Since the beginning of the Russian military operation, a sharp aggravation of all existing problems in the sphere of respect for the rights and legitimate interests of various national communities in Ukraine has been recorded by the Ukrainian authorities.First of all, journalists and public figures related to the Russian national-cultural community are subject to systemic discrimination, which is justified in the statements of the official authorities and the media as a reaction to the «Russian invasion». Monitoring of the information space in the period from March 9 to March 19, 2022 allows us to highlight the following main facts and problems in this area. Discrimination on the basis of nationality and race of foreign citizens trying to leave the territory of Ukraine for humanitarian reasons is recorded.
Numerous calls for reprisals against representatives of Russian nationality, regardless of their participation in the conflict, are appearing in the Ukrainian media space. In particular, calls to kill Russian women and children are heard in the media and from high-ranking representatives of the Ukrainian authorities. Hate speech against Russians is encouraged by major Western Internet platforms.
Ukraine is experiencing a wave of repression against opposition politicians, journalists, public figures and intellectuals who expressed sympathy for Russia. The situation around the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UPC-MP) remains difficult. The clergy are being attacked by radicals. Law enforcement agencies ignore these facts.
1. Нарушение прав иностранцев, пытающихся покинуть территорию Украины
Human Rights Watch (HRW) records systemic discrimination of foreign citizens trying to leave the territory of Ukraine after the outbreak of hostilities (https://www.hrw.org/ru/news/2022/03/05/381330 ). It is noted that foreign citizens living in Ukraine face discrimination and delays when they try to get out of the country together with hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians. From HRW interviews with dozens of foreigners, a steady practice emerges when such people are not allowed to board a train or bus, referring to the priority of evacuation of Ukrainian women and children.
A 22-year-old Indian medical student from Dnipro, who asked not to be named, told how on February 26 the police did not let him and six others on the train: «Four trains were served, then they left, and we were not allowed to board. It was said that only Ukrainians were put in jail during the day, and foreigners — only at night. We arrived at the station at seven in the morning, and in the end we were allowed to take the train only at half past seven in the evening.»
The Nigerian student said that he and about 20 other foreigners, including citizens of Ecuador and Morocco, were dropped off the train in Kiev on February 26: «The police came in, … pulled me, pushed me, asked where I was going: to Lviv or to Poland. I said I was going to Poland, then they told me to go out.» Murad Hajri, a 22-year-old Moroccan who studied veterinary medicine in Kharkiv, traveled to the Polish border across the country: first by train, then by taxi, then 11 hours on foot all night on February 26: «The Ukrainian military did nothing to restore order in this mess. All they did was push people aside when a bus with Ukrainians drove up to the border. They were passed through without any problems, they got to Poland. And for everyone else, and us too, it was very difficult. I had to fight my way through.»
A 22-year-old native of Sierra Leone, Rugiatu Faith Maksei, with an American passport, came to the Dnieper to visit her fiance (also from Sierra Leone). According to her, the driver of a commercial bus announced when they arrived at the Polish border that «all blacks should get out.» Her group and Ukrainian passengers were outraged, and she stayed: «As a result, we passed with Ukrainians, but I had to insist, it helped that I am an American, the embassy was connected.»
On March 3, UN experts expressed «serious concern about the continuing reports that people of African descent and representatives of racial and ethnic minorities are discriminated against when they try to leave Ukraine.» They recalled that «the prohibition of racial discrimination is fundamental in international law and remains applicable both in peacetime and during conflict.» The official representative of the State Border Service of Ukraine, Andriy Demchenko, told HRW that statements about unfair treatment of foreigners «do not correspond to reality» and that «Ukrainian border guards do not distinguish passports by nationality and color,» and foreigners «try to pass without waiting in line and require special treatment.»
2. Chauvinistic statements and calls for reprisals against Russians because of their nationality
Fakhrudin Sharafmal, the host of the Ukrainian information TV channel «24», owned by the holding of the Lux shopping mall Ekaterina Kit-Sadova, called for the live broadcast to kill Russians together with their families and children. In the recording of the speech of the leading Ukrainian channel «24», posted on YouTube for a European audience, this fragment is missing. Expressing his sorrow, as he had just learned about the death of «his military friend Pavel,» Fakhrudin Sharafmal said:
«I hope that we will take everyone for Pasha. I know that, as a journalist, I have to be objective and balanced in order to report information with a cold heart, but, to be honest, it’s very hard to hold on now.» He further said that in Russia, people like him and his friend Pasha are called Nazis, in connection with which he quoted the German Nazi Adolf Eichmann, head of the department of the Main Directorate of Imperial Security, who was responsible for the «final solution of the Jewish question», who advised to destroy first of all the children of the enemies of the Reich so that they could not take revenge.
Later, the presenter apologized for his words and called them unacceptable. «As for my tirade yesterday. I apologize, it was unacceptable from the point of view of a journalist and a person. Ukrainians are not like that,» Fakhrudin Sharafmal said during a new TV broadcast. Russian Facebook page was threatened by a high-ranking Ukrainian figure, Chairman of the State Border Service of Ukraine, Major General Sergei Deineko.
«Their wives, children, parents, brothers, sisters will be killed. EVERYTHING!!!. We’ll kill everyone. Your whole family is dead. We will not even leave a mention that such orcs once lived. The countdown has started. Wait, we are coming for you,» Sergei Deineko wrote, but later deleted this message.
Publicist Yuriy Podolyaka commented on Sergey Deineko’s statement: «A drunk or drugged animal (sorry, we won’t find any other words about him) with the rank of major general and the position of head of the state Border Service of Ukraine was still scared and deleted his post on the official Facebook page, in which he promised to destroy the Russian race, including women, old people and children. Following him, the text of the news was quickly corrected by the Ukrainian media. But there is something left, and not only in the cache.»
