Tag Archives: Ukraine

Nineteen, in Kyiv, and in Danger: An Interview with Filipp Dolbunov

publicpost.ru

February 23, 2013

What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger
— Yegor Letov, “We’re Getting Stronger”

Until recently, the habit that young left-wing activists have of dreaming up conspiratorial nicknames for themselves seemed mere child’s play, a tribute to a red romanticism long out of fashion. I spoke with Filipp Dolbunov, better known as Filipp Galtsov and whom I’m used to calling just plain Filippok, the day before the latest pogrom-like police search took place in his Moscow apartment. He is nineteen years old, in Kyiv, and in danger. The Russian government wants to put him in jail. He is a revolutionary.

galtcov600

Filipp Dolbunov

 

— First of all, I wanted to ask whether you’re safe.

No, I’m not safe now. I’m experiencing unhealthy attention from the Russian and Ukrainian security services. In particular, as I’ve learned, I’ve secretly been put on the wanted list in Russia. My parents are visited once a week by the police, people from Center “E”, and perhaps the FSB. In Ukraine, I am being followed by the SBU.

I also don’t feel safe because the UNHCR does not respond to my requests for asylum.

— Are you afraid you could be deported?

Yes, that possibility exists. After Leonid Razvozzhayev’s abduction in Kyiv and considering that the Ukraine’s statistics for deporting refugees are high, it’s quite possible. And knowing what close friends the SBU are with the FSB and Center “E”, I would raise the likelihood of this several times.

— You say you’re being followed. What does that look like?

On February 6, for example, I was followed from the building of the Ukraine Migration Service right to the place where I’m staying. Three men bearing a strong resemblance to police investigators followed me at a distance of forty meters. They periodically stopped and pretended to talk. In the subway, they got into the car next to mine and glared at me the whole way. They got out at the same station as I did and took the same street as I did. Only when we were approaching the house did I shake them. I saw one of them running after me, but I managed to escape. Kyiv police officers are now periodically staked out near the house.

oon fil

“Honor the UN convention on the rights of refugees”

— Why do you think the security services are so interested in you?

I think the security services are now paying special attention to people with leftist views. If a person defends his position not only in theory but also in practice, this interest often leads to something unhealthy from their point of view. The economic situation in Russia is now rather dodgy. The government is cutting spending on education, health care and other social needs. Unlike the liberals, who are enthusiastic only about “Russia without Putin,” the left speak loudly about these problems. The authorities are most afraid of a societal explosion. Hence the persecution, crackdowns, and intimidation on the part of the security services.

— What did you personally do to annoy them?

Lately I’ve been active in social movements, for example, the defense of the Khimki and Tsagovsky forests, support for workers’ dormitory residents [facing eviction] in Moscow, and the movement for fair elections. I have also been involved in some unsanctioned protest actions, but of course I didn’t do what they’re charging me with.

— What was your real role in the events of May 6, and what are you accused of doing?

As the lawyers and civil rights advocates tell me, I might be facing the charge of “organizing a riot.” The investigation is seriously basing itself on Leonid Razvozzhayev’s confession of guilt [whose authenticity has been disputed, first of all by Razvozzhayev himself], where I was identified as someone who allegedly led a column of anarchists. In fact, that day I marched in the column of the Russian Socialist Movement, of which I’m a member. I used no violence against police officers, all the more so because there was no “rioting” on Bolotnaya Square.

— You were a witness in the case of another person charged in the Bolotnaya Square case, Stepan Zimin? Have you been pressured in this connection?

Yes, I volunteered to be a witness in Stepan’s case. On October 25, I was abducted from my home by several Center “E” officers, who tried to force me into testifying against Konstantin Lebedev, Razvozzhayev and Sergei Udaltsov [during an interrogation] at the Investigative Committee. My apartment was searched. The same day I was released, with them telling me my procedural status was not clear. That is, it was difficult to understand whether I was a witness or a suspect. A week later, I finally received a [legal, written] summons from Investigator Marukyan. In my testimony, I said that Stepan had not thrown stones, had not used violence against police officers, and had not taken part in any rioting. During the questioning, Markuyan threatened to send me to the army if I didn’t, to borrow his expression, “stop talking nonsense.”

