World
Alexander Gorokhov
April 1, 2014
© Photo: Public domain

Ukrainian nationalists have been entertaining the idea of lustration since the first days of Ukraine's independence. For some time it went no further than declarations, but after V. Yushchenko came to power they burst forth with two bills at once; their authors were former Komsomol task unit commander Vasily Chervony and former a Soviet Communist Party district committee propagandist from the Lvov region, Levko Lukyanenko. 

The harshest version was suggested by the former propagandist, who demanded a five-year ban on persons holding leading posts in legislative, executive and judicial bodies and the Ukrainian media who had held leading posts in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (KPSS) or the KGB of the USSR; had been agents, informers or non-staff workers in the security service; or had been heads of political sections in the Soviet army and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR. The Komsomol task unit commander decided not to encroach on the communist past of potential subjects of repression, limiting himself to a check for collaboration with intelligence agencies. However, he expanded the field of lustrators' attention to include checking for complicity in the falsification of the 2004 elections, and he suggested prohibiting subjects of repression from heading political parties and civic organizations.

Neither bill made it to a vote, although three years later a group of nationalist legal experts was cobbled together into the civic organization «Lustration».

After the Nazi coup d’état of 2014, the topic of political revenge has come to the forefront in Ukraine. On March 26, five members of parliament from the Freedom Party submitted bill No. 4570, «On conducting lustration in Ukraine».

Since the phenomenon of political revenge is fairly widespread in Eastern Europe, we have the opportunity to compare Ukrainian-style lustration with how their predecessors in other countries took their revenge.

In Romania and Moldova, for example, there was no lustration at all. The mildest form of the process of persecuting people for their convictions took place in Hungary, Slovakia and Bulgaria. Such respected political authorities as Lech Walesa, Vaclav Havel, Zhelyu Zhelev, and even the Conference of European Churches categorically opposed the conducting of lustration. Nevertheless, few listened to their opinion.

Germany limited itself to demanding that civil servants report collaboration with GDR intelligence agencies at hiring and resignation. Incidentally, released Stasi dossiers very quickly began to be used to blackmail East German politicians. The Baltic States banned Communist Party activists and KGB employees from holding state offices.

The Czechs and the Poles were the harshest toward their «incorrect» countrymen. 140,000 of the 10.5 million residents of the Czech Republic were deprived of the right to hold responsible posts in government agencies for five years. Career employees and secret agents of intelligence agencies, employees of the Communist Party apparatus, and state security directors were on the list of those subject to repressions. In Poland, lustration turned into a means for Solidarity activists to fight for posts in the new government. Candidates for state posts who had collaborated with intelligence agencies had to repent and receive forgiveness before holding any post. Those who hid the fact that they had collaborated were immediately dismissed. 

 

***

 

It goes without saying that those who came to power through the coup d’état of the Ukrainian Nazis could not but «show themselves to be a European nation». In the forefront on the issue of political revenge and restriction of the rights and freedoms of citizens is the Freedom Party, headed by its fuhrer O. Tyahnibok, which submitted bill No. 4570.

The members of the All-Ukrainian Union «Svoboda», which has distinguished itself many times through terror against political opponents, explosions of hatred toward Russians and torturing undesirables in the basement of the Kiev city administration during the Maidan, have not stopped with the achievements of their predecessors V. Chervony and L. Lukyanenko. The bill they have drafted is unique. The «Europeans» of Ukraine do not call for any repentance or an insignificant period of loss of rights, unlike the «spineless» Poles and Czechs. If someone is subject to lustration, he loses the right to hold certain posts for a period of twenty years. The list of posts closed to «untrustworthy individuals» is impressive: all the chief executives of state and regional agencies, along with their deputies and heads of structural divisions, judges, attorneys, notaries, auditors, experts, assessors, members of all electoral commissions without exception and legislators of all levels. In addition, it includes absolutely all public employees, including employees of the apparatus of all government agencies without exception, military personnel, militia employees, tax service employees, directors and professors of institutions of higher learning, executives and division heads of state enterprises, media outlets, funds and even…public utilities. Even every candidate for posts from president to plumber is subject to lustration.

But that is just the beginning. Even before the beginning of lustration, an enormous number of workers are subject to immediate dismissal from their jobs. These are judges who have held their posts for over 10 years; members of the Supreme Disciplinary and Qualification Commission for the legal profession; secretaries of KPSS organizations from the party committees of enterprises and higher; party workers of the Soviet Army and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR; and graduates, students and graduate students of all party schools and courses without exception. And, of course, those whom the nationalists reckon among the KGB, including those who fought with the Banderovites during and after the war.