Instagram Facebook and Instagram users on the territory of Ukraine were previously allowed by Meta Platforms to call for violence against Russians and the Russian military due to the situation in Ukraine. We are talking about lifting the ban on calls for violence against certain groups of people. Meta spokesman Andy Stone explained that the platforms will be allowed to call for violence only against Russian servicemen participating in a special operation in Ukraine, with the exception of prisoners. In particular, rhetoric like the phrases «death to the Russian invaders» will be allowed.
The Ukrainian Institute of National Memory has published arguments why Ukrainians and Russians should not be called fraternal peoples. Among them were, for example, the following: Ukrainians are pure-blooded Slavs, and Russians descended from Ugro-Finnish tribes. Also, the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory claims that Ukrainians are farmers, and Russians are nomads, which means they cannot be genetically close in any way.
3. Violation of the rights of prisoners of war, as well as Russian citizens who are not combatants.
In Kharkiv, representatives of the local territorial defense, while trying to leave the city, detained a Russian citizen Alexei Babushkin, born in 1996. According to the mother of the Russian, he was severely beaten and threatened with execution. Alexey Babushkin came to Kharkov to his girlfriend by invitation. Armed men searched the apartment of the girl’s parents, to whose address the invitation was issued. The mother of the detainee Alexey Babushkin claims that the citizens of Ukraine who invited the Russian were brought to their knees and threatened with violence.
Human Rights Watch has issued an appeal to the Ukrainian authorities to stop posting videos on social networks showing captured Russian servicemen being mistreated.
«The Ukrainian authorities should stop publishing videos of captured Russian soldiers on social networks and messengers, which make them objects of close public attention. In particular, those [videos] where they are humiliated and intimidated,» the organization said in a statement posted on its website on Wednesday. Human Rights Watch stressed that such actions are a violation of the Geneva Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War, which is designed to ensure «decent treatment of captured combatants.»
On March 10, HRW sent a letter to the Security Service of Ukraine and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the country, in which it expressed concern about the placement of video content with Russian servicemen on the pages of state institutions in social networks. In the appeal, the organization also asked «what steps the authorities will take to ensure compliance with the Geneva Convention for the Treatment of Prisoners of War.» As noted in the press release, as of March 16, the organization still has not received a response from Kiev. «Social media platforms should also determine whether videos with prisoners of war that are incompatible with the Geneva Conventions fall under their current policy,» the organization added. Human Rights Watch demanded «if necessary, to develop new rules for identifying and suppressing the distribution of such content.»
4. Arrests of public figures and journalists associated with the Russian national cultural community in Ukraine
In Kiev, the Security Service of Ukraine detained political scientist Dmitry Dzhangirov, writer Yan Taksyur, historian Alexander Karevin, publicist Dmitry Skvortsov, public figure Leonid Maslov, politician and publicist Vasily Volga, political scientist Yuri Dudkin.
After the disappearance of Dmitry Dzhangirov, a video clip with his participation was released on the Capital channel on YouTube under the title «No to the WAR of D. Dzhangirova» (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZLkXarEK9M ), where a political scientist criticizes Russia’s actions in Ukraine in an unusual manner. This, according to people familiar with the political scientist, may indicate that pressure was exerted on him. Dmitry Dzhangirov’s wife on her Facebook page said that at the time of the video release she was no longer in touch with her husband and had no information about his whereabouts. She asked for help in saving her husband.
The video featuring Dmitry Dzhangirov was commented on by the author of 777hawk personally familiar with him in LiveJournal. «I fully admit that D. Dzhangirov could have reacted harshly emotionally to Russia’s actions in Ukraine. But I do not admit the idea that such a professional as D. Dzhangirov could act in the spirit of primitive Ukrainian propaganda. If he had started to «fight the Muscovite aggression,» he would have done it in a completely different style — you can watch some of his numerous videos yourself and compare them with the above.»
The chairman of the Russian community of the Poltava region Viktor Shestakov disappeared in an unknown direction. According to the testimony of friends and acquaintances of the social activist, there is no connection with his wife Marina and children: Dmitry and Daria. There is no connection with the former deputy from the Party of Regions, journalist and human rights activist Elena Bondarenko. It is reported about the bodies of two executed guys found in Nikolaev, who were supporters of the «Sharia Party».
5. Acts of vandalism
On the night of March 15, the monument to the chekists of the 26th NKVD regiment on Fontanka near Odessa was destroyed by unknown intruders. This is reported by local publications. The monument was knocked down, the tiles were also damaged. The monument was erected in 1964 to the Chekist soldiers of the 249th NKVD regiment, who defended Odessa in 1941 from the Nazi invaders.
6. Violations of the rights of believers belonging to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate
The activities of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarch were officially banned on the territory of the Drohobych City Council of the Lviv region. The corresponding decision is published on the website of the city administration. According to the document, the decision on the ban was made «with the aim of consolidating the Ukrainian people,» and the activities of the UPC-MP «are frankly anti-state and anti-Ukrainian in nature.» It is also noted that the reason for the ban was the appeal of the local community of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
In the Khmelnitsky region, the car of a priest of the UOC-MP was burned. On March 16, in the village of Tomashovka in the Fastovsky district of the Kiev region, unknown armed men broke into the house of the priest of the UOC-MP Archpriest Gennady Batenko and forcibly took him out into the courtyard, after which they took him away in an unknown direction. Law enforcement agencies do not have information about the whereabouts of the priest (https://news.church.ua/2022/03/17/u-kijivskij-oblasti-bulo-vikradeno-svyashhenika /).