Fastidious disgust but firm measures

The Eurasian Youth Union raised its ugly head in Ukraine on Friday, with the desecration of Ukrainian State emblems on Mount Hoverli in the Ivano-Frankivsk region.  After photographing their “heroic deeds” on their mobile, the three culprits sped out of the country in the direction of Russia. 

One would like to stop here.  Any attempt to analyze the possible motivation of this motley gang confronts serious difficulties.  Rather like trying to write a dissertation on Tom and Jerry in the light of post-structuralism.

On the other hand, the act provoked outrage among many Ukrainians and calls for severe punishment, some measured, some a little radical, it must be said.  There were also the predictably inadequate knee jerk reactions from, for example, the Communist Party

Perhaps of equal importance is the dilemma that such organizations, even when home-grown, and this one is categorically not, present for the laws of the country.

The SBU [Security Service] claims to have identified the culprits who are presently believed to be in Russia.  They may or may not end up being prosecuted.  The laws in this case are clear enough, although the chances of a prosecution are slim.

What however, if anything, does one do with the organization as a whole?  At the moment there is a temporary ban on it in Kharkiv, sought by the Prosecutor on the grounds of its extremist slogans, calls to violence and its alleged involvement (it claimed responsibility itself) for the vandalizing and unlawful moving of the monument to the Ukrainian Resistance Army [UPA] fighters in Kharkiv.

On 23 October the Ministry of Justice website informed of a ruling issued by the Bakhchysarai District Court in the Crimea forcibly disbanding the Bakhchysarai District Youth Organization “Eurasian Youth Movement”. 

The court ruling was passed under administrative proceedings on 27 September 2007, and has already come into force. The notification on the Ministry’s site indicates that the branch of the Union in question gained legal status by informing of its creation on 7 November 2006 and was added to the region of civic organizations under No. 33. The reason for its dissolution would appear to be repeated infringements of legislation by holding mass events outside the area where it is supposed to be functioning, that is, the Bakhchysarai district.

It seems more than a coincidence that this should be reported now for all that the court ruling easily preceded this present foul action.  If we think of the Union’s actions on many occasions, clearly legal measures of, shall we say, “containment” seem called for. On the other hand, the law on civic organizations remains flawed and it does not seem a constructive solution to apply a norm requiring that organizations only function where registered since this could create a dangerous precedent.

The Eurasian Youth Union has become vociferous in expressing its muddled stand which is pro-Russian and against an independent Ukrainian state.  It possibly has more in its programme, but I’m baffled if I can find it.

It would be difficult to doubt the Eurasian Youth Union’s commitment to acts of vandalism and its calls to violent measures in pursuing its ends. We are charitably assuming, of course, that it has any other goals besides vandalism and destruction.  The means it uses are quite simply unacceptable in any democratic country and must be prevented.  It would seem more constructive, however, especially at this time when the Union has demonstrated its prowess so graphically, to address this directly, rather than simply finding excuses for preventing the activities of a civic organization. 

Halya Coynash

Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group

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