News / Europe

    UN Slams East Ukraine Human Rights

    A pro-Russian rebel takes his position at a front line rebel position near the eastern Ukrainian town of  Slovyansk May 16, 2014.
    A pro-Russian rebel takes his position at a front line rebel position near the eastern Ukrainian town of Slovyansk May 16, 2014.
    Lisa Schlein
    A new United Nations report finds that violence by anti-government groups in eastern Ukraine is causing an "alarming deterioration" of human rights amid a political crisis between Kyiv and pro-Russian separatists.
     
    The 36-page report cites examples of targeted killings, torture and beatings, as well as abductions, intimidation and sexual harassment, largely carried out by what it calls well-armed anti-government groups in eastern Ukraine.

    “It points to evidence of lack of law and order...especially as a result of the presence, the action, the direct influence through the gangs," said Gianni Magazzeni, who leads the European branch of the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. "But also indirectly, through intimidation and threats on journalists, on ordinary people, when it comes to the ability for anyone to express oneself…some self-proclaimed mayors have also banned some political parties.”  

    In a statement Friday, Russia's Foreign Ministry accused the U.N. of a "complete lack of objectivity," saying the report had "glaring inconsistencies" and "double standards."

    The ministry accused the report authors of following political orders to whitewash the pro-Western leadership, while ignoring "the crudest violations of human rights by the self-proclaimed Kyiv authorities''.

    Under siege

    The report finds the media is practically under siege in eastern Ukraine.

    It says journalists, bloggers and other media face increasing threats and acts of intimidation, including abduction and unlawful detention by armed groups. The report notes at least 23 foreign and Ukrainian members of the media have been abducted and unlawfully detained, primarily in the city of Slovyansk.

    U.N. human rights monitors also cite numerous examples of harassment, intimidation and blocking of broadcasts in Crimea, a southern region of Ukraine that was annexed by Russia in March. Neither Kyiv nor its Western allies recognize the annexation. The monitors say a number of radio and TV stations are no longer on the air.  

    The report finds differences between Russian law and Ukranian law are creating difficulties for Crimean residents. For example, it notes people with HIV no longer are receiving treatment for their health condition because this has been curtailed under Russian law.  

    Concerns about minorities

    U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay said Friday the report findings also raise deep concerns about minorities facing harassment in Crimea.

    The report notes 7,200 people from Crimea, mainly Tatars, have left the peninsula and are displaced in other parts of Ukraine. 

    Magazzeni tells VOA the U.N. is very concerned about hate speech and other forms of harassment and intimidation being leveled at the Tatars. He notes May 18 is the 70th anniversary of the mass deportation of Tatars from Crimea by the government of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

    “We are very conscious of what they have gone through and the potential additional discrimination," he said. "I think it is not an issue if they choose to leave, but what is the impact vis-à-vis their land, vis-à-vis their rights, vis-à-vis their work, vis-à-vis their family…for those who have stayed behind, those are critical issues that we would like to be able to monitor.”  

    Violence continues

    Meanwhile, there were reports of more violence in eastern Ukraine Friday, including fighting between Ukrainian government troops and separatist forces around the cities of Slovyansk and Kramatorsk, and the seizure of a Ukrainian National Guard barracks by separatists in the city of Donetsk.

    In the port city of Mariupol, the scene of bloody clashes between Ukrainian security forces and anti-government demonstrators earlier this month, the situation was calm Friday as thousands of factory workers patrolled the streets jointly with police.

    The joint patrols were formed after Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine's richest man, called on steelworkers at plants he owns to help police restore order following the street fighting and a subsequent wave of lawlessness.

    Turning to Russia

    Separatists in the eastern Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk held referendums on self-rule Sunday, after which they declared independent people's republics in the two regions. Separatist leaders there have said they will not hold Ukraine's May 25 presidential election in their respective regions.
     

    Separatist leaders in Donetsk say they have asked Moscow to consider formally absorbing the region into the Russian Federation, but on Thursday Russia's Interfax news agency quoted a spokesman for Russia's Foreign Ministry as saying it had not received an official request from the "Donetsk People's Republic" to join Russia.
     
    Britain and the United States have warned Russia they will issue broader economic sanctions if Moscow tries to disrupt Ukraine's May 25 election.

    On Friday, President Obama spoke with French President Francois Hollande about Ukraine.  A statement from the White House said Obama repeated that Russia will face "additional costs" if it continues its provocative behavior. 
     
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday he hopes Russia will encourage pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine to "work through the process that has now been opened up" -- an apparent reference to national unity talks that opened in Kyiv Wednesday, without the separatists' participation.

    The U.N.'s Pillay appealed for an end to the ongoing rhetoric of hatred and propaganda. This, coupled with killings and other acts of violence, she says, is fueling the escalation of the crisis in Ukraine.
    • Pro-Russian gunmen sit on an armored personnel carrier with the words read "Battalion Vostok (East) " as they patrol in Donetsk, Ukraine, May 20, 2014.
    • Coal miners sit on a bus after finishing their shift at a coal mine outside Donetsk, Ukraine, May 20, 2014.
    • Vyacheslav Ponomarev, the self-proclaimed mayor of Slovyansk, speaks to citizens whose homes were ruined by shelling in Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, May 20, 2014.
    • Yekaterina Len cries inside the remains of her house damaged by shelling as her grandson stands near her, in Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, May 20, 2014.
    • Presidential candidate Petro Poroshenko meets with supporters in the Cherkasy region, central Ukraine, May 20, 2014.
    • A pro-Russian militant defends a front line position with a machine gun, Slovyansk, Ukraine, May 19, 2014. 
    • Residents watch the flames from a damaged gas pipe that was hit by a mortar bomb, during fighting between Ukrainian government troops and pro-Russian militants, outside Slovyansk, Ukraine, May 19, 2014. 
    • Pro-Russian militants detain three men they suspect of spying for the Ukrainian government in Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine, May 18, 2014. 
    • A pro-Ukrainian activist prepares to hoist the Ukrainian flag in the town of Velika Novosyolka, in the Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, May 17, 2014.
    • A masked pro-Russian militant stands behind the barricades at a checkpoint blocking the major highway outside Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, May 17, 2014.

