The State Department web site below is a permanent electronic archive of information released prior to January 20, 2001.  Please see www.state.gov for material released since President George W. Bush took office on that date.  This site is not updated so external links may no longer function.  Contact us with any questions about finding information.

NOTE: External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views contained therein.

Department Seal

flag
bar

TITLE:  UKRAINE HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994
AUTHOR;  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE:  FEBRUARY 1995










                            UKRAINE


Ukraine in 1994 continued to be governed by the 1978 
Constitution of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, 
modified by the introduction of a presidency and a multiparty 
system.  In presidential elections held in June and July, 
Leonid Kuchma defeated incumbent Leonid Kravchuk and four other 
candidates.  The first post-Soviet elections for the 450-member 
Rada (parliament), held in the spring, resulted in a much 
fragmented legislature.

Since independence, a Rada commission has worked unsuccessfully 
to draft a new constitution.  In 1994 the President and the 
Rada proposed forming a new constitutional commission, which 
was finally established in October.  In general, however, 1994, 
like 1992 and 1993, was a year of governmental deadlock.

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), the Ministry of Internal 
Affairs, and the Ministry of Defense all have equal status and 
report to the President through the Cabinet.  The chairmen of 
these institutions sit on the Council of Ministers and 
simultaneously chair the Council's executive committees 
responsible for each of their ministries.  The Rada must 
confirm the appointment of each chairman.  The armed forces 
have remained largely outside of politics.  President Kuchma 
nominated, and the Rada confirmed on October 3, Ukraine's first 
civilian Defense Minister.  During parliamentary debates, the 
SBU serves in a technical advisory capacity.  Although it has 
affected the political process through criminal investigations 
against certain politicians and influential businessmen, human 
rights organizations have not reported any violations of human 
rights by the SBU.

The economy continues to be dependent on state-owned industry 
and state and collectivized agriculture.  Little privatization 
has occurred.  The Government has struggled to find a unique 
"Ukrainian way" of transition from a command to a free market 
economy.  Consequently, economic reform has not been 
extensively enacted, and the economy has suffered double-digit 
declines in gross domestic product, periodic hyperinflation, 
and high levels of hidden unemployment.  Much economic activity 
is submerged into the illegal sector (estimated at between 50 
and 80 percent), causing a concomitant dramatic rise in crime.

The most significant human rights achievement was the ability 
of the people of Ukraine, through internationally monitored 
elections, to replace elected and appointed officials at all 
levels of the executive and legislative branches in both the 
central and local governments.  President Kuchma and the 
Chairman of the Rada acted to strengthen the separation of 
church and state through public statements and through 
adjustment of certain administrative procedures.  The President 
also disciplined the National Council for Broadcasting, which 
engaged in partisan and illegal actions during the presidential 
election campaign, and replaced the director of state 
television, which in the past had been accused of restricting 
public discussion of important issues.  Continuing human rights 
problems include restrictions on freedom of the press and 
association, unreformed legal and prison systems, and ethnic 
tensions in Crimea.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1                           Respect for the Integrity 
                                    of the Person, Including 
                                    Freedom from:

    a.   Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no known political killings by agents of the 
Government, but the line between politically motivated killing 
and criminal activities has become difficult to distinguish.  
The Government's inability to stem the economic decline and 
check the growth of violent, organized criminal activity had 
major repercussions.  Politicians increasingly became the 
victims--whether through kidnapings or killings--of organized 
criminal groups, aided sometimes, either actively or passively, 
by corrupt officials.  Politicians were particularly targeted 
because of their influence over state-owned enterprises, which 
still constituted 95 percent of official economic output.

In a particularly violent example of lawlessness, the entire 
leadership of the Crimean Christian Liberal Party was singled 
out for assassination because of the Party's platform on 
economic reform.  Six people, half of the leadership, were 
murdered, with the remainder fleeing Ukraine.  Its remaining 
members disbanded the Party.  Crimean authorities were 
seemingly able neither to stop the killings nor apprehend the 
perpetrators.  President Kuchma's first act as President was to 
sign a decree establishing special units and procedures to 
combat organized crime.  He also acted to raise the pay of law 
enforcement officials to reduce the temptation of corruption.

    b.   Disappearance

Mikhaylo Boychyshyn, a prominent leader of the Popular Movement 
of Ukraine (Rukh) disappeared in January without explanation.  
No other disappearances are known to have occurred.

    c.   Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

The Constitution prohibits torture.  However, police and prison 
beatings occur with regularity, and there is no effective 
mechanism for registering complaints about mistreatment or for 
obtaining redress.  The Government made no known efforts during 
the year to end the practice or to punish officials who 
committed such abuses.

