While Ukraine is leaving the Kremlin’s “Matrix” through decentralization, someone is trying to spread the virus intended to destroy the country and wreak havoc over its territory. The failed idea of ”federalization” of Ukraine has got a second wind: fake communities. Such pseudo-formations play on human weaknesses and are created for the purpose of proving the illegitimacy of any government in the country. This was stated by Anatolii Tkachuk, Civil Society Institute, at a discussion held at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. “These viruses aim at destroying Ukraine, corroding society, creating a war of all against all. Their goal is to prove that all governing bodies are illegitimate. They are playing on human weaknesses. They exploit the issues of wood, the discharge of sewage into their rivers, environmental safety. People who boost the idea of ”popular territorial community” persuade the locals that as soon as they proclaim themselves the supreme authority, they will be happy,” said Mr. Tkachuk.
These fake communities in Ukraine take their origins from Russia and have been actively developing since 2012 mainly in three forms. “These are people who try to become legitimate through registering a fake community as a legal entity of public law or in any other manner, those opposing registering and instead claiming their ‘rights’, and ‘Cossack organizations’”. “Three areas of development make it possible to distinguish between people who are likely to be affected by different approaches, from proponents of open seizure to those who choose the pretense of legal scenario. The first – ‘registrars’ of fake territorial communities – create signs of legitimacy, hint at eligibility. The second – those opposing official registering – just want to seize public property, minerals, etc. The third are territorial Cossack communities, Cossack militia units. There are about 200 of them in Ukraine,” said Ihor Huskov, Security Service of Ukraine. As of today, 26 criminal proceedings have been opened throughout Ukraine; two of them will soon get to court.
Pseudo formations issue their documents: “passport of a person”, “certificate of people’s entrepreneur”. Their “lucky holders” are allegedly exempt from taxes and any obligations to the state; they are provided with detailed instructions on how to circumvent a government decision. The “communities” have their “juries”. Due to this separation from the rest of Ukraine, they can easily block the work of local governments and contribute to attempts at disrupting mobilization in their regions. This results from people’s ignorance and incomprehension of procedures and processes. “A public body cannot be formed on the private initiative of certain people. We have the law. That is why if you want to participate in solving local problems, you should nominate the deputies, launch the initiatives and form public organizations. You propose through your local MPs that the Verkhovna Rada should introduce initiatives to implement local projects,” explained Mykola Rubchak, Head of Department for administrative and territorial structure of the Ministry of Regional Development, Construction and Housing and Communal Services of Ukraine.
Incomprehension of both the ordinary people and local authorities can also lead to this situation. For example, this was the case in Ivano-Frankivsk region, where local authorities first supported such initiatives. “It looked like social activists’ initiative aimed at changing the state, repairing roads and managing mineral resources. However, under the guise of road repairs they held meetings and collected signatures. As a result, two statutes of such ‘communities’ were approved and registered, 13 more were under consideration. Kosiv district council organized training and provided explanation of what the local community statute is, who adopts it, its content, so that people could distinguish between lawful and unlawful fake initiatives. Besides, the Security Service worked well to solve this problem in the region,” informed Roksolana Barchuk, executive staff of the Kosiv regional council. “The state registration of such persons is not provided by law. We have a definition of what the local community is. These are residents. Their state registration as persons of public law cannot be provided,” noted Kateryna Brovko, chief specialist of the department of appeals to the civil register of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine.
In addition to law enforcement bodies this problem can be solved by using a powerful educating campaign. “We hold the maximum number of meetings with people, involving a lawyer, and explain these things to the locals. We were ready to face these challenges. That is why such threats were not widespread in our region. The Ministry of Justice should definitely send a letter of explanation to the state registrars so that they do not allow illegal registration of pseudo-communities,” noted Ihor Ahibalov, Local Government Development Center in Luhansk region.