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MOSCOW, July 09, /ITAR-TASS/. Russian Foreign Ministry ombudsman for human rights, democracy and the rule of law Konstantin Dolgov on Wednesday called for an unbiased probe into humanitarian crimes in Ukraine.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that Dolgov met in Strasbourg with Council of Europe Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks and Executive Secretary of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance Stephanos Stavros.
The meeting took place on July 8 as part of work to promote at relevant international events the Russian Foreign Ministry’s White Book on violations of human rights and the principle of the rule of law in Ukraine.
“The Russian side confirmed the necessity of effective, unbiased and transparent investigation under international control, including on the part of the Council of Europe, of all humanitarian crimes committed in Ukraine since the start of Euromaidan, first of all in the context of the Kiev authorities’ continuing punitive operation in the Southeast, and the need to punish those guilty,” the Russian ministry said.
“Specific possibilities of interaction between Russia and the Council of Europe in that sphere were discussed,” it said.
At the end of last year, Ukraine’s then-President Viktor Yanukovich suspended the signing of an association agreement with the European Union to study the deal more thoroughly. His decision triggered anti-government protests that often turned violent and eventually led to a coup in February 2014.
New people were brought to power in Kiev amid riots and ultranationalist rhetoric. Crimea refused to recognize the coup-imposed authorities, held a referendum and seceded from Ukraine to reunify with Russia in mid-March after some 60 years as part of Ukraine. The West and Kiev do not recognize Crimea's reunification with Russia.
Maidan is the name for downtown Kiev's Independence Square, which is the symbol of Ukrainian protests. The words “Maidan” and “Euromaidan” are used as a collective name for anti-government protests in Ukraine that started when Yanukovich refused to sign the association deal with the EU.
Crimea’s example apparently inspired residents of Ukraine’s Southeast, who supported the country’s federalization. They started massive protests and formed militias.
Since mid-April, Kiev has been conducting a punitive operation against federalization supporters, which has claimed hundreds of lives. Moscow has repeatedly called on the Ukrainian authorities to stop the operation and engage in dialogue with the Southeast.
The most appalling recent humanitarian crimes in Ukraine were a massacre in the southern Ukrainian city of Odessa and a shelling in Mariupol in the Donetsk Region in eastern Ukraine in early May.
Odessa saw riots on May 2, during which soccer fans who came from the city of Kharkov, as well as Right Sector far-right ultranationalist movement militants and so-called “Maidan self-defense” representatives from Kiev organized a march along city streets.
Clashes with federalization supporters occurred during the march. Radicals set ablaze the Trade Unions House, where their opponents hid, and a tent camp where activists were collecting signatures for a referendum on Ukraine’s federalization and for the status of a state language for Russian. The attackers did not let anyone leave the burning Trade Unions House building.
At least 48 people died and 247 were injured in the clashes and the fire in the Trade Unions House. Another 48 people were listed as missing. Many Ukrainian politicians, including people’s deputy Oleg Tsaryov and Odessa regional council deputy Vadim Savenko, said the official death count figures were understated. They asserted that the death toll reached 116 but that the Kiev authorities concealed the facts.
In Mariupol in the Donetsk Region in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian law enforcers opened fire from armored vehicles on participants of a rally held in honor of Victory Day on May 9 who gathered near the building of the local Interior Ministry department and who were trying to prevent its storm. Nine people died and 42 were injured.
Besides, at least three Russian journalists covering developments in Ukraine’s war-torn southeastern regions were killed in June.