Anybody heard from the HR Ombudsman? – Ukraine

May 11, 2014

Considering the on-going events around Mariupol, this entry may seem a little disconnected from the headlines – yet it is quite relevant both now and when matters are investigated – either internally, externally – or hopefully both.

Of the ever increasing human rights issues that are mounting in Ukraine, the question must be asked why there have been not statements – be they broad or upon specific incidents – by the Ukrainian Human Rights Ombudsman.

Here is a recent example – albeit certainly not the most heinous that will come to light – of a blatant human rights issue that has attracted no comment from the Ukrainian Human Rights Ombudsman or the current leadership, when it is clearly necessary to at the very minimum say something.

A few days ago the photograph in the twitter link below appeared all over the place.  It appeared also on twitter, VK, Facebook, on countless blogs and a 23 minute YouTube clip of the actual interrogation.  To view the photograph click on the link in the tweets below.  I will not openly display it.

The man in his underwear is the separatist “Defence Minister of Donetsk”.  The man in black is a presidential candidate for Ukraine – Oleh Liashko – who thankfully has no chance of winning.

I responded on twitter thus:

A position I will robustly defend being an advocate of democracy and the rule of law.

Of course my tweet was met with the usual “whataboutism” and comparisons to the same unnecessarily degrading treatment of three SBU employees in Slavyansk – images of which that also flooded twitter, VK, Facebook and numerous blogs.

A fair point?

For some may be, but “whataboutism” does nothing other than try and justify one wrong with another – it does not legitimise either incident.  One hundred “whataboutisms” will not legitimise a single incident.

Both incidents are simply wrong and violations of the human rights of those involved.

There are also obvious differences.  The degrading treatment the SBU officers were subjected to was outside the immediate control of the State.  They were also carried out by non-State actors.  Whilst it may come to pass that prosecutions will follow eventually, there was nothing that could be done by the State at that moment to prevent such degrading treatment.

However, despite the current circumstances in eastern Ukraine particularly, Ukraine as a State has an obligation both in domestic law and through ratified regional and international laws, treaties and charters to those within its territory relating human rights.  Those obligations do not disappear in troubled times such as these.

They clearly apply to those in State custody at any time and in any circumstances.

Thus we have an incident where a serving RADA member and presidential candidate, who must surely represent The State even when local institutional structures break down, and regardless of the circumstances on the ground, fails to act as would be expected.  He has a legally binding duty on behalf of The State that he represents, to at the very least cover the detainee suitably before any public questioning he may want to do (and the ill-considered broadcasting of it thereafter).

Why has such an obvious, recent, well evidenced human rights breach drawn no comment from anybody with political or legal authority within or without Ukraine?

Accepting he has immunity and uses it with impunity as all RADA politicians have/do – does not mean silence is acceptable, particularly from those purporting to have “European values” as their policy driver.

Does it not make sense to deal with the easier human rights violations matters now and as they occur?   Certainly there will be far more evidentially difficult claims to deal with later that will drag on for years before they are settled.

In saying nothing, not only is it yet another truly awful decision by the authorities and Human Rights Ombudsman, but it may also be seen as de facto acceptance at best, or complicity at worst – both of which are likely to lead to further, similar and preventable violations in the immediate future.




  1. Here is the video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgBXfZBuWac. If you didn’t see it, please do. This puts it all in context. I disagree with you. I believe that Oleh Lyashko is the right candidate for President and he can save this poor country.

    • I have seen it. It does indeed put it in to context as you say. Throwing a blanket around him is easily done and is not. However now it matters not what I think. It seems highly likely that this will eventually be dealt with by professional advocacy groups of international standing who also agree Lyashko is entirely wrong and I have a point.


      One of a long list that will eventually end at the ECfHR and be ruled against Ukraine needlessly because Lyashko simply did not think – again.

    • Yes seen it. Let’s hope that the offenders are caught and punished and these men fully recover from their horrendous ordeal.

  2. oh, Kremlin Krappola, Mr. Odessablogger.

