There is limited information concerning the location, number, capacity and condition of bomb and radiation shelters near Kyiv.
Do residents of Kyiv’s suburbs know where to hide from Russian bombs?
“No to corruption!” has tried to check out bomb shelters outside Kyiv – in Brovary and Brovary raion – only to learn that the information is classified. That’s at least what officials claim.
Brovary is Kyiv’s closest suburb. The highway and railroad to Moscow runs right through the town. If Russian troops will ever invade Kyiv – they will go through Brovary.
Inquiries and open sources
An NTC reporter decided to get information on bomb shelters from official institutions in Brovary municipality, Brovary county, and Kyiv oblast. The responses proved to be controversial but illustrated that there is limited access to this information and officials refuse to make it available.
In response to my request, the Brovary district administration and Brovary City Council reported that the information on the location of shelters”cannot be provided.” Both bodies have limited access according to the law “On State Secrets”.
A more detailed request was also unsuccessful. City officials preferred to keep mum about the number of shelters, as well as their preparedness to accept people and their capacity.
The Brovary City Council referred to Article 8 and Part 6 of the Law”On Access to Public Information,” and claimed that the disclosure of such information could cause harm to society and the state.
The State Administration of Kyiv oblast also declined to provide the requested information.
At the same time, all of the institutions I approached told me that I can learn how to protect myself and my family by contacting the local departments of the Ministry of Emergencies (Civil Protection).
Interestingly, the information on the number of shelters in Brovary and their preparedness, which the local administration declined to provide, was made public by local officials back in April.
Brovary Deputy Mayor Hryhoriy Holubovsky told a session of the city council that the town has eight conventional bomb shelters and 21 shelters that can protect people against radiation. Mr. Holubovsky also assured that it is possible to take shelter in the basements of 212 residential buildings.
The officials of Kyiv oblast State Administration admit that the laws and state civil construction codes contain no such term as “bomb shelter.” Instead, there are civil protection facilities like anti-radiation shelters and emergency shelters. They stated that dual-use facilities and even simple shelters can be used to protect the population during emergency situation both in peacetime and times of crisis..
Holubovsky said that as of this April, only one shelter on the list was fully prepared for its intended use. Most shelters are “partially ready.”Fifteen shelters are totally unprepared.
Similarly, while the raion administration declined to disclose data concerning the number of shelters in the country, the data was made available by officials earlier in 2014. According to Brovary SBU data, there are two shelters in the country. However, their location is classified…
Spying for spies?
Numerous media reports suggested that our special services lack professionalism and merely imitate the hunt for terrorists.
‘No to Corruption!’ maintained an unbiased and judgmental approach – but here’s the story.
The officers of the Brovary SBU department took an interest in the person who inquired about the bomb shelters and called for an interview.
The journalist agreed to take the interview. Security officers said they would check anyone who showed an unhealthy interest in classified information that may be gathered for the benefit of the enemy.
They asked about the purpose of my inquiry on the bomb shelters,and whether the officials in charge provided me with more info than was necessary.
When I in turn asked why the information on shelters was classified considering that citizens need to know where to run in case of danger, I did not receive a clear answer.
I was only told that in times of peace every bomb shelter is considered a secret object. And since neither in Ukraine nor in any of its regions martial law was formally imposed, this is troubling indeed…
Lawyers: information on shelters shall be open to public
Lawyers from the organization “Media Law Institute” disagree that the information on the number of shelters, their condition, location, capacity, and food and water stocks may be classified.
However, they agree that information about deployment, command centers, and combat preparedness may be classified in accordance with the applicable legislation (Part 1, Section 1, Article 8 of the Law “On State Secrets”).
Confidential information may include information related to defense, which is not classified as a state secret (Section 2, Part 1, Article 9 of the Law “On Access to Public Information”).
However, in accordance with paragraph 2 of Article 6 of the Law “On Access to Public Information,” such a restriction can be imposed if one or more of the following circumstances occur:
1) Solely in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public order, prevention of civil disorder or crime, for the protection of health, protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of justice;
2) The disclosure of such information would cause substantial harm to those interests;
3) The harm caused by the disclosure of the information outweighs the public interest in receiving it.
In this case, according to the Institute of Media Law, the potential harm due to the disclosure of such information does not outweigh public interest in receiving the information. The lawyers point out that the need to adopt measures to improve access to bomb shelters and safety protocol in the event of danger supersedes the possibility of threats following the broadcast of such information. In this case, the possible damage from spreading such information is negligible.
The lawyers believe that the fact that the issue has been the subject of heated public discussion, broadly covered by the media, can serve in favor of disclosure of such information.
IML lawyers maintain that that given the urgency of the issue, it would be useful to try and use legal mechanisms to push public authorities to provide such information.