This week, December 10, the Human Rights Day was marked. On this day, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that embodies the inalienable rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political and other beliefs, national and social origin, property, estate or another status.
One of the basic rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the right to freedom of conscience and religion, Article 18. Freedom to practice any religion and perform religious rituals and ceremonies is also provided for in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The same principles are incorporated in the constitutions of democratic countries around the world.
After the events of 2014 in Ukraine, the government began to infringe on the rights of religious people. Using near-religious rhetoric to achieve their political goals, official Kiev is trying to engage the Church in the conflict. The main target of harassment was the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC MP). Acts of violence against parishioners and churchmen as well as seizure of churches are increasingly committed. An aggressive information campaign is underway.
Thus, the rights of citizens, under article 35 of the Constitution of Ukraine, are violated: “Everyone has the right to freedom of personal philosophy and religion. This right includes the freedom to profess or not to profess any religion, to perform alone or collectively and without constraint religious rites and ceremonial rituals, and to conduct religious activity. The church and religious organizations in Ukraine are separated from the state, and the school is separated from the church. No religion can be recognized by the state as mandatory.”
On April 17 of this year, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko filed an official petition to the Ecumenical Patriarch regarding the possibility of granting a tomos of autocephaly. Tomos is a decree of the Patriarch of the Local Orthodox Church on the issue of church government and polity. Moreover, it can be different and does not necessarily imply autocephaly (independence) of a patriarchate for a part of the church. At a meeting of the Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on November 27-29, it was announced that the text of Tomos was approved and the Charter of the new “United Ukrainian Orthodox Church” was written. Instead of autocephaly, it provides for the powerless Archdiocese of the Constantinople Orthodox Church. According to Kiev, this is the independence that the Ukrainian Church has been waiting for 1030 years.
St. Andrew’s Church in Kiev is already under the direct subordination of the Constantinople Orthodox Church. 20 more churches are going to be transferred into subordination. It is still not known who will be in charge of the Kiev-Pechersk, Holy Dormition Pochayiv and Svyatogorsk Lavra, as well as the Churches of the UOC-MP, which are the holy places of Russian and World Orthodoxy. According to the Patriarch of the non-canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the Kiev Patriarchate (UOC-KP) Filaret, monasteries and their property should naturally become part of a unified church with the centre in Kiev.
On December 15, it is planned to hold the so-called “Unification Council”. Even under pressure from the Security Service of Ukraine, it was not possible to force the hierarchs of the canonical church to take part in it. It should be noted that the UOC-MP has 12 thousand parishes. In contrast, the UOC-KP has about 4.9 thousand parishes, and in the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church – about 1.2 thousand, which testifies to the incompetence to make any important religious decisions in Ukraine without the participation of the UOC-MP. If it cannot act in the legal field, the Ukrainian government easily goes beyond the limits established by legislation, both state and canonical, ultimately relying on coercion. In a number of regions of Ukraine, dozens of priests are made to undergo questioning. Representatives of the canonical Church are accused of inciting hatred by spreading literature with statements that sound proper, while the actions of their opponents, often offensive, violent and even illegal, remain unpunished. There is a persecution, an unprecedented campaign of intimidation of representatives of the UOC-MP, protesting against pressure from the authorities. The churchmen are being included in a database of the “Myrotvorets” website. At the request of the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine, an inventory of the property of the Holy Dormition Kiev-Pechersk Lavra is being carried out, which is questionable from the legal point of view. The martial law, introduced on the territory of ten regions of Ukraine, “legalizes” the seizure of Churches and property of the UOC-MP and blocks all attempts of parishioners to defend their churches.
The fact that the Security Service of Ukraine prohibited crossing of the contact line by Metropolitan of Donetsk and Mariupol Hilarion is another outrageous evidence of the rapid deterioration of the human rights and freedoms situation in Ukraine. Based on the recent developments, official Kiev is trying to outlaw the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the Moscow Patriarchate. Apparently, this is due to the unwillingness of church leaders to participate in the splitting “Unification” Council, as well as their rejection of the misanthropic ideology of power aimed at inciting intolerance, hostility, interethnic and religious hatred in favour of somebody’s own political interests. Currently, Ukraine is starting a war on religious grounds. In the conditions of the recently introduced martial law, the ban on Metropolitan Hilarion to cross the contact line is another provocation aimed at infringing the rights and freedoms of Donbass residents and escalating the conflict. The reason to do so was to prevent the adoption of certain decisions aimed at improving the current situation.