    You May Like

    Saudi Arabia’s New Female Politicians in the Other Room 

    Many in Saudi Arabia say elected representatives should share unsegregated spaces; according to a recent survey, more than half the Saudi population, both men and women, prefer to work in a segregated place

    Russia Not ‘Apologetic’ for Syria Airstrikes

    With Moscow criticized for targeting armed opponents of President Assad, Russia’s UN envoy says his country ‘acting in a very transparent manner’

    Pakistan Warns of Islamic State's Growing Reach

    Aftab Sultan, General Director General of Intelligence Bureau (IB), briefed Senate Committee in closed hearing, saying that IS-linked groups have been expanding in Pakistan

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: MOD from: China
    May 17, 2014 1:40 AM
    Each side's opinion is depending on their country's propaganda.It's all truth but are all bias.Don't waste time on quarrelling.......FORCE makes everything.

    by: Churbany from: Russia
    May 16, 2014 4:47 PM
    We completelly support Presidant Putin. In his support of Ukraine's russians he shouldn't care about squelling of West especially Germany. Go ahead with your sanctions. It will make us stronger and new iron curtain will help to sort out things with our libs.
    In Response

    by: Freedom_is_not_free from: USA
    May 16, 2014 5:27 PM
    That is called invader. If Russian people in Ukraine do not like Ukraine then leave the country. Russian is free to send ship or airplane to pick them up. There is no excuse to invade another country because Russians live in that country. Those people are traitors.

    by: Pantea
    May 16, 2014 4:42 PM
    huh, Russia just published a report about violations against the Russian speaking population in the east an the massacre in Odessa. Each side is painting the other as the devil. NATO and Russia are fighting and Ukraine has to pay the price. So sick of media propaganda. Nothing but lies and lies and lies...

    by: bob
    May 16, 2014 4:28 PM
    Extremely one-sided, amazingly it mention none of the atrocities by the Kiev power group that overthrew an democratically elected president.

    by: Carlos.. from: Ukraine
    May 16, 2014 1:39 PM
    the response of President Obama and other Western leaders is despicable and cowardly.. Their so called sanctions are nothing.. What they should do is completely cut off all trade relations with the Kremlin and tell Crimea is returned and Russian troops leave the Ukrainian territory.. This is serious.. But the response is wishy washy mealy mouthed weak kneed ..
    In Response

    by: vitaliy from: usa
    May 19, 2014 2:41 AM
    Carlos, hm.. doesn't sound like Ukrainian name, Crimea had status of authonomy it was called as Autonomous Republic of Crimea and if they decided to join Russia after referendum they had some point and power to do that, do not forget that it was legal (keep in mind Serbia and Kossovo). Ukraine let Russia to keep her fleet and military base (not for free). I do not want US to send troops to Ukraine (because of Iraq, Afghanistan .... keep counting) also as US citizen I realize if US will send troops anywhere clocks with US debt will start counting even faster.
    In Response

    by: Ernest Okojie from: Nigeria
    May 17, 2014 6:36 AM
    At Reckie Glenn. So funny. You must be a clown. I love your post. Putin needs to be shut down to teach other dictators lesson
    In Response

    by: rickie glenn from: tampa
    May 16, 2014 9:09 PM
    not yet on the US troops spring has just start. We need to stack forces in Poland and Czechoslovakia a to force Russian to thin out its Military also since the Eastern port has thawed out a strong task force off Russia's eastern seaboard to really thin his forces making him pull the ones he moved from the east in the first place. To be brought back. Push Nato command and control closer to the action request a formal reversal and pull out of Russian forces from the Ukraine. Give him a week to complete it. If not done send one drone as leaves his home in the morning to board the chopper to go to Moscow. Boom no more helicopter and no more Putin. Then give the Russian Parliament final choice Remove forces or suffer what is to come. Send about 10 drones to 10 of the highest ranking Russian military.to end lives. weaken command and control
    In Response

    by: Freedom_is_not_free from: USA
    May 16, 2014 4:46 PM
    I have to agree with Carlos. If I am Obama, I will send US forces to help Ukraine people to protect their country.

    by: Jose from: Mexico
    May 16, 2014 11:34 AM
    Do this report mention any of the violations of human rights in whole Ukraine against Ukranian patriots who happens to protest against the current Kiev government?. For instance, it says anything about the massacre in Odessa where 40 protesters against Kiev government were burnt to death?.
    If it failed to do so, then it is biased.
    In Response

    by: Freedom_is_not_free from: USA
    May 16, 2014 4:50 PM
    Hi! Jose,

    What funny! Who are Ukranian patriots? They are indeed KGB agents and terrorists. Ukranian patriots are people who support the current Kiev government to protect their country from Russian invasion.
    In Response

    by: Albert from: Mongolia
    May 16, 2014 4:37 PM
    It all pales, compared to what's going on in Nigeria and Iraq. Why would UN spend so much attention on a minor civil strife?
    In Response

    by: Andrei from: Canada
    May 16, 2014 4:09 PM
    To Vladimir from "Sweden": it's getting more and more annoying. Whoever does not agree with "the ministry of truth" - propaganda from Moscow.Don't waste your time typing this.....
    In Response

    by: Vladimir from: Sweden
    May 16, 2014 3:02 PM
    "Jose" from Moscow should consider finding other avenues to spread your propaganda. We know who you are...

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.