Visitors to prisons describe conditions as severely substandard.
Prisons are overcrowded, with the number of prisoners sometimes 
four times the prison capacity.  The most crowded tend to be 
those for prisoners who have been charged with a crime and are 
awaiting trial or are in investigative detention.

The psychiatric community has adopted more humane methods of 
treatment.  Human rights monitors say that, although the 
quality of medical care in Ukraine is generally deteriorating, 
psychiatry is making significant progress.  There is some 
official support for the adoption of less coercive and 
degrading modes of treatment.  Despite the resource constraints 
imposed by the economic crisis, efforts to improve medical 
training, hospital conditions, patients' rights, and legal 
norms are under way.

    d.   Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

There were no reported cases of arbitrary arrest or detention 
of persons.  Ukraine has only slightly amended its Soviet-era 
law on detentions, and the recent decree signed by President 
Kuchma on combating organized crime and corruption contains a 
number of controversial provisions.

Ukrainian law provides that police authorities may detain a 
person suspected of a crime for 3 days without a warrant.  A 
prosecutor must issue an arrest order if the period of 
detention exceeds 3 days.  The maximum period of detention 
after charges have been filed is 1 1/2 years.  The law permits 
citizens to appeal the legality of an arrest either to the 
court or to the prosecutor.  As citizens gain a better 
understanding of their rights under a 1992 law, they are 
increasingly filing appeals with the courts.  The authorities 
have dismissed some prosecutors for not adhering to legal 
guidelines.

A presidential decree designed to combat corruption and 
organized crime permits the "preventive" detention of persons 
for up to 30 days without the filing of charges.  The President 
told law enforcement agencies on several occasions that they 
should take no actions inconsistent with other laws and the 
Constitution, regardless of the provisions of the decree.  At 
year's end, it remained to be seen whether the new decree would 
result in arbitrary detention or other abuses.

By law, a judge must initiate a trial within 3 weeks from the 
time charges are filed.  But this limit is not always met by 
the overloaded court system, where months may pass before a 
defendant is finally brought to court.  By law, detainees are 
permitted access to a defense attorney, who is provided without 
charge to the indigent, from the moment of detention or the 
filing of charges, whichever comes first.  There is no 
attorney-client privilege.  The prisoner may talk to a lawyer 
only in the presence of the person who made the arrest.  To 
protect the defendant, each investigative file must contain a 
document signed by the defendant and his counsel attesting that 
the defendant's rights were explained to him in the presence of 
an attorney.  An appeals court may dismiss a conviction or 
order a new trial if this document is missing.  As defendants 
became aware of their rights, they increasingly insisted on 
observance of these rights.  However, many still were not 
aware, and hence did not take advantage, of these procedures.  
Defense attorneys' fees also were prohibitively expensive for 
many defendants.

Exile as a punishment no longer exists in Ukrainian law.

    e.   Denial of Fair Public Trial

The criminal justice system follows the former Soviet model.  
Several modifications have been made, including a December 1991 
law modifying the system of prosecution and a June 1992 law, 
not yet implemented, authorizing the creation of a 
constitutional court.  Without further major structural 
reforms, however, the independence of the judiciary from 
outside pressure cannot be realized.

The nonimplementation of the constitutional court law is 
symptomatic of the gridlock which stymies judicial reform in 
general.  While the law was enacted, all but one of the 
candidates selected by the Government for the constitutional 
court refused appointments, and the court was not able to begin 
work.  As the number of contradictions between new laws and the 
old Constitution increased, the need for a functioning 
constitutional court became ever more urgent.  The Supreme 
Court has refrained from interpreting the laws and the 
Constitution, leaving individuals, businesses, and even the 
Government without a court of appeal in cases in which new laws 
conflict with the Constitution.

