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Title:  Ukraine Human Rights Practices, 1995   
Author:  U.S. Department of State    
Date:  March 1996    
 
 
 
 
                                UKRAINE 
 
 
Over the past year, Ukraine continued to make progress in the 
development of a democratic society based on the rule of law.  A 
president and parliament elected for 4-year terms share responsibility 
for governance.  In practice, the Presidency has become stronger than 
the Parliament in the 4 years of independence, and the division of power 
has become the most contested issue in drafting a new constitution.  
Judges are beginning to assert their independence and their right to be 
free from improper interference, but the court system remains woefully 
underfunded, understaffed, and overworked.   
 
Ukraine took steps toward replacing the anachronistic 1978 Constitution 
of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.  The document was partly 
superseded by a June 8 constitutional accord between President Leonid 
Kuchma and Parliament (Rada) that increased the President's control over 
cabinet appointments and executive branch operations, but it remains in 
force pending adoption of a new constitution.  Under the constitutional 
accord, the President can appoint executive branch officials without 
Rada confirmation.  Both major branches of government committed 
themselves to presenting a new constitution to the voters by the spring 
of 1996.  Government and parliamentary leaders heralded the agreement as 
a demonstration of their determination to resolve internal differences 
by democratic, peaceful means. 
 
The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), the Ministry of Internal Affairs 
(MVS), 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 Cabinet of Ministers and simultaneously chair the Cabinet's 
executive committees responsible for each of their ministries.  The 
armed forces have remained largely outside of politics.  Since mid-1994, 
Ukraine has had a civilian Defense Minister.  The SBU has the power to 
affect the political process through criminal investigations against 
politicians and influential businessmen.  Members of the security forces 
committed human rights abuses. 
 
The economy is in the midst of a painful transition from rigid central 
planning to a market-based system.  According to official statistics 
about half of the workforce is formally employed in manufacturing, with 
the balance divided between services and agriculture, though in reality 
many industrial enterprises have reduced or stopped production, forcing 
many out of work.  Exports are diversified and include metals, 
chemicals, sugar, and semi-finished goods.  Annual per capita income is 
approximately $1,200.  President Kuchma's economic reform program, 
initiated in the fall of 1994, achieved partial macroeconomic 
stabilization.  Hyperinflation was curtailed, and the private sector 
grew impressively, even if this growth was not fully reflected in 
official government statistics.  The private sector now represents a 
substantial portion of the economy.  However, Ukraine remains a country 
in economic crisis.  Industrial output continued to decline, which led 
to pressure to slow the reform process and relax the government's tight 
fiscal policy. 
 
Overall, Ukraine continued to make significant progress toward building 
a law-based civil society.  Reports of human rights violations, already 
low in 1994, decreased in 1995.  However, problems remain in the 
unreformed legal and prison systems, occasional government attempts to 
control the press, beatings by police and prison officials, limits on 
freedom of association, restrictions on foreign religious organizations, 
societal anti-Semitism, some discrimination against women, and ethnic 
tensions in the Crimea.  While progress has been made toward ensuring 
the independence of the judiciary, the Soviet tradition of political 
interference in judicial decisions continues to affect the judicial 
process.   
 
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 government agents, 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.  The number of contract killings, often targeted against 
managers of state-owned enterprises, increased in 1995.  In a 2-month 
period three directors of metallurgy plants were assassinated.  No 
suspects have been identified.  Politicians were also targeted because 
of their influence over state-owned enterprises. 
 
The pervasiveness of organized crime and its undermining of governmental 
authority was particularly serious in the Crimean peninsula.  The 
central Government in Kiev lacks institutional control and Crimean 
authorities are widely alleged to be compromised by ties to organized 
criminal elements.  In one case, "mafia" thugs beat to death two Crimean 
Tatar market vendors, sparking rioting and a confrontation between 
Tatars and Ministry of Internal Affairs troops, during which two more 
Tatars were killed.  No suspects were prosecuted. 
 
