UN report blasts “pro-Russian separatists” in Ukraine for human-rights violations

posted at 8:41 am on May 16, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

The UN warned that the human-rights situation in eastern Ukraine is deteriorating rapidly, but they don’t put the blame on the Ukrainian government. Most of the blame, according to a new report released this morning, belongs to the so-called “pro-Russian separatists” that have seized buildings and power locally in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The “impunity” of armed groups and their attacks on peaceful demonstrations of dissent have turned the region into an arena of humanitarian crisis:

Armed groups are increasingly undermining the rights and basic freedoms of people in eastern Ukraine, the United Nations said Friday, expressing concern at the rising number of killings, abductions, beatings and detentions of journalists, politicians and local activists.

“Primarily as a result of the actions of organized armed groups, the continuation of the rhetoric of hatred and propaganda fuels the escalation of the crisis in Ukraine, with a potential of spiraling out of control,” the United Nations said in its second report on the issue in a month, which was released simultaneously in the Ukrainian capital Kiev and in Geneva.

The actions and impunity enjoyed by armed groups “remain the major factor in causing a worsening situation for the protection of human rights,” the United Nations said.

The report, compiled by a 34-strong team of human rights monitors in the capital, Kiev, and four other cities, names only the “Slovyansk self-defense unit” in the eastern city of Donetsk but reports several instances of attacks by other pro-Russian activists on rallies in support of Ukrainian unity and against lawlessness. “In most cases, local police did nothing to prevent violence, while in some cases it openly cooperated with the attackers,” the report states.

The United Nations expressed particular concern about increasing abductions and unlawful detentions in eastern Ukraine that appeared to be targeting journalists and to be controlled by the Slovyansk unit, reporting that by May 5 it was aware of 17 unlawful detentions in the Donetsk region alone.

This puts an altogether different light on the referenda held this past weekend in the region. Russia in particular claimed legitimacy for the results, which supposedly showed that 9 in 10 Ukrainians in the area wanted independence from the government in Kyiv. This report shows that the people whose support Russia claims have been oppressed and intimidated into acquiescence — or worse.

Russia laughably complained about the legitimacy of the UN’s investigation:

“The complete lack of objectivity, blatant discrepancies and double standards leave no doubts that (the report’s) authors were performing a political put-up job aimed at clearing the name of the self-declared authorities in Kiev,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

Discrepancies and double standards certainly sounds applicable to the referenda, too — even in Crimea, which Russia used as an ex post facto validation for its seizure of the peninsula. AFP has a report on Donetsk which gives a decently objective view of the situation there:

The US and Europe are looking at expanding the sanctions if Russia doesn’t back down in eastern Ukraine before the May 25th elections:

Although Western nations have threatened additional sanctions against Russia, Hague said they were not willing to give an “exact definition” of what would provoke them or what form the measures would take.

“If we set a red line, Russia knows that it can go up to that red line,” he said at a news conference. “Efforts to disrupt the election may take many different forms. That’s not something we can define in advance,” but it will be “what determines the attitude of the whole Western world” toward Russia.

In separate comments, Secretary of State John F. Kerry said, “If Russia or its proxies disrupt the election, the United States and those countries represented here today in the European Union will impose sectoral economic sanctions as a result.”

Asked whether the West would be watching for direct Russian interference or hold Moscow accountable for the actions of the pro-Russian separatists, Kerry said a judgment would be made based on “attitude and behavior.”

“I’m not going to start laying out the whole series of definitions except to say to you that it is clear what proxies mean,” he said.

A senior State Department official said earlier that “we have been pretty clear in being able to pinpoint and expose . . . when Moscow’s hand has been behind past disruptions.” The official added, “We’ve seen it in the past — we’ve seen personnel, we’ve seen money, we’ve seen weapons, we’ve seen coordination, we’ve seen actual actors. So all of those things are possible again in this context.”

The “red line” phrase is an albatross anyway, especially in regard to Russia. It’s better for the West to be ambiguous on this point after the embarrassing overstep on Syria. The West should already have applied sectoral sanctions long before this — long before Crimea’s annexation, but certainly in its immediate aftermath. Had the West acted with strength at that time, Russia may not have been so bold in eastern Ukraine, and the human-rights crisis may have been avoided.

