Federation Council deeply concerned about continuing rights violations against Russians and Russian-speaking population in Ukraine

The upper house of the Russian Parliament issued a respective statement.

The Federation Council is deeply concerned about the continuing violations of the rights of Russians and the Russian-speaking population in Ukraine.

These concerns are expressed in a statement by the Russian parliament’s upper house that was adopted at the 496th meeting of the Federation Council. Chair of the Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs Konstantin Kosachev presented the statement.

He noted that a recent discussion of the issue was prompted by a new statutory law that came into effect on 16 January 2021 as part of the Ukrainian Law on the Functioning of Ukrainian as the State Language. From now on, all service providers, regardless of the form of ownership, must communicate with their customers and provide information on goods and services in the Ukrainian language.

“This is prohibition of the Russian language in the most inclusive consumer environment. Private businesses are being forced to obey this law while people are literally encouraged to point fingers,” the senator believes.

“This is only the tip of the iceberg. The problem is much deeper and widely known. We have addressed this issue multiple times. The problem has reached rock bottom in recent years,” Konstantin Kosachev stressed.

The Federation Council noted in its statement that the law in question was drafted during the previous administration. The current President of Ukraine, Vladimir Zelensky, promised voters that he would thoroughly analyse this legislative act and determine whether it observes citizens’ constitutional rights and freedoms as well as their interests. What actually happened was that Ukrainian officials proved unable to oppose the nationalist forces, the chauvinism and the inter-ethnic conflicts growing in the country with the active support of government bodies at all levels.

“The Federation Council statement concerning the discrimination against the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine issued in July 2020 stressed that ‘the policy of forced Ukrainisation has been one of the key causes of intra-Ukrainian conflict in Donbass which has already resulted in thousands of victims,’” Konstantin Kosachev noted. “Disconcertingly, the situation in Donbass has only escalated. Therefore, the current Ukrainian leaders are directly responsible for new victims in this conflict zone.”

The Federation Council notes that there is no use in flagging even the most obvious and horrendous rights violations against Russians and the Russian-speaking population to the Ukrainian authorities because for those ruling the country since 2014, forced Ukrainisation and the creation of a mono-ethnic state is a conscious choice even if it is destroying the integrity of the state itself from inside.

“Among other consequences, the 2014 coup in Ukraine resulted in the country’s critical dependence on external powers, the United States and the European Union. And by extension, the countries claiming to be Ukraine’s allies must also be held accountable for Ukraine’s continuing violation of its international legal obligations with respect to observing national minorities’ rights,” the statement says.

Russian senators urge Ukraine’s Western allies and international human rights organisations to engage all available tools of influence on the Ukrainian authorities to immediately rectify the widespread rights violations against Russians and the Russian-speaking population in a country that has declared its adherence to European values. “It should be further noted that in the United States and the European Union, nationalist forces are chastised while in the countries neighbouring Russia, the West is arduously encouraging any form of nationalism, including radical ones, as long as they are openly anti-Russian.”

The Federation Council believes that the Ukrainian Law on the Functioning of Ukrainian as the State Language is not only in breach of Ukraine’s international legal obligations and violates the rights of millions of its citizens but it is also in conflict with the Ukrainian Constitution that guarantees free development, usage and protection of Russian and other languages of national minorities.

“Ukrainian authorities are energetically destroying what is an asset for any civilised society, the multilingualism and multiculturalism which could objectively be Ukraine’s natural competitive advantages in the modern world. Instead, they have condemned the country to becoming a secondary and peripheral quasi-European state.”

The Federation Council draws the attention of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and parliaments of the OSCE member states to the never-ceasing infringement on the rights of Russians and the Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine. The Federation Council also finds it necessary to bring the issue to the agenda of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.