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30.08.20

Repeatedly beaten by separatists in temporarily occupied Donetsk, Hennadii refused to join the war, so they burnt his identity documents; he spent years at-risk of statelessness, and he nearly died several times. 

Hennadii Orlov now lives in Sloviansk; he recently got his Ukrainian passport. For three years leading up to this point, he was on the verge of statelessness — he had nothing to prove who he was, or even the simple fact that he was a citizen of Ukraine. The journey to get to this point — to be recognized as a citizen of Ukraine, living in Ukraine — nearly killed him. Right to Protection (R2P), a legal advocacy non-profit in Ukraine, recently helped Mr. Orlov prove his identity and re-obtain his documents and his legal status as a Ukrainian citizen. 

Hennadii is turning 40 this year. He was born in Horlivka — 90 minutes by car northeast of Donetsk City, and an area currently under occupation by the Russian backed authorities of the self-proclaimed ‘Donetsk People’s Republic.’ Horlivka, much like most of Donetsk Oblast, is a region in decline—formerly a heart of industry and mining, and now a conflict zone pockmarked by abandoned factories that once provided steady jobs and shuttered mines that once made Donetsk the wealthiest province in the country. But Hennadii never reaped much advantage from the past industriousness of his home because his family was poor, and his parents passed away when he was young, and he has dystrophy in his right hand which makes it hard for him to perform the physical tasks required in the factories and the mines. He always struggled to find steady work, and this persistent challenge eventually led to some bad choices and a jail sentence in Luhansk. 

After serving his time, Hennadii returned home just in time to witness the pro-Russian separatists seize Horlivka’s municipal buildings at the beginning of their occupation. Then, in July of 2014, he witnessed the Battle of Horlivka in which the Ukrainian government attempted to retake the city. The battle lasted over a month and reportedly killed hundreds of civilians and devastated the city, but it made little impact on the demarcation lines. The Ukrainian government and the city’s de facto authorities signed a ceasefire on September 5th of that year, and the separatists maintained control of Horlivka. 

The Battle of Horlivka strained the capacities of the separatists, and as the war dragged on and on, it became critical for them to begin recruiting local civilians into their ranks. In the following years, Hennadii was regularly threatened and robbed by the local militias, and several times he was beaten within an inch of his life. Time and again, however, Hennadii refused to join the fighting. One night in December, 2017, the militia once again broke into his house to threaten and rob him, but this time they also burned his passport. 

After that, Hennadii’s wife and children fled to government-controlled areas where they moved in with her brother in Svyatohirsk. Hennadii couldn’t accompany them because he didn’t have the documents required to cross through the checkpoints. Instead, he says, he crossed illegally — traversing a minefield where he almost set-off a landmine. 

After getting into government-controlled areas, Hennadii travelled to Sloviansk, where he moved in with a friend. His difficulties were far from over, however, because he couldn’t get a job or receive any government assistance because he technically didn’t exist: “I didn’t have anything!” He recalls. “I only had an address in [non-government controlled Donetsk]. They were looking at me like I was a stupid person!” 

After having been on his own for years — with no work, no government assistance, and living apart from his family — Hennadii was despaired by the time he heard about Right to Protection’s legal services. He heard about them through a friend, and he immediately reached out to a local R2P office by phone. Protection Attorney Nataliia Ishchenko took him on as a client, and by the summer of 2019 they were able to obtain Hennadii’s birth certificate. Then, in April of 2020, he got his Ukrainian passport. 

Things still aren’t easy for Hennadi. His wife is working at a kindergarten in Svyatohirsk, but he can’t find work there, so he’s still in Sloviansk. He now has the documents he needs to obtain legal employment, but coronavirus added a layer of complication — very few companies are hiring, and he faces the uphill battle of getting a job after such a long employment gap. However, he remains hopeful, because his situation has improved: “I don’t know how I survived the past 3 years… If not for my friend, who helped me with housing, food and some small side-jobs, I would have probably died from hunger or have gone back to prison.” He’s still worried about providing for his family, but at least, he says, he has his documents. Now he’ll be legally allowed to marry his wife, and — when the opportunity arrives — he’ll be allowed to accept legal employment… At least he now legally exists. 