The fact that bill No. 4570 is meant solely for political revenge and not for the protection of national security can be seen from Article 5, «Individuals subject to dismissal». 18 out of the 33 categories subject to immediate dismissal are persons who held positions from February 25, 2010 through February 21, 2014, that is, from the moment of Viktor Yanukovich's inauguration to the seizure of power in Kiev by the putschists. It is curious that among those subject to immediate dismissal are individuals who were part of the Y. Timoshenko government, as well as employees of the presidential administration whom Yanukovich did not replace at the very beginning of his presidency.

There are several articles which, if one were to enforce them diligently, would mean the end of the careers of the very people who drafted the bill. For example, the lustration bans affect everyone who has participated in actions which spread ethnic hatred or who has publicly urged discrimination on the basis of nationality, race or religion. That is, everyone who was chanting, «Kill the Russkies,» is subject to lustration, as is Yulia Timoshenko, who has called for shooting Russians «from a nuclear weapon».

Besides the abovementioned categories, all public prosecutors and their deputies who held posts during the indicated period, heads and deputy heads of all divisions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, heads and deputy heads of all local administrations, heads and deputy heads of courts who held posts during the indicated period, and judges appointed during the indicated period are subject to peremptory dismissal. The repressions are to be unconditional, with no hint of the presumption of innocence.

Those subject to lustration are deprived of the right not only to hold government posts, but also to be members of the boards of civic organizations or media outlets, to be members of electoral commissions, to work in security companies, or to own firearms or less lethal weapons.

The decision of the lustrators can only be challenged in the Supreme Administrative Court.

Lustration in Ukraine is just getting started. Junta member and head of the «lustration commission» Yegor Sobolev has already expressed his displeasure with the «too lenient» suggestions of the Freedom Party. And he promised to conduct the lustration more harshly, apparently on the basis of the bill submitted by Nazi Bogdan Benyuk «On belonging to the Ukrainian nationality and the protection of the state-forming nation», paragraph 6 of which reads: «Office holders in government agencies who are of Russian nationality and are unable to prove otherwise with documentation must be dismissed by December 31, 2014».

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.
Total Lustration in Ukraine: From the President to the Plumber

Ukrainian nationalists have been entertaining the idea of lustration since the first days of Ukraine's independence. For some time it went no further than declarations, but after V. Yushchenko came to power they burst forth with two bills at once; their authors were former Komsomol task unit commander Vasily Chervony and former a Soviet Communist Party district committee propagandist from the Lvov region, Levko Lukyanenko. 

The harshest version was suggested by the former propagandist, who demanded a five-year ban on persons holding leading posts in legislative, executive and judicial bodies and the Ukrainian media who had held leading posts in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (KPSS) or the KGB of the USSR; had been agents, informers or non-staff workers in the security service; or had been heads of political sections in the Soviet army and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR. The Komsomol task unit commander decided not to encroach on the communist past of potential subjects of repression, limiting himself to a check for collaboration with intelligence agencies. However, he expanded the field of lustrators' attention to include checking for complicity in the falsification of the 2004 elections, and he suggested prohibiting subjects of repression from heading political parties and civic organizations.

Neither bill made it to a vote, although three years later a group of nationalist legal experts was cobbled together into the civic organization «Lustration».

After the Nazi coup d’état of 2014, the topic of political revenge has come to the forefront in Ukraine. On March 26, five members of parliament from the Freedom Party submitted bill No. 4570, «On conducting lustration in Ukraine».

Since the phenomenon of political revenge is fairly widespread in Eastern Europe, we have the opportunity to compare Ukrainian-style lustration with how their predecessors in other countries took their revenge.

In Romania and Moldova, for example, there was no lustration at all. The mildest form of the process of persecuting people for their convictions took place in Hungary, Slovakia and Bulgaria. Such respected political authorities as Lech Walesa, Vaclav Havel, Zhelyu Zhelev, and even the Conference of European Churches categorically opposed the conducting of lustration. Nevertheless, few listened to their opinion.

Germany limited itself to demanding that civil servants report collaboration with GDR intelligence agencies at hiring and resignation. Incidentally, released Stasi dossiers very quickly began to be used to blackmail East German politicians. The Baltic States banned Communist Party activists and KGB employees from holding state offices.