The courts of general jurisdiction are undifferentiated as to 
function (although separate arbitration, or commercial, courts 
exist).  In the same day, judges may hear criminal, civil, and 
juvenile cases.  The courts are organized on three levels:  
rayon courts (district, also known as people's courts); oblast 
(regional) courts; and the Supreme Court.  All may act as the 
court of first instance depending on the nature and seriousness 
of the crime.  A case heard in the first instance by the 
Supreme Court, therefore, may not be appealed or reviewed.  
There are no clear rules to determine which court first hears a 
case.  As a rule, military tribunals handle cases involving 
military personnel only.

Prosecutors, like the courts, are organized into offices at the 
rayon, oblast, and republic levels.  They are ultimately 
responsible to the Prosecutor General, appointed by the Rada.  
Prosecutors and defense attorneys by law have equal status 
before the courts.  In practice, prosecutors still are very 
influential because court proceedings are not conducted in an 
adversarial manner.  The prosecutor directs all investigations 
of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the SBU, or he may use 
the investigative resources of his office.

While the defendant is presumed innocent and is tried before a 
panel consisting of one judge and two lay assessors, conviction 
rates have not changed from the Soviet era.  Nearly 99 percent 
of completed cases result in convictions.  Judges frequently 
send cases unlikely to end in convictions back to the 
prosecutor for "additional investigation."  Such cases may then 
be dropped or closed, occasionally without informing the court 
or the defendant.  Consequently, conviction rates are a 
somewhat misleading statistic.  There are no known political 
prisoners.

Oblast and Supreme Court judges may not be members of political 
parties and must have at least 5 years of legal experience.  
The Rada selects judges on the basis of recommendations from 
the Ministry of Justice, based in part on examination results.  
The Prosecutor General and his deputy are nominated by the 
President and confirmed by the Rada.  Regional and district 
prosecutors are appointed by the Prosecutor General.  Many 
current judges and prosecutors were appointed in Soviet times 
when political influence pervaded the criminal justice system.  
It is unclear how free the judiciary is from influence and 
intimidation by the executive branch of government.  
Particularly at the regional level, judges, prosecutors, and 
other court officials appear to remain closely attuned to local 
government interests.  Organized crime elements have also 
influenced court decisions.

    f.   Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
         Correspondence

Search warrants issued by prosecutors, not judges, are required 
and utilized in most cases.  The SBU may, however, conduct 
intrusive surveillance and searches without a warrant on 
national security grounds.  Human rights observers report 
receiving no complaints of invasion of privacy by the SBU.  
According to the SBU charter, persons subject to surveillance 
must be informed after a month's time.  The Prosecutor General's
office has oversight responsibility over the SBU, but the 
extent to which it utilizes that authority to monitor SBU 
activities and to curb excesses by security officials is 
unknown.

The remnants of Soviet control mechanisms survive in many 
guises.  The militia stops vehicles arbitrarily in cities, at 
the borders of cities and towns, and throughout the 
countryside.  It needs no probable cause to stop vehicles for 
an extensive document check and inspection of all parts of the 
vehicle and its contents.  This has become a great source of 
and inducement to corruption in the militia:  citizens who 
often have committed no violation, or only a minor one, prefer 
to pay a bribe to avoid time-consuming inspections.  Westerners 
and Western vehicles are popular targets of this treatment.  
Persons who have committed serious violations also escape 
justice by paying bribes to officials, further undermining the 
concept of the rule of law.

Section 2                           Respect for Civil 
                                    Liberties, Including:

    a.   Freedom of Speech and Press

A 1991 law protects freedom of speech and the print media.  
Criticism of the Government is tolerated.  Because most of the 
media are state owned and supported, there is a general 
tendency to self-censorship.  Former President Kravchuk 
declared that newsprint was a strategic commodity and that 
there would be no privatization of the sources of paper.  
Government control of subsidies, most printing presses, 
newsprint, and a galaxy of "official" media continued to 
inhibit the growth of a fully free, competitive, and open 
press.  More recently, President Kuchma signed a law exempting 
government-owned media from paying high value-added taxes, 
thereby making the private press comparatively more expensive.

A 1994 law (predating President Kuchma's election) regulates 
the electronic media.  Holos Ukrainy, the official newspaper of 
the Ukrainian Parliament, accused the state television of 
promoting the reelection of President Kravchuk (see Section 3) 
and of restricting discussion of controversial domestic topics, 
such as disputes among the rival Orthodox churches claiming 
jurisdiction over the country (see Section 2.c.).  Several 
private television channels rebroadcast uncensored foreign news 
programs and create their own programming.  Foreign broadcasts 
(mostly Russian) are received without interference.

