Long-term observation mission and support of Ukrainian civil society

  • 10.01.2014
  • Author: Redakcja

Euromaidan - previous activities of the Foundation

In the period of November-December 2013, the Open Dialog Foundation organised three observer missions, concentrated around the activities of Ukrainian civil society in connection with mass protests on the so-called ‘Euromaidan’ in Kiev. Apart from representatives of the Foundation, the missions were joined by Polish parliamentarians, members of the parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs, the European Union Commission and the Polish - Ukrainian Parliamentary Group: Michał Jaros, Tomasz Makowski, Marcin Święcicki, Michał Szczerba.

In addition, in December 2013, the Foundation co-organised three music concerts on the main stage of the Euromaidan: Polish rock bands; Metka and The Stylacja and the New Year's Eve’s concert featuring the British musician, Neil Taylor. Also, on 30 December, the Foundation funded and organised the purchase of equipment (smartphones, portable hard drives, video cameras, etc.) at a value of approximately $4,000 for the organisation of EuroMaidan SOS and OZON, providing support to protesters - mostly victims of the use of force by the police and so-called ‘unidentified perpetrators’.

On 9 January, 2014, the Open Dialog Foundation published a report on the events related to the Euromaidan, documenting civil rights violations and abuse by state authorities against participants of the protests, organisations and civil initiatives supporting them, as well as independent journalists.

Observations and lessons learned from the above mentioned missions reinforces our conviction about the need for the continuation of the activities carried out previously, with a significant broadening of their scope. In this connection, the Foundation Board and Management Board of the Foundation have decided to organise a long-term mission to Ukraine, aimed at monitoring the violations of human rights and supporting local civil society.

The concept of the mission is based on the conviction of the need for a transition from moral and symbolic support to specific actions, aimed at providing direct help to participants of the protests in Ukraine and long-term strengthening of the potential of  Ukrainian civil society by the European Union.

Objectives and tasks 

The mission’s activities will focus on several areas:

- Monitoring of the violations of human rights on the basis of clearly defined target groups.

Participants in the protests on the Euromaidan and independent journalists, reporting the events, students (at risk of losing scholarships, expelled from universities, etc.), participants of the Automaidan protest action. The results of the activities carried out by teams of mission members will be constantly updated in a special report constituting a list of individual human rights violations divided by the current legal status (the charged, the arrested, the convicted, the missing, etc.), place of residence (specific detention facilities, hospitals, other countries, location unknown, etc.). categories of infringements (battery, threats, arrests, etc.),  interventions undertaken and planned activities, including their schedule (for example, observation of court hearings on individual days). The acquired information will be distributed among the EU institutions and the EU Member States, NGOs and media outlets along with requests for specific forms of support, for which the Foundation will carry out lobbying activities in the EU.

- Organisation and coordination of the observation missions and international support.

Assistance in planning the programme of stay and organisation of logistical issues for the interested politicians, journalists and representatives of NGOs from EU countries. The plans include such activities as visits to detention centres, prisons and hospitals, meetings with the families and lawyers of imprisoned victims of oppression, observation of politically motivated trials, interventions in bodies of state administration and with key Ukrainian politicians.

- Information activities, promoting awareness among Ukrainian civil society.

Sharing knowledge and increasing awareness about the European Union and international issues, the rights of participants in protests, principles and techniques of peaceful civil self-organisation. The activities will be carried out on the basis of daily contact of the teams of volunteers with participants of the protests and residents of Kiev, supported by the distribution of information materials regarding the EU. In addition, the mission will organise events with lectures and discussions regarding the above named thematic areas with the participation of speakers from the EU and Ukraine, supported by a system of video conferencing and video materials.

The Foundation is also considering extending the listed activities outside Kiev, taking into account both the cities with the dominant pro EU bias (due to numerous cases of oppression against activists as well as persons and institutions, supporting them), and the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine (due to the specific needs of information regarding the true nature of the possible integration of Ukraine into the European structures). 

Principles of organisation

The first phase of the mission will include a three-month period from 17 January to 17 March, 2014. Depending on the situation in Ukraine, the mission could be extended. The constant presence of a dozen or so Polish volunteer groups (with a minimum 12 people)
in Kiev, in a specially arranged urban space (dedicated tent – at the centre of the mission on the Euromaidan and an office in a rented apartment in Kiev) are assumed.