According to Article 21 of the Constitution of the Donetsk People’s Republic and Article 3 of the Law of the Donetsk People’s Republic “On Freedom of Religion and Religious Associations”, everyone is guaranteed freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, including the right to profess or not to profess any religion, to hold and disseminate religious and other beliefs and to act in conformity with them.
DPR Human Rights Ombudsman urged the international community to pay special attention to these facts and give a balanced and unbiased assessment of the recent developments in Ukraine. Unfortunately, now we can do nothing but state the rapid deterioration of the negotiation process caused by the Ukrainian side, which creates well-founded concerns about everything we had agreed earlier.
Citizens can apply to the Ombudsman in any suitable way. Now, the majority of applications are still verbal and submitted through personal reception either with the Ombudsman or the heads of the Office, addressing the Public Complaints and Appeals Department, via hotlines and via web-reception on the Website of the Ombudsman. There is a possibility to file a written complaint that may be submitted either in person or via e-mail.
On 12 December, staff of the DPR Ombudsman Office together with representatives of the City Administration and other authorities conducted an on-site reception of citizens in Khartsysk. 5 citizens asked for Ombudsman’s assistance in restoring their rights and received counselling.
Citizens that attended the reception were given advice and clarification of the norms of the current legislation. As regards issues demanding further consideration, written appeals were accepted for further review by the DPR Ombudsman within its competence.
Since the beginning of 2018, the Ombudsman received 5950 complaints. In the period of work between 8 and 14 December 2018, 15 citizens attended personal reception of the Ombudsman, 45 persons received counselling by the Appeals department, 5 citizens received counselling by the Working Group on Issues of Temporary Displaced Persons, and 12 persons received legal counselling. 20 written appeals were approved for consideration, 9 – have been reviewed among those received earlier. 40 calls were received via hotlines, 11 applications were received via e-mail.
All appeals received can be divided into six categories: violations in criminal law – 387 appeals, violations in civil law – 524 appeals, administrative and legal violations against the DPR citizens – 7 appeals, social and humanitarian issues – 3029 appeals, issues connected with hostilities – 681 appeals, other issues – 1322 appeals (diagram 1).
The number of appeals (complaints, applications) from citizens, submitted to the Office of DPR Ombudsman as of 14.12.2018
Violations in criminal law
Issues of social and humanitarian affairs
Violations in civil law
issues connected with hostilities
Administrative and legal violations against citizens
Among all incoming correspondence to the Ombudsman of DPR, the one which deals with the issues of exercise of social rights of citizens and violations of these rights is the most frequent. These issues are: pension and social payments, benefits, disability, humanitarian aid – 906 appeals, temporary accommodation – 627 appeals, issues of housing legislation, protection of consumers of housing and public utility services – 397 appeals, migration legislation issues – 495 appeals, labour legislation issues – 252 appeals, healthcare issues – 165 appeals, guardianship and family law issues – 63 appeals, issues of education, culture and sport – 34 appeals, activities of public associations, organizations and trade unions, religious organizations – 32 appeals, land use and tenure – 21 appeals, the rights of servicemen and law enforcement officials – 37 appeals. (Diagram 2).
The number of appeals (complaints, applications) from citizens on social and humanitarian issues, received by the DPR Ombudsman`s Office as of 14.12.2018
pension and social payments, benefits, disability, humanitarian aid
migration legislation issues
guardianship and family law issues
labour legislation issues
issues of education, culture and sport
issues of housing legislation, protection of consumers of housing and public utility services
activities of public associations, organizations and trade unions, religious organizations
land use and tenure
the rights of servicemen and law enforcement officials
The majority of complaints are traditionally received from Donetsk, by territory (Diagram 3).
The number of appeals (complains, applications) from citizens, received by the DPR Ombudsman`s Office as of 14.12.2018
- Death toll, injuries to civilians and soldiers as a result of hostilities in the territory of the Donetsk People`s Republic.
Almost every day the DPR Ombudsman’s Office records cases of violations of Donbass citizens’ rights by Kiev authorities: the right to life, to security of the person.
On 7 December, as a result of military operations in Novoazovsk region, a DPR serviceman born in 1985 sustained perforating shrapnel wound.
On 8 December, as a result of an armed provocation by Ukrainian forces, a DPR serviceman born in 1997 sustained small shrapnel wound.
On 13 December, a civilian man born in 1991 sustained injuries to his thighs as a result of shelling near “Trudovskaya” coal mine in Donetsk.