After his election, President Kuchma disbanded the Council on 
Broadcast Media, a regulatory agency, on the grounds that his 
predecessor had improperly appointed the Council.  In addition, 
after a private television station, Hravis, broadcast campaign 
information about Kuchma and the other candidates in the 
presidential race, the Council had shut it down for being 
improperly licensed.  Upon his election, Kuchma reinstated 
Hravis' license and appointed its executive director to the 
post of deputy director of the State Broadcasting Company.  The 
President's adviser on press freedoms stated that Kuchma will 
reestablish the Council as a nonpartisan body solely involved 
in the technical aspects of broadcast regulation.

During former President Kravchuk's tenure, the Government 
created a committee with broadly defined powers over all media 
(i.e., print, broadcasting, and publishing) to protect "state 
secrets."  These were broadly defined to include economic and 
numerous other categories of information with the apparent 
purpose of suppressing embarrassing information about the 
Government's performance.  The law establishing the committee 
provided not only for censorship of the media but also 
penalties for anyone who published such information.  President 
Kuchma dissolved the committee before it was able to exercise 
its powers.

The most serious threat to a free and open discussion of issues 
came from criminal elements and organized crime.  Some 
journalists and editors reported they feared reprisals from 
criminal elements if they exposed how organized crime came to 
control much of the economy, both private and state owned.  
However, as the year passed, the print media became more daring 
and courageous in discussing this subject.

    b.   Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Law on Public Assembly of 1989 stipulates that 
organizations must apply for permission to the respective local 
administration 10 days before a planned demonstration.  
Participants in demonstrations are prohibited by law from 
instigating violence or ethnic conflict and from calling for 
the violent overthrow of the constitutional order.  
Demonstrations may not interfere with traffic, take place near 
the Rada when it is in session, or otherwise hinder public 
order.  In Kiev, officials routinely granted permits.  
Unlicensed demonstrations were common and occurred without 
police interference, even at the Rada when it was in session.

The 1992 law on public organizations prohibits the State from 
financing political parties and other public organizations.  
According to the law, political parties may not receive funds 
from abroad or maintain accounts in foreign banks.  The law 
prohibits organizations advocating the violent overthrow of the 
Government and constitutional order or undermining Ukraine's 
state security by collaborating with other states.  It bars 
political parties from having administrative or organizational 
structures abroad.  The law prohibits police authorities, 
members of the armed forces, and executive branch officials 
from joining political parties, but many such persons 
nonetheless publicly associate themselves with specific parties.

Political parties may be dissolved only by a court decision.  
The Supreme Court may dissolve a party for advocating the 
overthrow of the State, for "anti-Ukrainian" activities, or for 
violating or advocating the violation of the constitutional 
rights of citizens.  Because no party has been dissolved since 
independence, the legal criteria have not yet been established.
Immediately after the coup attempts of 1991, the Government 
banned the Communist Party of Ukraine, which was an affiliate 
of the former Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU).  Many 
former members of the Communist Party thereafter participated 
in establishing the Socialist Party of Ukraine.  In December 
1993, the Government registered the Communist Party of Ukraine 
as a new party, and not as a successor party to the CPSU.  
Hence, former CPSU assets were not given to the new Socialist 
Party, although it continued to press the Rada for recognition 
as the legal successor of the CPSU.

Freedom of association is circumscribed by an onerous 
registration requirement that lends itself to abuse and 
bureaucratic manipulation.  Groups must be registered with the 
Government to pursue almost any purpose, whether commercial or 
philanthropic.  The Ministries of Justice, Economy, Foreign 
Economic Relations, and the Councils on Religion and 
Broadcasting, among others, all have registration functions 
which they have used at one time or another to prevent citizens 
from exercising their right of free association for purposes of 
which the Government does not approve.

