UWC Letter to President V. Yanukovych Concerning the Detention of R. Zabilyj
President of the Ukrainian World Congress Eugene Czolij sent a letter to President Victor Yanukovych on September 16, 2010 concerning the recent detention of Ruslan Zabiliy, the Director of the “Lonsky Street Prison” National Memorial. The letter states the following:
On June 21, 2010, the leadership of the Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) presented you with the Memorandum on major issues that pertain to Ukraine and the Ukrainian Diaspora that included the following points:
“[…] Article 15 of the Constitution of Ukraine states that: Censorship is prohibited.
In addition, Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the General Assembly of the Organization of United Nations in 1948, states that:
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
UWC believes that governmental agencies should take all necessary measures to prevent the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms and the return of Ukraine to an authoritarian system of governance”.
On September 9, 2010 “Radio Liberty” broadcast the following report on the State Security Service of Ukraine’s (SBU’s) treatment of Ruslan Zabiliy, the Director of the “Lonsky Street Prison” National Memorial::
“The Director of the “Lonsky Street Prison” National Museum and Memorial to the Victims of Occupational Regimes Ruslan Zabiliy said that the State Security Service of Ukraine arrested him for his work with declassified documents.
Speaking in Kyiv today, Zabiliy recounted how he was arrested the day before at 7:30 AM at the Kyiv Railway Station by six SBU agents who took him to security service headquarters. He was detained there for fourteen and a half hours “without an arrest warrant, denied the right to make telephone calls or to learn the names of the agents who interrogated him”.
In Zabiliy’s own words, he was arrested on a verbal order issued by SBU chief Valeriy Khoroshkovsky. The purpose of the arrest, according to Zabiliy, was to impede his work with previously-declassified materials and to thus limit their circulation.
A laptop computer and two hard disc drives were unlawfully confiscated according to the historian. They contained electronic copies of historical materials and his academic research which, if they are not returned, will be lost.
Zabiliy said he was writing about strategies and tactics employed by the UPA [Ukrainian Insurgent Army during the Second World War]. He said the SBU agents told him to consider instead working as a schoolteacher. They asked about his contacts with foreign academics and whether he had any proof that the documents he is working with do not contain any state secrets.
Zabiliy said he used only documents that were declassified by the SBU in 2008 and 2009 for his work. He said the documents are freely available on the SBU’s website.
[…] Zabiliy said he wrote a statement addressed to SBU Chief Valeriy Khoroshkovsky requesting an explanation and the return of his personal property.
“I demand that Mr. Valeriy Khoroshkovsky explain the actions of the service’s employees and the prompt return of my personal property – computer and external data storage devices. They contain copies of historical documents, my academic research and private information”, according to the statement. The museum director also asked the SBU leadership to explain an order issued by the head of the Lviv oblast SBU to deny museum employees and academic researchers access to their places of employment and computers.”
In connection with the aforementioned, the UWC calls upon you to investigate Ruslan Zabiliy’s case and to explain the actions of the SBU that have become a source of grave concern in Ukraine and the Diaspora.
Given the critical nature of the situation, we request a reply to this letter by September 27, 2010.