09.09.19

Olena is an IDP and a student. She studied and received a survivor’s pension. In July 2018, after the end of the academic year, her pension was suspended.

On September 6, 2018, she submitted a certificate of study at the university to the Department of Pension Fund of Ukraine (DoPFU), so in November the payments were reinstated. However, she received her pension only for November. Olena addressed the PFU again. But PFU in a written reply stated that the pension arrears for the previous period (from July 1 to October 31, 2018) will be paid in accordance with the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine (CMU) No. 335 dated April 25, 2018. That is, they promised to pay the arrears on a special Order. The only problem is that the Order does not exist, because the CMU did not accept it.

The girl addressed to CF “The Right to Protection”. Its lawyer Vira Turu applied to PFU and cited the norms of the current Ukrainian legislation regarding the unlawfulness of non-payment of pension arrears. Thanks to this, the dispute was resolved in a pre-trial order – In February 2019, Olena received pension arrears for the entire period.

05.08.19

Ivan Vitaliyevich Sych (the full name is changed, – Ed.) is 58 years old. In 2011, he retired in 2011 and was registered in one of the district offices of the Pension Fund of Ukraine in Donetsk. In autumn 2014, he was forced to move to Olexandrivka village in Kirovohrad oblast. After he was registered by PFU at his new place of residence, Ivan Vitaliyevich’s pension, which was suspended in August 2014, was restored, and he received the pension arrears.
But in November 2016, the local DoPFU unlawfully stopped payments, due to a Сommission on the Assignment (Restoration) of Social Payments to Internally Displaced Persons of the Oleksandrivka District State Administration of Kirovohrad oblast with regard to establishing the fact of Ivan’s absence from his actual place of residence in Oleksandrivka.
Following the reinstatement from 1 December 2017, the local PFU refused to pay the debt for the period from 1 November 2016 to 1 December 2017. Ivan Vitalyevich was unable to defend his rights and protect his proprietary interests, so in March 2018 he appealed to the CF ‘Right to Protection (R2P) hotline for help.
Lawyers in R2P’s Dnipro office consulted with him and took up the case. They prepared a statement of the claim in Kirovohrad District Administrative Court. In early May 2018, the court began proceedings, and on 5 June the claims were sustained. The court ordered the DoPFU in Kirovohrad Oblast to pay the man his due pension, and also to report on the execution of the court’s judgment within a month.
The Pension Fund did not comply with the judgment, so in March 2019 the lawyers of the R2P Dnipro office appealed to the Kirovohrad District Administrative Court. This time they asked for the findings on the DoPFU report, and, in case of failure to submit the report or false information provided in report, to impose a fine on the head of DoPFU for non-compliance with the decision and requirements of the court, in accordance with Article 382 of the Code of Administrative Procedure of Ukraine.
The court imposed a fine on the head of the DoPFU in Kirovohrad oblast for non-compliance with the court judgment, and awarded 50% of this fine to the plaintiff, Ivan Sych. On 18 April 2019, the judgment regarding the obligation to pay the pensioner his due pension for the period from 1 November 2016 to 1 December 2017, was fully executed. And after the Third Administrative Court of Appeal left the appeal of the DoPFU in Kirovohrad oblast without satisfaction in June of this year, the fine was paid and the amount was received by Ivan Vitaliyevich.

