Statement from Head of the Public Commission for the Investigation and Prevention of Human Rights Violations in Ukraine Volodymyr Vasylenko on Russian Aggression
On March 1, 2014, the Russian Federation’s Federation Council of the Federal Assembly approved a resolution allowing to deploy Russian armed forces in the Ukrainian territory. With this legislative act, the Federation Council legalized Vladimir Putin’s political decision, based on which Russian armed forces began blocking Ukrainian military units and seizing government buildings and transport routes in the Crimea even before the adoption of the resolution.
Russia’s actions represent an act of unprovoked military aggression, which is a serious international crime under international law that threatens peace and security in the region and the world. In accordance with modern international law, including the 1998 Statute of the International Criminal Court, as amended in 2010, persons responsible for the preparation, planning, initiation or execution of acts of aggression are subject to individual criminal liability. The crime of aggression is not subject to any statute of limitations.
In justifying the need for aggressive military action, Vladimir Putin cites the necessity to eliminate threats to the lives and health of Russian Federation citizens, his ‘compatriots,’ and Russian military personnel. These explanations are false and cynical, because the human rights of Russian citizens — either civilian or military — or Ukrainian citizens of Russian descent — have not been and continue not to be violated on the Ukrainian territory. This is supported by a recent statement of Andrey Yurov, a member of the Human Rights Council in the Office of the President of the Russian Federation, that the members of the Federation Council were misled when voting for the resolution. According to Mr. Yurov, their vote was based on unverified information about alleged clashes in Crimea. Mr. Yurov stated, “I do not understand why we need anyone’s military troops here. To the best of my knowledge, the civilian law enforcement units have been fully controlling the situation,”. Based on Mr. Yurov’s testimony, members of Russian Federation President’s Council on Development of Civil Society and Human Rights Council issued a statement on February 2, 2014, in which they called to refrain from use of Russian Federation’s troops during the resolution of internal political crisis in Ukraine.
The real rationale behind the Russian aggression are attempts of Vladimir Putin’s regime to restore to power the Ukrainian ex-President Viktor Yanukovych, who is now officially wanted internationally on suspicions of crimes against humanity. Such attempts have overtly illegal and arbitrary nature.
The Russian Federation’s attempts to restore forcefully the legitimacy of Victor Yanukovych are evident from the statement of the Russian Federation’s permanent UN representative V. Churkin insisting that the situation in Ukraine should be resolved in accordance with the Agreement on the Resolution of the Crisis in Ukraine, dated February 21, 2014. That agreement became invalid because Mr. Yanukovych violated its provisions, stopped performing his constitutional functions as President of Ukraine, and functionally withdrew from the post of President by fleeing the country. . He is currently on the territory of the Russian Federation and is subject to extradition to Ukraine as a person suspected of committing crimes against humanity.
Russian military aggression in the Crimea has been accompanied by the use of its covert agents in other regions of Ukraine for the purpose of destabilizing the situation and provoking citizens to commit unlawful acts.
These actions by the Russian Federation are brutal violations of the Treaty on Friendship, Co-operation and Partnership, signed between Russia and Ukraine on May 31, 1997, and the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances in connection with Ukraine’s accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, dated December 5, 1994. These actions may cause a full-scale conflict in the centre of Europe, which will inevitably lead to mass violations of the basic human right – the right to life and other rights.
The Commission categorically condemns the act of Russian aggression against Ukraine and strongly believes that Ukrainian authorities should take all necessary measures to prevent the Russia‘s hostile actions against Ukraine.
It is the Commission’s position that any further presence of the Russian Black Sea Fleet military bases on Ukrainian territory is inconsistent with maintaining peace and guaranteeing basic human rights in our country.
Ukraine must take all necessary measures to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity pursuant to Article 51 of the UN Statute, which grants Ukraine the right to defend individually or collectively against aggression.
The Commission also calls on Ukrainian citizens to fulfill their constitutional duty to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and to ensure its economic and information security. At the same time, every citizen of our country must assume personal responsibility for avoiding provocations and keeping peace and calm within the Ukrainian territory.
On behalf of the Commission,
Head of the Commission
vul. Antonovycha 33-V, 5th floor, office 1, Kyiv 01033