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Experts: intl community, UN should stop mass human rights violations in Ukraine

April 09, 2014, 23:16 UTC+3 MOSCOW
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MOSCOW, April 09. /ITAR-TASS/. Human rights violations in Ukraine have reached a high level, and the international community should pay special attention to the situation, Russian experts said in an interview with Itar-Tass on Wednesday.

“I believe that mass human rights violations in Ukraine started when Maidan was unfolded,” Igor Borisov, a member of the Russian Presidential Council on Development of Civil Society and Human Rights, said.

Maidan is the name for downtown Kiev's Independence Square, which is the symbol of Ukrainian protests. The word “Maidan” is also used as a collective name for anti-government protests in Ukraine.

“Human rights in Ukraine have gone on the back burner to satisfy the political ambitions of a number of leaders,” Borisov stressed. “In this situation, the wide public, including Western, needs to begin defending the rights and freedoms of Ukrainian nationals while leaving politics in the background.”

According to him, “human rights violations particularly refer to Ukraine’s southeast, where various radical forces are flocking”.

“According to media, there are people there who don’t speak either the Russian or the Ukrainian language,” Borisov said. “If the talk is about English-speaking mercenaries, then the international community and the United Nations need to interfere immediately.”

A coup occurred in Ukraine in February after months of anti-government protests, often violent. The protests, dubbed “Euromaidan”, began when President Viktor Yanukovich decided in November 2013 to suspend the signing of an association agreement with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia.

New people were brought to power in Kiev amid deadly riots after Yanukovich had to leave Ukraine citing security concerns in February. Moscow does not recognize the new self-proclaimed Ukrainian authorities, who appear unable to restrain the activity of radicals and ultranationalists in the country.

Ukraine’s political crisis and Kiev’s ties with Moscow deteriorated further when the Republic of Crimea, where most residents are Russians, held a referendum March 16 in which an overwhelming majority of Crimeans voted to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. The reunification deal with Moscow was signed March 18.

Another member of the Russian Presidential Human Rights Council, Alexander Brod, noted cases when Ukrainian citizens were discriminated against by ethnicity, Jews were persecuted and anti-Russian rhetoric intensified.

Brod said that “the Moscow human rights bureau has drafted a report on the growth of xenophobia and anti-Semitism in Ukraine and sent it to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the Security Council and international organizations addressing human rights”.

“The current processes in Ukraine show that human rights are the last thing the Kiev authorities care about,” the head of the General Political Science Department of the Higher School of Economics, Leonid Polyakov, emphasized.

“It is evident: what is being done to residents of the country’s southeastern regions can be called mass terror and infringement upon the basic human rights,” Polyakov said. “The Kiev authorities characterize the right of citizens to gather and express their viewpoint as terrorism and threaten them with considerable prison terms.”

He said “Ukraine has been stripped of the right to information”. “Banning Russian television channels, preventing Russian journalists from entering the country are not separate cases but a plan to create information blockade aimed at preventing people from obtaining objective information,” the political scientist said.

According to the expert, “the ban on the right to use the native tongue borders on cultural genocide”. Polyakov recalled that Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, promptly canceled its own law on giving the Russian language the status of a regional one, not to speak of Russian becoming a second state language in Ukraine.

“In this way, repressions apply to at least 20 million of Ukrainian nationals for whom the Russian language is native,” he said.

Polyakov is convinced that “without powerful reaction to these violations, the prospects will be rather sad”.

“The sum of human rights violations is so big that there is an urgent necessity to put the Ukraine issue to consideration of the UN Security Council,” the expert said.

“It’s time to stop being hypocritical, it’s time to tell the truth: Ukraine has turned into a country where human rights violations have acquired an enormous scale. Real steps to protect the nationals of that country need to be taken,” the political scientist said. “I think Russia could put forward such an initiative.

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