Throughout 2014-5 the conduct and decisions of various bodies of Ukraine’s executive and legislative branches of power have grossly violated Ukrainians’ citizens’ rights guaranteed by the Constitution, the ECHR, and fundamental rights
1. Free speech and freedom of expression are guaranteed by Article 34 of the Constitution of Ukraine (CoU) and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR); censorship is prohibited under Article 15 of the CoU.
Recently the Ministry for Justice has cancelled registration of the left-wing Socialist Ukraine party newspaper.
TV channel 112 and newspaper Vesti that offer alternative to the mainstream discourse views too came under administrative pressure from the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council of Ukraine. There can be no doubt that the aim of such pressure is to impact the editorial policy of these media outlets i.e. censorship.
The Ministry for Culture together with the Ukrainian State Agency for Cinematography compile ban lists of films, TV programmes, and even actors. More items are added to the lists regularly.
The State Security Service hunts down people who express their opinions on most topical matters on social networking websites. One prime example of such witch-hunt is the case of currently tried Ruslan Kotsaba who was arrested in February 2015. He simply posted anti-war messages online. Ruslan is treated as the prisoner of consciousness by the human rights organizations.
Left-wing anti-imperialist Odesa journalist Vitaliy Didenko is incarcerated on a clearly fabricated case i.e. the police claim they found drugs (which they planted) while searching him.
In May 2015 a law came into force that bans expression of communist views and use of communist symbols, criminalises public advocacy of achievements of the Soviets or criticism of Ukrainian nationalists.
2. The right to be elect and be elected, guaranteed by Art 38 of the CoU
By the abovementioned law the Minister for Justice effectively banned the Communist Party of Ukraine and two more parties that have the word ‘communist’ in their names from taking part in the upcoming local elections of October 2015.
Kharkiv region Ministry for Justice Office has six times refused to register the Opposition Block party’s local branch. As a result an opposition party is deprived of an opportunity to partake in this year’s local elections in a constituency where it arguably enjoys the strongest support.
According to the new Law only members of political parties can run in the election, the election entry barrier is raised from 3 to 5% of electoral support, and the financial contribution is raised e.g. Kyiv City Council elections contribution will now be 105,000 UAH (less than $5,000 but 16 times higher the average wage in Kyiv). All these ‘innovations’ limit the constitutional right to elect and be elected and are aimed at concentrating the rights to form government in the hands of oligarchs.
3. Freedom of Association, guaranteed by Art 36, 37 of CoU and 11 of ECHR
Contrary to the CoU that stipulates that ‘prohibiting of citizens’ activity can only be done by court’ and contrary to all European norms of human rights, the Ministry for Justice and the parliament banned activity of all citizens’ organisations of communist views.
4. Freedom of assembly, Art 39 of CoU and 11 of ECHR
Opposition-themed, social protest-themed, and minority (sexual, ethnic) rights-themed demonstration and gatherings are met with attacks of ultra-right militarised groups, often completely ignored by the police or even sometimes occur with their assistance. Most violence towards peaceful protestors is observed in Kharkiv, Odesa, Dnipropetrovsk, and Kyiv.
5. The right to liberty and security of person guaranteed by art 29 of CoU and Art 5 of ECHR
In August 2014 contrary to the CoU the president signed a law that permits law enforcement agencies to detain people for up to 30 days without a court ruling. According to the CoU one cannot be detained without a court ruling for longer than 72 hours. Next, the parliament adopted a number of legislative acts permitting law enforcement agencies to listen and record private phone calls without a court ruling and essentially to discretionary use weapons.
The Organizational committee of the Social Movement party does not share the views of opposition oligarchs and their “left” collaborators who fell victims to repressions and limitations of rights by the government. Particularly, we hold that the Communist Party of Ukraine leadership have long ago forfeited all communist ideals and principles, used the party as an instrument for personal enrichment and servicing the rich, flirted with Russian nationalism and conservative values. Reactionaries from the CPU and the Opposition Block of the ex-Party of Regions bear no less direct responsibility for the current economic crisis, impoverishment of the masses, and the horrific consequences of the war than does the current government. Nevertheless, we understand that the abovementioned parties, non-governmental organisations, mass media, trade unions, and other civil initiatives are currently under repression not for this but because they express opposition views.
Using the war as an excuse the government carries out an assault on fundamental civil rights and political liberties in Ukraine. Presently even apolitical trade unions and civil protest initiatives are branded as ‘agents of Moscow’. Soon repressions may begin to be felt by all who dare to challenge the interests of the current government, its loyal oligarchs, transnational capital and foreign countries whose will imposition on Ukraine is more pronounced each day.
We condemn systemic violations of civil rights and political repressions in Ukraine. Democratic liberties restoration is currently one of the most urgent tasks in the country for all who struggle for the interests of Ukraine’s workers. We declare strong opposition to the process of democratic decline as we acknowledge a crucial difference between an even limited liberal democracy and an authoritarian regime for effective struggle of the forces who consistently work to protect social interests of Ukrainians. Our voice in the name of protection of basic political freedoms is the voice in support of the workers of Ukraine and their just struggle against social repression!
Organisational Committee of the Social Movement Party