The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office surprisingly announced on Thursday that a complaint had been filed with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg, France, for violations of human rights in Ukraine. Western media, the complaint comes extremely inconvenient. For now you must report, for better or worse, exactly what the complaint is directed against: namely against specific crimes that have not been adequately dealt with by you either.
Russian President Vladimir Putin had already mentioned several of the human rights violations in his policy article on Ukraine published on July 12. Even if the review of the complaint will take years, Russia’s room for manoeuvre at the diplomatic level is expanding. After all, the facts presented by the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office in Strasbourg are documented with testimonies, videos and photos: the deaths of over a hundred people on the Maidan in 2014 and in the Odessa Trade Union House, as well as thousands of civilian victims in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s republics since the “Anti-Terrorist Operation” began in Kiev in April 2014.
The Court of Human Rights is an institution of the Council of Europe, to which 47 states belong. Since 1996, Russia has also been a member of the Council of Europe. Since 1998, the court has been very active and intervenes primarily in the internal politics of the Eastern European member states.
As far as Russia is concerned, it has so far been mainly Chechens and Russian opposition members who have gone to the Court of Justice in Strasbourg, where they have often been vindicated. On 18 February, the ECtHR demanded that Russia immediately release opposition politician Alexei Navalny from custody, as there were risks to his life and health.
Ten incriminated human rights violations
The complaint of the Russian Prosecutor General divides the human rights violations in Ukraine into ten areas, which are outlined below.
Thus, he calls the blockade of the main freshwater pipeline to Crimea, ordered by Kiev, a measure “with extremely negative consequences” for the entire population of the peninsula, “especially for the severely disabled, the elderly, children and pregnant women.”
As a result of sanctions and political persecution, large Russian companies, energy companies, banks and Internet media have been prevented from operating in Ukraine.
Ukraine bears “full responsibility for the deaths of the passengers and crew of the Malaysian airline’s Boing-777 (MH-17, UH), which was shot down in the Donetsk region on July 17, 2014.” Kiev blames Moscow “with fabricated evidence” and prevents “independent and effective enlightenment.”
“The shooting and death of citizens in Donbass by Ukrainian army personnel “contradicts” the norms of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights.“2.5 million people from Ukraine – most of them from Donbass – have fled to Russia since 2014.
“Since June 2014 until today, a large number of Russian citizens, local population and employees of the (Russian, UH) border checkpoint (customs and border officers) died” as a result of “the Ukrainian army shelling Russian border area”.
Neither the organizers nor the perpetrators of the murders on the Maidan in February 2014 and in the Odessa Trade Union House on May 2 of the same year “were brought to criminal responsibility. "
Ukrainian servicemen and members of Ukrainian special forces had kidnapped Russian citizens in Ukraine.
The murders of opposition Ukrainian journalists (Oles Busina and Pavel Sheremet) and attacks on journalists have not yet been investigated. Four Russian journalists were murdered in Ukraine (Anatoly Klan, Alexandr Voloshin, Igor Kornelyuk and Andrei Stenin). In Ukraine, three opposition Ukrainian television channels and all Russian electronic media have been shut down.
Since then, more than 240,000 people and 3.5 million photographs have been stored on the extremist website “peacemakers”, which was set up with the help of the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs in August 2014. The website aims to “cleanse Ukraine of opposition activists and journalists.” Not only the data of Ukrainians were stored on the site, but also the data of former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, as well as the personal details of reporters from the media AFP, Al Jazeera, Le Monde, BBC, Reuters and Forbes.
Ukraine is “a multinational state in which about a third of the population considers Russian to be its native language”. However, the Ukrainian Language Law, which entered into force at the beginning of 2021, prohibits the use of the language in the service sector. Since 2014, teachers who teach the Russian language as well as Russian literature and philosophy have also been dismissed.
Already embarrassing for Western media and politics
The representative of Russia in the EMGR, Dmitry Dedov, told the Interfax news agency that the consideration of the Russian complaint “will take no less than a year.” The liberal-conservative Russian newspaper “Nesavisimaya Gazeta” commented that Moscow is " just right. As long as there is no decision, there will be no contacts (in Moscow, UH) with top Kiev officials.“Negotiations on the not yet agreed gas transit over Ukrainian territory from 2024 could be avoided by Moscow in this way.
Western media, the complaint comes extremely inconvenient. For now, Western news agencies have to report, for better or worse, what exactly the complaint is directed against, namely against concrete human rights violations that have not been reported so far or that have been located exclusively with the separatists in Eastern Ukraine and their Russian helpers.
Big German media caught the lawsuit on the wrong foot
The German media reported the complaint to the ECHR on Thursday and Friday either not at all or only in short reports.
Tagesschau.de on Thursday, it was more important to report that the Human Rights Court in Strasbourg “sentenced Poland for the third time” for “abusive political influence"in the Polish judicial reform.
When Russia files a complaint in Strasbourg for the first time since its accession to the Council of Europe in 1996, it is not worth either an announcer or a comment or a written report to public television. From this it can only be concluded that the German public television stations have written off Russia as a state. What the Attorney General of this state says about himself, in the opinion of the editors-in-chief, apparently, is not “in the public interest.”
Presumably, the German editor-in-chief simply feels that it is unreasonable for a country that does not share “our European values” to have put Navalny behind bars and passed a law against “homosexual propaganda” to dare to go to a European court. There should be no plurality of values in Europe. Berlin, Paris and London determine what” European values " are, and not Warsaw, Budapest and Moscow.
Until 2013, it was part of the good tone to also reflect the Russian position
But that was not always the case. I have been working in Moscow as a correspondent for German media since 1992 and can testify that it was part of the good tone of my clients to reflect “the Russian position” on important issues of international politics until 2013. For seven years, “the Russian position” has not been questioned by many German editors-in-chief. In the control centers of many large German media, a wall was raised opposite “the East” – as in a barracks. It is a wall against open exchange of opinions and free formation of opinions.
Why is the Russian complaint in Strasbourg only now?
Many Russians wonder why Moscow waited seven years with this lawsuit. Moscow was apparently afraid to go to the Human Rights Court, fearing that it would legitimize it. But since the Russian constitutional reform last year, which excluded international law from being above Russian law, Russia has been turning to the Court of Justice in Strasbourg without fear.
But the fact is that Russian politicians, journalists and activists underestimate the role that courts and law play in the public consciousness of Western states. To this day, it is underestimated in Russia and Ukraine that Western fake news can only be refuted by the Western public with facts, but not with general findings. To date, there is no comprehensive chronological, scientific and criminalistic list of all human rights violations in Ukraine since 2013 in German or English.