Not being registered has several important disadvantages, i.e., 
unregistered groups are prohibited from having bank accounts, 
acquiring property, or entering into contracts.  On the other 
hand, the registration law gives the Government an unlimited 
right to inspect the activities of all registered groups.  
According to this law, a registered group must (1) keep the 
Government apprised of all its activities, including 
notification of any meetings; (2) make its meetings open to all 
persons at all times, regardless of whether or not they are 
members; and (3) upon request, present its registration 
documents to any government official, including the prosecutor's
office, and be ready to prove that it is in compliance with the 
purposes of the group as set out in its registration documents.
A change in a group's purposes necessitates reregistration.  A 
registered group may not duplicate any function or service that 
the Government already provides.  For instance, human rights 
lawyers who wish to represent prisoners are prohibited from 
establishing an association to do so, according to the Ministry 
of Justice, because the Government already provides lawyers for 
the accused.

Provisions of the law on registration, through bureaucratic and 
political maneuvering, were used to vitiate sections of the 
1993 election law which governed the recent Rada elections.  
The election law expressly called for the establishment of an 
association of nonpartisan voters to supply nonpartisan 
information to the voters on the democratic process, the 
candidates, and the parties.  Despite such specific provisions, 
the Central Election Commission, which is responsible for 
administering the election law, refused to register the 
committee and referred the group to the Ministry of Justice for 
registry as a civic organization.  It was reported that, when 
consulted by the Ministry of Justice, the Central Election 
Commission recommended that the Ministry not register the 
group.  The Ministry of Justice, based in part on that 
recommendation, refused to register the committee, citing as 
one reason that it would be against the law for any group of 
private citizens to arrange for informational meetings between 
candidates and the voters.  Without registration, the committee 
was effectively excluded from carrying out the functions 
explicitly provided for by Ukrainian law.

In addition, the registration law has been used to prevent the 
issuance of visas to foreign missionaries (see Section 2.c.).  
Some human rights groups, despite having requested and been 
denied registration, nevertheless operate, but always with the 
risk of being prosecuted.  The Odesa prosecutor warned a human 
rights group that was refused registration in Odesa that all 
members of the group would be arrested if they continued to 
operate.

    c.   Freedom of Religion

There is no official state religion.  The 1991 law on freedom 
of conscience and religion provides for the separation of church
and state and permits religious organizations to establish 
places of worship and train clergy.  Religious organizations 
are required to register with local authorities and with the 
Government's Council for Religious Affairs, a process that 
generally lasts about 1 month.  The State has not interfered 
with the registration of minority religions requested by 
Ukrainian citizens.  The State has on occasion intervened in 
disputes over church property among the three rival Orthodox 
churches which claim jurisdiction over Orthodox Christians in 
Ukraine.  Church disputes practically dropped to nil in 1994, 
and the Government took an even-handed approach in these cases.

Obstacles to complete religious freedom still exist at the 
local level where the bureaucracy in some places has delayed 
registration of religious organizations.  However, a religious 
organization may not be denied registration.  Any group 
representing itself as a church may apply for registration.

An amendment of the 1991 law, passed by the Rada on December 
23, 1993, has been used to restrict the activities of nonnative 
religious organizations.  It requires that "clergymen, 
religious preachers, teachers, other representatives of foreign 
organizations who are foreign citizens and come to visit 
temporarily in Ukraine may preach religious doctrines, 
administer religious ordinances, or practice other canonical 
activities only in those religious organizations which invited 
them to Ukraine and with official approval of the governmental 
body that registered the statutes and the articles of the 
pertinent religious organization."

Citing a desire to preserve Ukrainian culture, some government 
officials have argued that restrictions on the activities of 
nonnative religious organizations are appropriate.  The Kiev 
city administration has not responded thus far to applications 
by non-Ukrainian Mormon missionaries and others for visas.  
Some local authorities refused to respond officially to the 
requests but stated in private that they will not grant visas 
because of the opposition of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.  
When the Mormon church continued to press its case for visas, 
some members of the Council on Religious Affairs threatened to 
deregister the Mormon church if it did not cease its efforts.  
As one of his first presidential acts, President Kuchma 
disbanded this Council and directed that a new committee be 
formed under the supervision of the Minister for Nationalities, 
Migration, and Religious Denominations.  At year's end, it was 
not yet clear whether this would affect government restrictions 
on foreign religious workers.

