Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
The third committee of the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday by a majority vote adopted a resolution condemning the human rights violations that are allegedly taking place in Crimea and the “illegal establishment by the Russian Federation of laws, jurisdictions, and management” on the peninsula. Thus Russia in the document is called the “occupying State”.
This time 71 states, including EU countries, Canada, and the US voted for the document, which was adopted by the UNGA for the first time last year. 25 countries voted “no”, among them – Russia, Armenia, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Myanmar, Serbia, Syria, and the Republic of South Africa. 77 more delegations, mainly African and Latin American countries, abstained.
This year the text of the resolution underwent essential changes. It contains an appeal to Russia “to take all necessary measures to immediately put an end to all violations and infringements of human rights concerning the inhabitants of Crimea”, including “arbitrary detentions, tortures, and another cruel, inhuman, or dignity degrading kinds of treatment”, and also “to cancel all discriminatory legislation”. Besides this, the Russian Federation is asked “to respect the laws existing in Ukraine and to cancel the laws entered into force in Crimea” since March, 2014, and “allowing to carry out compulsory evictions and confiscation of private property in Crimea in defiance of the applicable rules of international law”.
Among other demands made in the document to Russia are the cancellation of the decision on recognising the “Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people“ as a extremist organization, the cancellation of conscription for inhabitants of Crimea, providing access to the peninsula for international observers, and providing “availability of education in the Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar languages”. In addition to this, Moscow is called to “completely and immediately” execute the resolution of the International Court of Justice from April 19th, 2017. In it some demands of the Ukrainian party were satisfied, including concerning the Crimean Tatars, however the statements of Kiev about the “aggression” that is allegedly taking place, “occupations”, or about the status of the peninsula weren’t supported.
In the document adopted on Tuesday, the 3rd committee of the General Assembly condemned the “temporary occupation of a part of the territory of Ukraine by the Russian Federation – the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol”, and declared the “non-recognition of its annexation”. Besides this, the UNGA praised Ukraine for its efforts undertaken aimed “at putting an end to the Russian occupation of Crimea”.
Over the period of a month the document, the coauthors of which were about 40 countries – including Georgia, Great Britain, Moldova, the US, and Turkey – will be considered at a plenary session of the United Nations General Assembly. Last year a similar resolution was supported by 70 States, while 26 countries voted against it and 77 abstained.
Theater of absurd
Submitting the draft resolution, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine Sergey Kislitsa claimed that the situation with human rights in Crimea “continues to worsen”, and Russia, “being the occupying State, continues to harshly trample on its obligations”. He gave excerpts from the report of the leadership of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), according to which in Crimea there are “murders, tortures, oppressions, illegal detentions, and kidnapping”, and also “prosecutions of journalists, activists, and human rights activists”. According to him, the inhabitants of Crimea “remain citizens of Ukraine”, and Kiev is committed to providing them “their fundamental rights and freedoms”.
Kislitsa came for a meeting with the leader of the “Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people” – forbidden in the Russian Federation – Mustafa Dzhemilev and his deputy Akhtem Chiygoz. “They are heroes, without exaggeration, who oppose the Russian occupation, for the people, for Crimea, for a united Ukraine,” proclaimed the deputy minister.
Having taken the floor, the Director of the department of humanitarian cooperation and human rights of the Russian Foreign Ministry Anatoly Viktorov admitted that he can’t “get rid of the feeling that we are in some theater of the absurd, in which there is no logic, but the main idea is extremely clear”. According to him, the text proposed by Kiev “represents another attempt by Ukraine to use topic of encouragement and protection of human rights to push forward their political purposes”. “Its contents are much more disconnected with reality than last year’s opuses of the Ukrainian delegation. The main aim is obvious: it is not about caring for human rights, but about one of links in a chain of Ukraine’s desperate efforts to try in any way to change the status of Crimea contrary to the will of its population that was clearly expressed at the referendum in 2014,” said the diplomat.
An attempt to justify military provocations
As Viktorov declared, “drawing a false picture” of the events in Crimea, Ukraine “seeks to switch attention from its own numerous systematic human rights violations – such as torture, forced disappearances, discrimination on ethnic, linguistic, and religious signs, political prosecutions and attempts to violate freedom of expression”. According to him, the authors of the document “persistently try to present the situation in Crimea as a certain armed conflict”. He assumed that this is done in order “to create pseudo-legal justifications for military provocations and adventures”, and warned that the countries that supported the resolution “will share responsibility” for the consequences of these “extremely dangerous fantasies of Kiev”.
The diplomat drew attention to the fact that in the resolution approval of “the actions of Kiev in relation to Crimea” is expressed. “Thus, the authors of the document hold back what in reality these actions represent. Probably, in modern Ukraine water, transport, trade, and energy blockades, the attempts to organise sabotage, and discriminatory restrictions on movement signify efforts aimed at maintaining communications, and, in turn, the and obstacles that are so actively placed by Kiev in front of the work of media, trampling on freedom of expression, censorship, the persecution of journalists in the imagination of the authors is indeed the simplification of access to objective information,” noted the representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, having noted with regret that these actions are being supported by the US, the European Union countries, and Canada, which imposed sanctions against Crimea.
Anatoly Viktorov warned that support for the draft resolution “will send a false signal to Kiev that it can continue its policy of discrimination and human rights violations in Ukraine”, and also “will give the Ukrainian government the impression that it won’t bear any responsibility for the blockade of Crimea and attempts to commit sabotage concerning the Russian peninsula”.
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