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Issue of mass graves near Donetsk not reflected in UN report on human rights in Ukraine

October 08, 2014, 5:09 UTC+3
Also the Ukrainian armed forces are responsible for indiscriminate shelling of residential quarters in the embattled east of the country
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A militia fighter guards a mass grave found near Donetsk

A militia fighter guards a mass grave found near Donetsk

© AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic

GENEVA, October 8. /TASS/. The issue of mass burial sites recently discovered near the city of Donetsk has not been reflected in a regular United Nations report on human rights in Ukraine.

Nothing is said about the investigation of the crime on any of the 37 pages of the report obtained by TASS, which will be officially circulated later Wednesday.

The document covers the period from August 18 to September 16, 2014. Unidentified mass graves in southeast Ukraine are formally not subject to consideration by the rights monitoring mission of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

However, the global organization earlier pledged to touch upon the issue in its sixth report.

Mass graves found in eastern Ukraine

Southeastern militias recently found a few mass graves at sites where Ukrainian troops had been stationed. It was reported on September 23 that militiamen found unidentified burial sites near the Kommunarskaya-22 mine in the vicinity of the villages of Kommunar and Nizhnyaya Krynka.

After examination of one of the graves, forensic experts concluded that people buried there had been killed by shots to the head at close range.

Earlier, the area was under control of Ukrainian troops and volunteer battalions. Last week, the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) police launched a criminal case in connection with the discovery of mass burial sites.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry, parliamentarians, public and human rights organizations have called for an international probe into the discovery of mass burial sites.

The OHCHR pledged its employees will investigate the crime from the viewpoint of human rights, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) sent to Ukraine its forensic medicine expert to provide assistance in identification of bodies.

Infographics Map of combat actions in Ukraine's east on September 29 – October 4 Map of combat actions in Ukraine's east on September 29 – October 4
Shelling attacks on residential areas of Donetsk resumed early October amid ceasefire in eastern Ukraine. Infographics by TASS
Situation in Ukraine’s embattled southeast

According to the UN, some 3,500 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands have fled Ukraine’s war-torn southeast as a result of clashes between Ukrainian troops and local militias in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions during Kiev’s military operation to regain control over the breakaway territories, which call themselves the Donetsk and Lugansk republics.

The parties to the Ukrainian conflict agreed on cessation of fire during talks mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on September 5 in Belarusian capital Minsk.

Also the Ukrainian armed forces are responsible for indiscriminate shelling of residential quarters in the embattled east of the country, the OHCHR said in a regular report.

Some reports on such shelling cases may be blamed on the Ukrainian troops, says the report covering the August 18 - September 16, 2014 period that will be officially published later Wednesday. The report, the sixth one, is the first since ceasefire agreements reached in early September.

UN experts note that judging by all appearances, most civilian deaths have been caused by nonselective artillery shelling of residential quarters and the use of heavy guns.

The OHCHR said both parties to the Ukrainian conflict act like that and blamed militiamen for what it called hiding among civilian facilities, which puts in jeopardy the local population.

The report separately mentions crimes committed in Ukraine’s east by volunteer battalions controlled by Ukraine’s Defense and Interior ministries. Fighters of the Aidar, Dnepr-1, Kiev-1 and Kiev-2 battalions in particular may be involved in such crimes as abductions of people, arbitrary detention, cruel treatment, murders and extortion.

The OHCHR called on the Ukrainian government to control its units, including volunteer battalions, and guarantee that those committing crimes be brought to account anyway.

The report also claims that militias kill and kidnap people on territories under their control, as well as are involved in other serious human rights violations.

The report says 3,517 people died as a result of the standoff between the government forces and militiamen in Ukraine’s east in mid-April - September 16, including the death toll from the Malaysian Boeing crash in July and that at least 8,200 were injured.

But the figures are already outdated. Last week, the OHCHR said that as of September 30, the death toll was 3,627 and 8,446 were wounded. The real number of those killed and wounded may be higher, the Office said.

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