— Why did you decide to leave Russia right at this moment?

They had begun pressuring my relatives — my mother, grandmother, and grandfather. During the October 25 search, the eshniki [Center “E” officers] threatened that if my relatives continued to interfere with their “work,” they would be sent to the Investigative Committee for questioning. I left because too many facts had piled up that pointed to the possibility of my being arrested. From November to early January, people from Center “E” and the FSB came to my house once a week: they would ask where I was and threaten and intimidate my relatives. And recently, on February 12, they dragged my grandmother, who is seventy years old, in for questioning.

— How did you become a leftist? What influenced you?

I once was at a Grazhdanskaya Oborona concert, where I met really interesting people who were wearing hammer and sickle or anarchy patches. Then I gradually started reading, following the news, and looking at what was happening around me, and I realized that it was not even the country that had to be changed, but the whole world, the [entire] system of economic, human and spiritual relations.

— What’s your favorite Yegor Letov song?

Well, I have two favorites: “Sing, Revolution” and “We’re Getting Stronger.”

— You are applying for refugee status? How are things going?

At the moment I’m looking to be resettled in a third country, because I absolutely don’t feel safe here. Things are going badly, because the UNHCR does not react to reports of persecution on the part of the Ukrainian authorities. I don’t know how to explain this. The head of the local UNHCR office has said in the press that Ukraine is not a safe country for refugees. But considering the circumstances that I and other political refugees from Russia find ourselves in, I cannot understand why they can’t provide us with additional protection.

Besides me, Other Russia activist Alexei Devyatkin, journalist Jenny Kurpen, and Solidarity activist Mikhail Maglov are in Ukraine [applying for political asylum]. You can help us in this situation, first of all, by drawing attention to the problem of Russian refugees, especially at the international level.

— What would you wish or advise your comrades in Russia? Both those who are free and those already in prison.

I would like to wish my comrades success in the struggle. I wish a speedy release for the prisoners. You guys are such a big help. I really miss you and hope to see you soon.

— Probably somewhere in Switzerland.

No, in Russia.

Interview prepared by Ivan Ovsyannikov

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under interviews, leftist movements, political repression, protests, Russian society

Ukrainian Neo-Nazis Attack Presentation of Journal “Commons” in Ternopil

commons.com.ua

Neo-Nazis attack organizers at presentation of journal “Commons” in Ternopil
December 1, 2012

Ten neo-Nazis assaulted the four organizers of a presentation of the journal Spilne (“Commons”) on December 1 in Ternopil. Spilne is a journal of social critique whose new issue focuses on the subjects of class exploitation and class struggle.

vPyAcnhU6s4

The presentation was scheduled for 1 p.m. at the regional history museum. At noon, however, the four organizers were attacked right in the museum by ten neo-Nazis, most of them football hooligans from FC Niva (Ternopil). Despite their numerical advantage, the attackers used pepper spray. One of the organizers was hit over the head with a chair and required stitches.

-1

It is known that the attack was organized by Igor “Juice” Kostyuk, a member of the far-right party Svoboda. Before the presentation, he had threatened the presentation’s organizers online and mobilized the local extreme right.

This was not the first neo-Nazi attack on critical thought in Ukraine. In particular, the extreme right had carried out physical attacks on the Visual Culture Research Center at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy National University and actively supported moves by the university administration to close the center, the most active venue for critical public scholarship in our country.

The presentation of Spilne was to have been purely educational in nature. The participants intended to discuss forms of abuse by employers (in particular, precarious employment), as well as what things are needed to empower workers and trade unions. “The Nazis thus showed their opposition to the people of Ternopil thinking critically, knowing more about free education, free labor and class exploitation, and taking a skeptical attitude toward myths about migration. It is symbolic that the extreme right now actually hinders the grassroots self-organization of workers and young people,” said Maxim, one of the organizers of the event. “Currently the extreme right can ‘persuade’ opponents only through violence. “

Police came to the scene of the crime and are now deciding whether to institute criminal proceedings.

