkin’s campaign is guaranteed – the list of countries that will not go to the 2018 world Cup includes one hundred and fifty names. In October 2018, the authorities, including Ukrainian diplomatic missions abroad, launched an “important” campaign in renaming “Kyiv not Kiev”.
Very often, Ukrainian pro-government officials behave abroad very doubtfully, actually disgracing the country for the sake of own PR. Classic examples of President Poroshenko: in July 2017 after meeting with President Trump he held a press conference at the side table behind the fence of the White House, and in January 2019 he frankly felt bored and looked for something in the phone during the “fateful” getting Tomos in Istanbul. At the same time he was all the time next to the criminal authority and businessman named “Narik”. In October 2018, the Deputy from the BPP A. When speaking on anti-Russian sanctions, Oleksiy Honcharenko put on rubber gloves in a demonstrative act. After the speech of the Ukrainian people’s Deputy, the host of the meeting, in turn, noted that one should not see the PACE as a theatre stageIn October 2018, a number of Ukrainian officials tried to use a terrorist attack at a school in Kerch, where dozens of children were killed, for propaganda purposes.
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.
In March 2019, The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe called on Ukraine to solve the problem of compensation to Ukrainians in the case “Burmich and others vs. Ukraine”, which brings together more than 12 thousand complainants who faced non-compliance with judgments in Ukraine. The decision stresses that the problem of compensation for non-compliance with judgments of national courts is a serious danger to the rule of law and must be fully resolved. The Committee stressed that the problem requires attention at the highest political level. The Committee also called upon the Ukrainian authorities to complete their work on the calculation of the total amount of arrears arising from the unobeyed decisions without delay. If Ukraine does not repay its debts in the near future, it may soon face fines.
Summing up, The situation in the country in the first half of 2018 and early 2019 is marked by general deterioration in human rights protection.
In the area of freedom of speech and the rights of journalists, the authorities take tough measures against independent media. In particular, for the first time in Ukrainian history Verkhovna Rada recommended to apply the mechanism of sanctions against two Ukrainian national TV channels.
The chief editors of leading media seek political asylum at EU from persecution. It became especially obvious that the government is engaged in the creation of a controlled information sphere for its manipulative use in own interests. In particular, in electoral interests.
Law enforcement officers are smashing the editorial offices of media holdings. The TV channels that are unwelcomed by authorities are blocked by “activists”. The government manipulates the transition to digital broadcasting, while limiting access to new licenses for non-government TV channels. Authorities close TV show “Dobroho Ranku, Krayino!” (“Good morning, Country!”) produced by “Era-Media” because of appearance of opposition politicians. Journalists, including foreigners, are beaten by members of right-wing groups united with the government, which, respectively, does not react to such facts.
The country has revived censorship, which pettyly interferes in editorial policy. Journalists are forced to write appeals to democratic states for protection. And the closer the presidential elections are, the fiercer this struggle becomes. They are ready to cling to the power by any methods because they know: its loss means criminal liability for all crimes committed throughout the last five years. International organizations also pay attention to this situation.
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, create comprehensive registers of information about citizens with a questionable level of protection. The government prohibits access of Russian books to the Ukrainian book market, continues to expand the list of banned actors, films, books. Blocking of foreign TV channels, social networks, websites and e-mails continues.
Discrimination on the basis of language and ethnicity continues to be under way. In 2018, along with Russofobia supported as the state policy, anti-Semitism began to appear vividly in Ukraine, including at the state level.
Soldiers spend flash mobs in social networks in defense of Nazi symbols. 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. The Law “On the languages of national minorities” was cancelled in formal reasons, and the Law “On functioning of the Ukrainian language as the state language” is prepared for passing, many of its rules which are discriminatory and violate Ukraine’s obligations under the European Charter of Linguistic Minorities and the Constitution of Ukraine.
