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Human rights activists will bring the National Bank before a court for discrimination of Crimean Ukrainians

As announced at a press conference on 14 November, human rights groups asked the court to abolish unlawful provisions of the National Bank of Ukraine Decree №699 as of 03.11.2014 that discriminate against Ukrainian citizens residing or registered in Crimea. Currently, Crimeans have limited access to basic banking services, including opening of accounts, currency exchange, payments, etc.

 
Serhiy Zayets, expert of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, Roman Martynovskyi, expert in anti-discrimination of the Regional Centre for Human Rights, and Anastasiya Martynovska, who experienced discrimination from NBU because of her place of registration in Sevastopol, filed a case against NBU. During the press conference, they discussed risks of these unlawful provisions for Ukrainians, dangerous consequences of the NBU's decision for business, ways in which the Decree is a greater threat to Ukrainians who decided to leave the occupied territory than those who remained in the ARC.
 
Human rights activists believe the NBU's Decree to be discriminatory, since it contradicts national law and violates the rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs), Ukrainian citizens from the ARC. As a moderator of the press conference Maryna Hovorukhina noted that if and when such decrees are passed in Europe, relevant officials resign. "We do not know whether it will happen in Ukraine, but we do know that we have faced discrimination," emphasized Ms. Hovorukhina.
 
Serhiy Zayets underlined that equating Crimean residents to non-residents of Ukraine makes this document discriminatory. IDPs who are unable to register on Ukrainian mainland encounter some problems as a result of the NBU Decree.
 
As an individual private entrepreneur, Anastasiya Martynovska (who is a Ukrainian citizen registered in Crimea) was denied the right to open an account for running her business. The decree was quoted as grounds. In addition, Crimean or Sevastopol registration is the reason for banks to refuse Crimean Ukrainians in buying foreign currency. As noted by Ms. Martynovska, "this makes you jump over certain hurdles, but also sometimes makes you feel yourself a second-class citizen in your own country."
 
Roman Martynovskyi is sure that during the development and adoption of these discriminatory regulations, the National Bank failed to consider the necessity of an antidiscrimination review. The expert noted that this decision run afoul of a number of legislative acts: the Constitution of Ukraine (Art. 24), the Law of Ukraine "On protection of rights and freedoms of citizens and legal regime of the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine" (Art. 18), the Civil Code of Ukraine (Art. 29) and others.
 
In essence, the Decree results in only partial application to Ukrainians residing or registered in Crimea of all acts of the National Bank, which regulate issues related to the circulation of money, and opening bank accounts. Crimean Ukrainians are thus considered non-residents. Therefore, human rights activists insist on the abolition of certain provisions of the Decree, namely, sections 1, 6, 7 and paragraph 3 of section 2.
 
The press conference was organized by the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, the Human Rights Information Centre, the Strategic Litigations Platform, and the Regional Centre for Human Rights with the support of UNDP Ukraine and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.