After the incident, the presentation and discussion took place as planned.

This report is based on an article originally published on the web site gaslo.info.

UPDATE: According to the online Ternopil newspaper Doba, members of the far-right group Trizub (“Trident”) have assumed responsibility for the attack. They were, allegedly, thus protecting “the honor of God and country” (!) from “anti-Ukrainian scribbling.”

Leave a comment

Filed under critical thought, political repression, racism, nationalism, fascism

How the Workers Who Built Kyiv’s Olympic Stadium Lived (video)

(Via Comrade A.)

Leave a comment

Filed under activism, film and video, international affairs, trade unions

Barracks and Unpaid Wages: How Ukrainian Migrant Workers Are Treated by Euro 2012 Construction Contractors

The illegal hostel for “guest workers” was built only a few years ago, before “the Euro.” But the floor in the barracks is as black as in century-old homes. There is dirt everywhere here – no traces of cleaning or compliance with sanitary norms. A narrow corridor leads to tiny rooms filled with crudely assembled cots.

http://liva.com.ua/workers-shacks.html
The Barracks of Olympic Stadium
Andriy Manchuk

“It’s like this. You’re workers. You pour concrete forms. You’ve been hired to work at the construction site with our crew, and you’re moving into the barracks. Does everyone got that?” our guides instruct us.

They are real concrete layers. They have agreed to show us the living and working conditions of the people building the main venue for the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship.

We stand amidst old garages on the shore of a fetid sewage drain only two hundred meters from Lybidskaya metro station – almost in the city center by Kyiv standards. Here, behind a fence, is a two-story shack inhabited by construction workers. Employees of a security company guard the entrance to the lot. We must try to not engage them in conversation and immediately go to the barracks under the cover of our “foreman.”

According to the workers, this illegal hostel for “guest workers” [zarobitchani – see Translator’s Note, below] was built only a few years ago, before “the Euro.” But the floor in the barrack is as black as in century-old homes. There is dirt everywhere here – no traces of cleaning or compliance with even the most primitive sanitary norms. A narrow corridor leads to tiny rooms filled with crudely assembled two-storey bunks. Each of these small rooms contains sixteen such beds, but, according to the workers, sometimes there have not been enough beds, and people have slept on the floor, using their own clothes or a blanket for a mattress. It is daytime now, and most of the room’s inhabitants are at work – on the construction sites at Olympic Stadium and the new passenger terminal at Boryspil Airport.

The poor sanitation and poverty of the room to which we have been brought are stunning. The wooden bunks, fitted with dirty mattresses, are broken in several places. There is garbage on the floor and a tin filled with cigarette buts. The nightstands between the beds are covered with dirty plates, packets of instant soup, and pieces of dried bread. The air in the room is stuffy, although the window is open. There is also garbage piled outside the window in which rats are scurrying. But beyond the fence topped with barbed wire you can see golden domes lying lined up on the ground: next door, work is under way on the largest cathedral in Ukraine, and there is a brisk trade in church paraphernalia going on there.

“Look what our people eat,” our “foreman” Vasily Pastushenko tells us as he opens the nightstands for us. “Poor people live here. The employers promise money to the workers, but then they just screw them over. They owe each of us three and half thousand hryvnias [approximately 350 euros], but they gave us a hundred hryvnias each in cash. And that was before the holidays! People didn’t even have enough money to travel home. And they also deduct twenty hryvnias a day for this ‘housing’ here.”

There is a latrine instead of a toilet in the barracks – several closed buckets in a separate room. It is impossible to cook here: the workers use only an electric water-heating wand as they are forbidden to use gas-powered heating devices. A few years ago, seven guest workers died of carbon monoxide poisoning in a similar shack near Kyiv.

