Prominent contenders for the Thistle of the Year Anti-Award
The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union [UHHRU] is collecting nominations for its traditional Thistle of the Year Anti-Award for those guilty of the most flagrant human rights infringements during the year. On 10 December, Human Rights Day, Ukraine will learn which public officials or bodies have been deemed to have committed the worst such violations. UHHRU already knows the main contenders.
Yevhen Zakharov, member of the UHHRU Board, told Deutsche Welle that there are 10 candidates for this ignominious award. The following are in with a chance of receiving the Thistle of the Year:
- the entire President’s Administration – for unlawful collecting of private information about socially active citizens;
- Valery Khoroshkovsky, Head of the SBU [Security Service]. The grounds include using the Security Service for fighting opposition and through conflict of interests – Khoroshkovsky is also a media magnate, owning one of the main television channels in Ukraine (which regularly receives another “first” place for infringements of journalist standards and avoidance of socially important issues. He is also member of the High Council of Justice which appoints and dismisses judges;
- the Minister of Internal Affairs, Anatoly Mohylyov who has virtually beaten all records for the number of grounds cited for his nomination. As well as the huge number of complaints from detainees about the actions of the police, he is also accused of an unacceptable attitude to police staff themselves. Mr Zakharov points out that while the top echelons of the MIA buy themselves expensive cars, there are hundreds of district police stations without their own toilets.
- the Minister of Education, Dmytro Tabachnyk is in the running for his actions in undermine independent external assessment [ZNO]. This standard exam was aimed at ensuring equal access to education and eradicating the scourge of corruption around entry to higher education. Tabachnyk, and others in the new government, made their opposition to it known from the outset. Mr Zakharov informs that he has also been nominated for re-writing history textbooks and for attempts to introduce paid services in higher education
- the Prime Minister, Nikolai Azarov for discrimination against women. There are no women in the Cabinet of Ministers and Azarov gained international notoriety back in March for his statement that running the country was not women’s work.
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