Human Rights Violations in Ukraine: Will This Music Last Forever?

It’s not only candidates for the presidency and voters who prepare themselves for elections in Ukraine. The US State Department and the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights also dated their reports on the state of affairs concerning human rights in Ukraine for March 31st, when millions of citizens of this country had to come to polling stations. And if Americans limited themselves to the annual report on human rights practices in 2018, then officials from the UN prepared two documents at once. The first is called Report on the human rights situation in Ukraine during November 16, 2018 – February 15, 2019, and the second is specifically devoted to the pre-election situation: Civic space and fundamental freedoms ahead of the presidential, parliamentary and local elections inUkraine in 2019-2020.

About the same thing, but in a different way

The first thing that jumps into the eyes after reading all the documents is the approach to illuminating the situation in the country. If officials from the United Nations, despite their fidelity to the rhetorical cliches adopted in the West, tried to be objective, then in the document of the State Department the lopsidedness of the presentation of information and the obvious aspiration to let the Kiev regime off the hook is clearly visible.

The US State Department in every possible way tried “not to notice” the negative processes happening in the country that they indeed led to the present situation. Even if it also notes the most flagrant violations of the rights and freedoms of the person by the Kiev regime, it immediately tries to justify it by referring to the “fight against Russian aggression”, “the need to defend national security”, and “countering the hybrid war that is being waged against Ukraine by Russia”.

The purely propaganda nature of the American document is emphasised not only by these phrases. If the UN document operates with such concepts as the military forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic, inserting these names into quotes, then the State Department uses everywhere the expression “Russia led forces in Donbass”. And for them, the conflict in the region “is due to Russian aggression”, and not by the coup d’etat that was carried out by the US in Kiev in February 2014. At the same time, if to judge things by the American document, then practically all negatives in the conflict zone like torture, kidnappings, robberies, murders, and violence happens in the unrecognised republics, but not at all on the territories controlled by the government.

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The most resonant cases like the murder of Oles Buzina and the Odessa massacre are highlighted completely differently in these documents. If the UN High Commissioner depicts the present situation as the total absence of progress in the investigation and its artificial prolongation, then the American cuckoo praises the Ukrainian rooster for the fact that one year, or maybe even two years ago, the latter allegedly finished the investigation. However, they forget to mention that since then no real steps have been taken to punish those guilty of committing these crimes.

However, the American diplomats nevertheless went slightly further than the officials of the UN. If the documents of the Office of the High Commissioner mention simply the right-wing radical groups that create lawlessness, then the State Department nevertheless named one such group – C14controlled by Poroshenko’s SBU.

Nazis and special services – there is no difference

It’s possible to judge that the international community’s “romantic period of admiration” for events in Ukraine has ended, and that the US’ is coming to an end, by the fact that all three documents contain criticism of the Ukrainian authorities. And since we finished the previous section on a “optimistic” note of a mention of ultra-right groups, their activity in human rights violations in Ukraine is noted in all these documents. The only difference is that the UN High Commissioner gives many facts of such acts committed against dissidents and those are objectionable for the current authorities, and the State Department stops only on those cases when promoters of the American view of the situation in Ukraine were “offended”. Moreover, both also mention the fact that the authorities not just refuse to hold neo-Nazis accountable, but in some cases simply cover up the crimes committed by ultra-right groups.

In the reports of the UN there is a whole “bouquet” of acts among the crimes and human rights violations committed by them: kidnappings, extrajudicial arrests and detentions, torture, attacks on journalists, lawyers, and dissidents, punishment threats, obstructing judicial activity, impeding the activity of the media, and persecution on national, religious, and political grounds. The documents also report that often the Ukrainian special services also commit the same “sins”. Especially concerning the persecution of dissidents, journalists, and also the religious figures of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate who the SBU arrest, search, and interrogate in connection with the creation of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine .

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights mentioned in a lot of detail how the authorities indulge in such violations: the police do not intervene in neo-Nazi sabbaths, do not react to the statements of victims, and if someone is nevertheless detained, then the event is qualified as petty hooliganism, and not at all a crime based on the different types of hatred. Unlike the Americans, UN officials openly say that discrimination on religious, national, and linguistic grounds is a consequence of the segregational policies of the Ukrainian authorities, which adopt discriminational laws that purposefully interfere with the observation of the rights and freedoms of citizens. Up to the deprivation of the electoral right of internally displaced persons and also the payment of social benefits (including pensions) to the residents of Donbass who Kiev allegedly continues to consider to be citizens of Ukraine.

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It’s no wonder that in three reporting months the number of human rights violations in the country in comparison with the previous same period increased from 221 cases to 315.

Donbass: statistics against propaganda

Perhaps, the documents of the UN High Commissioner and State Department differ in the most indicative way regarding the illumination of the situation in Donbass. In particular, the fact that members of UN peace-keeping forces are not engaged in propaganda, but provide naked statistics and facts. Thus, they specify that from the ten cases of civilians being killed by shelling that happened during the three-month reporting period, six of them died on the territory of the DPR, three – in the LPR, and one – on the territory controlled by Ukraine. In 2018 121 civilians died due to shelling on the territory controlled by the unrecognised republics (77.6%), 28 – on the territory controlled by Ukraine (17.9%), and 7 people in the “gray zone” (4.5%). Having this data, it is simple to draw conclusions about who is in compliance with the Minsk Agreements.

Unlike the documents of the UN, the American report “fails to mention” the discrimination carried out by the Ukrainian authorities against even those residents of Donbass who moved from the combat zone to the territory controlled by Ukraine. In exchange for proof of their loyalty to Kiev, these people, as is said in the UN report, “cannot exercise their fundamental economic and social rights on equal terms”.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights also mentions flagrant facts of torture, the beating of detained persons by employees of the SBU, keeping such people in secret jails without any paperwork, and also the use of the database of the Mirotvorets website as a reason for arrests. And it’s not at all about the Mariupol “library”, where UN officials will never be allowed to go under any circumstances. Also, persons under investigation who the Ukrainian authorities keep in detention without a trial for more than four years are also mentioned. In particular – the people arrested in Odessa who, by a miracle, were not be killed by the fire.

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Endless horror?

The emergence of all three documents exactly on the eve of the presidential election in Ukraine is not a coincidence, although two of them, apparently, are only reports for a certain period. But together with the third one, it is an obvious signal to the Ukrainian authorities and voters. The signal from the UN High Commissioner on human rights can be easily interpreted: Ukraine, which until recently was admired in the West under the current authorities, at its suggestion and with its connivance, turned into some unimaginable horror where human rights is an empty phrase.

The signal from the State Department is more complicated. Yes, in Ukraine something went awry, but these are only insignificant particulars and small omissions. And for the rest, everything moves in the right direction. If the Ukrainian authorities are indeed guilty of something, then certain responsible persons can be punished. But that music which we ordered in Ukraine will be eternal. So the horror described by UN officials will not end even after the election: the Americans do not see it and do not want to see it.

Aleksandr Gorokhov

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