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

    Ethiopia's Anti-terrorism Law: Security or Silencing Dissent?

    Yonatan Tesfaye was detained in December 2015 on charges under Ethiopia's Anti-Terrorism Proclamation; eleven statements from his Facebook page were used as evidence

    Egypt Orders Trial for Journalists Charged With Harboring Reporters

    Order targets journalists' union chief Yehia Qalash, Khaled al-Balshy and Gamal Abdel Rahim for allegedly spreading false news, harboring fugitive colleagues

    Nigerian Oil Production Falls as Militant Attacks Take Toll

    Country no longer Africa's petroleum king due to renewed militancy in its oil-producing region

    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.
    New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahdai
    X
    Lisa Schlein
    May 31, 2016 1:56 PM
    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahda

    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Mobile App Allows Dutch Muslims to Rate their Imams

    If a young Dutch-Moroccan app developer has his way, Muslims in the Netherlands will soon be able to rate their imams online. Mohamed Mouman says imams rarely get feedback from their followers. He believes his app can give prayer leaders a better picture of what's happening in their communities — and can also keep young people from being radicalized. Serginho Roosblad reports from Amsterdam.
    Video

    Video Moscow Condemns NATO Plans to Beef Up Defense in Eastern Europe, Baltics

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday an upcoming "landmark summit" will enhance the alliance's defensive and deterrent presence in eastern Europe and the Baltics. He is visiting Poland ahead of the NATO Summit in Warsaw. Zlatica Hoke reports
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video F-35 Fighter Jet Draws Criticisms as Costs Mount

    America’s latest fighter plane, the F-35, has been mired in controversy. Critics cite cost, faulty design, and the attempt to use it to fill multiple roles. Even the pilot’s helmet is controversial. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Concerns Over Civilian Suffering as Iraqi Forces Surround Fallujah

    Thousands of residents are trapped inside the IS-held city ahead of a full scale Iraqi offensive aimed at retaking it.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora