Weekly press briefing of the Permanent Representative of Ukraine for the UN Media (full text)
03 October 2014 18:18

REMARKS BY

H.E. YURIY SERGEYEV, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF UKRAINE TO THE UNITED NATIONS

AT PRESS BRIEFING

 

October 3, 2014, UN Headquarters, New York

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,    Good morning!

 

The general debate of the 69th session of the General Assembly has been finished this week. I would like to use this opportunity to thank all delegations of Member States as well as the world media including you for strong support of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine in the most difficult time of its history.  Support was granted not only to Ukraine but also to key principles embodied in the Charter of the United Nations.

As a sign of our deep appreciation we have presented to each UN delegation personalized multimedia books dedicated to the events in Ukraine. We hope it will help to better understand the very nature of the recent events in Ukraine as well as to demonstrate how important the role of the UN could be for preserving sovereignty and territorial integrity of its Member States, particularly when we all stand united.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Unfortunately one different position was sounded as well in the UN couloirs. Since Crimean Peninsula was annexed by Russia, Ukrainian delegation got used to hear numerous fictions and even lies from Russian side regarding the situation in our country. For every Russian word said here in the UN we immediately delivered facts and figures that unveiled Russian contribution to the escalation of conflict in Eastern Ukraine.

We were surprised by some statements of the delegation of the Russian Federation delivered during the general debates as well as at some other high-level events on the margins of the General Assembly.  Russian delegation tried to convince others that the occupation of Crimea and aggressive actions in the east of Ukraine were provoked exclusively  by Western countries and what is going on in Ukraine is a mere reflection of a confrontation between the West and Russia.  This is very strange position. The truth is that Ukraine has been neither the victim of Europe, nor the United States nor of any other state but of Russia. It was the Kremlin leaders whose ambitions caused the barbaric aggression and violence against the neighboring nation. It was Moscow, not the Western states, who grabbed the part of our territory and now is trying to justify its deeds referring to some ambiguous "historical justice" while flagrantly violating clear norms of international law, including bilateral treaties with Ukraine on friendship and state border.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in its resolution of yesterday qualified that Russia is a part of conflict in Ukraine by supporting militants and sending its regular troops. The Kremlin has unleashed the brutal war not against the Western world, but against formerly friendly Ukraine – the country which is weak economically and militarily, the country whose budget had been systematically and shamelessly plundered by now toppled regime of the corrupt and kleptocratic authoritarian leadership.  The mere reason of this brutal war was the sovereign choice of the People of Ukraine to be a part of the European family of nations with democratic and responsible government respecting and protecting human rights and freedoms.

Therefore, we find quite cynical the initiative of the Moscow authorities to adopt a declaration of the UN General Assembly on the inadmissibility of interference into domestic affairs of sovereign states and non-recognition of coup d’état  as a method of change of power.

Perhaps, in our reply in the end of General debates we disappointed Russian diplomats by noting that the Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention and Interference in the Internal Affairs of States has been adopted by this General Assembly long ago. In 1981, the Assembly upheld the Declaration which, inter alia, provides for clear duties of States (1) to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any form whatsoever; (2) to refrain from the promotion, encouragement or support, direct or indirect, of rebellious or secessionist activities within other States, under any pretext whatsoever, or any action which seeks to disrupt the unity or to undermine or subvert the political order of other States.

My question is: do we need to reinvent the wheel? We don’t need it. Instead, we would rather start respecting and observing the decisions taken by the General Assembly as well as binding norms of the international law which Russia brutally violated.

The true nature behind the motion of the Moscow authorities is to do something to prohibit internationally coup d’état as a method of change of power. They are just scared that the democratic changes in Ukraine might encourage Russian peoples to take over responsibility for their future. They fear the wrath of their own people, who, like the Ukrainian people, seeks a democratic government, respect for fundamental rights and freedoms and dignity.

We believe that time will put everything in its place and it will reaffirm that, despite the aggressive campaign of the Moscow authorities against my country, the Russian and Ukrainian peoples remain friends and share common civilized values.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the very outset of a new 69 Session of UN GA Russia's propaganda went beyond moral. Russia accused Ukraine of genocide of its own people. By that Russia is trying to cover crimes of its own mercenaries.

