The Russian authorities have brought a complaint against Ukraine to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg. In it, they accused the Ukrainian state of crimes committed in 2014 and during the war in Donbas. This is the first such complaint in relations between both countries.
The content of the complaint against Ukraine was announced on Thursday by the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office, which has recently been responsible for relations with the European Court of Human Rights. Previously, Russia’s representative in relations with the ECtHR was the Ministry of Justice.
“The complaint contains a detailed description of the unconstitutional process”
The Prosecutor General’s Office stated that the complaint relates to the events of 2014 that followed “after the change of power” in Kiev “by means of violence”. “The complaint contains a detailed description of the process of unconstitutional change of power in Ukraine,” announced the prosecutor’s office.
Moscow accuses Kiev of “systematic violations of human rights” and “numerous facts of criminal activities”. The complaint includes, inter alia, death of people in the fire of the House of Trade Unions in Odessa in May 2014. The complaint also mentions the deaths in Donbas. The prosecutor’s office calls the ongoing military conflict with pro-Russian separatists a “civil war”.
Russia has also decided to accuse the neighboring country of the crash of a Malaysian airliner shot down over Donbas in July 2014. Although Moscow had previously claimed that the plane was shot down by the Ukrainian armed forces, it is now accusing Kiev only of not closing the airspace above the conflict zone.
Pieskov about the reasons for the complaint
The complaints contained in the complaint also concern the alleged violation of the rights of the Russian-speaking population in Ukraine. The Russian authorities accused Ukraine of violating the freedom of speech, discriminating against the Russian-speaking population and displacing – according to Moscow – the Russian language from the public sphere.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that there were “enough reasons for Russia’s complaint against Ukraine as of 2014” and that the complaint was justified.
So far, the ECtHR has received 27 complaints filed by one state against another. Five such complaints were filed by Ukraine against Russia, four by Georgia, and also against Russia. In January, the ECtHR accepted for consideration Kiev’s complaint concerning the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014, declared illegal by the international community.
“A model of political cynicism”
“Judging by the statement of the prosecutor’s office of the aggressor country and their foreign ministry, Russia mistook the ECtHR for a show on Russian television. The complaint to the court contained all the myths of Russian propaganda” – wrote on Facebook the Minister of Justice of Ukraine Denys Maluska, commenting on the fact that Moscow sent a complaint against Kiev to Strasbourg Court. According to him, thanks to the complaint, Russia will gain a new platform for “brainwashing”. But – as Maluska added – from the legal point of view “they will face an inevitable defeat”.
Mykhailo Podolak, an advisor to the head of the office of the president of Ukraine, called Russia’s actions “a model of political cynicism”. The Russian authorities “decided to use the instrument of the ECtHR after they had guaranteed the possibility of non-execution of the judgment of the ECtHR at the constitutional level,” he explains in a commentary for the Ukrainian Truth portal. – So the ECtHR is for Russia nothing in the legal sense, and everything in the propaganda sense, added Podolak.
A law has been in force in Russia since 2015, giving the Constitutional Court the right to adjudicate whether to respect or reject decisions of international human rights institutions. According to the law, when deciding on such matters, the Constitutional Court is guided by the principle of primacy of the Russian Basic Law. Since 2015, the Constitutional Court has already ruled in specific cases that Russia has the right not to comply with the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights.
Podolak also assessed that the Russian complaint had “no legal perspective and no practical sense apart from propaganda only”. – The paradox is that any hysteria in a given case is beneficial for Russia: a negative verdict will allow to start another propaganda campaign to discredit the ECtHR itself – he stressed.
As Podolak said, Ukraine cannot be held responsible for the consequences of military operations launched by Russia. – Russia, as an occupying state that controls the occupied territories, is fully responsible for the situation in these territories – from violating human rights to plundering the economic potential of Ukrainian territories – he added.
Main photo source: Ministry of Defense of Ukraine