“This is how we live. We envy Yulia Tymoshenko – her prison is like paradise compared with our shack. It’s never heated, and there is no insulation. In the winter, there would be frost on the walls in the mornings, and everyone went to work sick, some even with a high temperature,” the workers tell us as we photograph the room.

We had very little time to do this: a few minutes later the commandant ran into the room. He had a black eye and had obviously been drunk since morning (although the guards forbid workers from drinking in the barracks). He took us for fired workers and yelled at us, pointing to some other people’s bags.

“You don’t fucking live here anymore! Take your bags and scram. I’ll give you ten minutes.”

“We had money deducted from our wages for accommodation. But we haven’t been paid yet. You have no right to kick people out,” our foreman tried to argue. But everyone headed for the door. Conflicts with the security guards had never ended well for the workers.

Vasily Pastushenko, a native of the town of Uman, heads a group of fifteen guest workers hired for construction of Olympic Stadium who were deceived by their employers.

“They promised us mountains of gold. They practically said that [Ukrainian prime minister Nikolai] Azarov would pay us our wages. The facility, a parking lot at the stadium, has to be finished by the first of May, but they’re already behind schedule and have hired a bunch of people. Moreover, it’s not the firm itself that is doing this, but subcontractors or even sub-sub-subcontractors,” Vasily laughs. “They’re the ones who do the hiring, but the firm is out of the picture as it were. We go to them to get paid, but they don’t even know us, although we built everything here.”

“Everything here is muddled. They say the contracts for Euro 2012 were handed out in exchange for huge kickbacks – up to twenty-five percent of the total value of the contracts. Well, in order to ‘recapture’ all this money, they economize on us, the workers. They hire us without contracts or work agreements, scam us every step of the way, and house us in bestial conditions. At the same time, millions are being embezzled here. When I saw our accountant driving a Mitsubishi Pajero SUV, I immediately realized we wouldn’t see our money.”

We go with the workers to the construction site, getting in using the same legend that we are “concrete layers.” On the hill above the bowl of Olympic Stadium, where the Euro 2012 finals will take place, several hundred men, nervously urged on by supervisors, work right next to a precipice. It is a sight reminiscent of the building of the Great Pyramids.

“Look over there: a middleman has just brought some new workers. And those are the rescuers over there,” Vasily points. “Lest someone gets into an accident. While we’ve been working here, several workers have been killed at the site.”

I immediately remembered how the leader of a guest workers union had told us in an interview about injuries at Olympic Stadium. According to him, employers do not even know who is working for them, a fact that came to light only after the tragedies

“And work safety? Does anyone monitor it?”

“Work safety,” Vasily grins ironically. “A supervisor came to my crew once, to give us safety instructions as it were. He mumbled something to those who were present and then made as if to leave. I say to him, ‘Wait a second until all our people have gathered.’ He says to me, ‘Fuck off. You can tell them yourself.’

“No one complies with safety regulations when working at heights. We work without safety straps, and no one requires it. If someone is injured, then formally he didn’t work here. There was a kiosk at the site that sold all kinds of food at inflated prices and even beer – this at a construction site, where alcohol always leads to injuries. But we were issued only gloves and crappy boots, and even then not enough for everyone. It’s pointless to talk about the quality of work done in such conditions.”

We walk around the construction site, and the workers show us metal containers, piled with heaps of garbage.

“Look, people are living in each of these boxes. Right here on the construction site. We’ve spent the night here ourselves more than once. One of our guys became seriously ill, but he couldn’t move out or pay for himself. And we had no money to help – they don’t pay our wages. So they came to throw him out,” says Vasily.

“I asked them to wait a day. I said I’d come from my shift [the next day] and bring them money for him. But they wouldn’t have any of it.”

Those who do not want to live in the barracks often settle in illegal hostels for guest workers in private flats. Two such flats – separate ones for men and women – are located on my street, on the outskirts of Kyiv’s Pozniaky neighborhood. Olympic Stadium construction workers familiarized us with the interiors of these flophouses, which charge twenty to thirty hryvnias a day [i.e., up to three euros]. Each room contains ten beds. However, married couples cannot live together, and tenants are not allowed to enter the flat after midnight, listen to music or have guests (even their own husbands or wives) without special permission from the owners. Living with children is also strictly prohibited. Violators are evicted or turned over to the neighborhood police inspector.

