EURASIA LIFT

Human Rights Issues in Eurasia / Правовые Вопросы В Регионах Евразии

Archive for the ‘Ukraine’ Category

West Must Learn To Live With Putin

Posted by Info on 17/02/2015

Sir John Sawers,  Former M16 head warns

“The Ukraine crisis is no longer just about Ukraine. It’s now a much bigger, more dangerous crisis, between Russia and western countries, about values and order in Europe.”

“We deal with the Russia we have, not the Russia we’d like to have”. 

Minks

“The convergence between Russia and the west which we had hoped for after the cold war won’t happen while he is in charge. We now know that. Any foreseeable change of power in Russia may well be for the worse. Managing relations with Russia will be the defining problem in European security for years to come.”

“Ukrainians look to us to help them have their chance to embrace the order and values we enjoy here in modern Europe. We and they may end up with a new debilitating frozen conflict in Ukraine, well into the future. That is a wretched outcome for Ukrainians. But it may be the least bad attainable outcome.”

Sawers said efforts by the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, to restore calm deserved the west’s full support.  “Once we have calm – if we have calm – we’ll need a new approach to co-existence with president Putin’s Russia. As long as Mr Putin sees the issue in terms of Russia’s own security he will be prepared to go further than us.”

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Ukraine: Referendums Calling for Independence From Ukraine

Posted by Info on 29/11/2014

Rebels in eastern Ukraine held their elections on Nov. 2, saying that the vote was the next step after local referendums in May calling for independence from Ukraine.

The European Union has imposed sanctions on the organizers this month, hitting the separatists and their organizations with asset freezes and travel bans.

The United States and European Union have denounced the vote as illegitimate, but Russia has said it would recognize the result.

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Russia: Crimea – The Gravest Ethnic and Political Conflict

Posted by Info on 28/11/2014

Crimea is bound up with the fate of the Crimean Tatars.

The Crimean Tatars are the native inhabitants of Crimea. They had their own state, the Crimean Khanate, for more than 300 years from the middle of the 15th to the end of the 18th centuries. Catherine the Great then annexed Crimea to the Russian empire but the Tatars kept their culture, language and religion – Sunni Islam.

In 1944, Stalin ordered that all 191,000 of them, all 47,000 families, be exiled to Central Asia. In 1954, Khrushchev transferred Crimea from the Russian to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, but in March  2014  Putin returned Crimea to Russia.

They are  now some 300,000 and make up around 13% of Crimea’s population. The Crimean Tatar community did not support union with Russia as they boycotted the referendum in March on joining Russia.

Mosques, schools, community centers, firms and private homes belonging to Tatars have been searched and raided by the Ministry of Internal Affairs (“anti-extremism” special branch), prosecutors and the Special Purpose Police, as well as so-called “self-defense forces”. The Crimean Tatars’ only independent television station, ATR, has come under heavy pressure and many activists, journalists and bloggers have been forced to leave Crimea.

The Tatars’ leaders, Mustafa Dzhemilev and Refat Chubarov, current head of the Mejlis, have been barred from entering their homeland for five years and are now living in Kiev against their will.

All these violations are set out in a report written by Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, who himself visited Crimea. He pays particular attention to the killing, abduction and disappearance of people in Crimea. Criminal investigations have been launched into the latter killings and abductions but neither the victims nor the perpetrators have yet been found.

Chubarov says that Moscow is now planning to repeat the “Chechen scenario” in Crimea, that is, to find a second Ramzan Kadyrov among the Crimean Tatars.

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Filip Singer Won 1st Price of Czech Press Photo – Majdan, Ukraine

Posted by Info on 13/10/2014

czech-press-photo

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Moscow: Protest Against Russia’S Involvement In Conflict In Ukraine

Posted by Info on 01/10/2014

Protest Moscow banner

About 26 000 people gathered in central Moscow on  last  Sunday to protest against their country’s involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine at an All-Russian March for Peace, the first large anti-Kremlin rally since the conflict started in April.

