Public Committee against Political Persecution: Persecution of members of the former government for governmental decisions

Public Committee against Political Persecution in Ukraine

Document No. 3

Persecution of members of the former government for governmental decisions

One could welcome the declarations of the authorities regarding the need to fight corruption, misuse and impunity among public officials. However the charges brought against members of the opposition: Yulia Tymoshenko; Yury Lutsenko; Yevhen Korniychuk; Bohdan Danylyshyn; Valery Ivashchenko; Ihor Didenko and Anatoly Makarenko are at very least dubious. It remains unclear what criminally punishable acts they are supposed to have committed. It is not even suggested that they gained personal benefit from their actions. However first and foremost this is not a matter of systematic fighting against corruption, and under analogous circumstances criminal proceedings are not being initiated against members of the present government, although they sometimes resort to the same actions as those imputed the accused.

In general the use of criminal prosecution for governmental decisions under the guise of fighting corruption spells the destruction of the system of State governance. Political errors of ones predecessors, if they took place, should be rectified by the new regime using political methods, not the Criminal Code.

With the entrenched culture of governance as dictated by individuals and disregard for the law typical of the authorities throughout the 20 years of Ukraine’s independence, selective criminal prosecutions for governmental decisions of only members of the opposition has effectively meant the use of criminal justice for political ends. This is essentially a faulty understanding of “misuse of power”. Such practice runs counter to democratic values based on the equality of all before the law and undermines the foundations of criminal proceedings. The lack of independence of the judiciary and the resulting numerous violations of standards of just court considerations, including falsification of the charges, ignoring the principle of equality of arms, unwarrantedly harsh measures of restraint and flagrant violations of the right to liberty and right of defence highlight the political motivation of the authorities among the public.

The lack of any legal grounds for depriving Yury Lutsenko of his liberty, the flawed justification in the charges repeated by the court that he does not admit guilt and publishes articles in the press about his case demonstrate the overt lack of objectiveness and serious malaise afflicting our justice system. Another indicator of this grave illness was the unwarranted remand in custody of Yevhen Korniychuk on the day that his daughter was born; the continued detention of Valery Ivashchenko who clearly requires medical examination and treatment, etc. These cases which grip the attention of the public and media reveal the typical human rights violations which take place each year in the criminal prosecutions of ordinary citizens.

The Ukrainian authorities are demonstrating total failure to comply with the norms of a civilized law-based state with a democratic political culture. A member state of the Council of Europe and signatory to many international accords on human rights must simply not behave in this way.

The last straw which has exhausted the patience both of Ukrainians and western countries was the arrest on 5 August of Yulia Tymoshenko for infringing order during the trial and insulting witnesses, as well as the idiotic assertion from both the judge and prosecutor that the order for her arrest was not subject to appeal. Yet who bears responsibility for the abnormal running of the case? Not the court which does not give defence lawyers time to read the file material, disregarding the right to defence and through this violating the principle of adversarial justice?

This barbaric decision has aroused a wave of indignation both in Ukraine and in the world, and led to widespread calls for Yulia Tymoshenko’s release. Are our authorities able to rectify their mistakes or has the illness become incurable?

It should be noted that the diagnosis of manic repressive psychosis* applies not only to the authorities, but to society also. The conviction that one can overcome corruption through repressive measures, that somebody must end up in prison; the calls to put more inside dominate not just among a considerable percentage of the public, but among some of the intelligentsia. Yet we have already been through a situation where one half of the country was imprisoned and the other guarded them, and it ended in the total collapse of that country. Can the leadership of Ukraine not understand that political persecution leads to the country’s total isolation and collapse?.

President Yanukovych constantly asserts that his aim is to build a European model democratic state. The best proof of this would be to release political prisoners and stop persecuting the political opposition under the charade of fighting misuses and corruption.

Members of the Public Committee against Political Persecution in Ukraine

Zinoviy Antonyuk; Ludmila Klochko; Ihor Koliuszko; Mykola Kozyryev; Kateryna Levchenko; Myroslav Marynovych; Vasyl Ovsiyenko; Oleksandr Pavlychenko; Iryna Rapp; Yevhen Sverstyuk; Volodymyr Yavorsky;

* an expression first used by the poet Moisej Fishbein

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