The statement on the inadmissibility of persecution for expressing an expert opinion
To the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko To the Prosecutor General of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko To the Prosecutor of Autonomous Republic of Crimea Giunduz Mamedov On April 13, the office of the International Centre for Policy Studies (ICPS) in Kyiv was searched as part of the case on the so-called “peaceful plan of MP Artemenko” by the officials of the Prosecutor's Office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. People’s Deputy Andriy Artemenko is accused of high treason under the Article 111 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. He is charged with the assistance to Russia in conducting subversive activities against Ukraine that expressed in the appeals to let Crimea in long-term lease to the Russian Federation and thereby to legitimize temporary occupation. In the basis of the “peaceful plan” of MP Artemenko, as it stated in a court order for search conduction, there is a plan“Ideas for the conflict settlement in Donbas” authored by Vasyl Filipchuk. Not sharing the views of MP Artemenko on “peaceful settlement” ways, we state the illegality of accusations of high treason for the presentation of any ideas, including ideas on peaceful settlement. We are outraged by the search in the analytical center ICPS within the investigation on the case of high treason. These actions of the state are in violation of Article 34 of the Constitution of Ukraine, Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and also contravene the practices of the European Court of Human Rights (Zana v. Turkey (1997), Lingens v. Austria (1986), § 40; Barfod v. Denmark (1989), Wille v. Liechtenstein (1999) etc.). The search in ICPS is not limited to the violations of the Constitution of Ukraine and international agreements. We qualify the following actions of the state as the offensive against key freedom – expression of views - as an attempt to monopolize the market of ideas and to enforce a state doctrine to the society as the only possible under the pain of prosecution of those who offer other approaches, in especially serious crimes – high treason. Disproportionate state interference in the activities of think tanks is purely obscurantist attempt to establish a monopoly on the truth. ICPS activities by their nature are research and scientific ones. Ukraine declares its desire to become a fully legitimate member of the EU but violates a fundamental principle of the European Union, enshrined in Article 13 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (2000), according to which, the arts and scientific research shall be free of constraint. Instead, it is the doctrine of "Russkiy mir" which can be characterized by the state monopoly on the truth, restrictions on freedom of expression, persecution for beliefs. Our war with Russia is primarily a war of values. These actions of the state are the value-based defeat, surrender of public interest and “high treason” in the long run. We cannot fight against “Russkiy mir” by means of “Russkiy mir”. We demand to stop the persecution of the think tank ICPS and immediately return everything that was seized during the search. We consider this incident as a manifestation of general trends on violating the balance between national security and human rights for the benefit of national security by the Security Service of Ukraine and prosecuting authorities. And we want to remind once again that a political regime which violates human rights is doomed to failure. Arkadiy Bushchenko, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union Yevhen Zakharov, Director of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group
ICPS OFFICIAL STATEMENT
On April 13, 2017 the office of the International Center for Policy Studies was searched. At about 16.00 unknown persons who introduce themselves as investigators of the prosecutor's office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the officials of the Security Service of Ukraine entered the office with the aim to hand suspicion to Vasyl Filipchuk and to carry out the search in the office. For more than 5 hours, employees were limited in movement and forbidden to use any means of communication. Physical violence was committed against Vasyl Filipchuk which was fixed by respective photo evidence. The entrance to the office space was blocked, investigators refused to pass defenders, lawyers, police and even emergency doctors. According to the investigators, the search was made within the criminal case of “Artemenko”as they consider that ICPS helped the People`s Deputy to elaborate “peaceful plan” of the conflict settlement. WE STRESS that neither ICPS nor experts have been involved in such elaboration of “peaceful plan” or had any personal contacts with the People`s Deputy Andriy Artemenko. ICPS is working for a long time on finding possible ways of peaceful settlement in Eastern Ukraine with the support of the International Renaissance Foundation. All activities within the project “Modelling of the Minsk agreements implementation and support of strategic advisors to the Ministry of Temporary Occupied Territories and IDPs” were PUBLIC, and analytical materials are in open access on the official website of the Center. Ukrainian MPs and the Deputy Minister of Temporarily Occupied Territories and IDPs Georgiy Tuka were involved in pubic consultations. ICPS has always maintained and continues maintaining state position to preserve the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine! ICPS continues current project activities and is committed to its obligations in cooperation with its partners. We consider such actions as unprecedented pressure on civil society and disgrace of judicial system in Ukraine. We call on colleagues from the civil sector, representatives of diplomatic corps and entire international community todemand that persecution of independent analytical centers must be stopped!