The protest was organised by longstanding opposition parties including Yabloko, Solidarity,  Parnas and  the Party of Progress organised by popular anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny. The protesters represented a variety of political views, but most were united in their opposition to what they see as a Kremlin policy to escalate the conflict in eastern Ukraine by sending arms and soldiers across the border.

“We can wake up the Russian people, so that we won’t see any more Russian troops in Ukraine … Let Putin take out his troops, and Ukraine will deal with its own problems.”

“We want Ukraine to see that there are people in Russia who don’t support the war, Russia is directly participating in this war.”

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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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Amnesty Report Notes Worldwide Abuses

Posted by Info on 23/05/2013

The findings were published on May 23 in Amnesty International’s annual report, “The State of the World’s Human Rights,” for 2012 and documents abuses in 159 countries and territories.

Amnesty International Secretary-General Salil Shetty: “Governments have been created to protect the rights of their citizens, but we then have governments who are actually doing exactly the opposite, who are actually violating the rights of their own citizens and people who are living inside their boundaries. So I think in this day and age the excuse of national sovereignty, that these are internal affairs, is simply not acceptable.”

The researchers say that there has been a suppression of freedom of expression to varying degrees in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan.

Kazakh authorities used “excessive force” to break up strikes and public protests by oil and gas workers in southwestern Kazakhstan from May through the end of 2012. Hundreds of employees were dismissed, dozens of protesters, trade unionists, and opposition activists were detained, and at least 16 people were killed during clashes between protesters and police in December 2011. The report also says refugees were forcibly returned to China and Uzbekistan, despite international protests.

Torture and ill-treatment remains widespread in Tajikistan while impunity for perpetrators continued. The assessment says independent monitoring bodies were given “no access to detention facilities.” It notes that children, elderly people, and witnesses in criminal cases endured torture that included “the use of electric shocks, boiling water, suffocation, beatings and burnings with cigarettes.”

Uzbekistan has restricted the freedom of expression because human rights campaigners and journalists are continually harassed. 10 journalists and human rights defenders remained imprisoned in “cruel, inhuman, and degrading conditions.”  The  suspected members of banned religious groups are a particular target of ill-treatment by Uzbek authorities.

That torture and other forms of ill-treatment of those suspected of criminal offenses remain widespread in Turkmenistan. It cites electric shocks, rape, and the forcible administration of psychotropic drugs among the methods employed by authorities against suspects. It said freedom of movement remained drastically restricted.

 In Russia, increased peaceful political protests have prompted “repression,” including restrictive new laws and the harassment of rights activists, journalists, and lawyers.  The number of apparently politically motivated verdicts is on the rise. The situation is said to be particularly bad in the volatile North Caucasus, where Amnesty says Russia often fails to properly investigate claims of abuses by law enforcement officials. The assessment says torture and ill-treatment of detainees remain a problem.

 Kyrgyz authorities were guilty of ethnic discrimination after deadly clashes between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz three years ago.

In Georgia the new government is dealing with a delicate political balancing act.

The Amnesty report calls on Belarus to abolish the death penalty, which it says has been carried out in a “cruel and inhuman” way. Executions are conducted in “utmost secrecy” with neither the condemned nor their relatives being informed in advance.

It criticizes Moldova for not doing enough to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation. Moldova was also cited for a law mandating the chemical castration of violent child abusers.

Ukraine is plagued by failings in its criminal justice system and a lack of safeguards for detainees. The rights of homosexuals and transgenders are at risk because of pending legislation.

Amnesty-International

Posted in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan | Leave a Comment »

Two Decades Since USSR Broke Up. What Happened To Soviet Countries?

Posted by Info on 23/10/2011

Twenty years on from the Soviet coup gave birth to 15 new states. Guardian data team mined statistics from sources ranging from the World Bank, the UNHCR, the UN Crime Trends Survey and the Happy Planet Index to compare the performance of the countries, combed through the OSCE’s reports on every election in each country since 1991 to see where democracy was taking hold – and where it was not wanted.