Combating the growth of organized crime and official corruption is a key 
government objective.  A presidential commission, headed by a deputy 
prime minister, coordinates the activities of law-enforcement agencies.  
The Government is also considering the creation of a National Bureau of 
Investigation to handle the investigation and prosecution of high-
profile cases.  There have also been signs of internal reform designed 
to root out corruption.  The top levels of the Ministry of Internal 
Affairs have been purged and, according to the Ministry, 2,400 police 
officers were punished for infractions of the law or regulations.  After 
being convicted of crimes, 419 police officers were imprisoned--a 
significant increase over last year. 
 
   b.   Disappearance 
 
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances. 
 
The January 1994 disappearance of Mikhaylo Boychyshyn, a prominent 
leader of the Popular Movement of Ukraine (RUKH), remains unsolved. 
 
   c.   Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or 
Punishment 
 
The Constitution prohibits torture; however, police and prison officials 
regularly beat detainees and prisoners.  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. 
 
Conditions of pretrial detention routinely fail to meet basic human 
rights standards.  Inmates are sometimes held in "investigative 
isolation" for extended periods and subject to intimidation and 
mistreatment by jail guards.  Overcrowding is common in blocks for 
prisoners who have been charged with a crime and are awaiting trial or 
are in investigative detention. 
 
Prison conditions for convicted inmates appear to comply fully with 
minimum international standards and the Government permits visits by 
human rights monitors. 
 
   d.   Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 
 
The 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 law in effect from July 1994 through June 1995, permitted "preventive" 
detention of persons for up to 30 days without the filing of charges.  
The measure was instituted as a means to combat organized crime.  
According to data obtained by the Rada Commission on Law and Order, 
however, a majority of the people detained under the decree were never 
charged and only 5 percent were members of organized crime groups.  The 
Rada refused the President's request to extend the terms of the decree. 
 
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.  According to official statistics for the first 
quarter of 1995, out of 9,784 persons detained, 554 were released 
without charges being filed.  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.  
However, it has been credibly alleged that individuals held under 
preventive detention frequently have been denied timely access to 
counsel.  In addition, there are insufficient numbers of defense 
attorneys to protect suspects from unlawful, interminable imprisonment 
and deplorable conditions.  Furthermore, there is no public defender 
system for indigents to replace the previous method of providing 
attorneys from the state system.  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 procedures.  
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 the law and the Government 
observes this prohibition. 
 
   e.   Denial of Fair Public Trial 
 
The criminal justice system generally 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.  The 
leadership of both the executive and legislative branches has formally 
supported the establishment of an independent judiciary.  However, the 
judiciary remains subject to outside pressures and further major 
structural reforms are required.  Ambitious judicial reform proposals 
have been discussed at various times since independence.  Further 
consideration of these reforms, however, is on hold pending completion 
of a new constitution. 
 
Under the constitutional accord, the President and the Rada pledged to 
appoint a constitutional court to interpret the ever-growing body of law 
and mediate disputes between the executive and legislative branches.  By 
year's end (6 months after the accord was signed), the court had still 
not been appointed, perpetuating the disequilibrium in the balance of 
powers.  The court's absence was felt immediately following the 
completion of the constitutional accord when the Rada and the President 
came into conflict over the rules for dismissing the Prosecutor General. 
 
The court system is divided into courts of general jurisdiction and 
arbitration, or commercial, courts.  The courts of general jurisdiction 
are divided into criminal and civil sections.  The courts are organized 
on three levels:  rayon courts (district, also known as people's 
courts); oblast (regional) courts; and the Supreme Court.  Cases are 
decided by judges who sit singly, or in groups of three for more serious 
cases.  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 and President.  Prosecutors 
and defense attorneys by law have equal status before the courts.  In 
practice, however, 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. 
 
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 also have influenced court 
decisions. 
 
While the defendant is presumed innocent, 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.  It is commonly believed that suspects 
frequently bribe court officials to drop charges before cases go to 
trial.  Consequently, conviction rates are a somewhat misleading 
statistic. 
 