Constitutional reform: how to reach the new social contract?
During 2016-2017 within the project “The use of world expert experience and public consultations in the process of amending the Constitution of Ukraine” ICPS conducted 213 educational events throughout Ukraine, during which pupils and students had the opportunity to learn about the essence of the constitutional process and the appropriate role of citizens in it. “One problem is the secrecy of the new developing process of constitutional provisions when important decisions are adopted behind closed doors. We want to stop this practice in order to society felt their involvement in the country changes. For this purpose throughout the country we held lessons and lectures on “The Essence of the Constitution and its role in daily life”, - legal expert Veronika Kharuk said. Also, ICPS experts have developed brochures on “Participation of citizens in the constitutional process” which were disseminated in all regions of Ukraine. ICPS regional coordinator in Zhytomyr Zhanna Solovyova noted that in close cooperation with the local authorities they managed to organize a large number of lectures and interest of the audience continues even after project completion. It was estimated that within the framework of the project more than 10,000 students were covered. In his turn, an expert in constitutional law Gennadiy Druzenko noted that the social state norms, which are incorporated in the Constitution, are not actually performed in real conditions. “Free education and medicine – are norms that would be provided by state, but in fact it is only declarative. It is important to have comprehensible rules of the Constitution for people “, - Druzenko said.
Europe will open borders to the Ukrainians: The European Parliament voted to grant visa-free regime
The European Parliament voted to grant visa-free regime with the EU for citizens of Ukraine. For the approval of the draft legislative resolution on bringing Ukraine to the list of third countries for which citizens visa requirements are abolished, 521 Members of the European Parliament voted. How further events with visa-free can develop, senior analyst of ICPS Iryna Ivashko explained on the radio station Holos Stolytsi. Do you think that Ukraine has really deserved, conquered a positive vote in the European Parliament, whether it is the first political decision from the Europeans, because even pull nowhere to? In fact, I can tell you that the European Parliament was the least problematic point in this whole procedure. We always had support there, I mean, visa-free support for Ukraine, always. Just one thing that this vote couldn`t procedurally get to European Parliament, that they gave the green light. The problem was associated with the internal migration situation in the EU. That's why this decision couldn`t possibly get to European Parliament, and now it finally reached, and today we got this vote. But I want to emphasize that this is not something unusual, that it was impossible to get. The European Parliament ... we always had support there. And then of course on the procedure it should be understood that not tomorrow we will be able to travel without visas to the Schengen area, no matter we have to go through several formalities, but they should be completed. And approximately, if there will be no procedural adjournment in the EU, bureaucracy, in late June, I think, visa-free will work for our citizens. Onward we have approval at ambassadorial level of the EU and EU Council of Ministers. May some pitfalls appear? No, actually I don`t think we should expect. We have to understand that Ukraine fulfilled all the criteria. And it has already been indecorous from the EU, European bureaucrats to postpone the decision, because it really was not fair towards us, because technically we fulfilled all the criteria which were outlined for us. And it was told and confirmed repeatedly by Europeans. And we didn`t understand why the decision is being deferred. I want to note that there shouldn`t be problems during the EU Council of Ministers meeting because the decision is taken by a qualified majority there, that allows to pass it, even if someone of ministers will be against of it. If we consider those 75 deputies who voted against granting visa-free to Ukraine, the representatives of these specific countries are present in the EU Council of Ministers? It is necessary to see the list, who exactly of these 75 people represent the country, but I say if there will be some countries, it won`t give us the obstacle. Qualified majority - it does not mean unanimity, it really won`t have, even if some countries, ministers will speak against it, but now I don`t see obstacles. According to your forecasts, this June is the end point, the borders will be opened? It won`t be June, I think it will be the end of June.