THE BALTIC REPUBLICS

Democratic records are exemplary, but the countries sit surprisingly low on international measures for wellbeing and happiness.

THE EU BORDERLANDS UKRAINE, BELARUS and MOLDOVA
Ukraine and Moldova sustained catastrophic economic contraction.. Belarus, under the autocratic rule of Alexander Lukashenko since 1994, suffered less. The troika has the weakest economic figures of all post-Soviet regions. Moldova has the best record of free and fair elections, BUT with return a communist (Vladimir Voronin) to power. Moldova also hosts to one of the post-Soviet space’s many frozen conflicts of the Transdniestr region Ukraine’s democratic turning point – the orange revolution of 2004 – rapidly gave way to paralysis and stalemate… In Belarus, Lukashenko has faced lengthy international isolation for crushing opposition and dissent.

THE CAUCASUS
Azerbaijan’s oil dividend makes it one of the strongest performing economies. Armenia and Georgia have both seen incipient growth through the 2000s rudely interrupted by the global recession of 2008/09. The frozen conflicts of Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan and Armenia) and Abkhazia (Georgia) ..Georgia and Russia has resulted in the only war between former Soviet republics (2008). Armenia suffers from the worst unemployment of all 15 republics, and democratic breakthroughs have been few – only Georgia has held free and fair elections.

CENTRAL ASIA
A mixed economic story: Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan have expanded their economies more than 400 %. And although these are the happiest post-Soviet republics not one has held a genuinely free or fair election since 1990; central Asia is where elections are deferred or else won with 99 percent of the vote by dictators who lock up their opponents and even ban ballet and name a month of the year after their mother (Turkmenistan). Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are not post-Soviet at all: they have simply stuck with the strongmen who led them out of the Soviet Union. Turkmenistan the leader died in 2006, while Tajikistan’s Emomali Rahmon has run his republic uncontested since 1992. Only in Kyrgyzstan Soviet-era leader Askar Akayev was ousted in 2005.

RUSSIA
Russia has reversed its dramatic economic decline. .its life expectancy persisting below 70 on account of, among other factors, chronic problems with drug and alcohol abuse. Russia has the highest HIV rate (along with Ukraine), the highest homicide rate and the highest prison population of the former Soviet Union. Elections are once again foregone conclusions; governors, once elected, are now appointed. The ‘vertical’ of power centred on the Kremlin appears as strong as it was in Soviet times.

Posted in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, EU, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, UN, Uzbekistan | Leave a Comment »

Venice Commission Adopts Opinion On Draft Law of Ukraine on Election

Posted by Info on 19/10/2011

In Venice during its plenary session last week 14-15,10,2011 the Venice Commission – adopted a joint OSCE/ODIHR opinion on the draft Law of Ukraine on Election of the People’s Deputies of Ukraine.

The opinion points out that the electoral system chosen in the draft law matches neither the one discussed by the Venice Commission representatives during their meetings with the Ukrainian authorities nor the one recommended by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in its Resolution 1755 (2010). In addition, the choice of the mixed system – raising of the threshold for gaining mandates from 3% to 5% and banning electoral blocs – all changes were made by the majority unilaterally and without consultations with the representatives of the other political parties and civil society. These different changes do not facilitate the access of different political forces to parliament, several recommendations remain unaddressed.

The Venice Commission welcome the decision of the President of Ukraine not to introduce the draft law himself but rather to send it to the Verkhovna Rada so that different political factions can discuss and finalise this draft. This process should also involve civil society and thus help to build the trust of the Ukrainian society in the electoral process. more HERE

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Ukraine: Sentenced Tymoshenko To Face More Trials

Posted by Info on 16/10/2011

Ukraine’s former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was sentenced to 7 years for abuse of office and inflicting nearly $200mln of damage to the state.
Tymoshenko’s lawyers were about to appeal the ruling when the ex prime minister faced a new lawsuit. In the 1990s, Urkaine’s Unified Energy Systems, headed by Yulia Tymoshenko, owed the Russian Defense Ministry $405mln but Tymoshenko allegedly put the debt on the country’s budget.