Jews, the second-largest minority in the country, have expanded 
opportunities to pursue their religious and cultural activities,
but anti-Semitic incidents continue to occur.  The national 
Government has protected the rights of the Jewish community and 
speaks out against anti-Semitism.  However, nongovernmental 
manifestations of anti-Semitism continue, exemplified by the 
growth of an ultranationalist extremist group in western 
Ukraine having anti-Semitism as a tenet.  The group applied 
for, but was refused, registration as a political party at the 
national level.  The city of L'viv did permit the group to 
register, and it may now operate there openly.  Anti-Semitic 
articles continue to appear in some local newspapers, 
especially in western Ukraine and Kharkiv, and there have been 
reports of new anti-Semitic periodicals.  Jewish cemeteries 
have been desecrated.  In L'viv, the Jewish community asked to 
erect a monument at what is said to be the only former German 
concentration camp in Europe without a memorial.  L'viv 
officials refused permission.

    d.   Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

Freedom of movement within the country is not restricted by 
law, but the requirements to register at the workplace and 
place of residence determine eligibility for social benefits.  
People who move to other regions for work in the private 
economy, for instance, may not be eligible for registration and 
therefore may not be able to use medical facilities unless they 
pay very high fees in hard currency.

Ukraine assures the right of return for all those it considers 
its citizens.  Persons born in Ukraine and living in Ukraine at 
the time of independence are considered citizens.  The right of 
return is available to people born in Ukraine who left the 
country prior to independence and did not assume another 
citizenship.  Dual citizenship is not recognized.

Before the precipitous decline in its finances in 1994, the 
Government had an extensive assistance program for the 
resettlement of returnees.  It provided resources for the 
return not only of Ukrainians living in Russia and elsewhere 
but also the Tatars to Crimea and the Volga Germans to southern 
Ukraine.  By 1994, 250,000 Tatars had returned to Crimea.  In 
1994 the Government was no longer able to provide assistance, 
but it did not put any impediments in the way of the Tatars' 
continuing return.

Section 3                           Respect for Political 
                                    Rights:  The Right of 
                                    Citizens to Change Their 
                                    Government

Citizens exercised this right in 1994 elections which resulted 
in the peaceful democratic transfer of power from an incumbent 
president running for reelection.  Elections to the 450-member 
Rada (parliament) were also held in 1994, and both elections 
were judged to have been generally free and fair.

Parliamentary elections, which began on March 27, resulted in a 
fragmented legislature.  While Communists are the largest 
party, the largest voting bloc is an emerging group of 
parliamentary factions in the center which support democratic 
and economic reform.

In the presidential election's first round on June 26 among six 
candidates, Leonid Kuchma, former Prime Minister and candidate  
of the centrist Inter-Regional Reform Bloc, obtained about 31 
percent of the vote to some 38 percent for Leonid Kravchuk 
running for reelection.  Kuchma won the run-off on July 10 with 
52 percent of the vote.  All citizens above the age of 18 had 
the right to vote regardless of nationality, religion, or sex, 
and the election turnout ranged from around 70 percent for the 
presidential election to about 75 percent for the legislative 
ones.

Women are well represented in politics and government, 
especially at the levels of local and oblast governments.  
However, they are less well represented at the higher levels of 
government.  There are only 12 women in Parliament and very few 
women in the highest levels of government.

The President, elected for a 4-year term, nominates the Prime 
Minister and members of the Cabinet, some of whom must be 
confirmed by Parliament.  Day-to-day government operations are 
the responsibility of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet of 
ministers.

Section 4                           Governmental Attitude 
                                    Regarding International and 
                                    Nongovernmental 
                                    Investigation of Alleged 
                                    Violations of Human Rights

The Government allowed local and international human rights 
groups to operate freely.  The Union of Councils for Soviet 
Jewry, for example, has an active office in Kiev, staffed with 
local human rights monitors.

The Government also welcomed visits by foreign human rights 
organizations.  Numerous international groups were invited to 
observe the elections.

Section 5                           Discrimination Based on 
                                    Race, Sex, Religion, 
                                    Disability, Language, or 
                                    Social Status

The Constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, 
sex, and other grounds.

