Friday, March 14, 2014

Ukraine Crisis: Amnesty Calls for Rights Monitors After Pro-Russia Activists Kill Two

International human rights monitors should be deployed across Ukraine amid rising violence and abuses by pro-Russia forces, says Amnesty International in this statement today.

The group says police in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk let pro-Russia activists through a police cordon to attack a pro-Ukrainian unity and anti-war demonstration Thursday.

The attackers were armed with sticks, metal tubes and knives. At least two pro-Ukraine marchers were killed, while about 50 were injured, according to this report from the Kyiv Post and this one on Ukrainian-language

Reports of Russian Provocateurs, Soldiers Entering Ukraine

Earlier reports indicate Russian provocateurs have arrived by the busload in eastern Ukraine and organized protests in the region.

Ukrainian authorities have also reported detaining a number of Russian soldiers trying to enter Ukraine incognito. A Russian military intelligence spy was detained Thursday near the Crimean border with an assault rifle and ID giving different names, reports.

Ukrainian security officials announced Wednesday that a Russian military reconnaissance unit had been detained also near Crimea.

The Russian foreign ministry said after the Donetsk clash it has the right to intervene in Ukraine to protect Russian citizens.

(Russian president Vladimir Putin was reported Wednesday to have said Ukraine's 1991 separation from the Soviet Union was legally questionable, even though Russia separated from the Soviet Union in a similar manner the same year.)

The incident in Donetsk is reminiscent of previous attacks by gangs of armed thugs known as titushki, who were employed by Ukraine's recently deposed pro-Kremlin president Viktor Yanukovych to attack anti-government protesters.

Pro-Ukraine Activists Missing

Amnesty International's statement also decried the disappearance of three pro-Ukrainian unity activists on Thursday in the Crimean capital of Simferopol.

The disappearance is just the latest of numerous reports of detentions of journalists and activists and other rights abuses in Crimea since thousands of Russian soldiers took over the Ukrainian region in late February.

"Reports of the harassment and intimidation of activists and journalists by the de facto military forces operating in Crimea are an extremely worrying development where human rights abuses are already rife," said Amnesty's John Dalhuisen.

"We reiterate our calls for both the Crimean authorities and those in de facto military control of the region to allow people to peacefully exercise their human rights without the threat of intimidation or violence."

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