UN calls for probe into Ukraine torture as military issues warning to Yanukovich

posted at 8:01 am on January 31, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovich went on sick leave this week, but that’s not stopping people from attempting to get his attention — inside and outside of Ukraine. The most ominous message comes from Ukraine’s military, which told Yanukovich today to find a way to settle the conflict soon. The message obliquely warns that any further escalations might become their business:

Ukraine’s armed forces on Friday urged embattled President Viktor Yanukovych to take “urgent steps” to ease the crisis in the ex-Soviet country, entering the fray on the political crisis for the first time.

“Servicemen and employees of Ukraine’s armed forces…have called on the commander-in-chief to take urgent steps within the limits of existing legislation with a view to stabilising the situation in the country and reaching consent in society,” the defence ministry said in a statement. …

“The servicemen and employees of the armed forces called unacceptable the seizure of state offices, preventing representatives of state and local authorities from fulfilling their duties,” the statement said.

They “noted that a further escalation of the confrontation threatens the country’s territorial integrity,” the statement added.

One could read that in several different ways, which the military no doubt intended. Since the message is directed at Yanukovich — the commander-in-chief of the military — it might mean that either he gets control of the situation, or they will. To the opposition, it might sound like a warning that any more building seizures will not get a police response but martial law. Either way, it works to light a fire under Ukraine’s parliament to figure out how to address the situation before they become irrelevant to it.

The very fact that the military feels the need to enter the political realm, and address their own C-in-C in doing so, sounds as though the military wants its distance from Yanukovich, which can’t be good for his “illness.” On the other hand, they may want that distance in the event of a UN investigation into the practices of the police and other security organs in Ukraine, which the UN high commissioner for human rights has now demanded:

The UN’s human rights office on Friday called on Ukraine to launch an independent probe of deaths, kidnappings and torture amid raging political unrest.

“We are appalled by the deaths reported in recent days in Kiev, which should be promptly, thoroughly and independently investigated,” said Rupert Coville, spokesman for the UN high commissioner for human rights.

“We are also calling for an investigation into reports of kidnappings and torture,” he told reporters.

Colville’s comments as a missing Ukrainian opposition activist was found badly beaten, saying his captors cut off his ear and drove nails through his hands.

Dmytro Bulatov, a 35-year-old activist from the Avtomaidan group that organised protests against President Viktor Yanukovych, stumbled into a village outside Kiev more than a week after his wife first reported him missing.

If the Ukraine military has nothing to do with these incidents, it would make sense for them to start standing more at arm’s length from the Yanukovich regime. Any UN investigation would take months just to start, let alone conduct the probe, and a domestic settlement of the political crisis would likely involve amnesty for the top officials involved (including Yanukovich, which is why he was reportedly open to remaining President while the office devolved to figurehead status). If that’s not forthcoming, then everyone will be running away from Yanukovich.

Meanwhile, the US weighed in today on the crisis. Secretary of State John Kerry asked other countries to stay out of the crisis — a warning to Russia — and dismissed Yanukovich’s proposed reforms as not “sufficient”:

Kerry, speaking with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier during a visit to Berlin, also said “outside powers” should not get involved in a crisis that he said was for the Ukrainian people to resolve.

“The offers of President Yanukovich have not yet reached a level that would be sufficient regarding the reforms,” Kerry said, according to a German translation of his remarks.

In other words, the US aligns itself with the EU and against Russia in this crisis. We’ll see what impact that has on the situation, but it’s a sideshow compared to what the military may have in mind.


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…are they like our country’s DOJ?…they’ll find nothing!

KOOLAID2 on January 31, 2014 at 8:03 AM

Ruh roh

cmsinaz on January 31, 2014 at 8:06 AM

Kerry, speaking with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier during a visit to Berlin, also said “outside powers” should not get involved in a crisis that he said was for the Ukrainian people to resolve

…yep!…wrong faith!

KOOLAID2 on January 31, 2014 at 8:06 AM

” Secretary of State John Kerry asked other countries to stay out of the crisis — a warning to Russia..”

Another red line?

percysunshine on January 31, 2014 at 8:07 AM

Civil war in the heart of Europe. This is what a world without the US looks like.

kcewa on January 31, 2014 at 8:10 AM

The UN’s human rights office on Friday called on Ukraine to launch an independent probe

No. NO! Dear Gawd NOOOO! Not the UN Human Rights Office! Anything but that! OMG NOOOOOOO!

Please. The UN did nothing while French UN peacekeepers raped African women and girls, they’ll do nothing here either; this is all for show and everyone knows it.

Bishop on January 31, 2014 at 8:12 AM

”Secretary of State John Kerry asked other countries to stay out of the crisis — a warning to Russia..” percysunshine on January 31, 2014 at 8:07 AM

I’d say Russian has a logistical advantage over the US in this contest.

Akzed on January 31, 2014 at 8:16 AM

” Secretary of State John Kerry asked other countries to stay out of the crisis — a warning to Russia..”