    Women

Unemployment, lack of medical care, the degree of availability 
of child care, and social mobility, most of which have come to 
the fore or been exacerbated by the economic crisis, are the 
primary concerns of women and women's groups in Ukraine.  Labor 
law provides for equal rights for men and women.  However, it 
is estimated that women represent 90 percent of all new 
unemployment and are much more likely to be laid off than men.  
Equal pay for equal work is the law and generally appears to be 
the practice as well.  However, women are seldom seen in 
high-level managerial positions.  Educational opportunities for 
women are improving, and more women are entering the upper 
echelons of the legal, medical, and journalism professions.  
Women's groups now are taking advantage of the developing 
private economy to make a place for women and address their 
economic concerns.  In part because of their high unemployment, 
women appear to be seizing the initiative in the development of 
businesses large and small in the emerging private market 
economy.

Women's groups do not cite violence as a primary issue for 
women.  Reports of violence against women are few and usually 
connected with the high incidence of alcoholism among men and 
women.  There is a lack of awareness of spouse abuse and other 
violence against women as a women's rights issue.

Separate statistics on prosecutions for wife beating or on 
average sentences are not available.  When violence occurs, 
government officials have acknowledged the authorities often 
exert pressure on women to drop charges against their husbands 
to preserve the family.  The low official incidence of crimes 
against women is mirrored by the lack of media attention to the 
subject and the low priority that women's groups place on the 
issue.

    Children

The Government is publicly committed to the defense of 
children's rights.  Because of the deepening economic crisis, 
however, it has taken few specific steps to further a 
children's rights agenda.  There is no pattern of familial or 
societal abuse of children.

    National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

In spite of vigorous press debate between Ukrainian 
ultranationalists and apprehensive Russian speakers, there are 
only isolated cases of ethnic discrimination in Ukraine.  In 
one case, Russian speakers in L'viv have complained that there 
is insufficient instruction in the schools in Russian.  The 
1991 law on national minorities played an instrumental role in 
preventing ethnic strife by allowing individual citizens to use 
their respective national languages in conducting personal 
business and by allowing minority groups to establish their own 
schools.

There is no evidence of serious ethnic tension, with the 
exception of two areas.  In some parts of western Ukraine, the 
small Russian minority and Jewish groups credibly accuse local 
Ukrainian ultranationalists of fostering ethnic hatred and 
printing anti-Semitic tracts.  In Crimea, the Ukrainian and 
Tatar minorities credibly complain of discrimination by the 
Russian majority.  The Crimean government withdrew financial 
support for the only Ukrainian-language newspaper in Simferopol 
and has resisted Tatar requests for support for Tatar-language 
schools and cultural facilities.

Russian speakers, who predominate in eastern Ukraine, 
complained about the increased use of Ukrainian in schools and 
in the media.  They claimed that their children are 
disadvantaged when taking academic entrance examinations since 
all applicants are required to take a Ukrainian-language test.  
President Kuchma, himself a Russian speaker, took much of the 
venom out of the language issue by consistently speaking 
Ukrainian in public and by pledging during his election 
campaign to request the Rada to give official status to the 
Russian language.

Contrary to the situation in 1993, there were no known 
instances of anti-Roma violence in 1994.

    People with Disabilities

The law prohibits discrimination based on disability, but, 
especially with the economic crisis, the Government has no 
programs targeted at increasing opportunities for the 
disabled.  The law requires public facilities for the disabled, 
but implementation is poor.

Section 6                           Worker Rights

    a.   The Right of Association

Soviet law, or pertinent parts of the Constitution, continue to 
regulate the activities of trade unions.  The 1992 law on 
citizens' organizations (which includes trade unions) 
stipulates noninterference by public authorities in the 
activities of these organizations, which have the right to 
establish and join federations and to affiliate with 
international organizations on a voluntary basis.  The Rada is 
debating a new constitution and a new law on trade unions.  In 
principle, all workers and civil servants (including members of 
the armed forces) are free to form unions.  In practice, the 
Government discourages certain categories of workers (e.g., 
nuclear power plant employees) from doing so.

An officially sanctioned successor to the former Soviet trade 
unions, known as the Federation of Trade Unions (FTU), has 
begun to work independently of the Government and has been 
vocal in opposing draft legislation that would restrict the 
right to strike.  The FTU is considered a partner with 
management in the running of state enterprises.  The Government 
provides this organization with office buildings and resort 
properties.  The FTU has no official or legal relationship with 
any political party.

