While Ukraine is on its path of reform process, an example comes from a courageous woman, Larisa Golnyk, that reminds Ukrainians how difficult it is to change the system but mostly, how difficult it is to have courage.
On the occasion of the 14th Congress of Judges of Ukraine she has once again the courage to face the ghosts from the past to improve the future. Larisa is from Poltava, judge without judgmental power, she has the courage to send a strong message to her colleagues, to remind them and the whole society the real reason of the revolution of dignity, the blood in the hands of corruption.
What I am proposing here below is my own “google translation/interpretation” of an article in Ukrainian.
In the article of UkrainskaPravda she starts with her memory back in 2014, with the decision that changed completely her life and the life of her family: to judge on the case of the Mayor of her town, Poltava, accused of conflict of interest. Since then, her personal Calvary started; not just her own but also her family’s had to be involved as victims of retaliations. People from the little circle around the Mayor started to threaten Larisa and creating actions to boycott all her actions to bring the accused Mayor to court: ad hoc business trips or, even better, ad hoc sickness and special treatments just for one day, just the day of the hearing. Besides pressure on her work, Larisa had to be concerned on her personal security and security of her family since a relative of the Mayor gave private life’s details to media, including home address, phone numbers and other kind of contacts. All the Mayor’s efforts turned against her being reported to the highest authorities of the Judiciary, in order to remove her from the case and, mostly, to buy time (?!). She was under pressure while trying to be honest in her job. For instance, she was approached once by a member of the Mayor’s cabinet informing her that the mayor would go to court if he would know the decision in advance. The case was closed due to expiration of bringing the offender to justice while Larisa was repeatedly reported to violate criminal proceedings and attacks against her and her family members. What I find very courageous in Larisa is her determination to continue, even after her husband was “told” to buy a metal door for her garage.
However, retaliation is on its way. Her judicial dossier was brought to the High Qualification Commission of Judges, to the Parliament of Ukraine and the High Council of Justice. The only institution that is close to Judge Larisa is the Parliamentary Committee on Preventing and Combating Corruption and, after that, the anti-corruption agencies that finally are clarifying the last two terrible years of her life, closing the circle of absurdities. To speak before the Parliamentary committee, Larisa had to go to Kiev and she was reported by her administration as absente from work, for two days and so on any time she goes somewhere in her institutional role. She paid with her own money each day she was protecting the Judicial system against dishonesty and immorality.
Larisa was alone and she has no support from her colleagues. She had to face incredible indifference or even hostility from many colleagues that, as duty and authority, they are to uphold the law but she still keeps positive on her colleagues and the judges all over Ukraine: there are honest people and judges working without fears.
On the occasion of the extraordinary congress Larisa has a piece of advice for her colleagues: the judges have to change, have to be transparent and open or the indignation of the nation will capture them. “We must listen to the reasonable complaint from the public” she says and “we must propose ways to improve the system and change legislation if needed”.
It is a very strong advice. In these days, the case of Larisa is in the agenda of many NGOs and civil society organisations that are supporting the reforms in Ukraine. Larisa is a woman that has “the spirit of Maidan inside her. She can be considered as the personification of the change in Ukraine because, indeed, Ukraine is changing despite the obstacles and difficulties”.