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Russia blasts senior UN official's assessment of human rights situation in Ukraine

Moscow has criticized the recent statements of UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic which he made during his visit to Ukraine, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Monday.

The Russian side is "surprised" and does not understand "the agenda-driven, biased and non-objective assessment of the human rights situation" in Ukraine, the ministry said.

"The high-ranking United Nations official preferred not to notice murders, mass violence, tortures, abductions, attacks on journalists and rights advocates, imprisonment for political reasons, outrageous incidents with a clearly racist, including anti-Russian and anti-Semite, implications, taking place on an order from or with silent consent of people who seized power in Kiev," it said.

"Instead, with fake alarm, he talks of his concerns about the human rights situation in Crimea," the ministry said.

Simonovic, who had not visited Crimea, told reporters a few days ago in Kiev that he is "concerned about the situation in Crimea, where there appears to be… a drastic deterioration in the protection of human rights, as well as rampant fear and insecurity."

In this connection, the Russian ministry "would like to remind Simonovic not only of guarantees the authorities of the Republic [of Crimea] provide and will keep providing in the future to the Crimean Tatar minority, but also of the fact that Crimea is now nearly the only place [in Ukraine] where order and the supremacy of law are being preserved."

"The bearer of Crimea's sovereignty is its people whose will was unambiguously expressed at the March 16 referendum," the ministry said. "This is implementation of the right to take part in political life, that the self-proclaimed authorities in Kiev tried unsuccessfully to deprive Crimea's residents of and that Simonovic is speaking about."

"Simonovic's speeches of some activists and journalists allegedly searched by uniformed people cannot be called other than double standards because he keeps silent about the fact that extremists offer rewards for journalists' lives, that the self-proclaimed authorities switch off foreign TV channels and massively deny entry to foreign correspondents, even trying to hinder retransmission of satellite signals," it said.

"Distribution of neo-Nazi mottoes, heroization of Nazi punishers, calls for violence against Ukraine's Russian population and Russians in general [which means actions have all signs of ethnic cleansings] should receive a clear and unambiguous condemnation," the ministry said.

Instead, it said, Simonovic "only mildly admonished a small group of politicians for incitement of hatred."

The ministry said that "an unbiased observer that Simonovic tries to present himself as, could hardly seriously believe in the desire of the Ukrainian 'authorities' to 'break with past injustices and elaborate a new vision based on the rule of law, democracy and human rights.'

"Or is he unaware of the fact that these people, relying upon extremist groups, deposed the legitimate authorities less than a month ago? It is at least strange that Simonovic calls them 'government'," the Russian Foreign Ministry's statement said.

The Russian side believes that by his statement, the UN assistant secretary-general for human rights "grossly violated the principles that all UN Secretariat officials should follow in line with its Charter - neutrality and independence."

"Besides, he a priori discredited a mission the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights plans to send to that country and put into question its independence and impartiality," the ministry concluded.

[Source: Itar Tass, Moscow, 17Mar14]

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