EURASIA LIFT

Human Rights Issues in Eurasia / Правовые Вопросы В Регионах Евразии

Archive for September, 2014

Ukraine – New Legislation – More Power To East To End Separatist Fighting

Posted by Info on 30/09/2014

Ukraine’s parliament has voted to give the east of the country limited self-rule and also ratified an agreement to deeper economic and political ties with the European Union.

The main points of the legislation, unveiled as part of a peace plan signed with pro-Russian insurgents and Moscow on 5 September are:

• The rebel-held Luhansk and Donetsk regions will be granted a “special status” giving them broader autonomy for a three-year period.

• Local elections will be held in some districts of the two mainly Russian-speaking regions on 7 December. The last local elections held nationwide were in October 2010.

• Use of the Russian language to be allowed in state institutions.

• Regional councils will have the power to appoint local judges and prosecutors.

• Local authorities in Donetsk and Luhansk can “strengthen good neighbourly relations” with their counterparts across the border in Russia.

• The legislation also promises to help restore damaged infrastructure and to provide social and economic assistance to particularly hard-hit areas.

• Another bill on amnesty protects from criminal prosecution “participants of events in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions” – appearing to apply to both the insurgents and Ukrainian government troops. Rights groups have accused fighters on both sides of abuses that might be classified as war crimes.

Donetsk and Luhansk, known as the Donbass, have a combined population of nearly 7 million people (total in Ukraine 45,5 million people). But it is responsible for nearly a 174 of Ukraine’s exports and is home to strategic military production facilities that supply engines and other vital parts to the Russian space and aviation industries.

The industrial region with its coal mines and steelworks have been the engine of Ukraine’s economy since the 19th century.

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2014 – Pro- Russian Unrest in Ukraine

Posted by Info on 30/09/2014

Ukraine 2014

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What is the Ukraine crisis?

Posted by Info on 30/09/2014

Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union until 1991, and since then has been a less-than-perfect democracy with a very weak economy and foreign policy that wavers between pro-Russian and pro-European.

All started  as an internal Ukrainian crisis in November 2013, when President Viktor Yanukovych rejected a deal for greater integration with the European Union, mass protests started, which Yanukovych attempted to put down violently.Russia backed Yanukovych in the crisis, while the US and Europe supported the protesters.

In February, anti-government protests toppled the government and  Yanukovych ran out the country. Russia invaded and annexed Crimea the next month, trying to keep its influence in the country.

In April, pro-Russia separatist rebels began seizing territory in eastern Ukraine and later on July 17 the rebels shot  down the plane of Malaysian Airlines flight 17 flying from Amsterdam killing 298 people.

Fighting between the rebels and the Ukrainian military intensified, the rebels started losing, and, in August, the Russian army overtly invaded eastern Ukraine to support the rebels. This has all brought the relationship between Russia and the West to its lowest point since the Cold War. Sanctions are pushing the Russian economy to the brink of recession, and more than 2,500 Ukrainians have been killed, there are some 10 000 internally displaced person moving to central (45%) and western Ukraine (26%) though some are also located in the southern and eastern regions.

“People cite fear of persecution because of ethnicity or religious beliefs or, in the case of journalists, human rights activists and among intellectuals, due to their activities or professions. Others say they could no longer keep their businesses open.” UNHCR spokesmen said.

A lot of this comes down to Ukraine’s centuries-long history of Russian domination. The country has been divided more or less evenly between Ukrainians who see Ukraine as part of Europe and those who see it as intrinsically linked to Russia. An internal political crisis over that disagreement may have been inevitable. Meanwhile, in Russia, Putin is pushing an imperial-revival, nationalist worldview that sees Ukraine as part of greater Russia.

It appears unlikely that Ukraine will get Crimea back. It remains unclear whether Russian forces will try to annex parts of eastern Ukraine as well, how the fighting there will end, and what this means for the future of Ukraine — and for Putin’s increasingly hostile but isolated Russia.

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The Beslan Massacre – 10 years on

Posted by Info on 06/09/2014

The deadliest terror attack in modern Russia’s history led to the deaths of 334 hostages, most of them children.

On the morning of September 1, 2004, teachers, students and their families gathered in front of School Number One in the town of Beslan to celebrate the start of the new school year.

The Beslan hostage crisis turned out to be the deadliest terror attack in modern Russia’s history. The rebels took approximately 1,200 children and adults hostage at the school, without providing food or water for three days. On the first day, they executed a man in front of his two children and the other hostages. Later they took a group of men at gunpoint in a classroom on the first floor, shot them and threw their bodies out of the window.

The attackers demanded the recognition of Chechnya’s independence from Russia and the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from the region. On September 2, the hostage-takers agreed to negotiate with Ruslan Aushev, the former president of the adjacent republic of Ingushetia, allowing him to enter the school and release 26 hostages.

On the third day of the standoff, local authorities received permission from the attackers to remove bodies lying in front of the school. But when medical workers approached the building, two of them were shot dead, followed by two explosions 20 seconds later.

The explosions caused the roof of the gym to collapse, killing many. After the first blast, hostages began to run out of the school, and Russian special forces stormed the building trying to rescue the rest.

The siege ended with 334 hostages dead, more than half of whom were children. The only attacker caught alive was sentenced to life in prison.

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The EU asylum system

Posted by Info on 06/09/2014

Since 2003, European countries – the 28 EU Member States and Schengen zone countries including Switzerland, Norway and Iceland – have implemented a harmonised asylum policy that was called the Dublin Regulation. Under this legislation, asylum seekers must apply for asylum in the first country that collects their fingerprints and if found in another state, they face expulsion back to their point of entry.

When this regime was created, one of the aims was to prevent so-called asylum shopping, when one person applies in more than one country or only applies to countries with stronger welfare benefits for refugees. Since 2013, fingerprints of all applicants have been collected and stored in a common database calledEURODAC. This has led migrants to burn their fingertips once they have been fingerprinted in Italy or Greece in order to apply in countries like Sweden or the UK.

This system has placed an unfair burden on the southern and eastern European nations, such as Greece, Italy, Spain, Bulgaria and even Turkey. Prior to the Dublin Regulation, many of these states were known as transit countries through which migrants passed on their way to the North.

Roughly two-thirds of applications for protection status are refused. Ironically, many of the wealthier countries that accept the highest number of applicants are beyond the buffer zone. For example, five countries (Sweden, Germany, France, Italy and the UK) welcome 70 percent of asylum seekers, while Sweden, Switzerland and Austria grant the most protection status per population.

 

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