Briefing by Mr. Yurii Klymenko, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Ukraine
“Illegal referendum in Crimea in the context of flagrant violations of human rights under the Russian occupation”
Mr. Yurii Klymenko, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Ukraine
(Geneva, Palais des Nations, March 20, 2014)
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Much to our deepest regret since the briefing last week the situation in Ukraine has deteriorated, further challenging our national security and endangering the European and global stability.
The political farce that resulted in the annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (Ukraine) by the Russian Federation has been inherently unlawful and illegitimate. It has breached the UN Charter and all possible principles and norms of the international law, a number of multilateral and bilateral agreements.
The brutal violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine by the military invasion of the Russian troops into the territory of peninsula late February, blocking and seizing of Ukrainian civil and military facilities, illegitimate imposition of the pro-Russian Crimean authorities, convening of the so-called “referendum” of March 16 - these are, I guess, only initial stages of the world-scale military play orchestrated by Moscow.
The results of the so-called “referendum” held at the barrel of a Russian gun and proclaiming the declaration of Crimea’s independence are illegitimate, as they do not comply with international law and the Constitution of Ukraine.
An abundance of evidence including photos and video materials, eyewitness accounts of events, including those of foreign nationals, prove that the conditions of the so-called “referendum” failed to meet the relevant democratic standards developed within the framework of the OSCE and the Council of Europe.
Just one example. According to the information provided by the so-called “Crimean Election commission” 123% of the population of the city of Sevastopol took part in the referendum.
Besides those legal aspects mentioned above there remain serious reservations about the expressed free will of the population of this region of Ukraine because since February 26 the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation have de facto occupied Crimea.
On the basis of the results of this pseudo-democratic “self-expression”, on March 17 the Parliament of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, whose mandate was constitutionally terminated, issued a resolution that “proclaimed the region an independent sovereign state in which the city of Sevastopol has a special status” and appealed to the United Nations and states to “recognize the independent state created by the people of Crimea.”
Given that the independence of Crimea was declared by an illegitimate authority based on the results of an unconstitutional referendum held in egregious violation of common European standards, Ukraine appealed to all members of the international community to refrain from providing international recognition for the “CrimeanRepublic.”
According to the international law, it is a general duty of states not to recognize the creation of self-proclaimed pseudo-states or the situation that may be connected to their creation, if it is the result of the unlawful use of force.
Signing of the Treaty on Crimea’s accession to the Russian Federation on March 18 has further exacerbated the situation and added to the stockpile of Russia’s breaches of its international commitments.
Under the UN Charter and the UN Declaration on Principles of International Law of 1970 “no territorial acquisition resulting from the threat or use of force shall be recognized as legal”.
And neither Ukraine nor the civilized international community will ever recognize this travesty that brought the world on a brink of a conflict in the center of Europe.
We urge all UN member-states to distance themselves from this act of aggression and use all legitimate means and mechanisms to stop this outrageous attempt to ruin the international law and the UN system of collective security.
We will be unrelenting in pursuit of restoring control over Crimea according to its legitimate status as integral part of Ukraine.
Any step recognizing the results of this farce will be viewed by Ukraine as a deeply unfriendly move and will cause severe repercussions on bilateral level.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Meanwhile, the situation is worsening.
The first shots have already brought casualties of this unprovoked invasion. The Ukrainian soldier was killed and another was wounded on March 18, when pro-Russian forces stormed a military base near Simferopol.
Unfortunately, the long exhibited restraint by Ukrainian militaries bore no result.
In these circumstances, Ukraine had to bring into force an order which allows troops in Crimea to use their weapons for defense.
Since the Autonomous Republic of Crimea have been occupied by Russian troops and other paramilitary forces under their direct control, there has been an unprecedented number of flagrant violations of human rights.
The Russian Federation is solely responsible for the impressive violations of the right to freedom of speech and assembly as well as encroaching on freedom, honor and dignity of human health and life.
The OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Astrid Thors upon her recent visit to Crimea emphasized “the risk of violent conflict on the Crimean peninsula and the effects this could have on all communities, particularly the Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar groups”.
The Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Mr.Simonovich assessing his visit to Ukraine informed about cases of arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and ill-treatment, and other human rights violations committed by members of armed groups in Crimea. He noticed that because of rampant fear and insecurity many people including Crimean Tatars, Russians and Ukrainians chose to leave the peninsula in this troubled time.
Moreover, Ukrainian and foreign media outlets are faced with obstruction of business, being restricted from freely moving on the territory of Crimea, and are directly threatened with aggression, beatings and robberies by armed groups supported by the self-proclaimed authorities of Crimea.
Individual citizens and journalists who have opposed the attempts of the Russian Federation to annex Crimea and have voiced their opposition to unlawful and illegitimate decisions made by Crimean officials, have had their names put on a list of “unreliable people” and their photos and personal data have been distributed on social networks and bulletin boards with calls for brutal reprisals against them.
However, thanks to their selfless work, objective information about mass violations of human rights in Crimea has managed to break through the barrage of disinformation that has been spread throughout the media by Russia.
The apogee of contempt for all basic rules of Ukrainian and international legislation came in the form of violent kidnappings of journalists, activists and representatives of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
This undermines the fundamental values of any society that professes a respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. Moreover, systematizing such acts as policy has been recognized by the international community as a crime against humanity.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Annexation of Crimea and military intervention provide support for the destabilization activities of the Russian Federation in the Southern and Eastern regions of Ukraine.
Evidence that separatist rallies in Kharkiv, Donetsk and Luhansk initiated by extremists from Russia, massively infiltrating the borders, is abundant. Security Service of Ukraine has detained a large number of individuals with IDs of officers of the Russian Intelligence Service. There are confirmed reports of Russian citizens participating in attacks on administration buildings in Eastern Ukraine. Those instigators are supported by extremist pro-Russian organizations vastly financed from abroad.
There are also further indications that Russia is on its way to unleash a full-blown military intervention in Ukraine’s East and South.
Ukraine is on the highest alert to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity by all means.
Although we still have an evanescent hope that the UN collective security is still capable of attaining its main goal – withstanding breaches of peace and security.
Ukraine has repeatedly reiterated its readiness for dialogue with the Russian Federation at all levels.
We urge Russia to return to negotiations and count on renewal of the good neighborly relations based on adherence to the international law and bilateral agreements.
Unfortunately, Ukraine is faced with increasing meddling into its sovereignty according to the worst Soviet style practices.
The so-called “settlement plan” proposed by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is another blatant interference in the internal affairs of Ukraine, contradicting universally recognized principles of coexistence of states.
It is an attempt to impose upon Ukraine elements that are not inherent with our statehood, in particular federalization. This perfidiously crafted proposal denies the sovereign state the right to its independent internal and foreign policy and demands to recognize annexation of Crimea.
Ukraine resolutely rejects this attempt to invade the sovereign state by means of dictate and occupation.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In my remarks I tried to be utmost objective and to provide only fact-based assertions against the background of Russia’s systematic disinformation creating a horrible picture of events in Ukraine that has nothing to do with reality.
I would like to express gratitude to all members of the international community who provide untiring support for Ukraine in these dramatic times.
I am confident that our determined and unified efforts will allow stopping the invader through peaceful means thus preserving the credibility of international law and the UN collective security system.
I thank you.
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