Friday, January 05, 2007

Ukraine: Deteriorating Human Rights Situation

At Maidan, human rights defender Yevhen Zakharov talks in a BBC interview about the problems facing Ukraine in 2007:

I have in mind first and foremost the issue of housing and communal charges which have hit the poorest people in Ukraine hardest. It is not even that the tariffs are high, since they do actually need to be increased. The state cannot indefinitely subsidize this area.

The state has the obligation nonetheless to protect the poorest, and according to official statistics, 28% of the population lives below the official poverty line. A huge number of people are not living, but merely trying to make ends meet and are simply not able to pay.

- Yet the state is promising subsidies.

Yevhen Zakharov: This is the point that the state immediately tells poor people: take subsidies and there’ll be no problem! But it’s not like that. The subsidies are regulated by dozens of normative acts, there are 77 in total. This is a difficult and humiliating procedure when people have to prove that they really are poor and then this is checked by various commissions.

And if, God forbid, they see that a person has a computer at home, they can decide that s/he doesn’t deserve subsidies – I know of such cases. The same applies if the family has an old car or an allotment, or if one member of the family is working, and another isn’t, again the subsidy won’t be allocated.

This is really dishonest. The state should provide simplified procedure and an appropriate law yet there is no law on subsidies. Therefore a large percentage of people will suffer from high tariffs, meaning that their right to a decent standard of living will be flagrantly violated.

With this there will be a threat to property rights since people will not be able to pay and themonopolist communal services will begin talking of eviction with the
accommodation used to pay their debts. I would call this violation of human rights the most widespread and flagrant.

Read it all.
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