Friday, December 9, 2011

Justice? It's been stricken from the Ukrainian vocabulary

Life gets in the way sometimes, but RRS feeds keep me abreast of the happenings of a land like no other, and that land is known as Ukraine. If you haven’t heard of the place by now, maybe its time check out the CIA World Fact Book or Wikipedia; though regardless of what you read there you will never get a clear picture of the place that amazes even those who have personally experienced it and all of its nuances and often grotesque absurdities, which at times make one think that one is living in the middle ages.

Society in the country is close to a boiling point as elite politicos seem to always find ways of doling out funds for their own interests rather than dealing with segments of the population that need their help. The blatant spending carried out by the President of Ukraine and his entourage, placing him leagues above the people and nations he is supposed to be serving is by far one of the greatest absurdities if not travesties the people of Ukraine have to tolerate.

One of the groups of Ukraine’s society are those who are referred to as Chornobyltsi; this is a segment of society which during one of the worst nuclear catastrophes in mankind’s history, paid with their health, both physical and mental, in either having been involved in bringing the disaster under control, or who were children when the disaster happened and together with their families were relocated from the “Exclusion Zone” and who were often ostracized by their peers, regardless of their age. Unfortunately, the burden of supporting these individuals fell on the newly independent nation when the Soviet Union crumbled in 1991.

One of the catalysts in Ukrainian society’s boiling point are those Chornobyltsi together with veterans of the Soviet war in Afghanistan, and for the last number of months they have been most vociferous in voicing and acting out their fury against the current regime in Ukraine which, like its predecessors, has not only failed in meeting their needs, but had decided to cut their benefits. For this particular group of Ukraine’s population, I believe the breaking point took place on Sunday November 27, 2011 when the militia stormed a tent encampment in Donetsk. As a result, there was one fatal casualty! He was a miner with some disabilities by the name of Hennadiy Konoplyov, and according to Member of Parliament Mykhaylo Volynets, he was also a long time pro-trade union activist. The victim was not part of either of the above mentioned groups; but like Volynets - a member of the “BYT-Batkivshcyna” which had started the hunger strike - he was protesting the decrease in pensions.

The group which had set up its tents next to the office of the Pension Fund in Donetsk had done so in opposition to a court order, one of the organizers, Mykola Honcharov, stated, while there are still many cases, decided upon by the court, on file regarding the pensions which the state is still not acting upon. Given this fact they decided to ignore the court order forbidding them to gather. But these are trying times in Ukraine in which court orders are used to forbid so many things one would think that the current regime, thinks that it is the “king” and uses the courts to deal with all of the dissent it has to deal with.

In fact, according to Volodymyr Chemeris long-time activist and coordinator of a working group created as part of a public committee under the auspices of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, in an interview on Radio Liberty on December 2, 2011, stated that judges and law enforcement officials in Donetsk broke some laws in the storming of the peaceful protest and the tent city which resulted in the death of Konoplyov. “The Donetsk militia's management did not have enough reasons to approach the mayor of Donetsk with the proposal – to turn to the courts to forbid the protests of the “chornonbyltsi”. The activity of protest of the “chornobybltsi” is a peaceful one. “Neither the militia, nor the Ministry of Emergency Situations – in accordance with the legislation which is in effect – had no right to enforce the court's decision,” said Chemeris. After the working group had completed its own investigation of the tragic event.

This is all very fine and dandy but in a country where Rule of Law seems to mean nothing at all, who will be held accountable for these illegal actions? No one of course! Throughout this last week, there have been twenty members of this initial group that has continued its hunger strike by the Pension Fund building in Donetsk and on December 1, the Regional Administrative Court issued an order forbidding the hunger strike to continue in its current location. Meanwhile, Ukraine's Ombudsman on Human Rights Nina Karpachova has called on the Verkhovna Rada's speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn to make changes to legislation that would forbid the carrying out of court orders on holidays or outside of regular working hours. The regime will probably offer Karpachova an olive branch by making such changes to the appropriate legislation, but once again, what difference will it make?

The current regime is one which works in accordance with a set of rules which the civilized world cannot comprehend. Karpachova on a different matter, that of former Premier Yulia Tymoshenko, had spoken to the current Premier regarding Tymoshenko's state of health a few weeks ago. As all observers of this case can see, “humanitarian grounds” are not something that the current regime understands or wants to.

As I had mentioned a number of months ago, it would not at all surprise me if the current regime simply wants to destroy Tymoshenko. Her current state of health is quite dire, and probably needs treatment for whatever it is that is ailing her in a hospital and not in the confines of the Lukiyanvska Detention Facility, but then again, what's another life to the regime in power? Particularly when she is someone who had the courage to stand up to them, and expose the crooked schemes which caused a number of oligarchs a great deal of money. That is why they have her imprisoned now, and not because of any normal legislation or judicial process. I'm sure that the CIA World Factbook or other sources will never tell you that the word 'justice' is absent from the vocabulary of most Ukrainians.

Vasyl Pawlowsky Independent Consultant

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