 On September 25, 2014 the Russian delegation sent a letter to the President of the UN Security Council, which accused the Ukrainian military units in the mass murder of people whose bodies were found in graves near the village Nyzhnia Krynka, 60 km from Donetsk. Similar letters have been sent by Russian diplomatic missions to governmental and parliamentary bodies, non-governmental organizations.

On September 26, 2014 Russian Foreign minister Lavrov continued this accusation in the UN headquarters, using GA platform and OSCE ministerial meeting on Ukraine.This Wednesday at his press-conference Mr.Lavrov with "deep sadness in his voice" stated that Ukrainian armed forces “killed almost 400 people whose unidentified bodies were found in the communal grave”.

By saying this, Mr. Lavrov put himself into a very confusing situation from the diplomatic point of view and gave an additional motivation for all international community and world media to deepen their doubts regarding any information that comes from Russian top officials on the ongoing Eastern Ukrainian crisis.

It is particularly significant that his statement was denied even by the pro-Russian separatist’s leader Mr. Pourgin: according to his comment (given even before Lavrov’s emotional statement) he mentioned only about “approximately 400 unidentified bodies IN GENERAL in the morgues of Donetsk” and not about mass buried in communal graves. This confusing web of lies built by Russian propaganda machine became a subject of journalist investigation of one of  the leading British newspaper “The Telegraph”, where authors unmask in details all lies of Russian leadership, Kremlin media and pro-Russian terrorists. All of them, as we say, “are confused in their prejudicial evidences”.

September 29, Investigative Committee of Russian Federation opened a criminal case "on genocide of Russian-speaking population in Luhansk and Donetsk National Republics" accusing "the top political and military leadership of Ukraine, the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Ukraine National Guard and "Right Sector" in the orders aimed at complete extermination of Russian citizens living in Donetsk and Luhansk Republics". These two steps are part of a powerful targeted information campaign of official Moscow to discredit Ukraine and its policy of peaceful settlement of situation in Donbas.

Contrived accusations that have no proof, are aimed not only to divert attention of the international community from the real crimes against humanity committed by Russian mercenaries and terrorists, and the Russia's failure of Minsk agreements, but leveling peacekeeping efforts of the Ukrainian government to normalize the situation in the east of the state. Thus Russia has never condemned the incidents of mass killings of civilians by terrorists, despite the existence of  evidences of mass graves of victims of terrorism in Sloviansk and other cities released from them. Through its false propaganda, Russia does not shrink from nothing: not only accuses Ukraine in politics of killing its own citizens, but still continues to kindle a fire of hatred and interethnic hostility.

- In report of SMM of the OSCE of September 23, it is said that the militants of "DPR" have informed mission representatives on discovery of three nameless graves, which contained several bodies in each. Two burials are in mine "Komunar" near the village of Nyzhnia Krynka (35 kilometers north-east of Donetsk), and another - in the village itself. It is reported that mission representatives of the OSCE have seen in mine two compartments located within 50 meters of each other, on which 2 bodies laying. All corpses started to deteriorate. The OSCE's representatives also saw eight 9-millimeter shotshells from a Makarov pistol, which were laying at a distance of approximately 5 meters from human remains. On the edge of the village near the road the OSCE representatives saw the earth mound, which looked like a tomb, which had the board with the inscription in Russian "Died for Putin's lie" and names (in one case initials) of 5 people. The board stated that these people died on August 27, 2014.

- Against the background of notorious facts of militants' atrocities, including torture and killings of civilians and also their prevention of activities of SMM of the OSCE, including firing of mission representatives, the specific suspicions and doubts are caused by their readiness to cooperate with the Mission and their chance of finding these graves. However, the OSCE's reports did not include, some separate estimates of the OSCE's representatives, in particular concern on the fact that Russia is trying to present it as a mass grave, that the observers has arrived to the place, where the representatives of Russian and other media has already been brought together, and they became the part of the propaganda effort. This case is a planned Kremlin action for the official confirmation by international mission of graves existence for further information manipulation.

