In its annual report, Human Rights Watch (HRW) organization acknowledged the 2018 deterioration of Ukraine's human rights situation. The report says that the Kiev authorities have been consistently pursuing a policy of restricting the freedom of expression and media freedom under the pretext of seeking to counter Russia.
"Ukraine is retreating from its human rights commitments," Deputy Director of the Human Rights Watch's Europe and Central Asia Division Rachel Denber said. "On the eve of elections, voters should carefully weigh their expectations about how the authorities are going to protect and ensure the rights of all the people, as well as think about the danger of a government's failure to respond to nationalist violence."
On the 674 pages of the World Report's 29th edition, Human Rights Watch examines precedents in the application of human rights in more than 100 countries. According to statistics as for October 2018, a total of 200 violations in 23 regions was recorded in Ukraine. Those include threats, intimidation, restriction of journalists ' access to information, all of which entailed violence by radical groups against media workers, activists, ethnic minorities and representatives of the LGBT community.
Human rights activists recalled that in November 2018 activist Yekaterina Gandzyuk died from burns after being doused with sulfuric acid in July. They also stressed the fact that those guilty of people's deaths at the Odessa House of Trade Unions in May 2014, got away with it.
"First of all, it has to be said that issues mentioned in the Human Rights Watch report blew up not today, to put it gently, but five years ago," Historical Memory foundation Director Alexander Dyukov said in an interview with the Inforos news agency. "In Ukraine human rights activists recorded this monstrous situation in 2014 and 2015 as well. And back then it was even more flagrant than today."
The expert noted that it is not for the first time that Human Rights Watch refers to the situation in Ukraine. Earlier the organization condemned the scheme of kidnappings and secret prisons existing in the country, tortures of disloyal citizens and drew attention to quite a number of other oppressive practices followed by present-day Kiev.
"Is the current Human Rights Watch statement connected with the upcoming presidential election in Ukraine? In my opinion, such a connection does exist, of course. Without any doubt, the US authorities are not very much satisfied with the developments in Ukraine. Human Rights Watch statements are certainly evidence of a particular change in the stance of the American authorities," - Dyukov said.
He reminded that American independent watchdog organization Freedom House is engaged in vigorous efforts to diminish the gravity of Ukraine's human rights situation. It was this organization that became one of the major advocates of Kiev's criminal activity, and continues to deny the extremely challenging human rights environment today.
"The fact that the Human Rights Watch report appeared is, without any doubt, a positive phenomenon," Dyukov said. "I believe such reports should become a more regular occurrence, but one has to understand that once the American authorities manage to achieve a mutually beneficial compromise with President Petro Poroshenko, criticism will be curtailed quickly and effectively."
At the beginning of his presidential term Poroshenko promised to protect the rights of every single Ukrainian, but it was under him that abuses in this area reached unprecedented proportions. International reports are replete with facts of such infringing in the Donbass region: tortures, interrogations, murders, unmotivated and sexual violence, secret prisons, executions and disappearances. Ukrainian nationalists refer to such methods as "separatism prevention."
For five years now, one of the fundamental human rights has been violated en masse amid the Donbass military conflict – the right to life. Representatives of the new government violate other political rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution of Ukraine as well: the freedom of speech and press, assembly, thought, conscience, and the freedom of using the native language. Also, the Ukrainian government is systematically pursuing a discriminatory policy against pensioners living in the Lugansk People's Republic and the Donetsk People's Republic.
The interesting point is that the current situation has caused no reaction from either Ukrainian human rights institutions and organizations, or the international community. Disconcertingly, today millions of Russian and Russian-speaking residents of the Donbass region find themselves in the position of second rate citizens whose rights are ignored by both the Ukrainian state and the Ukrainian human rights community.