18th UN Report on Ukraine: The Number of Victims Grows, High-Profile Cases Aren’t Investigated, the SBU Continues to Torture

Translated by Ollie Richardson



Victims among the civilian population of Donbass

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) published a “Report on the human rights situation in Ukraine during the period from February 16th to May 15th, 2017”.

Special attention in the document is paid to the situation in Donbass, where for the fourth year the civil war is ongoing, which is bashfully hidden behind the anti-terrorist operation abbreviation.

In the report the daily violation of the ceasefire regime with the use of heavy arms is emphasized. Decisions of the Tripartite contact group in Minsk “indiscriminate shelling continues to take a heavy toll on civilian lives, property, and critical infrastructure, including those supplying water, electricity, and gas, and also health and educational facilities,” is said in the report.

Between February 16th until May 15th, 2017, the OHCHR recorded 193 victims among the civilian population connected with the conflict in Ukraine, including 36 deaths (21 men, 11 women, three boys and one adult, whose gender hadn’t been established) and 157 injuries.

During the entire period of the conflict, from April 14th, 2014 to May 15th, 2017, no less than 2,479 civilians were killed: 1,367 men, 826 women, 90 boys and 47 girls, and also 149 adults, whose gender hadn’t been established.

In total, from April 14th, 2014 to May 15th, 2017, the OHCHR recorded 34,056 casualties among civilians, Ukrainian military personnel, and members of armed groups as a result of the conflict in Ukraine. This figure includes 10,090 killed and 23,966 wounded.

The report of the UN pays attention to the fact that the Armed Forces of Ukraine place artillery and tanks in settlements and conduct from there attacks on the positions of the enemy, which endangers the civilian population. In addition, cases of the military use by the UAF of civil residential buildings are recorded. There is numerous evidence of marauding and plundering of private houses by the military personnel of the UAF and voluntary battalions, although marauding is forbidden by international law according to the IV Geneva Convention.

Executions, tortures, kidnappings, and sexual violence in Ukraine

In “Report on the human rights situation in Ukraine during the period from February 16th to May 15th, 2017”, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), was given shocking evidence of the actions of security service specialists of Ukraine (SBU), punitive battalions, and the military personnel, in relation to civilians and fighters of the People’s militia of the LPR-DPR.

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The description of these horrors gives the impression that these events occur not in a civilized country that seeks to become a member of the European Union, but in Nazi Germany in the 1940’s, where the Gestapo tortured anti-fascists in torture chambers.

The report gives concrete cases of the torture and murdering of people in SBU dungeons. In particular, members of the UN peace-keeping forces again pay attention to the case of Aleksandr Agafonov detained in 2014 at an outpost in Izium for no reason at all and then brutally tortured by the SBU.

The testimony of the wife of Agafonov: “When they (SBU employees) brought his body back — the heels were blue, the feet were blue. He’s had some traces of punctures on his hands… I don’t know… what they did to him, punctured him or drove the needles under his nails — there were holes on his hands. Each bone has a hole in it. They tortured him like… when there was a real war no one has tortured people the way they tortured him”.

On March 10th, 2017, the body of a man who went missing in Avdeevka on March 3rd was found near Krasnogorovka in the Yasinovatsky region. An employee of the SBU suspected of committing the crime was detained in March, but was released on bail.

In another case, a man discovered in September, 2016, that his house in Pishchane had been looted and set on fire, and that his relative who had been living there was missing. Soon the police found the man’s body with traces of four bullet wounds in a nearby forest.

In April, 2017, two men were detained by police in Artemovsk (nowadays Bakhmut), taken to an unknown location outside the town, where for several days they were beaten and tortured with a stun gun.

During the reporting period the OHCHR documented five cases connected with nine people who were subjected to torture in the premises of the SBU in Kharkov in 2015-2016. In April, 2015, the anti-Maidan activist was detained by unknown persons and brought to the Kharkov SBU building, where he was beaten with a baseball bat and waterboarded.

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Another victim was brought to the Kharkov SBU building on May 29th, 2015. Employees kicked and punched him, demanding that he admitted to terrorist activity.

A wounded militiamen was taken prisoner in April, 2015, and brought to the SBU building in Mariupol, where for five days he was beaten, tortured with an electrocuted, and waterboarded.

In October, 2016, in Marinka, drunk UAF soldiers broke into the house of a woman, beat her, and tried to rape her.

And similar cases are presented in the report. Many crimes are simply not documented because the people living in the zone under the control of the UAF and punisher battalions are simply afraid to contact law enforcement agencies.

Ukrainian justice and investigation of high-profile crimes

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in the report pays attention to a number of resonant cases connected with acts of violence.

In the case of the crimes on Maidan, the OHCHR focuses its attention on the murders of protesters, regretting that “despite efforts of the Office of the Prosecutor General to bring those responsible for the killing of protestors and others during the Maidan events in Kiev, no former senior official has been held accountable”. Thus, in the report there is no testimony of protesters, that they were shot from behind from the “Ukraine” hotel, which was under the control of “Maidan self-defense forces” (in court there already was such a testimony). In addition, the UN is very concerned by the fact that the employees of “Berkut”, who fulfilled their duty for the defence of the constitutional system, went to Russia and now are inaccessible to the Ukrainian court. However, the OHCHR expressed concern about the lack of progress in the investigation into the murder of 13 law enforcement officers during the events on Maidan: those accused of murders under Ukrainian law are exempted from criminal liability as participants of the “revolution of dignity”.

Concerningthe case of May 2nd, when nationalists burned and killed in a different way people in Odessa, the report states: “No progress was observed in bringing to account those responsible for the death of 48 people in Odessa on 2nd May 2014. Actions taken thus far appear selective and suggest possible bias”. The trial concerning the 20 arrested “supporters of federalization” are detained for an indefinite term. It is noted that only the “supporter of the unity of Ukraine” accused of murder are still at large, and their trial still hasn’t begun.

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About the investigation into the acts of violence in Kiev on August 31st, 2015, when one neo-Nazi threw a grenade at troops of the National Guard, it is reported: “investigations have been completed, resulting in the indictment of 15 persons, including four former People’s Deputies from the ‘Svoboda’ party, and two former participants of the anti-terrorist operation in the east of Ukraine. The trial didn’t take place because of the absence of the parties of the victims or witnesses and the inability of the court to form a jury”. None of the judges and witnesses want to risk their own lives. Only one of the accused was condemned, but the sentence hasn’t come into force yet.

The OHCHR positively regards the completion of judicial proceedings concerning 12 former members of the special police regiment Tornado, accused of human rights violations, “including arbitrary detention, abduction, torture, and sexual violence”. The truth consists in the fact that from the 12 sadists, four were released on probation. And none of the condemned were held responsible for the proven murders, having got off with small terms.

Members of the UN point to a lack of progress in the accountability of the culprits in the murder of Oleg Kalashnikov and Oles Buzina in April, 2015. As a reminder, the murderer of Oles Buzina was released into freedom under the pressure of nationalists.

In the report it is also emphasized that: “Ukrainian law enforcement and security forces often refute detainees’ complaints of human rights violations”. It highlights the numerous delays in legal proceedings, which lead to long pre-judicial detention of suspects. Judges simply don’t dare to convict the innocent, which after a change of government they will have to answer for before the law.


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