The problem with ambiguity, though, is that it makes it too easy for the West to claim that the threshold for action wasn’t met, even if Russia is still interfering in the Ukrainian election. They need to discredit the May 25th vote in order to keep momentum on the side of their provocateurs in Luhansk and Donetsk. Even this tough talk leaves plenty of room for escape hatches for Western nations without the stomach for a real economic battle.


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Why do all these brave “freedom fighters” have to conceal their faces, the thugs are always screaming and ranting yet they’re afraid to show their mugs.

Bishop on May 16, 2014 at 8:47 AM

The guy in the headline pic looks like he’s shaking in his boots at that report.

Good one, UN. Now go back to your cocktail parties and leave us alone.

NavyMustang on May 16, 2014 at 8:48 AM

Why do all these brave “freedom fighters” have to conceal their faces, the thugs are always screaming and ranting yet they’re afraid to show their mugs.

Bishop on May 16, 2014 at 8:47 AM

For once, your humor falls flat. They have to hide their faces because otherwise, the “Ukrainian authorities” will harass and likely slaughter their families.

Rix on May 16, 2014 at 8:50 AM

Rix:

Or, more probably, they could be identified as Russian Spetnatz or regular military if we could see their faces.

conservative hispanic on May 16, 2014 at 9:05 AM

Putin is a mad man. All these are typical communist intimidation tactics.

weedisgood on May 16, 2014 at 9:10 AM

Even when the UN is right, I don’t put any faith in them, they are the worst organization on the planet.

Rode Werk on May 16, 2014 at 9:10 AM

Or, more probably, they could be identified as Russian Spetnatz or regular military if we could see their faces.

conservative hispanic on May 16, 2014 at 9:05 AM

I have a few friends in the region, close enough to trust them over any MSM source (and some of them, with my life). They believe that some of the “insurgents” are indeed Spetznaz advisers, and hide their faces to blend in and pass for locals. The insurgency, however, is quite real. From the onset, it was a “wag the dog” situation when Putin was forced into action (covertly, as of now) as the events unfolded.

I’ll pass no judgment on which side is right or wrong there, but take everything you see on your TV screen with a grain of salt, augmented with a slice of lime and a shot of tequila.

Rix on May 16, 2014 at 9:14 AM

A strongly worded UN report, that’ll teach those separatists! If they really act up I say an all out hashtag campaign should be organized, #dontbemeanies

Charlemagne on May 16, 2014 at 9:23 AM

Neanderthals doing what Neanderthals do (well, where did you think they ended up?).

OldEnglish on May 16, 2014 at 9:23 AM

The western Ukraine overthrows a democratically elected gov’t, brands pro-Russians as terrorists, twice has burned down police stations as the police have publicly sided with the citizens (40 killed in Mariopul), shoots people at a public school that try to vote for independence (Odessa), shoots the pro-Russian mayor of Kharkov, arrests other pro-Russians that try to get on the presidential ballot, ignores a referendum where 89% voted in favor of independence, and the PATHETIC UN SAYS THAT THE EAST IS COMMITTING HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS? Friggin’ Marxists.

higgins1991 on May 16, 2014 at 9:27 AM

I notice that since the referendum, the local militia types are no longer wearing the balaclavas. When media asked them why, they said they are no longer afraid. FWIW. None of which tells us how much Russian presence there is Novorossia.

Ukraine doesn’t have what we would call a real border with Russia in the east.

BusinessWeek:

East Ukraine is not like any other Ukrainian region. One hundred and fifty years ago, this land was almost empty and was called “the wild field.” Most of the towns here were built in the late 19th century close to the factories and mines, which sprang up after the tsarist government decided to develop the Donetsk coal basin. Industrialization happened rapidly, and the workers who flocked to these towns for work hailed mostly from the Russian provinces of the Russian Empire. In the Soviet period this phenomenon of industrialization and immigration from Russia became even more pronounced. The Donetsk region ended up having a predominantly Russian population in the towns, while the villages were inhabited by Ukrainian speakers.

. . .

Think of a national border in a tense area, such as Ukraine, and you’d probably imagine roadblocks, fences mounted with barbed wire, or a three-meter-tall wall, like the border of Mexico and the U.S. But nothing on the border of Ukraine and Russia in the Luhansk region is similar. The Ukrainian-Russian border in the east today is a poorly controlled strip of land that can be easily crossed.