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. Domestic crime among ATO participants remains at a high level, especially with the use of firearms and explosives. The state is not engaged in psychological adaptation of such people to peaceful life. In 2018, there has been an increase in the number of robberies, as well as attacks for the purpose of robbery. Children of officials are also involved. Abductions of people for the purpose of ransom became more frequent. “Maidan cases” have not been investigated, and there is a possibility that the entire investigation procedure will go a different way.
The right to freedom of religion in 2018 was brutally violated by the authorities. 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. Her priests are forced to join the Pro-government project of the AUOC. Priests of the UOC are interrogated in the SSU, churches and houses of priests are searched by security forces. The Verkhovna Rada adopted amendments to the legislation, which, according to the idea of its authors, should force the UOC to change the name and to re-register, although legally this law has no relation to the UOC. The UAOC establishment takes place with the direct participation of the President of Ukraine and other senior officials. The President views the UAOC as part of his election campaign, which violates the constitutional principle of separation of state and church. Attempts to set fire to religious buildings have become more frequent. Parishioners are forced to stand in the way of roughguys and protect shrines. 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. Database site “Peacemaker” is being enlarged with new “ennemies of Ukraine”. The people’s deputies are prosecuted for their statements.
There was a trend towards formalization of paramilitar organized criminal groups (“C14”, National Militia, National Corps) as a part of Law enforcement authorities. Swastika became a familiar attribute of political events, no one has been shocking for a long time. Officials and diplomats openly praise Nazism and collaborators. 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. Morover, 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. According to the authorities, up to 10 million Ukrainians are working abroad. The situation with illegal Ukrainian migrants in the EU countries has become more complicated.
New higher tariffs have been introduced, the number of subsidy recipients is increasing, but the money in the budget for it is less and less. Therefore, the state is taking various measures to reduce the number of recipients of subsidies, leading to an increasing impoverishment of population, while 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. 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.
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.
State-building and reforms in the country can be considered in deadlock. Over past 6 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 sociological research centers, the main parliamentary forces in Ukraine represent the interests of no more than 21% of the 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.
But the key 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. When hearing words “reforms” said by officials, citizens already consistently associated them with price rise of services and goods or confusion in certain life spher.
In 2018, a period of preparation for the election actually began in the country. Major Ukrainian politicians are working to create their own electoral projects. Often, especially when it comes to authorities, such projects infringe on human rights. However, none of major Ukrainian politicians spoke about the need to protect human rights in the country and restore the already trampled obligations of the state to the individual. A striking example is the “New course of Ukraine” from 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.
Throughout two years the Ministry of Health is headed by a person with the prefix “acting”, and attempts of people’s deputies to force the government to nominate a permanent Minister remain unsuccessful. The Law enforcement authorities actually conduct a war among themselves, in which external sponsors are also involved.
The budgets for 2018 and 2019 provide for a sharp increase in funding for Law enforcement authorities and power structures, “ideological” bodies, but not raising pensions, benefits, and medicine.
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. Western countries put pressure on large and small issues of domestic policy of Ukraine.
https://strana.ua/news/179702-dubinskij-rasskazal-kuda-poedet-poroshenko-11-janvarja.html; http://spzh.news/ru/news/58304-byudzhetnikov-sgonyajut-v-kijev-na-miting-za-tomos?fbclid=IwAR2afVRCQkvJemoqp6Ra_xlPDeqXmkswngIQ1ElchdFdCaCkNZY5cSiFXR8; https://twitter.com/HromadskeUA/status/1073831115801194496
https://112.ua/obshchestvo/predstavitel-poroshenko-v-krymu-ubiystva-v-kerchi-sovershil-bezogovorochnyy-storonnik-putina-i-fanat-russkogo-mira-466385.html; https://utro.ru/politics/2018/10/17/1377551.shtml; https://112.ua/glavnye-novosti/massovoe-ubiystvo-v-kerchi-mogut-ispolzovat-kak-povod-dlya-voyny-na-azove-ili-shturma-mariupolya-shevchenko-466329.html.