The Czechs and the Poles were the harshest toward their «incorrect» countrymen. 140,000 of the 10.5 million residents of the Czech Republic were deprived of the right to hold responsible posts in government agencies for five years. Career employees and secret agents of intelligence agencies, employees of the Communist Party apparatus, and state security directors were on the list of those subject to repressions. In Poland, lustration turned into a means for Solidarity activists to fight for posts in the new government. Candidates for state posts who had collaborated with intelligence agencies had to repent and receive forgiveness before holding any post. Those who hid the fact that they had collaborated were immediately dismissed. 

 

***

 

It goes without saying that those who came to power through the coup d’état of the Ukrainian Nazis could not but «show themselves to be a European nation». In the forefront on the issue of political revenge and restriction of the rights and freedoms of citizens is the Freedom Party, headed by its fuhrer O. Tyahnibok, which submitted bill No. 4570.

The members of the All-Ukrainian Union «Svoboda», which has distinguished itself many times through terror against political opponents, explosions of hatred toward Russians and torturing undesirables in the basement of the Kiev city administration during the Maidan, have not stopped with the achievements of their predecessors V. Chervony and L. Lukyanenko. The bill they have drafted is unique. The «Europeans» of Ukraine do not call for any repentance or an insignificant period of loss of rights, unlike the «spineless» Poles and Czechs. If someone is subject to lustration, he loses the right to hold certain posts for a period of twenty years. The list of posts closed to «untrustworthy individuals» is impressive: all the chief executives of state and regional agencies, along with their deputies and heads of structural divisions, judges, attorneys, notaries, auditors, experts, assessors, members of all electoral commissions without exception and legislators of all levels. In addition, it includes absolutely all public employees, including employees of the apparatus of all government agencies without exception, military personnel, militia employees, tax service employees, directors and professors of institutions of higher learning, executives and division heads of state enterprises, media outlets, funds and even…public utilities. Even every candidate for posts from president to plumber is subject to lustration.

But that is just the beginning. Even before the beginning of lustration, an enormous number of workers are subject to immediate dismissal from their jobs. These are judges who have held their posts for over 10 years; members of the Supreme Disciplinary and Qualification Commission for the legal profession; secretaries of KPSS organizations from the party committees of enterprises and higher; party workers of the Soviet Army and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR; and graduates, students and graduate students of all party schools and courses without exception. And, of course, those whom the nationalists reckon among the KGB, including those who fought with the Banderovites during and after the war.

The fact that bill No. 4570 is meant solely for political revenge and not for the protection of national security can be seen from Article 5, «Individuals subject to dismissal». 18 out of the 33 categories subject to immediate dismissal are persons who held positions from February 25, 2010 through February 21, 2014, that is, from the moment of Viktor Yanukovich's inauguration to the seizure of power in Kiev by the putschists. It is curious that among those subject to immediate dismissal are individuals who were part of the Y. Timoshenko government, as well as employees of the presidential administration whom Yanukovich did not replace at the very beginning of his presidency.

There are several articles which, if one were to enforce them diligently, would mean the end of the careers of the very people who drafted the bill. For example, the lustration bans affect everyone who has participated in actions which spread ethnic hatred or who has publicly urged discrimination on the basis of nationality, race or religion. That is, everyone who was chanting, «Kill the Russkies,» is subject to lustration, as is Yulia Timoshenko, who has called for shooting Russians «from a nuclear weapon».

Besides the abovementioned categories, all public prosecutors and their deputies who held posts during the indicated period, heads and deputy heads of all divisions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, heads and deputy heads of all local administrations, heads and deputy heads of courts who held posts during the indicated period, and judges appointed during the indicated period are subject to peremptory dismissal. The repressions are to be unconditional, with no hint of the presumption of innocence.

Those subject to lustration are deprived of the right not only to hold government posts, but also to be members of the boards of civic organizations or media outlets, to be members of electoral commissions, to work in security companies, or to own firearms or less lethal weapons.

The decision of the lustrators can only be challenged in the Supreme Administrative Court.

Lustration in Ukraine is just getting started. Junta member and head of the «lustration commission» Yegor Sobolev has already expressed his displeasure with the «too lenient» suggestions of the Freedom Party. And he promised to conduct the lustration more harshly, apparently on the basis of the bill submitted by Nazi Bogdan Benyuk «On belonging to the Ukrainian nationality and the protection of the state-forming nation», paragraph 6 of which reads: «Office holders in government agencies who are of Russian nationality and are unable to prove otherwise with documentation must be dismissed by December 31, 2014».