Wednesday, February 01, 2012

A cross to be placed on Human Rights in Ukraine?

When Yanukovych was elected president, Ukraine's Cabinet of Ministers, prosecutor general's office, tax collection service, and the judiciary were almost immediately packed with his associates from the Donetsk region in a grossly disproportionate manner.

Since then the process has continued at lower levels too and a large number of top jobs in Ukraine's oblast' administrations, police, prosecutors, tax inspectors offices etc, across the country have fell into the hands of president's trustees from Donbas. Compaints about placement of 'overseers' is legion.

The 'Expres' website earlier this week published an article with comprehensive list of examples of this process .

One observer says: Today's authorities do not take into account the professionalism of candidates, but rather whether or not they are natives of the Donetsk region they can personally trust. There is no place for 'foreigners'. The main criterion is personal loyalty..this is the road to nowhere..

Today Sonya Koshkina in '' provides another example of how the 'power vertikal' is becoming ever-more concentrated in the hands of a small band of 'Donetskiites'.

Next week Ukraine's Human Rights Ombudsman is to be re-appointed but it seems unlikely that the incumbent, Nina Karpachova, will be permitted to continue in her position. When she visited Yulia Tymoshenko in Kyiv's Lukyanov investigative isolation unit late last year she demanded doctors be allowed to treat the former PM. Karpachova called the situation "unacceptable" and contrary to European norms and conventions..

Last May she declared there was no reason for former interior minister Yuriy Lutsenko to be detained in prison and added that she would raise this issue with Ukraine’s prosecutor-general.

Favourite to replace her is the highly disreputable Hennadiy Vasiliev. He was head of the Donetsk prosecutor's office in the lawless early '90's when dozen's of businessmen were killed in the region as local state assets, factories and property were 'redistributed'. Needless to say, almost none of the cases were ever solved or perpetrators brought to justice.

He has been a PoR parliamentary deputy for several convocations, a deputy parliamentary speaker, former Prosecutor General etc. etc. as well as being a big-shot businessman.

Despite always being employed in public service, "Focus" magazine in early 2008 reckoned he was worth about $575 million, while "Korrespondent", in the same year, claimed the figure was $ 1.67billion, i.e. 16th place on the list of Ukraine's richest men.

In 2003-2004 as Prosecutor-General Vasiliev did his utmost to 'bury' the Gongadze case, and he was also linked to several dubious large land deals in and around Kyiv. After the Orange Revolution his laid low, but was re-elected to parliament in 2007. He has very rarely bothered to turn up or show his face there since then.

When Yanukovych became president, he appointed Vasiliev deputy head of the president's administration whilst he simultaneously holding onto his seat in the Verkhovna Rada - a situation not permitted by Ukraine's constitution. Since 2007 Vasiliev has never spoke from the parliamentary podium nor asked one parliamentary question.

In 2011, his name resurfaced in the media when he was linked to raiders' attacks on "Donetskstal." Because of these, trading in shares of the company on the Stock Exchange were suspended for several months, resulting not only in serious losses to the owners, but also serious upheavals in the market as a whole. Many observers considered Vasiliev behind these attempts to squeeze "Donetskstal".

Sonya Koshkina concludes: "He has been nominated of course, so that a cross can finally placed on Human Rights in Ukraine. Vasiliev and duties of ombudsman are concepts as incompatible as Viktor Yanukovych and reforms, or Viktor Yushchenko and decency."

She is correct. It is grotesque that such a person could ever be considered for the post of Human Rights ombudsman, particularly when Ukaine's legal system and judiciary are in such a shambolic state. Vasiliev has as much interest in Human Rights as King Herod had in child welfare..

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