There were no reports of political prisoners.  Lawyers for former 
parliamentary aide Viktor Bozhenar, arrested in March, and former member 
of Parliament Leopold Taburianskiy, arrested in August (both on 
corruption charges), alleged that their clients were victims of 
political repression. 
 
   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.  
Militia personnel have the right to stop vehicles arbitrarily and need 
no probable cause to initiate extensive document checks 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. 
 
Section 2   Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 
 
   a.   Freedom of Speech and Press 
 
A 1991 law provides for freedom of speech and the print media.  
Criticism of the Government is tolerated.  The broadcast media remain 
under state ownership and are managed by the State  
 
Committee on Television and Radio (Derzhteleradio).  Under current 
legislation, private and foreign companies are entitled to establish and 
operate transmission facilities, provided that they obtain a license 
from the National Council on Television and Radio.  Russian state 
television (the "Ostankino" channel) continues to broadcast on Ukraine's 
airwaves under an agreement with Derzhteleradio.  The National Council 
and Derzhteleradio also permit private media companies access to the 
airwaves under contract and have agreed in principle to refrain from 
influencing programming content.  In practice, however, isolated cases 
of censorship and attempted censorship of reporting on internal 
political developments have occurred. 
 
The print media demonstrate a tendency towards self-censorship on 
matters sensitive to the Government.  The executive branch, through the 
Ministry of Press and Information, subsidizes the operations of some 
large-circulation publications.  Independent newspapers have also been 
established which are free to function on a purely commercial basis.  
There are concerns, however, that the dependence of commercial 
structures on government patronage inhibits their criticism of the 
Government.  At the local and regional levels, editorial independence is 
even more circumscribed by these factors.  Foreign-owned newspapers are 
permitted. 
 
In November 1994, President Kuchma abolished a government committee for 
the protection of state secrets that had enjoyed broadly defined powers 
over all media.  The committee was absorbed into the Ministry of Press 
and Information, where it is now the "Main Department for the Protection 
of State Secrets."  According to journalists, this department has not 
interfered with the practice of their craft.  A local court, however, 
ordered the closure of the newspaper Oppositsiya that had published 
scatological and sexual caricatures of the President and members of his 
staff.  Officials involved with the case claimed the presidential 
administration initiated the action and prescribed the penalty.  
Oppositsiya was the first newspaper to be forced to close in Ukraine 
since independence. 
 
Reporting on organized crime and its connections with the Government is 
becoming increasingly bold, particularly with regard to crime.  
Reporting on this topic is not risk free and journalists contend that 
they have been subject to threats--including the threat of arrest--for 
aggressively reporting on official corruption. 
 
While the major universities are state-owned, they now operate 
ostensibly under full autonomy.  Academic freedom within universities, 
however, is an underdeveloped and poorly understood concept.  University 
administrators are traditionally conservative establishment figures in 
Ukraine and possess the power to silence professors with whom they 
disagree by denying the possibility to publish or more directly by 
withholding pay or housing benefits.  This atmosphere tends to limit the 
free spirit of inquiry.  Several private and religiously affiliated 
universities have been founded (or refounded) in Ukraine since 
independence, and all operate without any reported interference or 
harassment by the State. 
 
   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. 
 
On July 18, elite MVS troops used excessive force in breaking up a 
funeral ceremony for the patriarch of one of the competing Orthodox 
churches.  Several dozen people, including pensioners, were injured 
during the incident.  President Kuchma expressed "great regret" for the 
violence, and the Minister of Internal Affairs suspended three high-
ranking officers involved in the incident and initiated a government 
inquiry.  President Kuchma condemned the conduct of the troops (see 
Section 2.c.). 
 
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 the establishment of 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. 
 