There is a similar dormitory on Decembrists Street, in a building where the honest-fisted Klitschko brothers once lived, and it is far from the only such place in the blocks of the Darnytsia district. According to the guest workers, this is a systematized business nowadays. The owners of the apartment hostels are usually connected to the people who supply labor to the construction sites. They often are one and the same people, and find it easy to come to an agreement with the police. If you have seen newspaper ads for high-paying jobs with low-cost housing included, then likely as not they were ads for barracks and construction sites where wages are not paid.

In six weeks’ time, millions of TV viewers will gaze at the bowl of Olympic Stadium, where VIPs from all over Europe will gather. It is important that they know about the living and working conditions of the people who built these football facilities. It is important that they see Ukraine not through the gloss of tourist brochures, but the way it looks in the gloomy workers’ barracks in the center of the capital.

Photos by Ilya Derevyanko

_____

“The ruling class needs only one thing – profits, profits and more profits,” Vladimir Cheremis said at the protest rally. “Thanks to this scandal, the whole world can see what Ukrainian capitalism is like.”

http://liva.com.ua/euro-protest.html

“Nothing to Lose”: Euro 2012 Constructions Workers Protest
Andriy Manchuk

“I have never spoken to reporters. This is the first time in my life,” a construction worker confusedly told a Ukrainian TV reporter. The man was one of the people who have been building facilities at flashy Olympic Stadium, where the matches of the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship begin tomorrow.

On June 7, activists from the Social Movement [Sotsialnyi Rukh] coalition held a protest on Kreshchatyk against the systematic violation of the labor rights of the “guest workers” [zarobitchani] who built the entire infrastructure for Euro 2012 – from stadiums and terminals to highway overpasses and parking garages. As they fabulously enriched themselves on this nationally important construction project, subcontractors failed to pay an entire crew of concrete workers who built the parking facility at Olympic Stadium – a practice, common at most Kyiv construction sites, that massively victimizes workers who have been hired illegally.

Dmitry Tkachuk, a concrete worker from the village of Tucha in the Vinnytsia region of Ukraine, told a Gazeta.ua reporter about the builders of Ukraine’s main stadium live and work.

“Three months ago I came to Kyiv looking for work. At the train station, our crew of fifteen people was hired to work at Olympic Stadium. The man who hired us introduced himself as Ivan Ivanovich [i.e., “John Johnson”]. He promised us mountains of gold. I figured I could earn eight or nine thousand hryvnias. We live in a barracks. There is a complete lack of sanitation, one toilet for everybody. To go there in the morning you have to wait in a long queue. The first two weeks we worked we weren’t paid a kopeck. At first we paid for food with the money we’d brought with us. Then we sold off our mobile phones to pay for food. Also, we would from Lybidskaya metro station to Olympic Stadium [to save money]. Most of the guys returned home without a kopeck to show for their efforts, but I can’t tell my parents about this. We’re now working for 150 hryvnias a day [i.e., approx. 15 euros a day]. We send a hundred home and chip in twenty hryvnias a day for food for each of us. We have thirty hryvnias left over for all other expenses… We have nothing to lose.”

Ukrainian and foreign journalists gazed wide-eyed at the workers, as if they were aliens from an unknown planet.

“You say you’re owed forty thousand hryvnias [approx. 4,000 euros]. But in our line of work one shooting trip costs more than that,” a TV reporter said to a construction worker with a smile.

In response, the workers talked about their daily lives. A 19-year-old woman who had been hired to cook was raped in the barracks recently. And workers literally have to beat subcontractors into paying them – with fists and iron bars.