- Based on this information, without giving any evidence as to the guilt of the Ukrainian militaries, and without knowledge of this tragedy's circumstances, the Russian side flatly accused Ukraine, Armed Forces of Ukraine and the National Guard in "mass murders" and "genocide of Russian-speaking population". Such statements are blatant lies of the Russian propaganda machine, which during the ceasefire, that is strictly being adhered by the Ukrainian side, has to compromise Ukrainian government, army and National Guard in the eyes of European and world community.

- There are all reasons to believe that by doing so, Russia is trying to manipulate with public opinion, to divert international attention from the crimes against humanity committed by Russian mercenaries in eastern Ukraine. Realizing that Russia will be responsible for the violence on the territories controlled by terrorists and for deaths of numerous civilians, Moscow, through its propaganda, uses classical principle - "attack is the best defense".

- It is significant that the Russian campaign of accusations of Ukraine develops against the background  of the  regular statements of neglect by the Russian side its own assumed international obligations, in this case - under Minsk agreements and confirmation of the international community of strict compliance by Ukraine of its obligations.

- Ukraine has broadly announced its firm intention to openly and impartially investigate all cases of mass graves and killing people during the fighting in Donbas. We also insist on graves detailed investigation revealed in Nyzhnia Krynka. However, because of the seizure of the territory of Ukraine by the militants, Ministry of Internal Affaires of Ukraine (MIA)  investigators do not have access to graves. Preliminary investigation failure is also noted in the relevant report of SMM of the OSCE.

-  Ukrainian law enforcement agencies have launched a massive investigation of crimes committed by terrorists against civilians of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. In particular, the Main Investigation Department of MIA continues to clarify the circumstances in the case of mass murder in Sloviansk on the fact of found, in July after city's liberation, burials of dozens of tortured bodies of local residents. Numerous witnesses have already given evidences of "DPR" terrorists' atrocities: kidnapping, torturing, burning alive, raping. During identification parishioners of the Protestant church were found dead, whom Russian terrorist Hirkin’s militants had kidnapped and killed after torturing because people helped Ukrainian army. Also, the investigation department of the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) in the Kharkiv oblast carries out criminal proceedings in respect of members of the so-called №1 execution group of NKVD (People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs) of DPR, which operated in Druzhkivka. Members of this group were torturing and killing local residents. We identified of at least five people, who were abducted and killed after torturing. Also, under the slogan "society cleaning" the gang at their discretion was killing innocent people, such as: homeless, unemployed and people with disabilities. The group was eliminated by counterintelligence of SSU. Two members of the group were arrested.

-  On September 23, Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic said that the number of deaths in Donbas exceeded 3000 people. He said that as of September 21, in conflict on eastern Ukraine 3543 victims were registered.

-  Regardless of the communication language, religion and nationality, all peaceful residents of Donbas are the citizens of Ukraine. For Ukraine, the death of every citizen is a bitter loss and tragedy. State directs all efforts to stop the bloodshed and a peaceful settlement of the situation in the east to create the conditions for life safety of its citizens. A striking proof of this is Kyiv's fulfillment of all provisions of the Minsk protocol.

- Even against the background of all previous numerous cases of the outright misinformation and lies of Moscow, its accusations against the leadership of Ukraine and the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the "genocide of Russian-speaking population" are particularly cynical and hypocritical. Through its aggressive policy, the Kremlin has forgotten of all basic moral principles. It is easy to manipulate for its own advantage by such words as "genocide", "fascism", "castigators", the Russian government loses touch with reality and thus does not discredit Ukraine, but the joint heroic past of two once friendly nations - Ukrainian and Russian - in the Second World War. Having forgotten painful for every soldier of the Great Patriotic War and their descendants things, Moscow artificially fueling the fire of hatred, xenophobia and ethnic strife, thus resembling to those against whom jointly fought our ancestors.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Let me  provide you with some update on the status of implementation of the Minsk Protocol and Memorandum

Ceasefire regime. The situation in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions remains difficult due to systematic violations by terrorists of the ceasefire agreement. They continue attacks and assaults on Ukrainian military positions, as well as shelling of residential areas. The epicenter of the fighting remains the Donetsk airport. After several attacks with tanks and “Grads” the militants during recent days have repeatedly stormed the airport.