Many independent unions now provide an alternative to the 
official unions in most sectors of the economy.  Some, such as 
the Independent Miners' Union of Ukraine (NPGU), and unions 
representing pilots, civil air dispatchers, locomotive 
engineers, and aviation ground crews formed the Consultative 
Council of Free Trade Unions in 1992.  This entity acts 
independently of the FTU.

The law on labor conflict resolution guarantees the right to 
strike to all but members of the armed forces, civil and 
security services, and employees of "continuing process plants" 
(e.g., metallurgical factories).  The law prohibits strikes 
that "may infringe on the basic needs of the population" (e.g., 
rail and air transportation).  Strikes based on political 
demands are also illegal, but this did not prevent miners and 
transportation workers from making political as well as 
economic demands during their September 1993 strikes that 
forced the Government to hold elections at every level of 
government in 1994.  The Government has relied on the courts to 
deal with strikes that it considers illegal, and the courts 
have not always ruled in favor of the Government.

There are no official restrictions on the right of unions to 
affiliate with international trade union bodies; the NPGU is a 
member of the International Miners' Union.

    b.   The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The law on enterprises states that joint worker-management 
commissions should resolve issues concerning wages, working 
conditions, and the rights and duties of management at the 
enterprise level, a system that is not clearly defined.  
Overlapping spheres of responsibility frequently impede the 
collective bargaining process.  The Government, in agreement 
with trade unions, establishes wages in each industrial sector 
and invites all unions to participate in the negotiations.  The 
law on labor conflict resolution set up another bureaucracy, 
the National Mediation and Reconciliation Service, to mitigate 
labor-management disputes that cannot be resolved at the 
enterprise level.  The President appoints the head of this 
service.

Collective bargaining law prejudices the bargaining process 
against the independent trade unions and favors the official 
unions.  It provides for dues to be taken from the pay of every 
worker in a collective and paid to the official union.  The 
union, on behalf of the enterprise, administers the social 
welfare benefits (including huge pension benefit funds) of 
workers paid by an enterprise.

Most workers are never informed that they are not obligated to 
join the official union, and joining an independent union can 
be bureaucratically onerous as well.  Independent unions are 
not given resources to administer social welfare benefits.  
Enterprise directors discourage departures from the official 
union by meeting with workers to discuss the benefits of 
official union membership.

The collective bargaining law prohibits antiunion 
discrimination.  The courts resolve disputes under the law.  
There have been cases in which such disputes have not been 
resolved in a fair and equitable manner.

There are no export processing zones in Ukraine.

    c.   Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The Constitution prohibits compulsory labor, and it is not 
known to exist.

    d.   Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The minimum employment age is 17.  In certain nonhazardous 
industries, however, enterprises may negotiate with the 
Government to hire employees between 15 and 17 years of age.  
Education is compulsory up to age 15.  The Ministry of 
Education vigorously enforces the law on education.

    e.   Acceptable Conditions of Work

In 1992 the Government established a countrywide minimum wage.  
Monthly inflation rose dramatically all during 1993 and 1994.  
This hyperinflation has seriously eroded incomes, and 
officially over half the population of Ukraine now lives below 
the poverty level, with further declines expected.  In 
addition, the Government has paid most salaries several months 
late, further reducing income.  In theory, the law on wages, 
pensions, and social security provides for mechanisms to index 
the minimum wage to inflation.  As of December 1, the minimum 
wage was approximately $6.50, or nearly 1 million karbovanets 
per month.

The Labor Code provides for a maximum 41-hour workweek, a 
24-hour day of rest per week, and at least 15 days of paid 
vacation per year.  Stagnation in some industries (e.g., 
defense) significantly reduced the workweek for some categories 
of workers.

The Constitution and other laws contain occupational safety and 
health standards, but these are frequently ignored in 
practice.  Lax safety standards enforcement was the principal 
cause of many serious mine accidents resulting in over 100 
deaths and more injuries in 1993.  In theory, workers have the 
legal right to remove themselves from dangerous work situations 
without jeopardizing continued employment.  In reality however, 
labor experts say that continued employment would be in 
question.  The Labor Ministry is currently rewriting the mine 
safety law, and the NPGU is demanding that the Government 
improve worker safety in the mines.


(###)

[end of document]

flag
bar

Department Seal

Return to 1994 Human Rights Practices report home page.
Return to DOSFAN home page.
This is an official U.S. Government source for information on the WWW. Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.