In Digest, Roger Annis, Ukraine

By Roger Annis, Oct. 14, 2014

A press release on October 8 by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights explains that despite the ceasefire signed in Minsk, Belarus on September 5, at least 331 people have been killed in ongoing shelling and clashes between September 6 and October 6 in eastern Ukraine. That’s about ten people dying per day.

Some of the reported deaths during that one-month time may have been killed prior to the ceasefire, with the data only recorded later.

The press release announces the latest, sixth, monthly report of the OHCHR on human rights in Ukraine. The report was completed on September 16 and is 37 pages long. Unfortunately, as in previous monthly reports, this one is largely a propaganda exercise in favour of the Kyiv’s government’s military offensive in eastern Ukraine. Hard facts are few and far between in the report, still less any explanation of what they mean.

The Sept. 16 report makes no mention of the discovery last month of mass graves in the territories in eastern Ukraine that were occupied by the army and militias prosecuting Kyiv military offensive against the region. The graves have been found to contain hundreds of bodies. The press release, dated three weeks after the Sept. 16 report, is likewise silent about the reports of mass graves.

The report and the related press release also make no effort to describe who might be responsible for the ongoing artillery shelling, military clashes and other violations of the Sept 5 ceasefire that are sketchily described.

Business Insider reports on Oct. 13: “The strategic situation in eastern Ukraine is little changed from where it was on September 5 when the “ceasefire” was announced. A line of control has yet to be agreed to. And while the level of violence is much lower than it was over the summer, fighting continues, particularly in Schastiya (north of Luhansk), Debaltseve (a strategic crossroads between Luhansk and Donetsk), and in and around the international airport in Donetsk.”

Russia’s parliament (the Duma) voted on October 10 (428 in favour, none opposed) to call on international organizations and governments to investigate war crimes committed against civilians in eastern Ukraine during the past six months and to pressure for a peaceful resolution of the political conflict that prompted Kyiv’s military offensive in the region.

The Duma also expressed concerns about the flow of arms to the military and paramilitary forces of the Kyiv government. NATO countries are backing Kyiv to the hilt, including with weaponry and so-called non-lethal military equipment.

In other news:

* Elections to Ukraine’s Parliament (Rada) will take place on October 26. The election will not take place in regions controlled by pro-autonomy forces in Luhansk and Donetsk in southeast Ukraine. Instead, elections there will take place for autonomous governing councils, on November 2.

Conscript soldiers of the Ukraine National Guard protest near the presidential administration hq in Kyiv on Oct 13 demanding demobilization, photo Valentyn Ogirenko-Reuters

Conscript soldiers of the Ukraine National Guard protest near the presidential administration hq in Kyiv on Oct 13 demanding demobilization, photo Valentyn Ogirenko-Reuters

* Hundreds of conscript soldiers in Ukraine’s National Guard have staged protests in several cities in recent days, including Kyiv, demanding that their military tour of duty be ended. Protesters are condemning the harsh conditions of their military service and saying they want no more. President Poroshenko is refusing their demand for demobilization.

* In Kyiv, many thousands of right wing protesters were in the streets on October 14 demanding that the Rada grant war veteran status for those who fought alongside Nazi Germany during World War Two in the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. The date is the anniversary of the founding of the UIA, in 1942. Protests occurred in other cities as well (video here from Kharkiv, second largest city in Ukraine; essay here regarding the march in Odessa).

* The Rada has approved a law proposed by President Petro Poroshenko that will purge anyone who served for more than one year in the government or the civil service of former President Victor Yanukovych. He was ousted from power on Feb. 21, 2014 and replaced by a neo-conservative government which includes extreme right parties. The law could see as many as one million people fired from their jobs. The purging measure will further alienate many among the electoral majority who voted for Yanukovych in 2010. Ukraine’s ombudsman for children, Yuriy Pavlenko, writes on his Facebook page that the law, “provides a way to settle scores with your (political) opponents”. Imagine the political circumstance in which an incoming government has the prerogative to purge anyone hired by its predecessor government or who served in its civil service!

* In the background of the military clashes in Ukraine and providing comfort for the war hawks in Kyiv is the ongoing military buildup and exercises of the NATO military alliance in eastern Europe. These are documented on the website Stop NATO: Opposition to global militarism, edited by Rick Rozoff.

These and other ongoing news items on Ukraine can be found in the extensive news compilation on the website section of ‘A Socialist in Canada’. Look under Ukraine: Articles by other authors.




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