Another red line?

percysunshine on January 31, 2014 at 8:07 AM

Putin had to be briefly hospitalized due to extreme laughter-induced stomach cramps.

Bishop on January 31, 2014 at 8:21 AM

TSA is perhaps the only organization which calls for more probes than the UN. They are all meaningless exercises in faux-diplomacy.

When the UN’s human rights office calls on Ukraine to launch an independent probe of deaths, kidnappings and torture amid raging political unrest; what they are really saying is “hire us” to investigate.

Happy Nomad on January 31, 2014 at 8:22 AM

Please. The UN did nothing while French UN peacekeepers raped African women and girls, they’ll do nothing here either; this is all for show and everyone knows it.

Bishop on January 31, 2014 at 8:12 AM

I took a tour of the UN building in New York a few years ago. Amid the propaganda about landmines and famine, we were told that the tour would only be of the public spaces since the UN was a “working organization.” I don’t think I entirely hid my snort.

Happy Nomad on January 31, 2014 at 8:26 AM

Flexibility!

iceman1960 on January 31, 2014 at 8:36 AM

Flexibility!

iceman1960 on January 31, 2014 at 8:36 AM

Given where Obama and Kerry’s heads are located, flexibility is a must.

Happy Nomad on January 31, 2014 at 8:40 AM

Given where Obama and Kerry’s heads are located, flexibility is a must.

Happy Nomad on January 31, 2014 at 8:40 AM

It’s cold outside, they need to keep their ears warm.

Flange on January 31, 2014 at 8:59 AM

The UN’s human rights office on Friday called on Ukraine to launch an independent probe of deaths, kidnappings and torture amid raging political unrest.

That always works…about as effective as Obama’s or Kerry’s strongly worded memo’s…

right2bright on January 31, 2014 at 9:05 AM

Gee , how come the “let’s get them Syrian rebels” politicians are all professionally busy ignoring this?

Obama (tell us about the Ukrainian movie that caused this);John Kerry (it’s not ketchup that’s flowing over there); Hillary? Hillary? (what difference does it make now?) Bishops?

Oh well, back to those Christie caused traffic-jammed bridges.

Don L on January 31, 2014 at 9:17 AM

This has been circulating for awhile but a friend just e-mailed it today and it seems apropos:

“Negotiating with Obama is like playing chess with a pigeon. The pigeon knocks over all the pieces, sh*ts on the board and then struts around like it won the game.”

…Vladimir Putin-2013

Drained Brain on January 31, 2014 at 9:22 AM

The Crimea in Southern Ukraine has historically been Russian. It was Khrushchev who gave the Crimea to the Ukraine for some unknown reason during Soviet times. In the Crimea they speak Russian not Ukrainian. They consider themselves to be Russian.

My people in Sevastopol tell me that the Russian speaking soldiers from the Crimea are the ones being sent to Kiev to stop the Ukrainian speaking rioters.

IMO if Putin sends troops into the Crimea they will be welcomed by the population as liberators. Sochi, Russia is not far from the Crimea and Putin has 30-40,000 troops stationed there with nothing to do after the Olympics are over.

Some believe that his intervention in Georgia was meant as a warning to the Crimea.

It seems that Civil war is a growing possibility and Russia will not stay out of it. Crimea is too important for its military access to the Black Sea.

Kaffa on January 31, 2014 at 9:54 AM

If you are interested in the Ukraine situation I would suggest going to streetwiseprofessor.com. He has some of the most interesting articles on the Ukraine situation and he has long been my favorite blog on happenings in Russia.

For example, he is the only one I have read who talks about Putin’s problem- Wanting to take action in the Ukraine but concerned about the effect that would have on Sochi.

theo22 on January 31, 2014 at 10:04 AM

Someone said that it was the end of history, when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. Peace throughout the world would flourish. Now 25 years later the world looks more like 1939 than ever. There will not be peace in my lifetime.

SC.Charlie on January 31, 2014 at 10:11 AM

It seems that Civil war is a growing possibility and Russia will not stay out of it. Crimea is too important for its military access to the Black Sea.

This, and all of what you wrote is the subject of Tom Clancy’s last book. This is a terrible situation.

rlwo2008 on January 31, 2014 at 10:46 AM

Obama’s Blundering and sabotage of the Missile Shield has brought the whole region into turmoil.

Good job, Mr. President.

portlandon on January 31, 2014 at 11:20 AM

Ukraine, China-Japan, the Middle East. The world war is already starting to spread. This isn’t just going to get better because Kerry says so, though he probably believes it will. Our leaders are so lost, and people want to put Hillary in charge. Good God.

change is for suckers on January 31, 2014 at 11:29 AM

Flash ……………… the United States does not and has never ruled the world. Do your remember the Cold War and Red China under Mao? Presidents sometime have to roll with the changes that we can’t control. However, Obama has been an utter failure at foreign policy. American military power has to be maintained ……….. Obama and Democrats just don’t seem to understand this fundamental idea.

SC.Charlie on January 31, 2014 at 12:07 PM