UN warns of 'alarming deterioration' of rights in east Ukraine
KIEV - Agence France-Presse
AFP PhotoThe United Nations warned Friday of an "alarming deterioration" of human rights in eastern Ukraine, where the army is battling an insurgency by pro-Russian separatists.
In a new report, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay also voiced deep concern about "serious problems" of harassment and intimidation facing the Tatar community in Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in March in the face of international outrage.
The report catalogues a litany of "targeted killings, torture and beatings, abductions, intimidation and some cases of sexual harassment" which it said was carried out by anti-government groups in the east of Ukraine.
"The complete lack of objectivity, blatant discrepancies and double standards leave no doubts that (the report's) authors were performing a political put-up job aimed at clearing the name of the self-declared authorities in Kiev," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.
Kiev's interim leaders are waging a military offensive against pro-Moscow separatists who took up arms against the central government after the ouster of the Kremlin-backed president in February.
Fighting rages almost every night, particularly around the rebel flashpoint of Slavyansk, and dozens of people have been killed since Kiev launched what it called its "anti-terrorist operation" in mid-April.
In the east, the report said there has been a "worrying" rise in abductions and unlawful detention of journalists, activists, local politicians, representatives of international organisations and members of the military.
And it highlighted its concerns about the deteriorating climate for the media operating in the east, where rebels have proclaimed independence in two regions following weekend referendums branded illegal by Kiev and the West.
In Crimea, the report said the annexation of the Black Sea peninsula by Russia in March following a similar independence vote was creating difficulties for many residents, particularly the ethnic Tatar community.
It listed cases of physical harassment and intimidation, restrictions on media and fears of religious persecution among practising Muslims in Crimea.