In late 1994, an ultra-nationalist organization, the Ukrainian National 
Assembly (UNA), after repeated unsuccessful attempts was registered by 
the Ministry of Justice as a political party.  In the wake of 
increasingly provocative behavior by UNA members, culminating in a 
violent clash with police during the Patriarch's funeral, the Justice 
Ministry revoked the UNA's registration.  The Ministry contended that 
the UNA had provided false information in its original application for 
registration and had subsequently advocated fascism, violence, ethnic 
intolerance, and the forcible overthrow of the constitutional order.  In 
addition, the group was accused of criminal activities including 
assault, illegal possession of firearms, paramilitary training, and 
involvement in foreign wars (in Chechnya and Abkhazia).  The Ministry 
also concluded that the UNA was indistinguishable from its paramilitary 
wing, UNSO (Ukrainian People's Self-Defense), which does not enjoy legal 
status.  Under the law, political parties may be dissolved only by a 
court decision.  The Ministry has said that UNA has been deregistered 
not dissolved, and is free to appeal the decision in court. 
 
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, political, or philanthropic.  The 
Ministries of Justice, Economy, and 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, for example, 
unregistered groups are prohibited from having bank accounts, acquiring 
property, or entering into contracts.  Furthermore, 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 is supposed to provide.  For example, 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 is supposed to provide lawyers for the 
accused. 
 
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. 

   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 ongoing dispute among three competing churches claiming the mantle 
"Ukrainian Orthodox Church" was aggravated in July because of a 
controversy over where to bury the deceased patriarch of one of the 
churches, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Kiev Patriarchy.  Following the 
patriarch's funeral, police attacked some mourners after an attempt was 
made to inter the patriarch in the pavement outside St. Sophia's 
Cathedral, a state-owned museum contested among the three Orthodox 
churches.  The Kiev Patriarchy accused the Government of favoring the 
rival Moscow Patriarchy, while the Government accused the Kiev 
Patriarchy of inviting participation in the funeral by UNA-UNSO 
activists in paramilitary uniforms.  Initial reports indicated that UNA-
UNSO members threw rocks and paving stones at the police in front of St. 
Sophia's, but it was clear (as President Kuchma himself stated) that the 
police used excessive and unjustified force to disperse the gathering.  
Subsequently, President Kuchma reaffirmed Ukraine's commitment to 
religious tolerance, proclaimed the state's neutrality in 
interconfessional disputes (which center largely on property and 
politics, not canonical differences) and called on all sides to settle 
their disagreements in a civilized fashion. 
 
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 members of the clergy, 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 foreign religious 
organizations are appropriate.  In late 1994, the Government disbanded 
the Council on Religious Affairs, which had been frequently cited as 
obstructionist, and transferred its functions to the Ministry for 
Nationalities, Migration and Religious Denominations.  Nonetheless, the 
treatment of foreign-based religious organizations still appears to be 
negatively prejudiced.  Local governments, including in the capital city 
of Kiev, have set up bureaucratic roadblocks to the issuance of visas to 
non-Ukrainian Mormon missionaries wishing to proselytize in Ukraine.  
City officials also prevented Seventh-Day Adventists from holding a 
convention for their coreligionists.  Many suspect that the Ukrainian 
Orthodox Church exerts influence on government behavior towards foreign 
religious organizations. 
 
On December 14, a Kiev court sentenced the leaders of the "White 
Brotherhood" religious cult to 7 years in prison for their involvement 
in the 1993 occupation of St. Sophia's cathedral in Kiev (see 1993 
report).  Among the charges they were convicted of was "practice of a 
nonregistered religion". 
 
   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 be denied formal access to 
free medical care and other services guaranteed by the State. 
 
While Ukraine continues to assure the right of return for all those it 
considers citizens, in practice this assurance does not include the 
right of return for all Ukrainian "nationals."  The ambiguity of 
Ukraine's citizenship law regarding the acquisition of Ukrainian 
citizenship allows authorities to exclude undesirable nationals from 
repatriation.  Persons born in Ukraine and living in Ukraine at the time 
of independence are considered citizens.  Dual citizenship is not 
recognized.   
 
