Supporting the Strategic Litigation Fund

1. Providing legal aid

In November 2007, UHHRU with the support of Oxfam Novib began creating a single network of advice centres providing free primary legal assistance for disadvantage people. The network is consist from 12 advice centres (CAB). The centers work in Kherson, Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Kirovohrad, Lviv, Ternopil, Konotop (Sumy oblast), Luhansk, Severodonetsk (Luhansk oblast), Donetsk, Sevastopol and Kyiv. All advice centers provide at least 10 thousand consultations within a year.

The advice centers work according to standards regarding record-keeping, procedure and rules of work, ethical norms. In addition, work has begun on creating communication channels between the centres and ensuring an efficient information flow.

Every human rights organization make public their schedule of admission hours, maintain a record of the received complaints on human rights violations as well as monitor the efficiency of the provided assistance. In severe cases of human rights abuses, these organizations not only provide consultations but also represent interests of victims of human rights abuses in courts. Particular attention devoted to the vulnerable groups including the disabled, people living with HIV/AIDS, etc. In addition, the centers organize the periodical mobile consultations on legal issues to the underprivileged citizens which reside in small towns and villages.

2. Supporting the Strategic Litigation Fund

UHHRU defends human rights via the lodging of strategic law suits. Anybody can approach UHHRU with questions regarding legal assistance. The only stipulation is that copies be provided of main material (court rulings, civil claims etc). The Fund works strictly in accordance with clearly defined Regulations and cases are selected by a panel of experts.

The strategic litigations are the cases that besides defending rights and freedoms of a particular citizen are also aimed at changing legislation, administrative and judicial practice. Defending successfully in such cases positively influences the realization of rights of many people in the future. The aim of the Fund is not just to defend a person's rights in a specific situation but also to do as much as possible to eliminate the root cause to avoid such occurrences in the future. Successful strategic litigations promote change in the authorities' behaviour, in court practice, legislation and other spheres which directly relate or influence infringements of human rights.

UHHRU has a four-year experience of the Fund operation that proved to be a very effective and efficient mechanism of countering the systematic and large-scale human rights abuses.

Our cases in European court on human rights: Pashuk v Ukraine, Kamyshev v Ukraine, Matsyuk v Ukraine, Bulavko v Ukraine, Murdugova v Ukraine, Ukrainska Helsinska spilka z prav lyudyny v Ukraine and others.

Good examples of the Fund's work in 2007 were the following:

1) The Vadim Hladchuk case

Vadim Hladchuk, head of a civic organization "Youth - Ukraine's Hope" was one of a group who had been picketing the Tender Chamber for a month.

On1 August he was detained by police, supposedly to review his statement alleging unlawful behaviour by National Deputy Tkachenko in breaking his video recorder during a previous picket outside the Chamber. It was only in the police station that Vadim learned to his incredulity that he was accused of a robbery involving construction instruments which happened two years ago. He had, incidentally, been in Kyiv throughout that period but had received no summons or any other communication from the police.

Over the next few days he was subjected to ill-treatment which resulted in his being hospitalized in a serious condition.

HHRU publicly issued two demands for Hladchuk's immediate release and for the management of the Ministry of Internal Affairs to closely monitor an investigation into the case.

The court released Vadim Hladchuk and terminated the criminal investigation into an alleged robbery. A judicial investigation is presently underway on compensation for damages inflicted by the unlawful behaviour of the police. A complaint has also been lodged with the European Court of Human Rights on violations by the State of Articles 2, 3 and 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

More on the case can be found at:

2) The Lemma Susarov Case

Lemma Susarov, a Russian Federation national, fled from the Chechen Republic to Azerbaijan at the end of 2005. In 2006 the UNHCR office in Baku declared him a prima facie refugee, issuing him with registration number 6030. Number 6032 was given to Ruslan Yeliyev from the same village. According to Lemma Susarov, the two men lived in the same flat. In the evening of 9 November 2006 Ruslan Yeliyev was abducted. Fearing for his life, Lemma Susarov fled to Ukraine.