    The self-apppointed former “Minister of Defense of the Donetsk People’s Republic” is now in Ukrainian custody. The reason they had to remove his clothes is, …er…he had a serious involuntary bowel movement when Ukraine’s “men in black” captured him. The new National Guard Special Operations Battalion,[…..] has commenced its work. Ukraine’s “men in black” don’t terrorize civilians or use women and children as human shields.

    Mr. Self-appointed Minister of Defense of the Donetsk People’s Republic and all the brainwashed Putler zombies in Donbas are ready to smoke anyone and everyone who stands in their way. They have fomented violence and death, all for the sake of sticking their head up Vlad Dracul Putler’s ass and getting a St. George’s ribbon for their efforts. As if that amounts to anything, or solves anything.

    The worst thing that happened to him is he had is picture taken after he crapped his pants.

    Shit – get off of it, Mr. Odessablogger.

    • Maybe so – but the State is the State. It has legal obligations to uphold.

      Putting a blanket around him or something was too much? Of course not!

      If it fails to be seen to uphold them not only will it add incendiary fuel to the fire of those set against it – much more importantly it will add to the distrust of those who may not be pro-separatist – indeed maybe very pro-unity – but nonetheless are extremely dubious of the actions of some of those currently in charge. The very last thing Ukraine needs is to further undermine the shaky trust those currently not against it have in many parts of Ukraine.

      Externally of Ukraine, such incidents simply erode the international support it currently has – especially amongst the voters of those supportive nations.

      It is not a question of me getting off it – It is a question of Ukraine getting on it if it wants to maintain both internal and external support for the current authorities.

      Whether they do or not is up to them – but if they don’t then it is only a matter of time before the necessary support it needs will distance itself. The writing is on the wall – they must now decide whether to read it.

      • Nothing happened to the self-appointed “Defense Minister of the People’s Republic of Donetsk”

        While you are moaning and groaning about a thug, your attitude is – “pro-Putlerists are allowed to do anything that they want, including using kids as shields – but the Ukrainian government is responsible for everything”

        cynical double-standard bullshit on your part

        Here are 2 guys who appeared on the Savik Shuster show last night

        Any laments about them?

        Donetsk miners & trade unionists A.Vovk, A.Gurov, 5 days after they were kidnapped, tortured by pro-Russians&Chechens

        There are plenty more examples, including Rybak, who was tortured, and his belly cut open.

        Any laments about that, Mr. Concerned About a Fat Piece of Thug Lardbutt Who Foments Violence Via Self-appointment?

      • You are completely wrong and resorting to the “whataboutism” that is only fit for Kremlin propaganda justification of wrong-doing. Each and every unlawful act is exactly that – unlawful. However the point is “the State” – any State – has obligations and integrity perceived far above the criminal actions of non-State actors (which the State is obliged to deal with at the earliest opportunity within the law).

        Nevertheless, have it your way. Allow the State a free hand to act no differently to the non-State actors. That is the result of “whataboutism”. It simply tries to justify one wrong with another wrong and results in a stepping into an abyss whilst allies distance themselves. The Kremlin and its shills are masters of “whataboutism”.

        The way to defeat “whataboutism” is to act transparently and with integrity to uphold the laws regardless of the wrong-doers. There is no other way.

        If the Ukrainian leadership succumbs to Kremlin-style “whataboutism” and loses the moral high ground then it may as well give in to Kremlin plans now, for the Kremlin propaganda machine is far more slick than the Ukrainian one sadly. Then all that is necessary is to wait for the international community and its electorate to then step back and say they are as bad as each other which is eventually what will happen.

        Unfortunately for the State it is obliged not only to upon hold the rule of law against the criminal elements who kidnap and torture but also continue to act within the law itself. Hard hard place to be undoubtedly, but that is the case nonetheless.

        As you have read this blog long-enough, you should know that I am not pro-separatist, and robust advocate for democracy and the rule of law. Your suggestion that I am sympathetic to those who commit heinous acts for a cause I disagree with quite frankly I find incredibly offensive to the point of considering banning any further comment from you.

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