Within the period between 7 and 13 December 2018, 3 persons, including 2 DPR servicemen and one civilian man sustained injuries as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine.
Within the period between 1 January and 13 December 2018, 308 persons died in the territory of the DPR as a result of hostilities.
Within the period between 7 and 13 December 2018, 2 DPR servicemen lost their lives.
Within the period between 1 January and 13 December 2018, 156 persons died.
To be specific, since the beginning of the armed conflict 4723 persons died. Officially confirmed information on individuals, who have been wounded since the beginning of the conflict continues to be reported to the Ombudsman’s Office in DPR.
- Register of the prisoners of war, missing soldiers
This week the Ombudsman’s Office in the Donetsk People’s Republic haven’t received any appeals on arrest.
Based on the updated figures as of 14.12.2018, 273 persons are held by the Ukrainian side including:
– 103 of those whose presence on the territory of Ukraine had been confirmed. Whereabouts of 17 persons have been established.
– 170 persons whose whereabouts are unknown or are pending clarification by the Ukrainian side. 1 person has been released as they have served their sentence.
This week the Ombudsman’s Office in the Donetsk People’s Republic received one appeal on missing persons: in September 2018 a man born in 1984 went missing.
As of 14 December 2018, 456 persons are considered missing. They might be held in Ukrainian captivity.
- Register of displaced persons and affected citizens.
At the time of armed conflict, the civilian population living in the zone of fighting and near the contact line is often affected. With the view to protect the human right to life and security of the person, and to provide assistance to victims as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine, social housing objects (dormitories, preventative clinics, health care centres).
Since the beginning of the conflict 5380 referrals for accommodation in social housing objects (dormitories, preventative clinics, health care centres etc.) have been issued, 137 of them – in 2018. With the coming into force of the Order of the Head of the Donetsk People’s Republic No. 137 of 24.04.2018, Territorial authorities in cities and districts are now responsible for accommodating affected civilians. Social housing objects, which used to carry out activities under the patronage of the Ombudsman Office, are authorized to supervise the authorities.
Between 21 November and 7 December, the DPR Ombudsman Office distributed humanitarian aid.
In total, 1846 persons received humanitarian aid, including food and hygiene products. The beneficiaries were:
- Citizens who suffered from injuries or material damage as a result of hostilities, as well as people persecuted by other states for supporting the Donetsk People’s Republic living in social housing objects (dormitories, boarding houses, preventative clinics);
- Persons with disabilities (who suffer from acute and chronic renal failure);
- Former servicemen wounded in combat, which has led to category I or II disability;
- Parents of servicemen who died in combat, who receive the minimum pension;
- Disabled children from families of servicemen who died in combat.
The humanitarian aid was delivered to Donetsk, Yenakievo, Zugres, Makeyevka, Noviy Svet, Khartsysk and Shakhtyorsk as part of the cooperation between the Human Rights Ombudsman Office in the Donetsk People’s Republic and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
During the period of work between 8 and 14 December 2018, 5 persons have applied to the Ombudsman’s Office on the issues related to internally displaced persons. There are currently 1372 accommodation places in the Donetsk People’s Republic available for citizens affected by hostilities. Since the beginning of the conflict, 7327 persons, including 1821 children under the age of eighteen have been registered as persons affected as a result of the conflict. 75 social housing objects (dormitories, preventative clinics, health care centres) have been opened in the territory of DPR. 51 of them operate, 24 of them are held in reserve. Currently, 2484 individuals live in social housing objects (dormitories, preventative clinics, health care centres) of the Donetsk Administration, including 469 underage children, 4843 persons live in the housing fund of the DPR, including 1352 children under eighteen.
- Employment situation in the DPR
The Republican Employment Centre is the main institution responsible for providing jobs to the population.
As reported by the Centre, in the period from 1 January and 14 December 2018:
- there were 49.8 thousand vacant positions registered in the Centre by employers;
- there were 43.4 thousand job-seekers registered at the Employment Centre. Among them: 34.9 thousand have been employed (24.8 of them – on permanent positions, 10.1 – temporarily).
- 348 job-seekers have undergone professional training facilitated by employment centres: 61 persons undergone training and 287 persons – retraining.
The training covered most demanded professions: electric and gas welder, plasterer, bricklayer, painter, roofer (roll-roofing and shingles), maintenance technician, automotive service technician, repair and maintenance electrician, operator of chemical treatment of water, furnace equipment inspector, boiler-house operator, stoker, seamstress, hairdresser, seller, chef.