The conference "Supporting economic reforms in Ukraine"
Within the cooperation ICPS, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and deputes of the European Parliament, a senior economist Vasyl Povoroznyk participated in the conference "Supporting economic reforms in Ukraine" which was held in Brussels. The report was dedicated to the informal economy and the decentralization process in Ukraine. In particular, it dealt with the analysis of key factors influencing the growth of the informal economy in the country. Because according to the data, segment of the informal economy is about 50% of GDP. Among the major, it is primarily inefficient system of state regulation and tax burden. As for the decentralization reform, the most topical issue is the legislative regulation and making appropriate changes to the Fundamental Law. Also pursuant UTC`s creation process that should occur on a voluntary basis, but in some cases the features of a particular community are not captured.
Brexit: a point of no return
It is known that on June 23, 2016 the Britons voted in a referendum for country`s exit from the European Union, the so-called Brexit. Thereafter, the long process of preparation for the Britain`s exit procedure from the European Union started under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on European Union. Today, on March 29, the country's permanent representative to the EU, Tim Barrow conveyed the letter to President of the European Council Donald Tusk, where the intentions of the country to get out of European Union were set out. Under the Lisbon Treaty the country`s exit from the EU may take up to two years. “I don`t think it will stretch up on two years, but I doubt that it will be resolved quickly. Why it won`t be resolved quickly? If the British government will determine its position, which consists in the fact that Britain goes out completely and won`t remain as part of the EU common market, so there is no such single legitimate position currently between European countries. Besides this, the elections in France and Germany were held. They are likely to complicate quick consensus decision in the EU on Britain” - senior analyst Evgen Yaroshenko notes. What problems it will bring to the EU and Britain? For the EU, it will have some serious problems. Firstly, the EU will lose the country – which is the second European economy in terms of GDP – and important financial donor. According to estimates of some economists EU financial assistance to less developed countries of Central Europe, like Poland, Romania, could shrink somewhere in 15%. In other words, without the UK it will be more difficult to the EU as the common market. Secondly, it will change the balance of forces because for a long time Britain has played the role of balancer between France, Germany and other countries. And for many weaker countries in the political sense as Poland, Hungary, it will be harder to defend their interests under the pressure from France and Germany, who will try to impose their vision of the European Union development and their individual policies. For example, it is about the same immigration quotas or financial discipline. Third. Of course, the exit of the country can inspire Eurosceptics in other countries, and according to the domino theory this exit could spread to some other countries. At this point, those countries which have financial problems are at risk, and they consider the EU as the source of these problems, because the EU and Germany comply to more austerity, which is not popular in society. Or those countries that are considered significant donors, and they do not want to spend more of their resources to shelter the weaker countries. Also question of some loyalty countries to the EU concerns those countries that have close economic relations with Britain. And if rates appear in Britain relations with these countries so those countries won`t certainly be profitable. For Britain the exit from the EU will create a lot of risks. The first risk is associated with trade. It is estimated that share of the EU in British trade makes up 45%. In other words, recovery of barriers will certainly hit the British producers. And if for a short period after the UK leaving, the EU, consisting of 27 countries, will not conclude the new trade deal like the agreement on free trade, so Britain will quickly understand the negative consequences of Brexit and citizens will feel it. There is a second challenge, and maybe it is more serious than economic issues. This is a question of the UK integrity. It is known that in a referendum majority of population in Scotland, Northern Ireland voted for Britain to remain in the EU. And these regions largely depended on subsidies of the EU. They are firstly interested to receive these subsidies. Secondly, that there were no trade barriers. Northern Ireland has close trade and cultural relations with the Republic of Ireland, and it is clear that the emergence of barriers can restore the Ulster conflict. And how Britain gently and without the substantial losses go out from the European Union, the further destiny o Scotland and Northern Ireland will depend on it.