The protesters symbolically chained themselves to the gates of the fan zone, whence foreign tourists looked at them in amazement. Vitaly Mikhonko, leader of Hammer and Sickle, a trade union for guest construction workers, said that on June 8 Polish workers would block the tournament’s opening ceremony in Warsaw, demanding payment of back wages. By agreement with its Polish comrades, the Social Movement will block the final match of Euro 2012 in Kyiv if the Ukrainian Cabinet fails to meet their demands –immediately pay all back wages to workers, ensure normal living conditions, strictly observe work safety rules, and sign contracts with everyone employed at the construction sites, under the supervision of independent trade unions.

“The ruling class needs only one thing – profits, profits and more profits,” Vladimir Cheremis said at the protest rally. “Thanks to this scandal, the whole world can see what Ukrainian capitalism is like.”

When the rally was over, activists staged an unauthorized march along Kreshchatyk and Institutskaya Street to the Cabinet building, where they handed a petition outlining the workers’ demands to government officials. “We worked, but you didn’t pay!” the marchers chanted. Near the Cabinet building they ran into three MPs – Vasily Khara, Alexander Stoyan and Yaroslav Sukhoi, authors and lobbyists of the new proposed Labor Code. To their misfortune, the MPs had left for their lunch break at the wrong time. Sergei Kirichuk, coordinator of the Borotba Association [The Struggle], called on the MPs to withdraw the anti-labor law bill from parliament, and the three men quickly retreated to loud whistling and cries of “Shame!”

The rally in support of guest construction workers was the latest stage in the process of building a new leftist movement in Ukraine. By defending the rights of the most vulnerable segment of Ukrainian laborers – migrant workers – coalition members encourage those who have nothing to lose but their chains to protest.

Translator’s Note. The “guest workers” – or zarobitchani (in Ukrainian) – referred to in these articles are not migrant workers from other countries, but economic migrants from other regions of Ukraine who come to Kyiv, the country’s capital, in search of work. But the term (which literally means “earners”) is applied to all Ukrainian migrant laborers, including those who work abroad. According to some sources, there are 4.5 million such zarobitchani. They work in Russia, the EU countries, and the US, and contribute as much as eight percent of Ukraine’s total GDP through their remittances.

_____

http://www.kyivpost.com/news/euro2012/preparation/detail/128624/
Euro 2012 Construction Worker Blues
May 31 | Svitlana Tuchynska
Money trail leads to black holes

Construction workers are rushing to finish work near Kyiv’s Olympic Stadium, the gleaming modern centerpiece of Ukraine’s preparations for the Euro 2012 tournament and venue for the July 1 championship match.

But behind the impressive visage of the state-funded, $550 million stadium lies a tale of deaths, injuries and unpaid wages for laborers.

At least six people have been killed in stadium construction accidents since 2008, according to the Kyiv city prosecutor, while workers say the number of fatal victims is actually 10. But more common, workers say, is simply bad treatment of them…

Read the rest of the article here.

4 Comments

Filed under activism, international affairs, protests, trade unions

Crackdown in Ukraine: block the gay gag rule! (petition)

www.allout.org/en/actions/ukraine

Crackdown in Ukraine: block the gay gag rule

Ukraine’s legislature is about to vote a brand new bill into law that will make it illegal to be gay or lesbian in public. President Viktor Yanukovych has the power to stop the law, but has chosen to stay silent on the growing anti-gay sentiment.

The President says a new alliance with the European Union is his #1 Priority. As officials from Ukraine prepare to meet with an EU delegation on human rights this Friday, it’s time to finally bring this issue to light and force the President Yanukovych to speak out against these laws.

Will you take one moment to call on President Yanukovych to condemn the laws before his meeting on Friday? Every single voice of opposition makes a real difference.

Sign the petition here.

_____

www.pinknews.co.uk

Ukraine: President petitioned on draft anti-gay law
by Stephen Gray
May 29, 2012

43,000 people have so far signed a petition to the president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, over a draft amendment to the country’s morality laws.

In a resolution adopted last week, the European Parliament condemned Ukraine’s draft law along with other laws considered or passed already in the EU and neighbouring states, saying member states, of which Ukraine is not yet one, should be “exemplary” on issues of fundamental rights.

