Belarus: tens of thousands arbitrarily detained
Tens of thousands of people—many of them peaceful protesters—have been arbitrarily detained in Belarus over the past two and a half years, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif said March 21. The charge came as Al-Nashif presented a report outlining rights violations in Belarus to the UN Human Rights Council, focusing on events leading up to and following the contested 2020 Belarusian presidential election and the ensuing protests. The report presents evidence of the unlawful deaths of at least five people, 100 or more cases of sexual and gender-based violence, as well as widespread unnecessary and disproportionate use of force, attacks on independent media, and unfair sentences that the report calls "politically motivated."
Ukraine: over 18,000 war crimes documented
Ukraine's Center for Civil Liberties, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with other rights defenders from the region earlier this month, reports that it has documented 18,000 war crimes committed on Ukrainian territory since the conflict began there in 2014—with the number skyrocketing since the Russian invasion of this year. Instances of torture and rape by Russian occupation forces are particularly emphasized. The Center is stepping up its investigative work in response to a fast-growing caseload. Ukraine's law enforcement system is already overloaded with war crimes cases, and the International Criminal Court is focusing on only a few cases. The Center's leader Oleksandra Matviychuk is calling for creation of a special tribunal to try Vladimir Putin and Russian war criminals. (Jurist)
UN appoints rapporteur on human rights in Russia
The UN Human Rights Council on Oct. 7 voted to create a special rapporteur on human rights in Russia. The resolution was adopted on a vote of 17 in favor, 6 against, and 24 abstentions. The Council authorizes the rapporteur to operate for a year, with a mandate to monitor the rights situation in the Russian Federation; to collect, examine and assess relevant information from all stakeholders; to make recommendations; and to present comprehensive reports to the Council and to the General Assembly. The Council also strongly urged the Russian authorities to comply with all obligations under international human rights law.
Mass exodus of Russian youth
Tens of thousands of conscription-age Russian men have fled to neighboring countries since President Vladimir Putin announced a mobilization of military reserve troops to fight in Ukraine. The tide has grown in recent days amid fears that the Kremlin will impose an exit ban. The sense of a closing window has led to chaotic scenes on Russia's land borders with Georgia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia—countries that do not require a visa for visiting Russians. There has been a particular crush at Russia's sole border crossing with Georgia, where some 3,500 cars have backed up the road for nearly 10 kilometers. (Moscow Times)
Podcast: Ukraine between East and West II
In Episode 129 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses the book Ukraine & the Empire of Capital: From Marketisation to Armed Conflict by Yuliya Yurchenko of the Ukrainian left-opposition group Sotsialniy Rukh (Social Movement). In the book, written in 2018, Yurchenko takes a rigorous neither/nor position between Russia and the West, tracing the roots of the current crisis to the rise of regional oligarchs and a "criminal-political nexus" in the post-communist transition a generation ago. The West, in its rush to effect a crash capitalist conversion in the East, was deeply complicit in this. But these regional fiefdoms were later exploited by Vladimir Putin to effect a division of Ukraine as East-West rivalry re-emerged. This January, as Putin amassed forces on Ukraine's borders, Sotsialniy Rukh issued a statement appealing for "anti-war solidarity." In interviews since the invasion was launched the next month, Yurchenko has been unequivocal in supporting the Ukrainian "popular resistance." Similar statements from socialists and anarchists in Ukraine, Belarus and elsewhere in Eastern Europe have called, first and foremost, for the defeat of Putin's neo-imperial project. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
Belarus: anarchist statement on Ukraine war
From Anarchist Black Cross Belarus, June 10:
A full-scale war in Ukraine has been going on for over three months now. The anarchist movement has responded to the Russian invasion in different ways during these three months—some have begun unconditionally supporting their comrades in Ukraine, while others continue to repeat the story of NATO aggression in the region. We also felt it necessary to make a statement about our view of events.
Ukraine preparing multiple war crime cases
Ukrainian prosecutor general Iryna Venediktova announced May 14 that her office is preparing war crimes cases against 41 suspects, on charges including "the bombing of civilian infrastructure, the killing of civilians, rape and looting." Venediktova has said that her office is investigating more than 10,700 potential war crimes involving more than 600 suspects.
Belarus: 'partisans' sabotage rail lines to Ukraine
Belarus has served as a staging ground for one leg of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and Kyiv officials warn that Belarusian forces may join Putin's war effort. But resistance to the Russian aggression is emerging in Belarus—apparently including acts of sabotage. Ukrainian Railways (Ukrzaliznytsia) announces that the rail links into Ukraine from Belarus have been effectively cut, preventing the transport of Russian reinforcements and equipment. Belarusian news site Zerkalo reports that "in the Mogilev, Gomel and Minsk regions three cases of destruction of signaling equipment, blocking of railways were recorded." Belarusian security forces acknowledge the sabotage was motivated by opposition to the war in Ukraine. Named as behind the sabotage are the banned groups Busly Lyatsyats, a pro-democracy social-media network ordered suppressed by the regime last year, and BYpol, a union of dissident Belarusian security officers. A representative of exiled opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya saluted the work of these "partisans," adding: "Ukraine will win! Belarus will also be liberated!" (EuroMaidan Press)
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