The Lugansk region shares a few hundred kilometers of border with Russia. In some places, you can cross it as simply as going to your home. The regional center of Milove, for example, is situated quite close to the border and has merged with the Russian settlement Chertkovo. The state border runs right through the streets and courtyards of private houses. People there tell jokes about houses where the kitchen is in Ukraine and the toilet in Russia. A third of the buildings are in Russia, while two-thirds are in Ukraine. Over the 23 years of Ukraine’s independence, no one has solved this problem. The inhabitants still live as if there were no boundary at all. They usually go shopping in Ukrainian shops but prefer buying gasoline on the Russian side. Most people have relations on both sides of the border.

The border runs right through the backyard gardens of the two towns, so if you want to smuggle contraband, you can just throw it to your neighbor’s yard over the fence. Smuggling is the main job for the majority of residents on both sides of the border.

Toocon on May 16, 2014 at 9:34 AM

The western Ukraine overthrows a democratically elected gov’t, brands pro-Russians as terrorists, twice has burned down police stations as the police have publicly sided with the citizens (40 killed in Mariopul), shoots people at a public school that try to vote for independence (Odessa), shoots the pro-Russian mayor of Kharkov, arrests other pro-Russians that try to get on the presidential ballot, ignores a referendum where 89% voted in favor of independence, and the PATHETIC UN SAYS THAT THE EAST IS COMMITTING HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS? Friggin’ Marxists.

higgins1991 on May 16, 2014 at 9:27 AM

Most of Hot Air frequents have obviously been bitten by John McCain. Otherwise, they would realize that by siding with Ukraine, they are supporting the same party as Obama. It’s been proven a VERY wrong idea on too many occasions to count.

Rix on May 16, 2014 at 9:37 AM

For once, your humor falls flat. They have to hide their faces because otherwise, the “Ukrainian authorities” will harass and likely slaughter their families.

Rix on May 16, 2014 at 8:50 AM

It wasn’t meant to be humorous but an honest question. These are no different than the AQ thugs who claim to speak for everyone but wear masks, wave rifles around, and generally festoon themselves with gear and weapons to portray an image.

Bishop on May 16, 2014 at 10:03 AM

It wasn’t meant to be humorous but an honest question. These are no different than the AQ thugs who claim to speak for everyone but wear masks, wave rifles around, and generally festoon themselves with gear and weapons to portray an image.

Bishop on May 16, 2014 at 10:03 AM

AQ has a declared goal of killing infidels, particularly of American and Israeli origin, and they appear to be actively pursuing that goal. Russian separatists aren’t killing anyone, as of now; in fact, it seems to be the other way around.

Rix on May 16, 2014 at 10:09 AM

I watched a TV program on ETV last night about the Soviet Union treatment of Ukraine in the early 1930s. Stalin put together a program to starve to death around 10 million Ukrainians. Why any true Ukrainian in Ukraine would trust Russians is unthinkable?

The program also covered the fact that the former Soviet Union was a willing ally of NAZI Germany at the beginning of World War II. Hitler and Stalin had a secret pact on how they would divide Europe after the end of the war. The Soviet Union even supplied Hitler’s Germany with much needed raw materials to build their war machine until Hitler turned on Stalin. Of course we then became allies with Stalin, the mass murderer.

Facts About the 1933 Famine-Genocide in Soviet Occupied Ukraine: http://faminegenocide.com/resources/facts.html

SC.Charlie on May 16, 2014 at 10:22 AM

It wasn’t meant to be humorous but an honest question. These are no different than the AQ thugs who claim to speak for everyone but wear masks, wave rifles around, and generally festoon themselves with gear and weapons to portray an image.

Bishop on May 16, 2014 at 10:03 AM

Why do you use a pseudonym?

vlad martel on May 16, 2014 at 10:33 AM

The program also covered the fact that the former Soviet Union was a willing ally of NAZI Germany at the beginning of World War II. Hitler and Stalin had a secret pact on how they would divide Europe after the end of the war. The Soviet Union even supplied Hitler’s Germany with much needed raw materials to build their war machine until Hitler turned on Stalin. Of course we then became allies with Stalin, the mass murderer.

