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Moscow concerned over escalation of violence in Donbass

The Russian Foreign Ministry has urged the sides to fulfill the ceasefire deal

MOSCOW, June 14. /TASS/. Moscow is alarmed by the sharp escalation of violence in Donbass and the growing death toll among the civilians, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday commenting on a report of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU).

"We voice deep concerns over the sharp escalation of situation in Donbass that has led to a 48% growth in the death toll among the civilians during the reporting period (February 16-May 15, 2017) - 36 people were killed and 157 were wounded," the ministry said.

"We back the call of staff members of the monitoring mission on the conflicting sides to strictly comply with the ceasefire deal. We share concerns of the UN members over the never-ending shelling of civilian infrastructure facilities, in particular water and power supply systems, schools and hospitals, which runs counter to Kiev’s international commitments on protecting civilians," the statement said. The ministry reiterated that Moscow backs the monitoring mission’s call to strictly abide by the Minsk peace agreements.

A part of the report by the UN monitoring mission on human rights in Ukraine is biased, and there are attempts to justify Kiev, the ministry said. "A number of document’s sections are an attempt to justify the authorities in Kiev, downplay the crimes against their own people committed by them," the ministry emphasized. It also noted that the Republic of Crimea and the federal city of Sevastopol "are the territory of the Russian Federation, and attempts to include an assessment of the human rights situation in that region of Russia in the UN report on Ukraine is illegal."

Donbass blockade

Russia shares concerns of the UN monitoring mission regarding Kiev’s inhuman discriminative steps such as social and economic blockade of Donbass, the ministry said. The so-called verification procedures introduced last year have already deprived more than 400,000 Ukrainians of their pensions. The new rules of crossing the contact line have significantly curtailed freedom of movement in Ukraine and led to the further split of families. "Every month, more than 900,000 people risk their lives when crossing the internal border," the statement said.

The Ukrainian government’s ban on transferring cargos through the contact line also results in closing enterprises, and thousands of people lose sources of income, it said.

Kidnappings and pressure on mass media

The ministry also expressed concerns as the report mentions new cases of deprivation of freedom, abductions and the systematic use of torture by the Ukrainian Security Service to get confessionary evidence from the detainees suspected of being involved in the conflict in Donbass. "We agree with the UN that the lack of a due investigation by the Ukrainian authorities into the above mentioned crimes contributes to growing impunity in the country in general."

The report also notes that there are no improvements in the work of Ukraine’s legal system and no progress in investigating the May 2014 tragedy in Odessa, when at least 48 people died and 247 were injured in the clashes and the blaze in the Trade Unions House. "We expect that the monitoring mission makes efforts to prevent the restriction of freedom of expression and pressure on media outlets in Ukraine for the so-called pro-Russian rhetoric and demand that Kiev create safe working conditions for journalists in the country," the ministry said.

"We are convinced that the UN and the human rights community are facing the task of prompting Kiev to strictly comply with its international human rights obligations and norms of international humanitarian law as well as scrupulously implement the Minsk agreements, which is to contribute to the achievement of lasting peace in that country," the ministry said.