UN report on Eastern Ukraine in Russian perception

A few days ago the Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) published its sixth report on the human rights situation in Eastern Ukraine (full report as PDF). Naturally this is a topic that gets a lot attention in the West as well as in the East.  And one media report from Russia is now in focus.

Many thanks to “George B” who translated a news article on this OHCHR-report from Russian TV-channel Rossiya-24, thus giving a clue on the way Russian (state controlled) media reports on the Ukraine-crisis. The full translation of the Rossiya-24 article can be read below.

While Western mass media is subject to biased or even false reporting in the Ukraine-crisis as shown in this satirical video (turn on subtitles), also Russian media is apparently in no way inferior in terms of biased coverage. Although this article from Rossiya-24 can’t compete with the worst Western media false/biased reports, it clearly shows a tendency towards one and against the other side. While the article’s first sentence accuses “Ukrainian Armed Forces of indiscriminately shelling of residential areas“, it reads differently in the OHCHR-report itself (on page 3) : “While the HRMMU has not been able to obtain disaggregated data on casualties among civilians and armed elements,it appears that the majority of civilian victims were killed due to indiscriminate shelling in residential areas and the use of heavy weaponry.  […] Some of the reported cases of indiscriminate shelling in residential areas can be attributed to the Ukrainian armed forces.“.

No need to remind what’s the first victim of every war…
News article from Rossiya-24, 08. October 2014, translated by George B:

The Ukrainian Armed Forces are responsible for indiscriminate shelling of residential areas in the east of the country, the latest report from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the situation in the Ukraine states.

“Some of the reports of instances of indiscriminate shelling of residential areas can be attributed to the Ukrainian armed forces,” reads the document, published on Wednesday the 8th of October. This sixth in the series of reports covers the period from the 18th of August to the 16th of September 2014, and is the first since the agreement of the ceasefire on the 5th of September.

“To all appearances it seems that the majority of civilian casualties were caused by indiscriminate artillery shelling of residential neighborhoods and the use of heavy weapons,” note the UN experts.

However according to the OHCHR staff both sides of the conflict are behaving similarly. “We continue to receive reports of indiscriminate shelling of densely-populated areas, from both rebel groups and the Ukrainian armed forces,” the document says. Some responsibility has also been placed on the rebels for hiding in civilian areas, which ‘places the local population under threat’.

Also mentioned in the document are crimes committed in the east of the country by volunteer battalions under the control of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Internal Affairs. “We are still receiving reports of human rights abuses perpetrated by certain volunteer battalions under government control, which take up police duties in many liberated towns,” it is stated in the report.

In particular it is related that, according to the most recent communications, soldiers in volunteer battalions, especially ‘Aidar’, ‘Dniepr-1’, ‘Kiev-1’ and ‘Kiev-2’ may be involved in crimes such as kidnapping, arbitrary detention, brutality, murder and extortion. “The government must control its own units more tightly, including the volunteer battalions, and guarantee responsibility for any crimes committed by their members,” state the experts of the OHCHR.

A share of the criticism has fallen on the rebels: in the report they are accused of ‘continuing to terrorize the population of the areas under their control, committing murder, kidnapping, torture, employing brutality, and permitting other serious human rights abuses, including the destruction of homes and the seizure of property’.

According to the report, including the crash of the Malaysian airliner in July in total 3517 people have become victims of the conflict between government forces and rebels in eastern Ukraine from the middle of April to the 16th of September of this year, and also at least 8200 have been wounded. However these figures are already out-of-date: last week the OHCHR released data on the situation on the 30th of September, according to which as a result of hostilities 3627 people have died and 8446 have been wounded. The Office traditionally emphasizes that it uses conservative estimates and that the real figures of killed and wounded may be ‘significantly higher’. Accordingly the subject of the mass graves found outside Donetsk is not discussed in the document.

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