16 May 2014, 21:58

What is going on in Ukraine could be identified as war crimes

What is going on in Ukraine could be identified as war crimes
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The UN report on Ukrainian crisis released Friday would not go into the killings of civilians by junta's "elite" National Guard. Moreover, it has never even mentioned something like "war crimes" against civilian population. So, is mass killing of civilians by armed units a war crime? What is a war crime? And how do you qualify what's going on in Ukraine now? The Voice of Russia discusses this issue with a lawyer and political analyst Dr. Alexey Binetsky.

UN and International human rights bodies keep looking the other way as a growing number of civilians are taken hostage, beaten, tortured and killed in the course of the so-called "anti-terrorist operation' launched by Kiev junta in the breakaway South-East regions. 

A new report by the UN monitoring team in Ukraine was released in Kiev and Geneva on Friday. The 34-pages paper has stopped short of qualifying as a war crime the so-called antiterrorist operation in the South-East of Ukraine in which the "elite" National Guard and the Right Sector have been shooting, torturing and killing civilians. 

“It is deeply regrettable that the report actually justifies the criminal punitive operation in Southeastern Ukraine, and is silent on the victims among civilians, attempting to place the responsibility for human rights violation on the ‘pro-Russian forces,’” Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said Friday. 

Yet, the authors of the UN report decided to stress, that “security and law enforcement operations must be in line with international standards and guarantee the protection of all individuals at all times”.

So, what are the international standards and are there legal grounds to raise an issue of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Kiev junta?

"What is going on in Ukraine and how it is going now, could be identified as war crimes", says Dr. Alexey Binetsky, lawyer and political analyst.

What is a war crime?

In front of me there is a list of different legal acts, starting from the 1945-1949 till now. And all in all, it is 24 different legal documents describing everything which is connected to what you’ve mentioned as the war crimes.

War crime is a violation of the certain rules of war. Maybe, it sounds strange, but even when there is a war between the countries or a war inside of one country, even then the government, the combatants, the militias, the military forces - they should all follow certain rules, specifically in connection with the civil rights and the civilians. That’s the main issue.

So, what we can see now on the territory of Ukraine, for us – the Russians – it is rather easy to understand, because a couple of years ago we faced the same situation on the territory of our own country. I mean, Chechnya and the North Caucasus, where the Russian prosecutors and the Russian courts later on, after all these conflicts were more or less stopped, identified some violations.

They identified it not like the war crimes, because these were our domestic courts, it was a violation of the rules of police and military forces when they participated in the antiterrorist activity and the civilians were occasionally attacked or maybe on purpose.

We are well aware of the case of Odessa – more than 50 people shot and burned, some burned alive - in a single building. And I know there has been no investigation as yet.

It is too early to discuss the question of what could be the legal clarification of what is going on there, first of all. Second, it is absolutely necessary now for the Russians, for the international organizations, for the UN, first of all for the Ukrainian nation to start the investigation of what happened. Otherwise, the evidence and maybe the people who are witnesses could escape, and the evidence could be damaged. That is the main point today, if it is possible.

We need the people who can bring us the truth and the truth later on will bring this to the justice.

Well, happily, the blogs and Youtube are full of videos and…

I’m now talking as a lawyer. We need the evidence, the facts. In order to keep these facts clear for the future, it is necessary to do directly or indirectly, secretly or openly, but it is necessary to do this type of job now.

How is it done? I mean, now Ukraine is de facto in a state of a civil war. When that horrible massacre in Odessa happened a couple of weeks ago, the investigation has not been started as yet according to all evidence and all reports coming from Odessa. So, how is it done, is it really possible?

I understand your point, that it is a real mess in Ukraine today. The present Government or the present person who named himself a president and Mr. Yanukovych who dropped his country and his people, and ran somewhere to Russia – from this point of view the honest politics… and I believe that they have honest people even in the state Parliament. They should apply to the international institutions and say – look, we have such a terrible situation, we need a legal support and we need a legal expertise of the international institutions, please send us Americans, British, Russians, Serbians, Ukrainians, Belarusians whatever it is.

And here we arrive to another interesting question, which is – what are those existing international institutions that could be trusted?

First of all, the UN. The UN has a lot of experts in different areas. And they can easily and quickly combine a group of experts, protect them with all the international laws and send them on the territory of Ukraine.

Does the ICC belong to the UN system?

No, it is part of the international system but it is a court. And as we understand the court is handling the case. We don’t have any case. That’s why a couple of minutes before I said that in order to be sure that the justice will come… because we all understand that these are the crimes there, but what kinds of crimes?

We should divide it –the international war crimes, when it is a fight between the two countries. Like the Nuremberg Tribunal in 1945, because these were the violations of the laws on the one side, from Germany and fascist countries and on the other side there was an alliance of the Western countries and the Soviet Union.

And today we are talking about the internal violations, but these are also the war crimes. If it will be clear that these were the special military groups who received the orders from the past or present president or government, or any other officials, and they on purpose killed or cleared the situation where the civilians died without any reason, because they did not attack anyone…it is a complex of big serious questions.

Otherwise, if the evidences wouldn’t be kept today and somebody will keep it for the future, and if we will not identify the witnesses today, this question will be very difficult or even impossible to investigate. And this question will be like a dirty hole for the next generations of the Ukrainians, Russians and Europeans.

It is very important to act now and react not penetrating the political situation, not penetrating what is going on between the Ukrainians…

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