Kiev’s first-ever pride march was called off half an hour before it was due to begin on Sunday 20 May, with two organisers left physically injured. An image of Svyatoslav Sheremet being assaulted by youths accompanies the petition.

Amnesty International Ukraine campaigner Max Tucker said it had been “clear from the start that the Kiev police department did not want this march to go ahead.

“Their reluctance to commit to the event and to put adequate security measures in place to protect demonstrators left organisers fearing for their safety.”

The event’s cancellation coincided with a parliamentary committee decision to recommend a draft amendment to the morality laws which would make it illegal to ‘promote homosexuality’ by ‘holding meetings, parades, actions, demonstrations and mass events aiming at intentional distribution of any positive information about homosexuality’.

Amnesty International said the law would “fly in the face of Ukraine’s international obligations to protect the right to freedom of expression and prohibit discrimination”.

AllOut.org used the upcoming visit of an EU delegation on human rights to Ukraine this week as an opportunity to highlight the draft law’s progress through the legislature.

The petition, addressed to President Yanukovych, reads: “We citizens from across the European Union and the world urge you to denounce Law 8711. The arrival of the delegation on Justice and Security from the EU is the time to show that Ukraine takes human rights seriously.

“Ukraine must take a stand against shocking displays of violence such as that perpetuated against Svyatoslav Sheremet.”

Björn van Roozendaal, ILGA-Europe Programmes Director, said: “Not only this law is in clear contradiction with non-discrimination principles and the right to freedom of expression and information. The reasoning of such laws is sadly based on myths rather than facts.

“Drafters of such laws falsely assume that the work of human rights defenders is threatening religions and children. In addition the position that human rights defenders and media would ‘promote homosexuality’ is wrong and holds no truth. It just stigmatises the community and undermines human rights standards.”

The petition is hosted by AllOut.org.

Leave a comment

Filed under feminism, gay rights, open letters, manifestos, appeals, political repression

Solidarity with Priama Dija (Kyiv)

[Adapted from the solidarity appeal originally published at lib.com]

Dear Comrades!

We are an independent student union, Priama Dija (“Direct Action”) and we ask for your support.

The case is that for over the last six months, the union has been under unprecedented pressure. Everything started with our series of successful actions (together with other youth organizations) against the establishment of fees for previously free services in the universities, against cutting funds for scholars and against plans to suspend scholarships for students who received even a single grade of “3” (C). Ever since then, the intelligence services, together with the administration of the National Taras Shevchenko University of Kiev, have been carrying out a campaign of pressure against the union’s activists. All available measures are used against them, including intimidation and repression.

During this period:

1) pressure has been used against activists by threatening to sack their parents from work;
2) activists were expelled from the university;
3) intimidation and face-to-face “talks” have been held with anyone who somehow helped us;
4) the intelligence services have engaged in a deterrence campaign against us.

It is worth mentioning that a number of administrators in private conversations made it absolutely clear that they were being “pressured from above.” Some officials have directly called it a “war.” There are those, however, who won’t stop at anything just to keep their positions. Thus, the Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy, Mr. A.E. Konverskii, stated outright  that he would “crush anyone who would challenge his career into the pavement.” Soon afterwards, even such an insignificant project as the film club in the faculty was closed for no particular reason and without explanation.

The administration also distinguished itself by instructing security guards to prohibit activists from entering the Red (main) corpus of the university, regardless of the legitimate right of free entry for union members.

In general, an atmosphere of total control has been established in “the best university in the country.” Any signs of dissatisfaction are rooted out immediately. Thus the very flickering of a protest against a rise in dormitory fees was brutally suppressed, and the students who initiated this campaign were expelled.

The present state of affairs is connected to an appalling fact. The Kiev National University is virtually run by Vice-Rector V.A. Bugrov, who has also been, according to our information, an SBU officer since 1989. (The SBU, the Ukrainian Security Service, was previously known as the KGB.)