At the end of March 2007, the website "Kavkaz Centre" posted a report saying that the mutilated body of Ruslan Yeliyev had been dropped in a sack from what was believed to have been a Russian helicopter near the village he was from. The Ministry of Internal Affairs for the Republic of Ingushetia declared Lemma Susarov on the international wanted list. He was accused of taking part in the theft of mobile telephone cards worth around 220 USD. Mr Susarov denies any involvement.

On 16 June 2007 Mr Susarov was detained by men in civilian clothes who he thinks were officers of the Ukrainian Security Service [SBU]. According to his lawyer, Oleg Levytsky, a bag was thrust over his head and he was dragged away, being beaten and threatened with being handed over to be dealt with by an FSB [Russian Federal Security Service] Major. It was only in the evening that Susarov was taken to a police station where he was held without lawful grounds until 25 June (rather than the legally stipulated 72 hours).

On 20 July the Solomyansky District Court in Kyiv sanctioned Susarov's remand in custody. On 27 July the Prosecutor General passed a decision to hand Susarov over to the Russian enforcement agencies. On 6 August the Kyiv Court of Appeal ruled to hold him in custody "until the question of his extradition was resolved."

At the present time the appeal against the decision to extradite him is under examination at the Kyiv District Administrative Court. An administrative suit is being prepared to the State Committee on Nationalities and Religious Affairs over the refusal to grant Susarov refugee status, as well as an application to the European Court of Human Rights.

More on the case can be found at:

3) The Mikhail Gangan Case

On 31 December 2007, Mikhail Gangan, one of the organizers of the March of those in dissent [Marsh niesoglashnykh] movement in Samara was detained at the Vinnytsa Railway Station by officers of a Ministry of Internal Affairs Department for Fighting Organized Crime in cooperation with the Russian security service.

The young man is a member of the National Bolshevik Party which is banned in Russia. He has faced a number of trumped up charges under the Administrative Offences Code for organizing and taking part in non-violence acts of protest. In 2004 he was one of those arrested and given a three year suspended sentence for seizing a presidential administration reception office. One of the other 38 activists involved, Vladimir Lind., was recently awarded 15,000 Euro by the European Court of Human Rights who found that Russia had violated three articles of the European Convention on Human Rights: prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment, the right to liberty and security and the right to respect for private life.

For taking part in the March of those in dissent in Samara on 18 May 2007 charges were brought against Gangan of supposedly violating the rules of his conditional sentence. He fled to Ukraine and was sentenced in his absence to three years imprisonment.

Documents were presented on the day of Gangan's detention to the Vinnytsa Regional Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs confirming that Gangan had approached the UNHCR office with an application to be granted refugee status in Ukraine. However the court which received Gangan's file ruled to remand him in custody while the request to extradite him to Russia was being considered.
UHHRU appealed the ruling and Gangan was released. Yet for some time the Department for Fighting Organized Crime and the Prosecutor continued to demand that he be remanded in custody pending a decision on extradition.

During an open court hearing, the Zamostyansky District Court in Vinnytsa examined the application from the Department for Fighting Organized Crime to remand Gangan in custody and identified a number of serious infringements of the law and rejected the application.

The court also supported Gangan's application and issued a separate decision addressed to the Vinnytsa Regional Prosecutor ordering the latter to carry out a check into the actions of the officers of the Department for Fighting Organized Crime regarding possible offences with regard to the Russian asylum seeker.

More on the case can be found at:

4) The Case of Major General of the Armed Services Serhiy Savchenko

Three years ago Serhiy Savchenko sent his relatives from Iraq $47.5 thousand dollars. The money was discovered at customs and Savchenko was accused of smuggling. According to the law he had ten days in which to fill out a declaration. He was not given this opportunity however, and a criminal investigation was immediately launched.

UHHRU took the case under its control and provided Mr Savchenko with a lawyer. The result was a second acquittal which left no grounds for doubt that he was innocent.

On 28 December UHHRU published a press release on the results of the successful examination into Mr Savchenko's case.

This work was supported by the International Renaissance Foundation and Oxfam Novib (the Netherlands).


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