The United Nations said on Tuesday that they did not find any basis for concerns about violence against the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine.
Gianni Magazzeni, Chief of the Americas Europe and Central Asia Branch of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, spoke to the media on Tuesday about their latest report on the human rights situation in Ukraine during a press conference at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.
The report on Ukraine's human rights situation stated there is an urgent need to counter misinformation, propaganda and incitement to hatred in Ukraine, in order to avoid the further escalation of tension in the country.
The report looks at the root causes of the protests that have taken place since November 2013, including corruption and widespread economic inequality, as well as the lack of accountability for human rights violations by the security forces and weak rule of law institutions. It also assesses the human rights situation in Crimea, including in the context of the 16 March referendum, and makes recommendations for the way forward.
Magazzeni responded to Russian allegations of violations of the rights of the Russian-speaking population in Crimea, as well as the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine. He said, "We do not have any credible issues that would justify concern for the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine."
The report also anticipates and draws parallels between what happened in Crimea and events currently unfolding in eastern Ukraine.
“In eastern Ukraine, where a large ethnic Russian minority resides, the situation remains particularly tense,” the report said. “It will be important to immediately take initial measures to build confidence between the Government and the people, and among the various communities, and reassure all people throughout Ukraine that their main concerns will be addressed.”
The report noted that 121 people were killed in violence between December 2013 and February 2014.
“A number of measures taken in Crimea are deeply concerning from a human rights perspective,” the report said. These include the introduction of Russian citizenship, making it difficult for those who opt to maintain their Ukrainian citizenship to stay in Crimea. “The current situation also raises concerns with regard to land and property ownership, wages and pensions, health service, labor rights, education and access to justice,” the report adds.
Addressing a question about minority communities in Crimea, Magazzeni said those minority members in Crimea who do not want to disguise their identity are leaving Crimea.
On the question of people reported as missing after the protests in Crimea, Megazzani said 140-150 people are still missing and there are ongoing investigations regarding that. He added that all reports of missing people are linked to protests in January and February.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay addressed the Ukrainian and Crimean governments in a statement saying, "It is critical for the government to prioritize respect for diversity, inclusivity and equal participation of all – including minorities – in political life.”
The report also urges the authorities in Crimea to publicly condemn all attacks or harassment against human rights defenders, journalists or any members of the political opposition. Officials are called upon to ensure full accountability for such acts, through prompt, impartial and effective investigations and prosecutions.
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