Facts About the 1933 Famine-Genocide in Soviet Occupied Ukraine: http://faminegenocide.com/resources/facts.html

Sounds legit.

vlad martel on May 16, 2014 at 10:34 AM

So, who’s supporting Darth Vader in Odessa and Kiev?

corona79 on May 16, 2014 at 11:11 AM

Ed,

Just a suggestion. Do not invest in Ukrainian side.

There are no good sides in this conflict.

Recall pro-Russians burned alive in Odessa UN “urges” to investigate. Just yesterday a phone call made prior to the event was leaked, that ties pro-Maidan Ukrainian oligarch to the deaths. [He promises an exiled pro-Russia politician lynchings of pro-russians in the streets of Odessa]

Nevsky on May 16, 2014 at 11:27 AM

From what I see it is the USA backed Ukrainian troops who are committing the human rights abuses too.

jake49 on May 16, 2014 at 11:41 AM

Take it to RT, Putin lovers.

corona79 on May 16, 2014 at 11:47 AM

Just curious, who would deem Putin lover on this post?

Nevsky on May 16, 2014 at 11:58 AM

No DNA test necessary – the fluids speak for themselves.

corona79 on May 16, 2014 at 12:05 PM

DNA, fluids?

Nevsky on May 16, 2014 at 12:09 PM

Laughable to call Russia Communist. The US is far further down that road than Russia, who enjoys a flat tax.

antisense on May 16, 2014 at 12:27 PM

Neanderthals doing what Neanderthals do (well, where did you think they ended up?).

OldEnglish on May 16, 2014 at 9:23 AM

In about 3% of every European’s DNA. Also, Neanderthals are now viewed as having been potentially more intelligent than the population replacing them.

antisense on May 16, 2014 at 12:31 PM

A bit more about that program that I saw last night on SC ETV. Ukrainians were not allowed to put up any markers on the mass graves of those killed in the mass starvation in the early 1930s of nearly 10 million until the fall of the Soviet Union. No one was ever brought to justice for the mass genocide.

SC.Charlie on May 16, 2014 at 12:35 PM

The Holodmor, or Ukranian Genocide, was directed by directed by the Soviets, many of whose leaders were of non-Russian ethnicity such as Jews, Tatars and the like. The Soviet Union was at that time in the grip of Josef Stalin, who was a Georgian/Armenian himself. Besides this, the party “activists” who actually carried out the Kremlin’s policy of punishment on the ground were local Ukranians.

It’s a stretch to pin this crime on Russia.

sartana on May 16, 2014 at 12:58 PM

sartana:

This is the EXACT kind of BS I’ve seen in other websites. You’re just another one of Vladimir Hitler’s cybertrolls. Russia is an imperialist occupier. Vlad Hitler’s dream is to rebuilt the Soviet Union, piece by piece. First Ukraine, then Moldova, the Baltic states, then Poland. God help us all if we don’t stop him.

conservative hispanic on May 16, 2014 at 1:23 PM

ATTENTION HOTAIR POSTERS:

THIS SITE HAS BEEN INFILTRATED BY PUTIN’S CYBERTROLLS!!!!

ALL THE MORAL EQUIVALENCIES AND OUTRIGHT LIES POSTED ABOVE SHOULD BE DISMISSED!!!

SITE MODERATORS: PLEASE EXPELL THESE TROLLS. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!

conservative hispanic on May 16, 2014 at 1:26 PM

con-his,

You’re second comment is better. The BIG BLOCK LETTERS and quadruple explanation points!!!! really drive your point home.

sartana on May 16, 2014 at 1:58 PM

“pro-Russian separatists”?

Sure, just like the guys who let Hitler finish off the Warsaw Underground.

formwiz on May 16, 2014 at 2:54 PM

sartana:

Since you didn’t refute my first post, I can say without a shadow of a doubt I’m right. You’re a Vlad Hitler troll.

conservative hispanic on May 16, 2014 at 5:24 PM

formwiz:

Good one. The Red Army allowed the Nazis to destroy Warsaw and kill plenty of Polish patriots. That way it saved them the trouble of hunting them down and killing them themselves, and avoid another Katyn Forest embarrassment.

conservative hispanic on May 16, 2014 at 5:27 PM

Armed groups are increasingly undermining the rights and basic freedoms of people in eastern Ukraine…

An honest report would be referring to the fascist armed groups serving the Kiev junta. But of course this is a UN report.

David Blue on May 17, 2014 at 3:32 AM