The lawyers of the Public Reception Office of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union have helped a woman with a disability to adjudge a compensation of over UAH 100 000.
In March 2014, a grandson of an IDP from Crimea requested the assistance of a specialized Public Reception on Crimea of the Ukrainian Helsinki Union. Yefrosyniia Humeniuk is a retired person and a disabled person of group 2. The woman was the victim of a typical situation, which happened with Crimean PrivatBank depositors, that is non-repayment of their deposits.
Mrs. Humeniuk had created a bank deposit at home, on the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea before the Russian occupation. After the annexation of the peninsula, PrivatBank had stopped to repay the deposits to Crimean depositors.
The UHHRU lawyers have won a court case of a woman on repayment of the deposit. The Kyiv Sviatoshynskyi District Court of Kyiv region ordered to return the amount equivalent to the size of the deposit to the woman that is UAH 101 000. Maksym Tymochko, a lawyer, said that the trial lasted more than eight months and the final decision was delivered on October 19. However, he said that this was only the first stage of the case. PrivatBank is not going to return the money and certainly would file an appeal. While the senior woman is in a serious condition, Maksym Katsevych, her grandson, looks after her. In fact, he provides for his grandmother. Because of the disease, she is bedridden; her treatment costs a lot of money.
‘During the trial, we encountered the typical obstacles that arise when one filed an appeal against PrivatBank. The Bank filed an appeal against the decision of opening proceedings in order to stretch the time. The bank representatives did not show up at the trial. They have never given explanations on the matter of the dispute. They did not provide information about the account, which was a matter of the dispute, despite repeated requests of the judge’, said Anna Rassamakhina, a lawyer.
Anna Rassamakhina also adds that the bank has not unblocked the accounts of the plaintiff. So, at the moment she cannot check the balance using online banking or otherwise.
‘Since the occupation, PrivatBank blocked completely all accounts of Crimeans, and therefore the Bank has not provided any evidence that such an account exists, but they have never said that there is no contractual relationship between Mrs. Humeniuk and PrivatBank,’ – the lawyer adds.
Taking into account these facts, the question arises – why PrivatBank does not want to go toward the fellow citizens, who are in such a tough situation?
‘According to PrivatBank, this money could be paid to citizens only after the recovery of the amount of losses that they incurred as a result of occupation by the state-occupier,’ Maksym Tymochko said.
So PrivatBank is going to adjudge a compensation for lost property and assets on the occupied territories at an international level. The bank is trying to recover money from the Russian Federation in the International Commercial Arbitration. The issue of payment of the deposits to the Crimeans would rise only after that. Although no one can be sure that even in the case of obtaining compensation, Privatbank would not even invent some other reasons to avoid returning the money.
The hope for a new life on the mainland
If the bank finally pays the money to Mrs. Humeniuk, would it be a precedent case for Ukraine? According to Maksym Tymochko, this may be the first time, when PrivatBank pays the deposits back to Crimeans. The lawyer said that the similar cases are being won throughout Ukraine, but UHHRU is doing it systematically. This is not the first client, whose complaint was satisfied. However, PrivatBank continues not to comply with court decisions, and no one gets money in the enforcement proceedings. That’s why this case is supported the Strategic Litigations Centre of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union. The human rights activists believe that the facts repeated failure of bank obligations to customers are systemic violations of human rights, which is regularly faced by Crimean IDPs.
Now lawyers are preparing to defend the interests of Mrs. Humeniuk at the court of appeal. Then they will wait for the writ of the court, which will be provided to the State Executive. But this is not so simple; the latter will still have to charge the deposit amount from PrivatBank. More on this can be found in the popular instruction, which lawyers prepared the day before.