Statement by Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN Mr. Vassily Nebenzia at the Security Council Arria Formula meeting “Odessa 7 years after: neo-nazism and violent nationalism as drivers of conflict in Ukraine”
Thank you very much for participating in our today’s meeting.
Last February marked the 7th anniversary of the coup d'état and the beginning of a deep crisis in Ukraine. Throughout these years some of our colleagues in the Council have been vigorously defending every action of the Ukrainian authorities blaming Russia and the Russian-speaking population in this country for an apparent deadlock in the settlement of conflict in Ukraine. Everything we said here was branded as a “Russian propaganda” to them. This is a very shallow approach, sort of a voluntary blindness and deafness. These countries are in fact, like Pink Floyd sings, “comfortably numb”.
However, as it is universally agreed within the United Nations, understanding and addressing root causes and drivers of a conflict is key to the effectiveness of efforts to assist in finding a sustainable resolution. It is also well-known that countries of the region, and particularly neighbors, are best positioned to have a deep knowledge of the crisis.
That is exactly the main task of our today’s meeting to provide you with an opportunity to understand what happened in 2014 in Ukraine after the ill-famed Maidan coup and how it affected the life of common Ukrainians, 40% of whom, according to the most modest estimates, are Russian-speaking.
I will with your permission omit here the circumstances of the coup itself which was a big scam, unfortunately, implicating our colleagues from Germany, Poland and France who provided guaranties for the former President of Ukraine, V.Yanukovych, to remain in power until elections and then easily and in bad faith forgot about these guarantees for the benefit of nationalistic and extremist opposition. Hopefully we will have an opportunity to review this shameful situation in closer detail at some later stage.
I will instead draw your attention to the moment when the Maidan coup triumphed after a very questionable bloodbath bringing to power a lot of extremists, criminals and revisionists who from the very outset formulated their political agenda in a way that immediately put Russian-speakers to the fringes of the society demanding from them to renounce their identity and historical mindset or to face prosecution, violence or even death.
What I am saying is unfortunately not an exaggeration. We decided to center our discussion on the tragic events in the Odessa Trade Union Building on May 2, 2014 that claimed at least 48 lives (among them 8 women), when many were burnt alive by Ukrainian ultra-nationalist and neo-nazi groups. Another 48 people went missing.
On that day deputy chief of the regional office of the Interior Ministry Mr. Dmitry Fuchedzhi was representing the Ukrainian Law enforcement team on the scene. He is here with us today to share his first-person account of the events. We also have here with us Alexey Albu who was directly involved in the tragic events and almost perished in them as well as Segey Kirichuk who witnessed actions of nationalists in Kiev and Kharkov.
For the residents of Odessa it was never a secret that the attackers were armed members and supporters of the above-mentioned “Maidan Self-Defense” and “Pravyi Sektor” extremist groups. Nevertheless, for seven years the call of the UN Secretary-General for conclusive investigation remains unheard by Kiev and the perpetrators are yet to be brought to justice.
It’s also necessary to mention conclusion of the International Advisory Panel on Ukraine, established by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, which states that the investigations by the Ukrainian authorities “failed to satisfy the requirements of the European Convention of Human Rights”.
Unfortunately, the Odessa tragedy is only one of numerous manifestations of neo-nazism and violent nationalism in Ukraine which since 2014 became a key factor that split the Ukrainian society. Another major tragedy followed just a week after, when on May 9, 2014 in Mariupol fire was opened against a crowd of people celebrating the Victory Day, killing 9 and injuring 42 persons.
But the “Maidan Self-Defense” and “Pravyi Sektor” are not the only extremist groups in today’s Ukraine. There is a countless number of brigades, battalions and other sorts of fighters united in arms against those Ukrainians who do not share their extremist and sometimes criminal values. There is an infamous “Mirotvorets” (which ironically translates as a “peacemaker”) website which continues to openly publish personal data of Ukrainian and Russian citizens as well as citizens from some European countries and calls for their murder by supporters of Maidan. Ukrainian nationalists are now fighting in Donbass alongside the Ukrainian Army, openly disobeying military orders and frequently violating ceasefires and firing at civilians including women and children.
Joining us today is Ms Anna Tuv, who has suffered the indiscriminate shelling of her own house in Donbass, that left her with an incomplete family and partially disabled. She is now a civil society activist and has a lot to share about actions of Maidan authorities.
We also have with us today politologist Mr Rostislav Ischchenko who had to leave Ukraine immediately after Maidan in the face of life threats to him and his family members.
I anticipate that some of our colleagues from Security Council will criticize our event claiming that this is another manifestation of “the Russian Propaganda”, our attempts to smear Ukraine and cast a shadow on its leadership. They will be deadly wrong. These people’s life witnessed an abrupt and tragic turn because of Maidan and what followed after. They are here for themselves, without any political agenda. You may ask them any questions and I strongly advise you to do so. Because without knowledge of what this country is living after the Maidan coup you will never be able to understand what really happened and why this crisis in Ukraine is far from over unless the West adapts different approach towards Ukrainian nationalists and far right, the same approach by the way that it displays towards radicals and extremists in Europe and the US.
Without further ado I will give the floor to our today’s guests.
Following the statement by Anna Tuv:
I would like again to draw your attention to this infamous “Myrotvorets” website, who put people like Anna [Tuv] on their lists, with their personal data, with appeals how to deal with such people. And these people are counted by thousands. Anna demonstrated us some pictures. We also have pictures and videos, but they are too graphic to demonstrate. We will have mercy upon you not to show you what is on those pictures.
Following the briefers’ statements:
The bloody civil war in Ukraine, driven by intolerance and hatred, engulfed almost the whole of this country. A large-scale military operation against the population in eastern Ukraine triggered intra-Ukrainian military hostilities that continue up to now.
Our briefers also referred to the heinous crimes committed by Ukrainian nationalists. These crimes must not remain unpunished. I hope that our Western colleagues will remember about this when they will speak in the Council about accountability in the context of Ukraine.
Following the statements by the UNSC Member States:
I easily recognize the same narrative that some of these countries produce all the time. I do not think that it is appropriate for me today to engage with them in a dialogue and debate that we have been holding for quite a while. But what makes me unhappy is that they won't listen to the witnesses who give their firsthand testimony on what really happened in Ukraine in 2014 and what is happening there today.
If you listened attentively to what our briefers were saying today, a new picture of modern Ukraine might emerge in your mind. You might claim that this picture is wrong, that this is a product of Russian propaganda. But the people that you saw today are real. They all became victims of the post-Maidan Ukraine and decided to share their experience with you today.
For us living in Russia their accounts are well-known. Since the Maidan coup in February 2014, we receive information about crimes and atrocities by the new Ukrainian state and the ultra-nationalist far-right groups against Russian-speaking population. But this information unfortunately is completely blocked in the West. However it is indispensable to hear the accounts of the people who have personal experience of the events in question to understand what is really happening and what are the limits to the settlement of internal Ukrainian conflict.
Some of our colleagues criticized our meeting and our selection of briefers. However it’s common practice in the Security Council to invite representatives of civil society, witnesses of atrocities and those who can provide to us certain details that would allow us to better understand issues on our agenda. You find it normal in other country specific situations, but when we do it in regard to the events in and around Ukraine, you again call it Russian propaganda. In fact you call Russian propaganda that very uncomfortable information, that you have to listen to and those people who can provide such information.
In any case, we think that the briefing was very useful and I first and foremost would like to thank our briefers for their frank, candid and sometimes tragic account and testimony of what has been happening in our brotherly country since 2014.