Ukrainians who wish to travel abroad are able to do so freely.  Exit 
visas are not required.  On rare occasions, the Government may deny 
passports to individuals with access to state secrets, but a denial can 
be appealed.  However, the Government has not supported a foreign-funded 
program to facilitate the travel of some emigrants who qualify for 
resettlement abroad as refugees.   
 
During the first years of independence, the Government supported 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 of Tatars to Crimea and of Volga Germans 
to southern Ukraine.  By the end of 1995, some 260,000 Crimean Tatars 
had returned from exile to the peninsula, mainly from Central Asia.  The 
Crimean Tatar leadership has complained that their community has not 
received adequate assistance in resettling and that an onerous process 
of acquiring citizenship has excluded many Crimean Tatars from 
participating in elections and from the right to take part in 
privatization of land and state assets (see Section 5). 
 
Section 3   Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens to 
Change Their Government 
 
This right was exercised in 1994, when citizens elected a new President, 
Leonid Kuchma, over the incumbent, Leonid Kravchuk, and elected a new 
Parliament representing a wide range of parties and ideologies.  Because 
the current election law requires a minimum of 50 percent voter turnout 
for elections to be valid, following the December 10 elections, 28 seats 
out of 450 remained unfilled.  A new election law now under 
consideration would relax this requirement for the next parliamentary 
elections, currently scheduled for 1998. 
 
The President, elected for a 4-year term, nominates the Prime Minister 
and members of the Cabinet.  Day-to-day government operations are the 
responsibility of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet of Ministers. 
 
Women are well represented in politics and at the levels of local and 
oblast governments.  However, they are less well represented at the 
higher levels of government.  There were 16 women in Parliament at 
year's end although some seats had not been filled yet.  One woman has 
cabinet rank.  The provincial governors are all men. 
 
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 although some groups have been denied formal government 
registration, making it harder for them to obtain accreditation to 
official events and more difficult to register bank accounts and other 
financial aspects of their organization.  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. 
 
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.  The Government has not taken steps to effectively 
enforce prohibitions on discrimination on the basis of race, sex, and 
other grounds.  The Lviv newspaper For a Free Ukraine routinely 
publishes anti-Semitic diatribes but has not been prosecuted under the 
law forbidding the sowing of interethnic hatred.  Prosecutions for 
sexual harassment or discrimination are unheard of.  Human rights 
experts also note that the authorities frequent harassment of dark-
skinned young men is based on stereotypes that people from the Caucusus 
are involved in criminal activity. 
 
   Women 
 
While comprehensive information measuring the extent of violence against 
women is not readily available, survey results suggest the problem is 
pervasive.  A poll of 600 women conducted by a women's organization in 
Kharkiv indicated that 10 to 15 percent had been raped and over 25 
percent subjected to physical abuse over the course of their lifetimes.   
 
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 reported crimes against women is mirrored by the lack of 
media attention to the subject and the low priority that most women's 
groups place on the issue.   
 
Labor law provides for equal rights for men and women, including equal 
pay for equal work, a principle that is generally followed.  However, 
women are much more likely to be laid off than men, and it is estimated 
that women represent 90 percent of all new unemployment.  Moreover, a 
glass ceiling has prevented women from attaining top managerial 
positions in government, state and private industry.  Many women, 
however, are taking advantage of the growing opportunities in the 
private sector to establish small businesses.  Educational opportunities 
for women have generally been equal to those enjoyed by men and they 
remain so. 
 
   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. 
 
   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. 
 
   Religious Minorities 
 
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 UNA/UNSO, an ultra-nationalist 
extremist group which in March organized a rally in Lviv protesting the 
activities of the "Jewish mafia."  A threatening letter in the name of 
UNSO was later sent to Lviv Jews warning them to quit Ukraine or face 
violent reprisals.  Anti-Semitic articles continue to appear in some 
local newspapers, especially in western Ukraine and Kharkiv.  Jewish 
cemeteries have been desecrated.  After refusing for several years, the 
Lviv Oblast authorities granted a request by the local Jewish community 
to erect a monument at the site of a World War II German concentration 
camp.  The Government made a major effort to ensure that pilgrims of the 
Bratslav Hasidic Jewish sect were able to visit the tomb of their 
founding rabbi in the city of Uman on the occasion of the Jewish new 
year. 
 
