The story about the internally displaced scholar Ihor Kozlovsky showed that Ukraine discriminates IDP pensioners.
A few days ago Ukraine was outraged by the news that a famous Ukrainian IDP scholar, a former detainee, Ihor Kozlovsky was suspended his pension payments. Olga Gvozdova, the coordinator of the Donbas SOS, was one of the first to report to the officials on this decision on the Facebook.
The formal cause of this decision was scholar’s departure abroad. After he was released from the captivity, Ihor Kozlovsky repeatedly had informal diplomatic missions abroad. During the visits, he presented the situation in Ukraine and the human rights violations in the non-government controlled territories to European high officials.
In fact, the Ukrainian officials punished him for his assistance in improving the image of Ukraine, for his speeches in London, and Brussels at the European Parliament session.
The Pension Fund of Ukraine (PFU) decision outraged human rights defenders. Deputy Speaker of Parliament Irina Gerashchenko informed on this issue the members of parliament (MP) and the President of Ukraine at the Verkhovna Rada session. As a result, PFU reinstated pension payments on 22 June, paid debts for May and June, and charged an additional payment.
The problem seemed to be solved, but only for Ihor Kozlovsky. Hundred thousands of Ukrainian citizens affected by war and occupation remain without their pensions.
The system of pension payments developed by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine is aimed to monitor the movement of IDPs and deprive them of social protection if they are not at the place of registration. In fact, the state blacklisted citizens affected by war and those forced to leave the hostilities zone. A person is forced to choose between the right to free movement and the opportunity to receive the pension. The Pension Fund does not take into account why IDPs leave their place of residence. The term is the only importance.
Medical treatment? Business trip? International meeting with European high officials to improve Ukraine’s image? If you were not at home at the time of checking or the Security Service of Ukraine registered you crossed the border, your pension will be suspended. The debts for this period will be paid back only after “special order”, which has not been developed yet, is adopted.
“It took just few days for officials to reinstate the pension payments to the famous Ukrainian scholar from Donetsk. But how long does it take for them to reinstate the pension payments to ordinary citizens who were also affected by the war and occupation? Would high officials call the Presidential Administration or speak at the Verkhovna Rada session when it comes to not one but hundred thousands of citizens? Of course, not.
The fact that only well-known citizens of the country can success in pension reinstatement, those who were spoken in defense by high officials, proves that the system is malfunctioning” – Valeriia Vershynina, programme manager of the Liaison Officer (RADNYK) Programme.
The Ihor’s Kozlovsky story proves once again that Ukraine has a purposeful policy to discriminate its citizens affected by war and occupation. Unpaid pensions, restrictions on voting right, stigmatization are just some of the policy components. However, those responsible for depriving the citizens of their pensions, forget that access blocking to pensions is a direct violation of the Constitution of Ukraine and international law. The pension is the property of a citizen. Restrictions on this property are a violation of international legal norms. Thus, this violation inevitably entails responsibility.
Human rights defenders have repeatedly claimed about the state’s responsibility to its citizens. Draft law No. 6692 was developed to restore the pension right for citizens affected by war and occupation. The draft law covers the pension payment to all citizens of Ukraine in the government-controlled territories, regardless of IDP certificate and place of residence.
*Manusmriti (Code of Manu) is an ancient legal text of Hinduism, the code of conduct for ancient Indian society.