Ukrainian forces strictly abide by the ceasefire regime doing their best to avoid full-scale military actions and using weapons only to defend themselves in case of an attack. Ukrainian military have prepared positions for withdrawal of heavy munitions at least 15 km away from the contact line.

Russia-backed militants regularly shell Ukrainian military and civilian areas. So far, positions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces have been shelled about 800 times. As a result of these attacks, about 40 Ukrainian servicemen were killed and about 200 wounded. At least a dozen of civilians has been killed since the truce was set. In addition to mere shelling, terrorists still conduct offensive operations. Yesterday another act of terror was perpetrated by pro-russian militants – the Representative of Red Cross Swiss citizen  Mr. Laurent Etienne  was killed as a result of shelling by the terrorists of the ICRC Office in Donetsk.

We express deep condolences to his family and friends. This terrorist act cannot be justified. Bandits and terrorists, in a barbaric way, dared to take up arms against those who came to Donbas with a humanitarian mission – to help people. This case is seen in the same vein when terrorists were taking hostages and the OSCE staff for the sake of intimidating representatives of international organizations who help restore peace and calm in Donbas. All individuals and organizations implicated in this crime shall be brought to justice in accordance with the Ukrainian legislation and the international law. Also, militants apparently have not taken any symmetric steps to withdraw their large-caliber munitions from the contact line. Russia continues sending manpower and heavy weaponry (tanks, armored personnel carrier, self-propelled artillery etc.) over the border of Ukraine through a number of uncontrolled border crossings  on a regular basis. Also, Russia has deployed mobile air defense systems in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Russian regulars and militants are observed to continue reshuffling in the east of Ukraine. Moreover, Russia concentrates numerous forces along the eastern border of Ukraine as well as in the north of Crimea. Freight train with platforms carrying 5 armored vehicles with inscriptions “To Donbass” , “To Novorossia” were noticed at the station of Ostrakovo in the temporarily occupied Crimea.

 Russian military have intensified intercepting radio traffic of the Ukrainian units and jamming mobile communications in the border areas. In the meanwhile, Russian authorities silence on numerous deaths of Russian regulars in the east of Ukraine. Human rights activists and media who investigate these deaths are intimidated and assaulted.

OSCE monitoring and verification of the ceasefire.

- Ukraine has rendered all necessary assistance for initial deployment and further expansion of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine to ensure proper monitoring and verification of the ceasefire. In particular, the SMM was provided with required security guarantees in all areas in the conflict zone which are under control of the Ukrainian military. Currently, the SMM is being expanded to 350 persons. Also, it is expected that observers will be provided with UAVs to ensure more effective monitoring and better reporting.

OSCE constant monitoring and verification of the Ukrainian-Russian state border and creation of a security zone in the bordering areas of Russia and Ukraine.

- Ukraine does its utmost to assist the OSCE border monitoring. It is expected that OSCE observers will be reinforced with UAVs and this will improve their respective activities and reporting. To this end, the Ukrainian side stands ready to facilitate legislative and technical procedures to enable use of UAVs by the OSCE.

- Russia-supported terrorists could not extend security guarantees to the OSCE personnel to all areas that they control and occasionally impede the SMM to perform their mandated activities. So far, the SMM has registered numerous cases of the ceasefire violations by the terrorists. In particular, on September 22, the Mission signaled truce violations near the village of Talakivka (20 km to the town of Mariupol) and the town of Debaltseve where anti-Ukrainian units concentrate forces for a likely offensive.

Decentralization, including by the adoption of the Law “On interim local self-government in certain districts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions”.

- The Ukrainian Parliament has adopted a law on interim local self-government in certain districts of the Donestk and Luhansk regions on September 16, although its draft triggered skepticism in the Ukrainian society and opposition of certain political forces. Under this law, regional authorities received additional budget, taxation, cultural and other powers.

