The National Strategy for Promoting Civil Society Development for the period 2021 – 2026 adopted in Ukraine

The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine adopted in June 2021 the Draft of the National Strategy for Promoting Civil Society Development 2021-2026. The public debates on the document were launched in 2020. According to the CSO Meter, the new National Strategy defines four strategic objectives and aims to create favourable conditions for developing Ukrainian CSOs, charitable foundations and self-organisation bodies. The document comes with a new principle that underlines the necessity to consult civil society experts regarding each decision about their activity. The Strategy also includes principles of ”online competition for public funding of CSO projects, public grants for institutional development of CSOs, online registration for CSOs and adoption of regional programmes for the development of civil society, streamlining the operation of regional coordination councils for the development of civil society, promotion of volunteer activities through exemptions from taxation and establishment of state and local volunteer support programmes, the introduction of tax incentives for charitable work, the introduction of public consultation procedures, strengthening of residents’ participation in local decision-making, the adoption of a new law on community associations, the establishment of a flexible and efficient fiscal environment for social entrepreneurship, and involving CSOs in the provision of social services.”

The document was drafted by a working group under the Department of Information and Public Relations of the Secretariat of the Cabinet of Ministers and was discussed with civil society organisations. The next step is the implementation of the action plan for 2021-2022, but only after the strategy has been signed by the Ukrainian president. More details about the elaboration process can be foundhere.

Peaceful Assembly

Protest action on the fifth anniversary of the murder of journalist Pavlo Sheremet: "Look for real killers!"

Belarusian journalist Pavlo Sheremet, who was working for the Ukrainian Pravda online publication at the time, died on 20th July 2016, due to an explosion in the car he was in. On the fifth anniversary of his murder, an action "Look for real killers!" took place near the Ministry of Internal Affairs building in Kyiv. More than 100 people attended the rally, which was announced on Facebook. The rally participants installed a banner in front of the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs building with their demands and cardboard silhouettes of the accused. In particular, the protesters insist on an internal investigation by the National Police. Ukrainians believe that the inquiry has been falsified and call for the punishment of those responsible for obstruction of the case. Also, the activists are demanding that the case be transferred to other pre-trial investigation bodies. According to Radio Free Europe Ukraine, in 2017, investigators called the main reason for the killing being the professional activity of Pavel Sheremet as a journalist.

The case has been in court since September 2020. There are three suspects: paediatric cardiac surgeon and volunteer Yulia Kuzmenko, parachute battalion nurse Yana Duhar and anti-terrorist operation veteran serviceman Andriy Antonenko. They all deny involvement in the murder. Their defenders also participated in the rally. In 2020 new details were made public by EUObserver journalists. Their investigation links the murder of Pavlo Sheremet to his work about the Lukashenko regime. The action ended peacefully.

Kyiv: Protest against President Zelensky

A protest rally was organised under the building housing the President's Office, where several activist organisations denounced the high treason of President Volodymyr Zelensky. The protest was organised as a reaction to an interview with the president, who allegedly confessed that he had conveyed information about the special operation against "Wagner" to Belarus. The President’s Office denied the accusation. According to Hromadske TV, the protest action on Bankova Street was attended by "Rukh Opooru Kapitulyatsii", "Democratic Sokira" and other organisations. Activists said Zelensky's political statements should be the subject of criminal proceedings. Around five thousand people took part in the protest action. The protesters chanted, "Impeachment! Resignation! Court!". During the event, activists read out Zelensky's "suspicion" of treason, as reported by the same source.

In June 2021, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in an interview for a TV channel, confirmed that a special operation to detain Wagner members (The Wagner Group is a private Russian military company) involved in the conflict in Eastern Ukraine was indeed being prepared. He also noted that he had called the self-proclaimed President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko and announced his readiness to convey all information about the Wagner group members. The Belarusian president promised to assist. Many people from Ukraine interpreted the statement to mean that the President of Ukraine had conveyed information about the preparation of a special operation to Lukashenko. The President's Office declared that the conversation between Zelensky and Lukashenko took place when the Wagner members had been detained in Belarus for a week already, and Ukraine would not accept any other option than the extradition of the Wagnerites to Ukraine.


Ukrainian Ombudsman: Russian Federation persecutes 93 Crimean Tatars

The Verkhovna Rada Human Rights Commissioner Lyudmila Denisova declared that the Russian Federation is persecuting 93 Crimean Tatars for political reasons. She noted that thousands of Crimean Tatars were forced to leave the peninsula due to the actions of the occupying country. The Ombudsman pointed out that the Russian Federation is persecuting the 93 Crimean Tatars for political reasons; 78 of them are serving illegal sentences in the territory of the occupying country: 36 of them have already been convicted and 42 are under investigation.

Lyudmila Denisova stressed that the Crimean Tatars are fighting for the right to be free and live in their homeland. This year Kurban Bayram falls on 20th July (Tuesday). The holiday lasts three days and ends on 23rd July. But Muslims begin to celebrate it on the evening of 19th July. On this day in Moscow, near the monument to the poet Bulat Okudzhava on Arbat street in support of the Crimean Tatars, single pickets of activists of the public movement "Strategy 18" were held. Representatives of the public movement wrote on Facebook that the action was held "in support of the Crimean Tatars, against their unjustified criminal prosecution, against the appalling situation with the provision of medical care in the context of the coronavirus pandemic to political prisoners in the FSIN system of Crimea and Russia."

The webpage of the Crimean Human Rights Group was blocked in Crimea

Russian authorities blocked the website of the Crimean Human Rights Group (CHRG) on the peninsula. According to a press release published by the organisation, access to the resource is blocked, at least in Simferopol, Sudak, Lenino, Kerch, Krasnoperekop and Bakhchisarai districts. Between 2020 and 2021, at least 20 decisions were made prohibiting the Crimean Human Rights Group articles from being "disseminated on the territory of the Russian Federation". All publications related to the illegal military occupation of Crimea. All decisions of the courts state that the information about human rights defenders "undermines the foundations of the constitutional system of the Russian Federation, creates the preconditions for the violation of the country's federal structure, the integrity and inviolability of its territory."

Articles of the CHRG are recognised as being prohibited for distribution. Court decisions are sent to the Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media. The aim was to "include the site in the "Unified Register of Domain Names, pointers to webpages and the information and telecommunications network of the Internet and network addresses allowing sites in the information and telecommunications network Internet, containing information, the distribution of which is prohibited in the Russian Federation." The same press release stated that since 2018, CHRG had received more than 50 notifications from Roskomnadzor about the inclusion of articles on the organisation's website in the register of information prohibited in the Russian Federation. Roskomnadzor decided to block the entire information resource. Such arbitrary decision limits the access of Crimeans to a large amount of information about protecting human rights.