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Creation of network of free legal aid to servicemen. The first step is taken.
On the left Roman Romanov, director of “Human Rights and Justice” program of the International Renaissance Foundation, Myroslav Lavrinok, deputy director of Coordinating Center for Legal Aid Providing, Volodymyr Bondarenko, head of Kyiv city state administrationPhoto by Anna Martynyuk
On the left Roman Romanov, director of “Human Rights and Justice” program of the International Renaissance Foundation, Myroslav Lavrinok, deputy director of Coordinating Center for Legal Aid Providing, Volodymyr Bondarenko, head of Kyiv city state administration

To establish cooperation and unite efforts between representatives of non-governmental organizations, voluntary movements and authorities that are engaged in providing free legal aid to ATO participants in round table was held on July 7 in the building of Ukrinform.

Today the need for legal support of military personnel grows. A lot of organizations and initiatives help soldiers successfully, but not always cooperate and share experience with each other. The Ukrainian Legal Aid Foundation, the International Renaissance Foundation and the Coordinating Center for Legal Aid Providing undertook certain actions to improve the situation.

They invited main providers of free legal aid to ATO participants and members of their families. Then the idea of creating a network of specialists in providing free legal aid to ATO participants was presented and approved. Participants of the meeting plan to pay attention of authorities to the existing problems of military personnel and to influence the decision-making process.

Myroslav Lavrinok, deputy director of the Coordinating Center for Legal Aid Providing told about work of 100 newly created local Community Law Centers and problems soldiers face during the registration of the status of the participant of military operations.

Antonina Bondarenko, program director of the Ukrainian Legal Aid Foundation, noted that today’s participation of each of the audience on a round table is very important and the daily help to ATO participants is our mission. We have to do it step by step, so that this help will be qualitative and efficient and encourage participants not for discussion, but for open dialogue.

Natalya Bimbirayte, head of the network project “Increasing the level of legal protection for soldiers, ATO participants and members of their families by providing legal aid and conducting monitoring” noted that in the conditions of the military conflict in Ukraine it is extremely important for ATO participants and their families to be able to exercise freely the rights avoiding judicial red tape. The project lawyers provide legal aid in various ways: conduct field consultation, advise on complicated issues over the hotline, carry out personal reception, answer legal questions online. In her opinion, till now the state fails to solve soldiers’ legal and psychological problems. Natalya hopes that in the future experts that can help ATO participants and members of their families will work in each field of legal aid.

Maksym Shcherbatyuk, program director of the Ukrainian Human Rights Helsinki Union noted that the task of the public consists in ensuring control over the implementation of the state guarantees, especially those provided to military personnel.

Artur Derevyanko, head of the State Service of Ukraine for War Veterans and ATO participants, reported that the state including the President of Ukraine are personally interested in the solution of the existing problems, told about the decisions and actions made directly by his department. In return he called the participants of the meeting to unite efforts for the sake of achievement of better results.

Dmytro Prymachenko, coordinator of the “Circle of Trust” project, shared the method of work with soldiers by the equal-to-equal principle that is used by his organization and partners. He attracted attention of the participants of the meeting not only to legal, but also to psychological needs of soldiers.

At the end of the meeting the participants and organizers of a round table came to conclusion that cooperation of CSOs, state institutions and initiatives is the most topical issue for today. All agreed to work in partnership, to hold joint events, to prepare and submit recommendations to authorities for the sake of improvement of quality of providing free legal aid to ATO participants and members of their families.

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