The Russian Foreign Ministry’s White Book on large-scale human rights violations in Ukraine is not “a propaganda product” but an invitation to the international community to act, the Foreign Ministry's human rights ombudsman Konstantin Dolgov told the Rossiya-24 television channel on Wednesday.
“We have seen reaction to the White Book yet,” Dolgov said. “Some partners are trying to present all this as a propaganda product. But we have facts, and facts cannot be regarded as propaganda.”
The diplomat said the renewed edition of the book would cover the period from early April to the middle of June of this year and would include “probably the most shocking humanitarian crimes”.
Among these were killings of civilians in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and events in Mariupol, where Ukrainian law enforcers opened fire from armoured vehicles on those rallying to honour World War II Victory Day, he said. There was also a massacre in the southern city of Odessa, where dozens died in a fire started by Right Sector radicals and supporters from the Maidan Self-Defense Force.
And there were illegal arrests of journalists, including Russian television journalists Oleg Sidyakin and Marat Saichenko, detained by Ukraine’s National Guard near the city of Kramatorsk.
The updated White Book also included a tragic killing of Russian TV Channel One’s cameraman Anatoly Klyan in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region overnight to June 30.
“This (the publication of the White Book) is a desperate measure,” Dolgov said. “It is not a whim but a reaction to latest developments. The situation in south-eastern Ukraine is catastrophic.”
“It has deteriorated in all respects. Punitive operations and shootings at squares continue. There are air bombardments, let us remember the Odessa massacre,” he said. “These horrifying events still require investigation.”
“We certainly filter out some information, but there are too many facts. Though we do not confirm that this is the ultimate truth,” Dolgov said, adding that the White Book on human rights abuses in Ukraine was primarily aimed “to launch an investigation”.
“Let us conduct an investigation with the effective participation of the international community - the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe - to make sure that guilty people are punished.”
The White Book, published for the first time on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website and presented to President Vladimir Putin on May 5, integrates numerous facts of human rights abuses in Ukraine between the end of November 2013 and the end of March 2014. It is based on information from Russian, Ukrainian and Western media sources, statements by representatives of current authorities in Kiev and their supporters, eyewitness accounts and on-the-spot observations and interviews of Russian non-commercial organisations.
Its main purpose is to provide the public with facts and evidence of events in Ukraine, helping to form non-politicised, unbiased assessments and to call to account those responsible for illegal actions.
“We continue systematizing the information gathered, and if there is such a tragic need and victims among civilians continue alongside with human rights violations, we will keep updating this book,” Dolgov said. “This policy was approved by Russia’s president and Russia’s leadership.