Media Law Institute continues to teach regional activists the instruments to counter corruption within the framework of Lab of Active Citizens, and during the last week (on 20, 21, and 23 January 2016) conducted the training sessions in three regions: Chernivtsi, Mykolaiv, and Khmelnytskyi. 75 activists took part in the anticorruption project of Media Law Institute, who during a one-day session have learnt to employ effective anticorruption instruments, practical aspects of access to public information, anticorruption legislations, and practical aspects of investigative journalism of corruption schemes. Moreover, as noted by Olesia Kholopik, the manager of the project, “the Lab aims at forming the structural changes in people’s conscience in all corners of Ukraine”.
As the regional activists noted, the problem of “corruption” in every region is characterized by its own specificity and peculiarity. The activist of civil movement CHESNO and the initiative INFOKEY of Chernivtsi region, Olha Obersht, “for the citizens of Bukovina, there is nothing new about unlawful deforestation, local authorities covering unfair tenders, smuggling, allocation of money from the local budget for the work that is not carried out, corruption in universities, etc.”
The anti-corruption issues of Mykolayiv region, as Helena Pozniak explained, are that “unfortunately, the Mykolaiv region cannot demonstrate neither transparent procurement, nor eradication of corruption in universities, nor even roads and high-quality asphalt or prompt cleaning by housing services. These problems are typical from a village to a village, from a district center to a regional center. Most recent elections were held in Ukraine and Mykolaiv city has got a new mayor together with a number of regional centers and village heads that got new mayors as well. The oversight of the community is an essential condition for official “newcomers” not to abuse their position and to do everything they can to make the life of local residents better.”
Adjacent to this, in the Khmelnytskyi region, “problematic “anti-corruption” activities of our area are due to, firstly, the faithlessness of people. Secondly, there is a small number of anti-corruption events such as this training organized in our region. Thirdly, an indifference and unwillingness of people to fight corruption in their own region and with their own efforts are also an important issue,” – explained Alyona Bereza, the coordinator of Lab of Active Citizens in Khmelnytskyi.
What unites all civil activists of all these regions is their common vision of solving the corruption problems, which is “knowledge obtained at the training of Lab of Active Citizens, which help the participants to identify corruption, to inform the public about the unlawful actions, and to help relevant authorities to bring corrupt officials to justice,” – says Olga Obersht.
Furthermore, as reported by the expert of Media Law Institute, Tatiana Semiletko, during the discussion, the participants of the training concluded that in order to force the authorities to comply with the law, it is not possible without the work of civil activists locally. “The active citizens find it necessary to raise the level of legal responsibility for corruption activities and to implement anti-corruption campaigns to raise public awareness about their rights and opportunities in countering corruption,” – said Tatiana Semiletko.
“The program of Lab of Active Citizens includes not only theoretical information on corruption and anti-corruption legislation but also, firstly, it informs civil activists about the practice of access to information from official sources, hot to write official information queries and to use registries. Currently, such a thing as “civic journalism” is developing, and the more people master journalistic instruments and monitor the activities of the governmental authorities, the sooner the Mykolaiv region and the whole country will come out of the regression and turn to the gradual development,” – emphasized Olena Pozniak, the activist-trainer of the Mykolayiv region.
In addition, the coordinator of Lab of Active Citizens in the Khmelnytskyi region explained: “the strength of the Lab is to help to spread the anti-corruption practices and instruments regionally. In addition, Lab of Active Citizens coordinates and organizationally supports such activities in the regions.”
The anti-corruption project of Media Law Institute within the framework of Lab of Active Citizens conducts a one-day practical training, which will train activists to demand transparency of their local authorities regionally, and facilitate the formation of local “anti-corruption centers.” Overall, the project includes the conduct of at least 48 local trainings in Vinnytsya, Dnipropetrovsk, Zhytomyr, Zaporizhzhia, Kirovohrad, Lviv, Luhansk, Mykolaiv, Rivne, Sumy, Ternopil, Kharkiv, Khmelnytskyi, Odessa, Poltava, and Chernivtsi regions.
The project is implemented with the Pact, Uniter (USAID-funded) support.