“Ukrainian People’s Tribunal”: There Is a Need to Recognise the Illegality of Ukrainian Neo-Nazism

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard



In Donbass the hearings of the Ukrainian People’s Tribunal (UPT) created to investigate the war crimes committed by Petro Poroshenko’s regime began.

Concerning the prospects of the activity of the “UPT” “Politnavigator” spoke to the Lugansk public figure Sergey Belov.

What served as the reason for the creation of the Ukrainian People’s Tribunal? The defendants are far away, and the quantity of crimes grows with each passing day. What are the real prospects?

“Our structure was created quite recently, but we prepared for its creation for more than three years – we collected materials about the crimes of Poroshenko’s regime, studied regulations, etc.

After the adoption in Ukraine of the ‘Law on the reintegration of Donbass’, we understood that it is time for us to also introduce something in the information and legal field, and we appealed to a wide range of public figures with the offer to act. During consultations it was decided that the appropriate format is a tribunal. Back then an initiative group of lawyers was created, who were engaged in forming the framework of our organisation.

However painful it may be, the Republics try to implement the conditions of the Minsk Agreements. We want justice, but we see that Ukraine again tries to cross out the Agreements. The adoption of the ‘Law on reintegration’ and the recent statements of Poroshenko absolutely clearly show that Kiev doesn’t have the slightest intention to implement them. It is possible to say that it became the last straw when the understanding that we need respond finally arrived.”

Why “Ukrainian” tribunal? Why not “Donbass Tribunal” or “Tribunal of Novorossiya”?

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“It is clear that the outlook of the inhabitants of Donbass already doesn’t accept the mentality of Ukraine; they don’t perceive themselves as citizens of this country, but it is necessary to understand that from a legal point of view we are citizens of Ukraine. And it is exactly for this reason that we have the right to call ourselves the ‘Ukrainian People’s Tribunal’ and to judge these people under Ukrainian laws.

When Ukrainian troops and punitive battalions began armed actions against the people of Donbass, all of this happened under the auspices of establishing order on the Ukrainian territory. I.e., Kiev perceived Donbass as its territory and its actions had to adhere to Ukrainian legislation and the Constitution. In such a case the Ukrainian government and the ordinary implementors of its orders should to be judged under Ukrainian laws.”

Kiev’s crimes were already earlier documented in the “White Book”. What is the conceptual difference from the “Ukrainian People’s Tribunal”?

“The main difference from the ‘White Book‘ is that in this book crimes were simply documented, while we give them a full legal assessment and hold court sessions. We should speak out, and not just to fill media space, but to also pass into the legal sphere. After all, it’s not that we just have photo and video documents, but we also prepared materials for criminal cases.

In our work we use the testimonies of eyewitnesses and people who were directly present during events. Naturally, we are thus guided by the data that is published by international human rights organisations, but the fact is that they are guided by the international legislation on defending human rights, but we, first of all, speak about the Criminal Code of Ukraine and its Constitution.”

After all, it concerns tens of thousands of crimes, and maybe even more. And besides, its number grows every day. Aren’t you frightened by the volume of work?

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“So far we have chosen the brightest cases, although it is clear that any tragedy, any element of the horror that Ukraine brought to Donbass is beyond what’s reasonable. During one of the first hearings the airstrike on the building of Lugansk Regional State Administration was considered. Regardless of what the Ukrainian media tries to cynically say about the explosion of an air conditioning unit and so on, this was seen by all the city. Many people saw this jet with their own eyes. There are incontestable testimonies, including no less than 27 videos that we considered during our first hearing. It is precisely with such proof that we try to guide our work.

At the same time, if to draw parallels with the tribunal over fascists before the tribunal in Nuremberg took place, there were many intermediate stages, and some them happened on the territory of the USSR.

That’s why our work is the first step. First of all, we must condemn the ideology of Ukrainian neo-nazism and give a legal assessment of Kiev’s actions. I think that the entire mass of Ukraine’s crimes will be considered after the implementation of the Minsk Agreements, when Ukraine’s legal system returns to life.”

What do you think – is Kiev able in general to implement the Minsk Agreements? To what extent is Kiev open for negotiation?

“I don’t believe that by making decisions and laws limiting the constitutional rights of the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine and subsequently the population of Donbass, the Kiev authorities didn’t understand that it’s illegal and with guarantee will lead to bloodshed. That’s why for me they are simply inhuman.

The negotiability of Kiev is minimum. It is left only to hope that sooner or later the countries that have the opportunity to influence the Ukrainian government, but who so far have closed their eyes to its crimes, will be compelled to recognise that there isn’t any ATO, but that there is a conflict of a non-international character. In fact – a civil war. There is an attempt to commit genocide on the grounds of cultural, historical, and linguistic belonging. And when this understanding will come, those who govern Ukraine at the time will be forced to resolve the conflict. But as of now Kiev is sure of its own impunity, its negotiability is almost zero.

There is the desire to believe that the activity of the ‘Ukrainian People’s Tribunal’ will become the first step towards the world community recognising the crimes of the Kiev authorities. Awareness of its illegality and the fact that Kiev isn’t ready to implement the Minsk Agreements and to move toward improving the situation.”

We will hope for the best. Thanks!

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“Thanks to you too!”

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