Ukraine: Appeal ruling on Communist Party ban due

On July 6 Ukraine’s Administrative Appeals Court had to announce its decision on whether to accept the Communist Party of Ukraine’s (KPU) appeal against its banning.

The Kiev District Administrative Court ordered the dissolution of the party in December last year, the culmination of months of persecution and harassment by authorities and right-wing militias since the Western-backed coup that overthrew the country’s government in February 2014.

In its appeal, the Communist Party denounced the ban as “illegal.” It has appealed to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the Venice Commission, a body of the Council of Europe that deals with constitutional law.

Greek lawyer Ioannis Chakiantoniu told the court the ban violated five articles of the European Convention on Human Rights — “the right to a fair trial, to freedom of opinion, freedom of expression, freedom of association and nondiscrimination based on ideology.”

Ukrainian communists protested outside the court, chanting: “No ban of the KPU!,” “KPU for peace,” “The real opposition is the KPU” and “Down with the war on the Donbass!”

The court has said unexpectedly it will await a ruling by Ukraine’s constitutional court over whether the decommunisation law is constitutional before deciding on the appeal. So the court will announce its decision much more lately.

The Interior Ministry’s formal reason for banning the party rests on the accusation that it supports anti-fascist resistance forces which have declared autonomous “people’s republics” in Donetsk and Lugansk, two Russian-speaking areas of the country’s east which revolted against the new regime three years ago.

The far-right government that has held power since then rejects Ukraine’s Soviet past, instead honouring nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera, whose Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists played an active role in the massacre of Jews and Poles as part of the Holocaust.

Monuments to Holocaust victims have been torn down, as have those to Red Army heroes and statues of Lenin as part of a “decommunisation law” that criminalises positive references to the USSR.

The Communist Party, which won 2.7 million votes and 32 parliamentary seats in the last pre-coup elections in 2012, says the government is desperate to snuff out the only political party with a solution to the country’s economic collapse. Gross domestic product today is still less than two-thirds its level in 1990, when the Soviet Union began to unravel.

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