Kyiv, August 15, 2014. The Ukrainian social organization, Automaidan, has sent documents to Ukraine’s General Prosecutor’s Office, seeking to remove from office those Ukrainian MPs who voted for the notorious “dictatorship laws” of January 16. This was stated by representatives of Automaidan, Dmytro Karp, Kateryna Kuvita, and Oleksander Olenchenko at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. The “dictatorship laws” were passed by the parliament of now deposed President Yanukovych in order to suppress the pro-democracy Maidan movement, and included strict punishments for public gatherings and other actions of civil protest, announced the activists. During the Maidan protest movement, Automaidan used vehicles to drive around Ukraine and spread Maidan’s pro-democracy message. Automaidan is intimately involved in the current lustration process in Ukraine, which seeks to disallow officials accused of human rights abuses and corruption from holding public office in Ukraine. Automaidan blames the “dictatorship laws” for the state violence that eventually claimed the lives of more than 100 Ukrainian protestors, and has spearheaded requests for a criminal case against those who voted for the law on January 16. “People who violated all of the laws should be brought to criminal responsibility for what they did to this country. People died as a result of these laws,” said the Automaidan activist, Dmytro Karp. Automaidan is seeking a comprehensive lustration of Ukraine’s politicians, which would prohibit from office those who were involved in the Soviet regime or in Yanukovych’s government. The government of Yanukovych, by illegally undermining Ukrainian democracy and subverting the 2004 amendments to the Ukrainian constitution, committed a state coup, said Karp. This claim has been recognized by General Prosecutor’s Office, which has opened a criminal investigation against Ukrainian politicians responsible for betraying the Constitution.
Automaidan hopes that Ukraine can learn from the examples of Poland and the Czech Republic when it comes to creating legislation on the lustration of Ukrainian officials. The first step must be to ban officials who were complicit in the Soviet regime in Ukraine, said Kateryna Kuvita. Following the start of the lustration of past Communist officials, Ukraine must also begin the process of purging politicians responsible for the dictatorship law and undoing the Constitution.
Even despite optimism that criminal proceedings and the lustration of Ukraine will commence, Automaidan concedes that the process will be a long and drawn out affair. “In Poland, lustration started two years after they got rid of the regime, and it’s still going on now,” said Kuvita. The process is even more difficult because most suspects are uncooperative with investigators, and many of the victims of human rights abuses from the “dictatorship laws” are now fighting in eastern Ukraine. The Automaidan officials stated that they want all Ukrainians to know who is responsible for usurping state power and allowing Russian aggression.