   National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities 
 
With some important exceptions, there are only isolated cases of ethnic 
discrimination in Ukraine.  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.  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.  Many regional councils in eastern Ukraine 
have conferred "official" status on the Russian language, although 
Ukrainian remains the sole state language according to national 
legislation. 
 
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 some local Ukrainian ultranationalists 
of fostering ethnic hatred and printing anti-Semitic tracts.  They also 
charge that local authorities in western Ukraine have not taken action 
against those who foment ethnic hatred.  In Crimea, the Ukrainian and 
Tatar minorities credibly complain of discrimination by the Russian 
majority and are demanding that Ukrainian and the Crimean Tatar language 
be given equal treatment to Russian.  Interethnic tension in Crimea, 
aggravated by pervasive organized crime problems, erupted into violence 
in June, leaving four Tatars dead.  The Crimean Government, pleading 
insufficient funds, has refused requests from the Tatar community to 
assist them in reestablishing their cultural heritage through Tatar-
language publications and educational institutions.  The central 
Government is working with OSCE on these issues.   
 
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.  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. 
 
The successor to the Soviet trade unions, known as the Federation of 
Trade Unions (FPU), has begun to work independently of the Government 
and has been vocal in opposing draft legislation that would restrict the 
right to strike.  As during the Soviet era, most FPU affiliates follow 
management's instructions.  Enterprise managers are free to join the 
FPU.  The FPU has no official or legal relationship with any political 
party. 
 
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 (NPHU), and unions representing pilots, civil air 
traffic controllers, locomotive engineers, and aviation ground crews 
have formed an umbrella organization, the Free Trade Unions of Ukraine 
(VPU).  Other federations of independent unions are also being created. 
 
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.  The Government has relied 
on the courts to deal with strikes 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 NPHU 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 entity, 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.  It has not been active in the past year. 
 
The manner in which the collective bargaining law is applied prejudices 
the bargaining process against the independent trade unions and favors 
the official unions (affiliates of the FPU).  It provides for dues to be 
taken from the pay of every worker in a collective enterprise 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.  Renouncing membership in the official union and joining 
an independent union can be bureaucratically onerous and is typically 
discouraged by management.  The collective bargaining law prohibits 
antiunion discrimination.  Disputes under the law are supposed to be 
resolved by the courts.  There have been cases in which such disputes 
have not been resolved in a fair and equitable manner. 
 
There are no export processing zones. 
 
   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 14 and 17 years of age, with the consent of one parent.  School 
attendance is compulsory to the age of 15, a regulation vigorously 
enforced by the Ministry of Education. 
 
   e.   Acceptable Conditions of Work 
 
In 1992 the Government established a national minimum wage which, along 
with pensions and other benefits, is supposed to be indexed to 
inflation.  In reality the minimum wage has not been changed and remains 
at $.30 per month (60,000 coupons) although no employee actually earns 
wages that low.  The official poverty line is now $27 per month (4.1 
million coupons) and it is estimated that some 50 percent of the 
population now lives in poverty.  Inflation was reduced significantly to 
an annual rate of about 170 percent (down from around 500 percent in 
1994). 
 
The Labor Code provides for a maximum 40-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 caused many serious mine accidents, resulting in 358 deaths in 
1994.  The Labor Ministry is currently rewriting the Mine Safety Law, 
and the independent unions frequently agitate for tighter enforcement of 
safety laws.  In theory, workers have the legal right to remove 
themselves from dangerous work situations without jeopardizing continued 
employment.  In reality, however, independent trade unionists report 
that asserting this right would result in retaliation or perhaps 
dismissal by management. 
 
(###)

[end of document]

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