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Ukraine’s lustration law spells crackdown on political opponents

October 16, 2014, 16:59 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara

MOSCOW, October 16. /TASS/. Ukraine’s law On Cleansing the Authorities, effective as of Thursday, October 16, will serve as a tool in the hands of the Kiev authorities eager to crack down on political opponents, polled experts have been telling TASS.

Under this legal act, also commonly referred to as lustration law, all those who held official positions during the Viktor Yanukovich presidency, will be dismissed from office. The same measure will apply to all former members of Soviet era authorities, except for those whose posts were elective ones.

As Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk said earlier, lustration may concern up to half a million people. Each of them will have to face a “lustration committee”. After the procedure the official will either be re-appointed or dismissed without the right to take any civil service jobs for a period five to ten years.

“The law on lustration was adopted in the run-up to the October 26 parliamentary election under pressures from Maidan demonstrators - the advocates of Ukraine’s euro-integration - who are demanding the removal from governing bodies of all those who are against - in the first place, the followers of Viktor Yanukovich’s Party of Regions. In reality Ukraine’s current pseudo-elite is tightly linked with the previous authorities. The same is true of President Poroshenko, who under Yanukovich held the seat of economic development and trade minister,” a leading researcher at the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies, Eduard Popov, has told the TASS political analysis centre.

The political scientist believes the real purpose of lustration is “the current authorities are using it as a pretext to get rid of competitors, including those in business, and to lay hands on resources.” On Wednesday, activists of the ultra-radical group Right Sector blocked the gates of the Zaporozhstal steel mill in the east of Ukraine. The mill belongs to big business tycoon Rinat Akhmetov, known to have had connections with the Party of Regions. Earlier, another tycoon, Igor Kolomoisky, the Dnepropetrovsk Region’s governor, demanded the nationalization of Akhemtov’s businesses in the Donetsk Region.

The lustration campaign in Ukraine, launched even before the law on the authorities’ cleansing took effect, acquired the ugliest form in the whole of Eastern Europe. Radical thugs have been bursting into the offices of disfavoured officials, bringing them outside and thrusting into dumpsters in front of a crowd of cheerful followers.

“That’s real mob law at work,” Popov believes.

“Bloodshed in Ukraine is already underway. Lustration in the East European countries was somewhat different, because they are more homogenous in ethnic and religious terms and history manuals in these countries look more coherent. In Ukraine, the process of lustration is fraught with bloody decay,” says historian Vadim Trukhachev, an expert on Slavic affairs.

“Lustration in an undemocratic state is not an instrument of future positive development but a big stick in politics,” says the director of the Historical Monument Fund, Aleksandr Dyukov.

“The Ukrainian authorities are stubborn in their intention to convert their multi-ethnic country into a state of ethnic Ukrainians. The introduction of the institution of non-citizenship, already existing in Latvia or Estonia, may become the next step,” Dyukov believes.

“Amid the continuing crisis the authorities in Kiev are getting ready for mass social and economic protests. Some demonstrations have already taken place. Obedient subordinates are required to suppress this expression of dissent. This is the reason why the law on lustration has been introduced. It is a form of political repression, and nothing else,” the director of the Institute of Political Studies, Civic Chamber member Sergey Markov has told TASS.


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