Political analysts and ordinary people in Ukraine say that the Tymoshenko case is a political, not economic, one. For President Yanukovich, Tymoshenko is a major political foe of the past and the main rival in the present. The EU High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton has warned about her intention of reviewing EU policies regarding Ukraine depending on Kiev’s handling of the Tymoshenko case.
Yulia Tymoshenko counts on the European Court of Human Rights.

Russia needs stable neighbors.. “Russia will gain nothing from Ukraine being in conflict with the EU..The court ruling is unlikely to affect gas relations between Russia and Ukraine.Even if Tymoshenko signed these contracts in order to throw her rivals out of the lucrative gas projects, it is Ukraine’s domestic issue which has nothing to do with Russia.”

President Viktor Yanukovich called for decriminalizing economic crimes. He said that Ukraine’s legislation doesn’t meet European requirements and that Tymoshenko’s action should no longer be considered a criminal offense. Those amendments to Ukraine’s Criminal Code could be considered by parliament on October 18th .

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Ukraine Court: Tymoshenko Guilty Of Exceeding Powers – 7 Years In Prison

Posted by Info on 11/10/2011

The court pronounced a quietly verdict. Ukraine’s former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko exceeded her powers when she ordered state energy firm Naftogaz to sign a gas deal with Russia in 2009.
Tymoshenko exceeded her powers by personally issuing directives related to the deal, which the current government claims cost Ukraine huge sums of money.

Last Thursday the Ukrainian parliament passed a bill that reduces sentences for a number of economic crimes, but rejected amendments that would have allowed Tymoshenko to avoid prison.
The European Union criticized Ukraine for use of ‘selective justice’ regarding the Tymoshenko trial.

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New Study on ‘Parliamentary Oversight Of Intelligence Agencies In Relevant EU Member States

Posted by Info on 03/10/2011

This study evaluates the oversight of national security and intelligence agencies by parliaments and specialised non-parliamentary oversight bodies, with a view to identifying good practices that can inform the European Parliament’s approach to strengthening the oversight of Europol, Eurojust, Frontex and, to a lesser extent, Sitcen. The study puts forward a series of detailed recommendations (including in the field of access to classified information) that are formulated on the basis of indepth assessments of:
(1) the current functions and powers of these four bodies;
(2) existing arrangements for the oversight of these bodies by the European Parliament, the Joint Supervisory Bodies and national parliaments; and
(3) the legal and institutional frameworks for parliamentary and specialised oversight of security and intelligence agencies in EU Member States and other major democracies.

This study focuses on Europol, Frontex and Eurojust as well as Sitcen. The role of these AFSJ bodies is to facilitate, coordinate and strengthen cooperation between national authorities with the aim of promoting security and justice within the EU.
Europol currently has operational agreements with Interpol. It has strategic agreements with Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Colombia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Russia, Turkey, Serbia, Montenegro, Ukraine and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Customs Organisation.

Click for THE FULL TES OF THIS STUDY (446 PAGES)

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Ukraine: Conviction Of President’s Rival Is ‘Incompatible With EU Values

Posted by Info on 27/09/2011

Tymoshenko was charged in May with exceeding her authority as prime minister when she signed a 2009 gas deal with the Russian prime minister, Vladimir Putin, to put an end to a disruptive gas war that had left much of eastern Europe freezing.
The deal left Ukraine saddled with what Yanukovych’s administration considers an intolerably high price. Yanukovych’s attempts to renegotiate the deal with Moscow have so far been rebuffed, prompting him to threaten taking the issue to an international court.

Tymoshenko has used the trial as a platform to denounce a growing democratic deficit since Yanukovych came to power last year. She called the judge a puppet and accused the president of attacking his rivals “just like Stalin”.
On 5 August she was detained for violating court rules and has been languishing in a Kiev jail ever since.

Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt said: “Clearly this particular trial is conducted under laws that would have no place in any other European country and should have no place in a country aspiring to European membership.”

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