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Remarks by the Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UNOG Mr. Nikita ZHUKOV on the side event in the margins of the 48th session of the Human Rights Council "Baltic States and Ukraine: State policy of discrimination against national minorities"

Remarks by the Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UNOG Mr. Nikita ZHUKOV
on the side event in the margins of the 48th session of the Human Rights Council
"Baltic States and Ukraine: State policy of discrimination against national minorities"

(5 October 2021)

 

Dear friends and colleagues,

At the outset allow me to thank you all for your interest in today’s event. It is a joint initiative of our colleagues and friends from the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Belarus and our own Permanent Mission.

As mentioned by H.E. Ambassador Yury Ambrazevich this side-event is one of a series which is dedicated to the human right situation in Western countries and their allies. We purposely organize this event during the ongoing 48th session of the UN Human Rights Council. As the UN Secretary-General rightly pointed out in his Call to Action for Human Rights: “human rights are universal and indivisible and we must see human rights with a vision that speaks to each and every human being”. But what do we see in reality? Western countries, who declare themselves champions of democracy, as well as UN human rights bodies constantly give lessons to other States on human rights and deliberately turn a blind eye to the outrageous suppression of human rights within their own territories, as well as those of their allies. This politicized approach undermines the credibility of the UN human rights machinery in its entirety. Our intention is to fill this gap and to present the real picture of human rights violations in the center of Europe.

The pandemic has exacerbated old problems such as racism, xenophobia, hate speech, as well as discrimination against national and religious minorities.

My colleague H.E. Ambassador Yury Ambrazevich has already mentioned the deteriorating human rights situation in the Baltic States.

I shall start with the non-compliance by these States with their obligations regarding freedom of speech and access to information. A wide range of “tools” used to exert pressure on Russian and Russian-language media includes blocking Internet content, banning journalists from entering the country, stripping them – under false pretexts – of their official accreditation, closing bank accounts and so on. Similar developments are taking place in the field of education, where the three States have over many years been conducting a systematic campaign to squeeze out the Russian language. Among the most outrageous manifestations of State policy of discrimination on the basis of linguistic and national characteristics is the persistence of mass statelessness. It is unacceptable when the so-called protection of a state language has to be accompanied by repressions against national minorities.

Another country of concern is Ukraine. The human rights situation in this UN Member State remains dire, and no improvement is in sight. Systematic violations of human rights and freedoms continue to occur with the connivance of the authorities. It seems that Kiev persists in its refusal to take control of the situation and, in many cases, is unable to do so and to prevent systemic violations of human rights of its citizens.

Unfortunately, in Ukraine the rights to freedom and personal inviolability are being infringed on a regular basis and there have been many instances of illegal detentions, torture, intimidation and assault, including for the purpose of forcing prisoners to confess to their guilt. It has become a regular practice to persecute political opponents, independent journalists and media and public organizations that do not support the government. In furthering these policies the central government in Kiev makes use of radical nationalist groups, which frequently break the law but remain untouchable.

         The most affected are ethnic and national minorities who are the subject of multiple forms of discrimination or stigmatization. Radical right-wing organizations operating in the country encourage incitement of racial hatred and the spread of racist ideology. There are numerous cases of intolerance propaganda online. Specific nationalist-oriented information resources regularly post racist and anti-Semitic content. Human rights defenders in Ukraine note steadily increasing growing cases of xenophobia and aggression against foreigners in law enforcement structures. The practice of detention, arrest, and identity checks on the basis of race and ethnicity remains widespread.

Cases are becoming common when racist or discriminatory hate speech and statements directed mainly against minorities are made in the course of public discussions, including by public figures and politicians in the media, in particular on the Internet, and during rallies and mass gatherings.

Forced ukrainization is an integral part of official Kiev's policy towards national minorities. It discriminates a significant part of the population on the basis of language, including major violations of the rights of the Russian-speaking community. Since 2017, state country's legislation has consistently banned the use of any language other than Ukrainian in the public sector, education, and the media. Nowadays we are witnessing a war on the Russian language and Russian education which is in violation of numerous international conventions on ethnic minority rights. In Ukraine’s case, this is a direct, gross violation of its Constitution that guarantees the rights of the Russian language and those of Russian speakers and other ethnic minorities.

We are concerned by the raise of Nazi ideology in the Baltic countries and Ukraine, as well as in Europe as a whole. Instead of being prohibited, events praising the Nazi legacy and those who served in the Waffen-SS and participated in murdering thousands and millions of people, are held in these countries, often with the support and participation of officials. We condemn such activities and policies by the Governments of Ukraine and the Baltic countries.

I do not want to dwell further on the situation in the Baltic States and in Ukraine. I am sure that today’s panelists will present to all of you an objective picture regarding the situation on the ground, and then you will be able to make your own conclusions. Having said that, I would like to wish you a fruitful discussion on this important topic.

Thank you for your attention.