U.N. RECOGNIZES UKRAINIAN WAR CRIMES in Ilovaysk: What’s Next?

By Eduard Popov

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On August 9, the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine published an extremely important report documenting the killing and torture of civilians by the Ukrainian military during the Ilovaysk events 2014, as well as the killing of captured Ukrainian soldiers.

The head of the UN Monitoring Mission, Fiona Frazer, has claimed that, in addition to other important information, the report contains evidence that three Ukrainian soldiers captured by the DPR militia were killed, at least four wounded Ukrainian soldiers died as a result of inadequate medical care, and on August 31 and September 1 [2014], around 300 captured Ukrainian soldiers and volunteers were taken to three different places of detention where “the conditions of detention were inhumane and degrading.’

The UN report concluded that violations of human rights and the rights of prisoners of war were committed by both sides of the conflict. And yet the report shows that it was the Ukrainian military that was responsible for war crimes against civilians. The head of the UN mission criticized Kiev:

“We welcome the investigation of Ukraine’s General Prosecutor’s Office on the cases of tortures and ill-treatment towards the Ukrainian military by the armed groups, yet the majority of human rights violations, supposedly committed by the Ukrainian forces against the civilians, is not being investigated.”

According to Frazer, to date the mission has 13 documented cases of people tortured or mistreated by Ukrainian battalions in Ilovaysk and surrounding villages, but these have not been investigated. In terms of other documentation, at least 35 civilians were killed and 600 houses destroyed.

The report of the UN Human Rights Office, prepared by the High Commissioner and covering the events near Ilovaisk in 2014, has turned out to be a shock for Ukrainian politicians.

Especially unpleasant for the Ukrainians is that there is no mention or allegation of Russia being involved in Ilovaysk, which Kiev insists was the case.

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The Ukrainians are thus in a state of mild panic: for the first time in history, such an authoritative international organization as the UN Human Rights Office has declared Ukraine guilty of war crimes.

An angry response followed from Ukraine’s ex-defense minister, Anatoly Gritsenko. Gritsenko is notorious for his “nationalist” and Russophobic views who was one of the key figures of the first 2004 Maidan. Currently the most probable candidate for the next Ukrainian president and most likely a US asset, Gritsenko has lashed out at the report, saying it is not objective. This is a very bold statement against an authoritative international organization from a state that is terrorizing its own population.

In my view, the report as a whole is very objective. Of course, the level of casualties on both sides is understated, as is the level of bitterness. But the main point, in my opinion, is that this document deals a moral and psychological blow to the image of Ukraine as a “democratic, constitutional state.” It turns out that that the UN knows that Ukraine is killing its own civilians! This is likely to provoke cognitive dissonance among both ordinary Westerners and Ukrainians.

Nevertheless, the consequences of the adopted document should not be exaggerated. In the contemporary post-modern world, facts do not matter – all that is important is interpretation through the “right” information channels. The Western “Ministry of truth” works very effectively. And yet, thanks to the role of independent and alternative media – by which I mean all those websites and blogs that are not controlled by states or transnational corporations, like Fort Russ News – the truth is gradually getting out to the citizens of Western countries. I know firsthand that this is the case with my friends and associates in the EU, particularly Germany.

So what will happen now?

Ukrainian experts have forecasted – and I believe such to be likely – that the affected residents of Ilovaysk will appeal en masse to the European Human Rights Council for restitution, using the UN report as a reference.

Ukraine will in turn try to ignore or “lose” the cases. After all, it does not like to, and does not have the resources to pay debts.

This means that Ukraine has to be brought to justice. I think that the authorities of the Donetsk People’s Republic will work out a path of legal advice and action. Ukraine needs to be flooded with cases and lawsuits over human rights violations. Independent Western media, social organizations, and political forces should help.

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