Worrying visit to human rights group

The Vinnytsa Human Rights Group has reported a bizarre and disturbing visit from an officer of the Central Department for Fighting Organized Crime [UBOZ] in the Vinnytsa region. The officer informed the Head of VHG, Dmytro Groisman, that UBOZ had received instructions from the Ministry of Internal Affairs to check the lawfulness of the group’s activities, including their circulation of statements which could harm Ukraine’s international image.

Copies were provided on request of all acts of association. VHG also states that they were asked for a written explanation regarding the statement the group issued over the detention in Uzzhorod of refugee Akhmed Chataev, which would seem to have been the statement deemed damaging to the country’s reputation.  Without going into details about the statement, we would remind our readers that Mr Chataev, a Chechen, has refugee status in Austria and was only visiting Ukraine when the police detained him in response to a request for his extradition to Russia.  We would respectfully point out that extraditing a recognized refugee would do immeasurably more damage to Ukraine’s reputation than any statement from a human rights group.

During the day efforts have been made by various human rights groups to learn what is going on. From sources in the MIA we have been told that the MIA received an official appeal from a human rights organization, possibly known beyond Ukraine, asking that the police carry out a check.  It is not yet clear whether we are talking about actions which could “undermine the country’s safety by carrying out activities helping foreign countries, inciting enmity and other things” or about a request to check if a crime was committed.  Under the circumstances, especially given the questions and information sought during the visit, maximum openness, including over the name of the organization which apparently asked for the check would seem called for. We will report any information coming to light.

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