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Ukraine: Reports Of Human Rights Violations Increase

Washington, 26 February 1999 (RFE/RL) - The U.S. State Department says Ukraine's human rights record during 1998 was mixed, with limited progress in some areas and serious problems in others.

The conclusion is contained in the department's annual report on the status of human rights in Ukraine and nearly 200 other countries around the world. The reports are required by the U.S. Congress.

In its report on Ukraine, the State Department says there were more reports of human rights violations in Ukraine last year than in 1997. It says the increase was due primarily to infringements on freedom of the press and reports of government interference in the parliamentary elections last March.

The report noted that Ukraine's criminal justice system has been slow to reform. Prison conditions, it says, are harsh and police and prison officials regularly beat detainees and prisoners.

The judiciary -- says the U.S. -- is overburdened, inefficient and lacking in adequate funding and staff. What's more, the report says political interference and corruption continue to affect the judicial process.

The State Department also said the economic conditions in Ukraine were adversely affected by the near collapse of the Russian economy. The report says Ukraine is making a difficult transition from a centrally planned to a market economy. It says that while the private sector continued to grow, Ukraine remained in a serious economic crisis.

The U.S. report also concluded that the government continued to intrude inordinately on the lives of ordinary citizens last year. The report cited interference with press freedom, mostly in connection with the March elections, as well as persistence of significant restrictions on freedom of movement, non-Orthodox religious groups, and freedom of movement.