Ukrainian Human Rights NGO in Berlin: Europe Should Not Turn a Blind Eye to Human Rights Violations in Ukraine

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


European politicians must pay attention to the serious violations of human rights and the lack of the rule of law in Ukraine. Being guided only by communication with the authorities and “pocket” civil society financed by grants, Europe risks losing touch with real Ukrainians. This was stated by Nataliya Natalina, the head of the board of the Uspishna Varta” human rights platform, following the results of the annual “Berlin Autumn Talks 2018” conference that took place on November 14th in Berlin.

The conference was organised by the public organisation “German Russian Exchange” (DRA), with the assistance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany, the Senate of Berlin, and also the Heinrich Böll, ZEIT, and Berlin Wall foundations.

This year the “Berlin Talks” discussed the need to develop and search for viable solutions for civil co-operation after the completion of the armed conflict in Donbass. It considered the experience of countries that passed through a stage of post-war justice (the former Yugoslavia, Northern Ireland, North and South Caucasus), as well as the experience of post-war Germany.

The former deputy head of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Eastern Ukraine Alexander Hug noted in his speech that in terms of solving the Donbass conflict it is important not to search for who is guilty, but to look for a solution to the issue: when and how to end it. “Too many opportunities to end the conflict in Donbass remain unused, too many chances were missed. Despite the promises, the conflict continues. Many have the desire to find the culprits. But it is necessary to answer this question in a legal manner. It is necessary to combine the efforts of civil society and persons making decisions. This will give opportunities to find solutions to the second issue: after the conflict has ended, developing measures that would lead to the normalisation of the situation,” stressed Hug in his speech.

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The Division Head for Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova at the Federal Foreign Office of Germany Hans-Peter Hinrichsen noted during the event that priority number one for Ukraine is reforms and the fight against corruption. According to him, Ukraine needs a number of judgments on corruption to become a lawful state. According to him, the future of Ukraine is decided not in Donbass, but in Kiev.

Valentina Cherevatenko, Chairwoman of the board of the “Women of the Don” Union, spoke about the results of research – a series of interviews with women on both sides of the line of demarcation in Donbass. According to the Russian human rights activist, if interpersonal discussions in 2014-2015 were filled with aggression and the aspiration to convince at all costs, in 2018 this policy was squeezed out by disappointment, the importance of others and their views decreased. Friendship and close ties again became more important for people than politics.

The head of the “Uspishna Varta” human rights platform Nataliya Natalina emphasised the fact that in general the question of the conflict in Donbass being discussed at international actions is positive. At the same time, the format and unilateral accents of such discussions, in her opinion, won’t lead to any notable results concerning the issue of searching for ways to solve the conflict in Donbass. Representatives of Ukrainian civil society who are supported by European structures and are financed by grants create a unilateral picture of reality about the situation in Ukraine.

“At the international level there is a block on information about the journalists and public figures possessing alternative viewpoints who are sat in Ukrainian prisons – more than 400 social network users were detained; about the lack of any possibilities to hold a peaceful assembly that criticises the authorities; about propaganda on Ukrainian TV channels controlled by the President; about the incitement of a religious conflict; about the activity of the ‘Mirotvorets‘ website; about the aggression of far-right ‘activists’ from ‘C14‘ and ‘National Corpus‘. I and my colleagues from ‘Uspishna Varta’ are working to bring this information to European politicians and structures as much as possible,” stressed Natalina.

As a reminder, the “Uspishna Varta” human rights platform took part in the annual Human Dimension Implementation Meeting(HDIM) conference, organised by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights in Warsaw from September 10th to September 21st, 2018. In addition, within the framework of this conference, on September 11th, “Uspishna Varta” held a round table (Side event) on the topic “The right to freedom of speech and opinions in Ukraine: threats and opportunities”.

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