Following the 2010 Presidential elections Ukraine’s new leadership began not only carrying out their own policy involving active violation of human rights, but resorted to political persecution of their opponents and critics. This has been widely reported by the media. foreign and Ukrainian experts, in the report by the Danish Helsinki Committee on Human Rights, etc.
We have seen abuse of remand in custody as preventive measure, the criminalizing of actions which do not even warrant administrative penalties. These include, for example, the criminal cases linked with the Tax Code Maidan – the protests by small business owners against the new draft Tax Code from 16 November to 3 December 2010, as well as the arrests and use of torture against members of the nationalist organization “Tryzub” for damaging a bust to Stalin.
They include administrative proceedings against people involved in protests, administrative prosecution and “prophylactic” measures against small business owners, journalists, bloggers, student activists, the cases of the historian Ruslan Zabily, Hanna Synkova, the criminal investigation linked with the events in Lviv on 9 May 2011 and others.
They include the criminal proceedings against Yury Lutsenko, Yevhen Korniychuk, Bohdan Danylyshyn, Anatoly Makarenko, Ihor Didenko, Yulia Tymoshenko and other leaders of the former Government. Yury Lutsenko, for example, has been charged with actions which are not of a criminal nature and which have been carried out before and since by heads of the Ministry of Internal Affairs without any legal consequences, this confirming the totally political nature of the prosecution.
In view of the systematic violations of civil rights, the assault of democratic rights and freedoms
The systematic violations of civil rights, the assault on democratic rights and freedoms in Ukraine and political persecutions have prompted numerous appeals, protest rallies, public statements and other measures by members of human rights organizations, civic activists and politicians, stressing that such actions by those in power are unacceptable. We must however note the lack of any reaction or positive moves from the regime and acknowledge that the means for internal influence to improve the situation have been exhausted.
The question therefore logically arises what is to be done, what levers can be used in a situation where none remain within the country.
As a positive example we can cite the document submitted on 19 May 2011 by US Senator Benjamin Cardin aimed at fighting the atmosphere of impunity in Russia where, despite the rhetoric of the Kremlin’s leaders, the authorities are not taking adequate measures to stop abuse of power and corruption. The bill tabled proposes freezing assets and blocking the issue of visas to Russian Federation officials who violate human rights. 6 months after its adoption, the Senate would receive a report on how it was being enforced.
The refusal to issue visas to officials implicated in human rights infringements, as well as the freezing of financial assets held abroad could serve as effective mechanisms helping to stop violations of human rights and political persecution in Ukraine also.
We are turning to the leaders of all democratic countries with the request to apply these sanctions against Ukrainian officials implicated in human rights infringements and political repression in Ukraine.
The letter above is presently open for endorsement at helsinki.org.ua