“Vladimir Bugrov: Have a ‘Prophylactic Talk’ with Your Wife!”

We should also mention that the former chief of the SBU, Volodymyr Nalyvaichenko, swore that he had recalled all the agents from institutions of higher education during the “de-KGBization” campaign.

The facts enumerated above constitue a disgraceful precedent for both the University and Ukraine as a whole. The University should stand for the free development of the individual and not for the totalitarian production of security service agents.

We call for your solidarity!

We ask you to send letters of protest to the Ukraine minister of education, the Ukraine parliament’s human rights ombudsman, and the administration of Kyiv University. You may use the following sample letter:

We ask you to intervene in the situation with the student union Priama Dija (“Direct Action”). According to the information we have received, for over six months now pressure has being used against the union by the administration of the Kyiv National University and the SBU (Ukraine Security Service).

Regardless of the official status of the union, representatives of the SBU and the University have taken repressive actions against activists and intimidated all those who are somehow connected to the union. These actions violate the Ukraine  law “On Unions, Their Rights and Guarantees for Activity.” They also violate the Criminal Code of Ukraine (Article 170).

We appeal to you to take action in this situation.

Please mail, fax or telephone your protests to the following officials:

Minister Dmytro Volodymyrovych Tabachnyk
Ukraine Ministry of Education and Science
10, Prospekt Pobedy
01135 Kyiv, Ukraine
Telephone: +380 (44) 486-24-42
E-mail: ministry@mon.gov.ua
Fax: +380 (44) 236-10-49

Rector Leonid Vasiliovich Hubersky
Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv
64, Volodymyrs’ka St.
01601 Kyiv, Ukraine
E-mail: stationery@univ.kiev.ua
Fax: +380 (44) 239-33-88

Nina Ivanivna Karpachova
Ukraine Parliament Ombudsman for Human Rights
21/8, Instytutska St.
01008 Kyiv, Ukraine
Telephone: +380 (44) 253-22-03
E-mail: omb@ombudsman.gov.ua

For more information or to tell us about your solidarity actions (including letters), write to: priamadija@gmail.com

Kyiv: Priama Dija Pickets SBU Headquarters

On April 21, the Priama Dija student union picketed the headquarters of the Ukraine Security Service (SBU). Around fifty union activists demanded an end to repressions against students, their parents, and their comrades.

The young people submitted “case files” with information about themselves. They announced that they had decided to make the work of SBU agents easier by submitting a detailed dossier on each activist.

Union activists claim that the SBU agents have engaged in a campaign of coercion against Priama Dija, its members, their parents, and mere sympathizers for over six months. This campaign has been especially intense in the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, where the administration has joined with SBU agents in a campaign against the student union, openly calling it a “war.”

Union activists say that the most underhanded methods have been employed against them. Aside from threatening and expelling students themselves, the university administration has practically taken parents hostage by promising to cause them “problems” and threatening that they will be fired from their jobs.

The protesters demanded an end to all repressions against union activists, their families, and friends, and an internal investigation into the collaboration of SBU agents with the administration of the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv in its repression of the student union.

Actions in support of Priama Dija also took place in Germany, Poland, Portugal, Russia, and a number of other Ukrainian cities. Earlier, the International Workers Association, trade union organizations in Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Germany, and Venezuela, the International Youth Human Rights Movement, Ukrainian civil rights activists, and a number of Ukrainian student and youth organizations expressed their support for Priama Dija.

______________

On April 22, members of the Committee for Academic Solidarity and the Street University held a series of solo pickets in support of Priama Dija outside the Ukrainian Consulate in Saint Petersburg.

On April 21, two solidarity rallies took place outside the Ukrainian Embassy in Moscow. These were organized, respectively, by Autonomous Action, with support from the Vpered Socialist Movement, Left Front, and the All-Russian Confederation of Labor (VKT); and by the Confederation of Revolutionary Anarcho-Syndicalists (KRAS).

Leave a comment

Filed under activism, open letters, manifestos, appeals, political repression, protests, student movements