For more than 10 months human rights defenders from the Regional Centre for Human Rights (RCHR) supported by the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union have been seeking to prove before the court that the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) discriminates the Crimeans. The latter were declared non-residents and their access to bank services was limited. Finally, the plenum of the Supreme Court of Ukraine acknowledged the obvious thing that the National Bank had no authority to do this.
However, according to Serhii Zaiets, the expert of the RCHR, it is not a victory yet and the case is ongoing. On September 1st of this year, the Kyiv Administrative Court of Appeal will consider the suit where the Supreme Court’s findings should be taken into account.
But there were more than a dozen similar claims submitted. And in majority of cases the courts took the side of the NBU. Thus, currently, with the Supreme Court’s findings, there is a real chance to reconsider the stated courts’ decisions. This, however, does not exclude brining the case to the European Court of Human Rights.
Andrii Shchekun, the head of the non-governmental organisation The Crimean Centre for Business and Cultural Cooperation ‘Ukrainian House’, is one of the complainants to the National Bank. In his view, the problem is not merely in the National Bank’s resolution, it lies quite deeper. It is in the very last year adoption of the Law of Ukraine ‘On Establishing Free Economic Zone “Crimea” and Specifics of Economic Activity on the Temporary Occupied Territory of Ukraine’ where the Crimeans were identified non-residents. This means, going by Mr. Shchekun, that the state ignored the public opinion, the Crimeans themselves, and put priority on business not on ensuring the rights and freedoms of the Crimeans.
The expert of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union Daria Svyrydova claims it’s since November 2014 human rights defenders have been urging the NBU to cooperate in order to eliminate the legislation discriminating the Crimeans, still, the central bank of the country, unfortunately, shows no reaction to this.
Mrs. Svyrydova states that the NBU sheltered behind referring to the Law of Ukraine ‘On Establishing Free Economic Zone “Crimea” and Specifics of Economic Activity on the Temporary Occupied Territory of Ukraine’. Though this law itself requires many comments, it, however, does not authorise the central bank of the country to act as it did. ‘We shall truly regret if in the long run it will lead to additional losses of the Ukrainian budget if the case is brought to the European Court,’ – the expert says.
Human rights defenders also draw attention to the fact of adoption of the so-called law ‘on the National Bank’s irresponsibility’ (‘On Making Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine with regards to the Development of Institutional Capacity of the National Bank of Ukraine’) that, in fact, legitimizes violations of the law by the NBU employees.
According to Rostyslav Kravets, the expert in banking regulations, ‘The deputies try to address the incompetence of the NBU management at public expense and help the NBU employees to avoid criminal responsibility for committed violations. This is all because of this Law initiated by the President.’