Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

International Renaissance Foundation statement: Stop attack on rights and Freedoms in Ukraine!

Unprecedented impertinence of the attack on fundamental human rights and civic liberties has occurred in the Ukrainian Parliament today, says the statement from the International Renaissance Foundation. The act challenges a democratic nature of the Ukrainian state and opens the way for massive repressions against its citizens, it continues.

The Parliament of Ukraine has violated its own procedures today to adopt a repressive bill #3879, “On Making Amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On the Judiciary and the Status of Judges” and Procedural Laws on Additional Measures for Protecting Security of Citizens”. No debate preceded the bill, registered only on January 14, 2014.

Ukraine’s executive authorities ordered violence and bloodshed to crack down on the peaceful EuroMaydan on November 30, 2013. The society responded with the peaceful protests, the strongest and the most massive in Ukraine’s history. In the same manner, the pro-presidential majority in the Parliament seeks to use the new law to brutally deprive the people of fundamental rights and freedoms and, therefore, to disperse the civil society and get rid of the civic protests across Ukraine.

The bill radically limits the freedom of assembly, demanding that permission for it be obtained from the police – both for organizing a rally and arranging basic facilities, like tents and sound equipment, for it. It gives full impunity to all those guilty of the bloodshed at the EuroMaydan. It creates vast conditions for censorship, allowing bureaucrats and prosecutors to decide on initiating criminal prosecution for criticism about the authorities. The risk of being accused of extremism, vaguely defined in the law, leaves the power-holders at ease for discretionary accusations and making criminal charges against individuals. The bill further damages the shrinking space for the freedom of expression by de facto prohibiting operation of independent information agencies in the Internet.

With the new bill the Ukrainian authorities are trying to copy the Putinite tactics of disgracing, damaging, and seeking to totally control non-governmental organizations that receive support from democratic countries and foundations. The bill brands such NGOs as “foreign agents”, demands them to register and publicly identify themselves as such, and imposes additional taxation burden to limit financial support for civic activism.

The bill attacks fundamental freedoms, first and foremost, the freedom of assembly, the freedom of speech, and the freedom of association. That is why it has no legitimacy and has no right to exist in independent Ukraine. This weedy bill is yet another evidence of anti-democratic intentions of those who voted for it.

We call on the entire civil society, all citizens who value rights and freedoms, to rise against the bill that establishes an authoritarian regime in Ukraine!

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