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Ministry of Internal Affairs
Ministerstvo Vnutrishnix Sprav MVS

There are two principal security agencies, which share responsibility for internal security: The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), which is responsible for intelligence gathering and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which controls the various police forces. The armed forces largely remained outside of politics; however, government agencies interfered indirectly in the political process through criminal and tax investigations of politicians, journalists, and influential businessmen. Civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of the security forces. Members of the security forces committed human rights abuses. The extent to which the authorities were complicit or acquiescent in these abuses was uncertain.

Ukrainian Interior Ministry announced 05 July 2014 it was going to launch an investigation against “every policeman” in Slavyansk to find out whether they cooperated with the self-defense forces. Such line-of-duty checks will define if “an employee of Slavyansk police cooperated with separatists or maintained loyalty to the Ukrainian people,” Deputy Interior Minister Sergey Yarovoy said. Police in the Donetsk region will be reformed - starting from the cities of Donetsk and Lugansk “due to necessity” - said Interior Minister Arsen Avakov.

Initially, law enforcers from other Ukrainian regions would be sent to work in the area. “Policemen from the entire country will be working there, including those who got though the filter of fighting during the anti-terrorist operation – in other words guys who were not afraid,” he told journalists. All the policemen who violated their oaths and left their guard posts in Donetsk and Lugansk region have been fired, Avakov said. He added that in some cases, “these people were arrested”.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed the law on the "Purification of the government" on 09 October 2014. The law determines the legal and administrative grounds for examining officials "with the aim of restoring trust to the government and the creation of conditions for the construction of a new system in accordance with European standards." The lustration (a term for the purging of government officials affiliated with the former regime) committees will be created in each ministry. The law says that officials will have to submit consent in writing to undergoing checks, as well as provide an autobiography and a copy of their passport. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk has initially calculated the number of people who may be subjected to lustration at 1 million. The law's main target is Soviet functionaries, security forces and the close entourage of deposed president Victor Yanukovych.

Ukraine's interior minister, Arsen Avakov, said October 29, 2014 that 91 people "in positions of leadership" have been fired from the ministry, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Russian governments. Avakov said the dismissals targeted department heads, including the ministry's regional directorates in Kyiv and Donetsk.

Under the Law on Militia, the major militia's tasks are to a) provide personal security for citizens; b) protect their rights and freedoms; c) prevent and combat crime; d) maintain public order; e) reveal and detect crime; f) arrest offenders; g) maintain safety on the roads; h) protect public and private property; and i) execute criminal sentences and administrative penalties (Clause 2).

The militia is a single system which is incorporated into the structure of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The militia is subordinate to the Ministry and is also accountable to appropriate local Soviets. The heads of regional city militia departments are appointed, after obtaining consent of the local Soviet, by: heads of regional militia departments by the Minister of Internal Affairs; heads of city and district militia departments - by heads of regional militia departments (Clause 7).

The militia consists of several subdivisions: a) criminal division (detectives); b) public safety; c) transportation militia; d) traffic patrol; e) safeguards; and f) special forces (Clause 7). The Law of Ukraine on Combatting Organized Crime has provided for the creation of special divisions, such as regional agencies, to combat organized crime.

According to the Law on Militia, the militia has a right to use physical force, special means, and firearms. The use of force is forbidden against women with obvious signs of pregnancy, elderly people, persons with obvious disabilities, or minors. An exception can be made in cases where a group of these persons is committing an assault which threatens lives and health of people, militia officers, or cases of armed assault or resistance. (Clause 12).

Although some of the budget shortfall is made up by local government subventions, the inability of the state to properly fund and maintain the police has led to an exodus (both involuntary and coerced) of capable cadres, a reduction in the ability to train reliable police officers and criminal investigators, and a sense of betrayal that adversely affects the loyalty of the police. This combination of factors has spawned considerable corruption in the ranks. Most corruption (both fact and fiction) is the usual, insignificant kind, such as the indiscretions among the employees of the State Automobile Inspectorate (GAI).