05.08.19

Ivan Vitaliyevich Sych (the full name is changed, – Ed.) is 58 years old. In 2011, he retired in 2011 and was registered in one of the district offices of the Pension Fund of Ukraine in Donetsk. In autumn 2014, he was forced to move to Olexandrivka village in Kirovohrad oblast. After he was registered by PFU at his new place of residence, Ivan Vitaliyevich’s pension, which was suspended in August 2014, was restored, and he received the pension arrears.
But in November 2016, the local DoPFU unlawfully stopped payments, due to a Сommission on the Assignment (Restoration) of Social Payments to Internally Displaced Persons of the Oleksandrivka District State Administration of Kirovohrad oblast with regard to establishing the fact of Ivan’s absence from his actual place of residence in Oleksandrivka.
Following the reinstatement from 1 December 2017, the local PFU refused to pay the debt for the period from 1 November 2016 to 1 December 2017. Ivan Vitalyevich was unable to defend his rights and protect his proprietary interests, so in March 2018 he appealed to the CF ‘Right to Protection (R2P) hotline for help.
Lawyers in R2P’s Dnipro office consulted with him and took up the case. They prepared a statement of the claim in Kirovohrad District Administrative Court. In early May 2018, the court began proceedings, and on 5 June the claims were sustained. The court ordered the DoPFU in Kirovohrad Oblast to pay the man his due pension, and also to report on the execution of the court’s judgment within a month.
The Pension Fund did not comply with the judgment, so in March 2019 the lawyers of the R2P Dnipro office appealed to the Kirovohrad District Administrative Court. This time they asked for the findings on the DoPFU report, and, in case of failure to submit the report or false information provided in report, to impose a fine on the head of DoPFU for non-compliance with the decision and requirements of the court, in accordance with Article 382 of the Code of Administrative Procedure of Ukraine.
The court imposed a fine on the head of the DoPFU in Kirovohrad oblast for non-compliance with the court judgment, and awarded 50% of this fine to the plaintiff, Ivan Sych. On 18 April 2019, the judgment regarding the obligation to pay the pensioner his due pension for the period from 1 November 2016 to 1 December 2017, was fully executed. And after the Third Administrative Court of Appeal left the appeal of the DoPFU in Kirovohrad oblast without satisfaction in June of this year, the fine was paid and the amount was received by Ivan Vitaliyevich.[/vc_column_text]

30.05.19

We often have questions about compensation for property destroyed/damaged as a result of armed conflict. This is understandable, as at the end of February 2019 only in Donetsk oblast there were over 12,900 such buildings.

Beyond these statistics and figures there are stories of Ukrainians, ordinary people. They lost their property, they were left without a roof over their heads.  Alexander Dotsenko, a resident of Krasnogorivka was one of them. He appealed for help to the Charity Fund “The Right to Protection” in August 2017. As it turned out, Alexander’s housing was destroyed during the bombing, he was in a place of compact residence. And his only hope to change something for the better is to get compensation for his formerly destroyed dwelling.

So, already on February 2, 2018, our lawyer had prepared a civil suit for collecting compensation from the State for the destruction of housing. May 16, 2018 Marinka District Court satisfied the plaintiff’s claims in full, however, the defendant filed an appeal. Already on September 5, 2018, the Donetsk Court of Appeal overturned the decision completely. So the next step of our lawyers was the submission of a cassation appeal and already on November 21, 2018, the Supreme Court opened the Cassation proceedings on this complaint. As of today, it has been suspended, before consideration by the Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court of another case regarding the recovery of compensation from the state for destroyed housing. What does this mean for those citizens who are trying to get compensation for their housing? It’s all very simple: we will have a decision of the Supreme Court, which can later refer to the lower courts.

P.S. Oleksandr Anatolievich already knows the monitors of the CF “The Right to Protection” who work at Marinka EECP, so he never loses the opportunity to communicate. He was able to communicate with other representatives of our Kyiv office: the President of the CF “Right to Protection” Alexander Galkin and the project manager Maria Aliekseenko, who are now visiting the regional offices of the CF “The Right to Protection” and the EECPs. Such visits are crucial for us  because it is impossible to understand the problems of those who turn to us for help, to draw a further scheme of action without such direct communication.

22.03.19

https://www.facebook.com/right2protection/videos/612128609192474

Every day asylum seekers turn to us. Due to certain life circumstances they found themselves in Ukraine. Escaping from the war, humiliation, all kinds of discrimination they want Ukraine to become their 2nd home.
Niger citizen Issa Allasan arrived in early 90s, in 96 he graduated. Being a tuareg by birth he could not return home. This national minority is being persecuted in his country. Besides, in his youth he took part in anti-government student demonstrations for democracy. Issa had no other choice but to become an asylum seeker, he has been remaining in this status for the last 15 years.

One day, Issa put a letter into our complaint box …