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Diary of a Ukrainian picketer presented in Kyiv

 

25 January 2020. Due to failure by civic organizations to agree their position the Law on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly did not get adopted. About 95% of all rallies, pickets, demonstrations are banned. Today I found out that the Kyiv City State Administration has surreptitiously adopted a new, improved Provision on the procedure for holding peaceful gatherings, which is coming into effect tomorrow.

It recommends that law-abiding citizens do not go to rallies, and if they should be walking along a street where a rally is taking place, the Law advises them to turn around and find another route.

I lodged an appeal against the Procedure, but the High Administrative Court declared it lawful.

29 January. The Kharkiv City Administration decided to keep up with their colleagues. They made amendments to their Procedure according to which “The rally organizers should come to the event in suits, which must include a feather boa.  That will make them easier for the law enforcement bodies to identify among other members of the rally and carry out explanatory work with them”

According to the provisions, the rally organizers also have to publicly get down on their knees three times and apologize for distracting police officers from their professional activities.

I lodged an appeal against the Procedure but the court, referring to the more than 10 years of High Administrative Court practice found it lawful.

On 1 February the Party in power, together with the communists, prepared amendments to the Criminal Code. These included adding an article – mass bad deed [MBD] – a deed carried out by a group of people with prior intent or spontaneously (a rally, picket, demonstration etc).

Some deeds carry a sentence of between 15 days and 50 years imprisonment.

3 February.  

It turns out that in the Cherkasy Provision on the Procedure for holding peaceful gatherings there’s an advance system for holding events. For example, each participant in advance serves a 15 day sentence. If the rally planned is against the actions of the authorities, the sentence is increased in proportion to the number of members of staff of that body.

However they’re planning to soften that part of the Provision. They won’t send all participants for the prior term of imprisonment, but only the three prettiest girls and three best-looking guys (this reduced silence is colloquially known as a sacrifice).

I lodged an appeal against the Procedure but the court, referring to the more than 10 years of High Administrative Court practice found it lawful.

7 March.  The communists came up with an initiative to improve the situation with peaceful gatherings. They’re proposing once a year to hold a lottery with the winners having the right to hold a mass rally without fines. However there’s a suspicion that the winners of the lottery will be from pro-regime parties and the communists.

10 March. The Mykolaiv City Council has stipulated that notification of peaceful gatherings must be submitted by the organizers together with an income declaration, full biographical information and the written consent of members of their family to participation in the rally of the organizers.

I lodged an appeal against the Procedure but the court, referring to the more than 10 years of High Administrative Court practice found it lawful.

17 March. New Kharkiv creativity. This time they note in the provisions that in order to ensure sanitation and hygiene norms each participant and the organizer of a rally must submit to the Health Ministry a certificate confirming that they’ve had a Health Ministry check up and on the basis of this agree their participation in the peaceful event.  You need Health Ministry agreement to get a permit to hold the event.

I lodged an appeal against the Procedure but the court, referring to the more than 10 years of High Administrative Court practice found it lawful.

23 March. In one of its rulings the High Administrative Court found that a journalist who informs about a peaceful gathering is considered equivalent in status to a participant in the event.

27 March. Today amendments were introduced to the Tax Code. From now on, as well as notification of a peaceful gathering, the organizers must pay a picket fee which is calculated separately by each local council depending on the number of people and the time of the event.

7 April. Amendments were introduced to the Administrative Code. Now a special procedure is imposed on the court proceedings considering issues linked with freedom of peaceful assembly.

For example, in the consulting chamber the prosecutor and specially delegated representative of the local authorities must be invited. The ruling must also be agreed with the head of the local faction of the pro-regime party.

8 April.  I’m writing my 137th application to the European Court of Human Rights. I’m sure that some day Ukraine will have to bring its legislation into line with European standards. Some day court practice will change. Maybe my grandchildren will live to see it …

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