HL Deb 05 March 1991 vol 526 cc65-6WA
Lord Avebury

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What information they have about the arrest of Mr. Stepan Khmara, a deputy of the Supreme Soviet in Ukraine, on 13th November 1990, and the subsequent arrest of two witnesses to the incident which led to his arrest; whether they will make inquiries about the identity of the man with whom Deputy Khmara was involved in an altercation, following an attack by the man on a young woman, and whether they will obtain a report on the proceedings against Mr. Khmara from their Embassy in Moscow and place a copy in the Library of the House.

Lord Reay

Stepan Khmara is a Ukrainian Supreme Soviet deputy, a member of the Rukh (nationalist) movement and a former political prisoner. The reports we have received of the events leading to his arrest on 13th November are confused. He was involved in an incident after the 7th November 1990 Revolution Day parade in Kiev. It was alleged that Khmara assaulted a militia officer who was in plain clothes at the time; he was positively identified on film taking part in a scuffle with the officer.

Following the incident, Mr. Khmara's parliamentary immunity was revoked and he was arrested. This provoked strong protests from his nationalist colleagues in the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet. Mr. Khmara began a hunger strike on 26th November which he ended on 12th December. His trial was due to begin on 20th February, but has been postponed to allow further investigation. He is still in custody with his parliamentary immunity suspended. We understand that the trial is now likely to go ahead some time in March. We have asked our Embassy in Moscow to obtain full details of the trial when it goes ahead. If it becomes clear that Mr. Khmara has been the victim of harassment for his political views, we shall raise his case, along with other examples of human rights abuse in the Soviet Union, with the Soviet authorities.