In some cases, officers and even entire police units have either betrayed law enforcement or been captured by criminal groups, a development dubbed "merging" (srashchivanie) in both Ukraine and Russia. Although no reliable data exist on this kind of corruption, it is clear that police, on occasion, perform services for wealthier, better supplied criminal groups and businesses by looking the other way, providing tips, selling information, or, less commonly, performing criminal acts.

An "internal" passport providing identifying information and specifying a residence address is still mandatory for Ukrainian citizens over the age of sixteen. Four types of Ukrainian documents, each issued by district offices of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, are used by residents of the country:

  1. internal passport ("vnutrishniy passport"),
  2. temporary certification in lieu of passport ("dovidka"),
  3. foreigner's residence permit ("dozvil na prozhyvannya dlya inozemnykh hromadyan"), and
  4. residence permit for stateless persons ("dozvil na prozhyvannya dlya osib bez hromadyanstva").

The latter documents are increasingly being used by former Soviet citizens returning to Ukraine after an interim period of residence abroad during which they did not naturalize in the other country(ies).

In 2001, the Constitutional Court ruled that the "propyska" mandatory registration system was unconstitutional; a new "informational" registration mechanism was planned, but had not been implemented by the end of 2003. Additionally, access to public services such as housing, pensions, medical care, and schooling were still based on the propyska system. In its report on the 2002 Parliamentary elections, the OSCE noted that authorities relied on the outdated propyska system to register voters, since no other system existed.

The law provides that authorities may detain a suspect for 3 days without a warrant, after which an arrest order must be issued. The courts may extend detention without an arrest warrant for an additional 10 days. Suspects who believe that further investigation may lead to their immediate exoneration may petition the court for an additional 15-day detention. The law further provides that pretrial detentions may not last more than 2 months. In cases involving exceptionally grave offenses, the Prosecutor General may petition a judge of the Supreme Court to extend the period of detention to 18 months. The law does not limit the aggregate time of detention before and during a trial. The law permits citizens to contest an arrest in court or appeal to the prosecutor. The Constitution requires that officials notify family members immediately concerning an arrest, but they often did not do so in practice. According to justice officials, changes in the administration of justice made in 2001 have resulted in a decrease of approximately 10 percent in arrest and pretrial detention warrants. The Government occasionally employed such charges as criminal libel or tax evasion to detain persons (usually opposition activists or journalists) who were openly critical of the Government or challenged the interests of powerful business or political figures close to the Government.

Serious allegations persisted that Ministry of Interior officials were involved in killings and kidnappings. The 2000 killing of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze remained unresolved, although it continued to be a subject of active domestic and international interest, including continuing accusations that senior officials in the Government were implicated. Gongadze's decapitated body was identified in November 2000, after his disappearance 2 months earlier. Former Prosecutor General Svyatoslav Piskun had declared the resolution of this case a major priority when he was appointed in 2002, and an evaluation of the investigation by the Council of Europe released in May concluded that his efforts had been sincere and in conformity with general standards in democratic societies. In October, the former head of the Interior Ministry's Department of Criminal Intelligence, Oleksiy Pukach, was arrested in connection with the killing of Gongadze. However, Piskun was fired on President Kuchma's orders on October 29 and Pukach was subsequently released. Piskun had been involved in a number of politically sensitive prosecutions; however, some observers concluded that his dismissal was linked to his aggressive prosecution of the Gongadze case.

The Government asserted that it was conducting a full-scale investigation into Gongadze's disappearance, but members of the media and the public seriously criticized the Government's handling of the case, while others accused the President and other senior officials of complicity. An audio recording allegedly existed that contained conversations between President Kuchma and other senior government officials discussing the desirability of Gongadze's removal. One other recording, allegedly from the same source, had been judged to be authentic. Officially the investigation of Gongadze's killing remained ongoing.

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Page last modified: 19-08-2019 16:37:05 ZULU