Volunteers (mission participants) will be recruited from among NGO activists and independent civil activists of the young generation. The work of volunteers will be based on two or three-person teams, in which at least one member of the team will speak Russian and/or Ukrainian languages. Volunteers will be equipped with mobile communications means, including fixed wireless Internet access, badges and symbols of Polish - Ukrainian and EU- Ukrainian solidarity.

In connection with several-week-long duration of the missions, cyclical rotation of volunteers is expected. Shifts of volunteer groups consisting of several people will be organised in a way which facilitates a smooth continuation of tasks and collaboration with participants of previous shifts (partly parallel presence of ‘new’ and ‘old’ groups).

Volunteers - mission participants will be assisted by representatives of the Foundation: the press office employees and members of the Kiev team (in Kiev, the Foundation has a permanent team of several analysts who speak the Ukrainian, Russian and English languages). Mission operations will be managed by each representative of the Warsaw headquarters of the Foundation.

The mission participants will be accommodated in private apartments. The Foundation provides volunteers with full board and the necessary financial resources to cover everyday expenses.
In emergency situations, the manager of the mission will be able to arrange alternative accommodation, transportation and other support for the Mission participants.

Partners

The Mission is organised in cooperation with: 

  • EuromaidanSOS - The organisation bringing together social activists, lawyers and journalists; it was established soon after the founding of the Euromaidan. It co-ordinates the provision of assistance to the victims of oppression at Independence Square.
  • The Automaidan initiative – It organises peaceful protests of motorists. They became famous, among others, due to their assistance to victims of aggression and blocking streets against the attacks of BERKUT units.
  • International Center for Policy Studies (ICPS) is one of the leading independent Ukrainian think-tanks dealing with the issues of development and analysis of current political problems.
  • the Spas Cossack Brotherhood of Military Traditions – a partner of the non-governmental organisation ‘Democratic Alliance’, ensuring the safety of protesters on the Euromaidan. 

Financing of the mission

The first phase of the mission will be financed using funds of the Foundation with the barter support of the mission’s partners and individuals - residents of Kiev, providing accommodation in their private apartments. The scale of operations and the continuation of the mission, however, depends on the securing of external financing.

About the Open Dialog Foundation

The Open Dialog Foundation was established in Poland, in 2009, on the initiative of Lyudmyla Kozlovska (who is currently the President of the Management Board). The Foundation was built on experience and contacts gained during the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004, and in subsequent years within the framework of international co-operation and activities of Ukrainian student organisations and civic movements.

The statutory objectives of the Foundation include protection of human rights, democracy and rule of law in the post-Soviet area. The Foundation pursues its goals through the organisation of observation missions, including election observation and monitoring of the human rights situation in the CIS countries. Based on these activities, the Foundation creates reports and distributes them among the institutions of the EU, the OSCE and other international organisations, foreign ministries and parliaments of EU countries, analytical centres and media.

In addition to observational and analytical activities, the Foundation is actively engaged in cooperation with members of parliaments involved in foreign affairs, human rights and relationships with the CIS countries, in order to support the process of democratisation and liberalisation of internal policies in the post-Soviet area. Significant areas of the Foundation's activities also include support programmes for political prisoners and refugees.

Particular attention of the Foundation is focused on the largest CIS countries: Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.

The Foundation is funded by donations and grants from individuals, companies and institutions, both Polish and international. So far, the Foundation has received material and financial support from, among others, the City of Lublin, Visegrad Fund, Foundation for Democracy in Russia, Kasparov Chess Foundation Europe, Goethe-Institut, Gazeta Wyborcza, the Theatre Institute, the Polish Ministry of Culture, the Polish Ministry of Administration and Digitisation among others.

Financial statements and annual reports on the activities of the Foundation are submitted to the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and are available on the Foundation’s website.

Statutory bodies of the Foundation are the Management Board and the Foundation Board. The current President of the Management Board is Lyudmyla Kozlovska, and the Head of the Foundation Board is Bartosz Kramek.

The Foundation’s headquarters are located in Warsaw. The Foundation has permanent representatives in Brussels, Paris, Prague and Kiev.

More on this topic: ODF, Ukraine, EuroMaidan