- Russia and militants intensified their efforts to promote statehood of the self-proclaimed entities in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Despite the Minsk arrangements, separatists declared that they intended to claim independence and separate from Ukraine and continued endeavors to develop state institutes, in particular, line ministries, border guard units etc.

- Russian authorities, on their part, boosted a discourse on Novorossiya (New Russia), a pseudo-historical name for certain areas in eastern Ukraine. As a part of this campaign, President Putin visited a church to light a candle in commemoration of “those who lost their life fighting for Novorossiya”.

Immediate release of all hostages and illegally held persons.

- About 700 servicemen and 1700 civilians remain in captivity or reported missing. Russia refuses to release illegally detained Ukrainian political prisoners (Nadia Savchenko, Oleg Sentsov etc.). On September 23, a Russian court ruled to transfer Savchenko from a detention center in Voronezh to a mental facility in Moscow for a psychiatric examination, although she is sane and innocent.

Adoption of the Law “On the prevention of persecution and punishment of persons in connection with the events that took place in separate districts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine”.

- Ukraine’s Parliament adopted this law on September 16, although it raises debates in the Ukrainian society.

Further promotion of an inclusive national dialogue.

- Ukraine is consistently working on promoting an inclusive national dialogue. Respective roundtables were held in Kyiv on May 14, in Kharkiv on May 17, and in Mykolayiv on May 21. To secure due representation of Donbas residents in the national legislative body and, thus, to ensure their active participation in political processes and democratic reforms in Ukraine, it was decided to hold early parliamentary elections on October 26.

Improvement of humanitarian conditions in Donbas.

- The Ukrainian Government applies all efforts to relieve humanitarian conditions in Donbas. In particular, in early August it dispatched 800 tons of humanitarian aid to affected areas which was distributed only partially due to terrorists’ interference. Another part of this aid was handed over to locals in mid September. Other 600 tons of food and first necessity items are to be delivered in the nearest future. Ukrainian authorities undertake comprehensive steps to reconstruct areas that were returned under their control, ensure due payments of social benefits and provide vital services to the residents.

- Terrorists still directly and indirectly hinder delivery of humanitarian aid to affected areas and residents. For instance, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission reported that an ICRC humanitarian convoy consisting of 10 trucks could not bring aid to Luhansk on September 6 as the bridge at the city’s outskirts was mined by terrorists. At the same time, since late August Russia has sent three “humanitarian aid convoys” which broke the border of Ukraine without consent of and inspection by the Ukrainian authorities and coordination of the International Committee of the Red Cross. The content of all three convoys remains largely unknown. So is their impact on the humanitarian conditions in Donbas.

Early local elections according to the Law “On interim local self-government in certain districts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions”.

- According to the new law, the local elections in some areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions are scheduled for December 7.

- Despite the Minsk arrangements and adoption of the above law, terrorists refused to recognize the said local elections and scheduled their own “parliamentary” elections on November 2.

Adoption of the program of economic recovery for Donbas.

- The Ukrainian Government estimates that damage to infrastructure in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions amounts to almost $1 billion. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated damage to infrastructure to amount approximately $440 million. However, these figures are rough as proper evaluation is hampered since there is no access to many areas. The economic damage is definitely much greater. To address this situation, the Government of Ukraine has prepared the Plan for Economy Renewal and Growth in 2014-2016 and called the international donor conference on Ukraine and, in particular, Donbas recovery later this year.

It is evident that Russia demonstrates little resolve to fully comply with obligations under the Minsk arrangements. This implies that Russia continues to defy international law that lays down norms of global peaceful coexistence. In this regard, we urge the world community to continue to show its solidarity with Ukraine in the face of Russia’s barbaric behavior and to continue exerting political pressure and economic restrictions on Russia to stimulate it to review its unlawful and vicious policies.We continue to demand Russia:

- to withdraw all its weaponry and troops from Ukraine;

- to cooperate in re-establishing Ukraine’s control over its border;

- to halt flows of personnel and weapons from its territory into eastern Ukraine;

- to release all prisoners illegally detained in its territory and to facilitate release of all hostages held by the illegal armed groups in Donbas, and

- to annul annexation of Crimea.

I thank you!

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