The world has tired from the war in Ukraine. News about destroyed houses and dead civilians has become a routine. The loudly announced counter-offensive of the Ukrainian army, discussed by Western media with such inspiration and in such detail as if it were a Netflix series, in real life turned out to be “not lightning fast enough” and not as active as expected. All this against the backdrop of rising prices for the population in Europe and other economic “inconveniences” annoys and causes a feeling that “it’s time to end it up.” Calls for peace talks are heard from everywhere all over again. Peace talks which “reasonably” presume concessions to the Kremlin and surrender of Ukrainian territories to Russia.
For a resident of Ukraine, it has long been clear that this war is not about territories and peace negotiations with Russia are nothing more than an illusion. For a resident of peaceful Europe it seems to be not so obvious.
“In relation to men, it’s more the majority of crimes is sexualized torture, and that’s usually torture of genitalia so that’s a form of punishment [for being Ukrainian] and kind of precludes them from having children,” Anna Mykytenko, senior legal adviser and Ukraine country manager for Global Rights Compliance told CNN reporting on Kherson detention centers. “Based on the trends that we saw that the longer the occupation was, the more severe are the crimes and the higher numbers of crimes were committed,” Mykytenko explains.
Each time after the liberation of the occupied territories, the horrifying facts of Russian war crimes or, more correctly, inhuman atrocities, are revealed to the world. So it was in Bucha, Izyum, Borodyanka…
After the liberation of Kherson (one of the regions claimed by Russia), international humanitarian lawyers supporting Ukraine’s war crimes investigation have repeatedly released evidences confirming the existence of Mass Torture Chambers which were planned and directly financed by the Russian State (See namely https://globalrightscompliance.com/2023/03/02/new-torture-chamber-evidence-uncovered-from-liberated-kherson/)
According to the new report published on Aug 2, 2023 there were at least 35 detention centres in liberated Kherson Oblast where Ukrainians were tortured and raped. https://globalrightscompliance.com/2023/08/03/new-evidence-reveals-widespread-torture-and-sexual-violence-used-by-russians-in-kherson-torture-chambers/
The material was compiled by a Mobile Justice Team, part of the UK, EU and US-sponsored Atrocity Crimes Advisory Group and set up by international human rights law firm and foundation, Global Rights Compliance, to support Ukraine’s Office of the Prosecutor General.
It reveals new evidence of horrific sexual crimes committed by Russian soldiers in the Kherson detention centres. Genital electrocutions, threats of genital mutilation, and being forced to witness the rape of another detainee with a foreign object covered in a condom, among sexual violence tactics employed by pro-Russian perpetrators.
The report adds that suffocation, waterboarding, severe beatings and threats of rape were other techniques commonly used against victims by Russian guards in the Kherson torture chambers, according to the specialist unit. Mykytenko says these patterns of rape and torture point towards a Russian intent to eradicate Ukrainian identity. “There is sort of an intent to destroy or eliminate Ukrainian identity because in some cases, it can be seen that those caught or, sometimes almost hunted for, had Ukrainian flags or other state symbols,” she said.
Commenting on the evidence, Wayne Jordash KC, Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Global Rights Compliance shares a similar opinion: “The torture and sexual violence tactics the Office of the Prosecution is uncovering from the Kherson detention centres suggests that Putin’s plan to extinguish Ukrainian identity includes a range of crimes evocative of genocide. At the very least, the pattern that we are observing is consistent with a cynical and calculated plan to humiliate and terrorise millions of Ukrainian citizens in order to subjugate them to the diktat of the Kremlin.”
Russia has repeatedly denied accusations of torture and human rights abuses in Ukraine despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, investigated, compiled and shared by international human rights organizations and news organizations. Russian officials have not yet commented on the report.
On the contrary, they officially legalized these crimes in Russia.
Few are aware that recently, on July 31,2023 GosDuma (Russian parliament) has adopted a Federal Law № 395 “On the procedure for applying the rules of the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Russian Federation in the territories of Donetsk People’s Republic, Luhansk People’s Republic, Zaporozhskaya Region and Khersonskaya Region”http://publication.pravo.gov.ru/document/0001202307310011.
Art 2, p.2 of the document states “An action is not considered criminal and punishable” even if it contains signs of a crime under the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, but “was aimed at protecting the interests of the Russian Federation”. In fact, this Law allows to exempt from liability even a rapist, a pedophile, a terrorist or a drug dealer.
Back in December 2022, the draft of the mentioned law, caused discussions in the Russian opposition press. Russian lawyer Mikhail Benyash (recognized as a foreign agent in Russia) then recalled “The Three Musketeers” by Aleksandre Dumas and the paper issued by the Cardinal RICHELIEU: “It is by my order, and for the good of the state, that the bearer of this has done what he has done”. It’s ridiculous. The state actually says: “Commit any crime in defense of my interests, I will forgive you everything” – this is a complete destruction of the law, Benyash said.
The opposition lawyers and representatives of human rights organizations had at least a discussion then. Today nobody noticed that the document has already acquired the status of Law.
Therefore speaking about territories, we must clearly understand that Russian occupation means not just changing of a flag or a city name, it also means tortures, rapes and no rights for people on these territories.
But after all, it can be assumed that such arbitrariness will not occur if these territories are universally recognized as Russian, can it?
– Very doubtful.
Just one example.
Last spring (2022), in the small town of Efremov, Tula Region, a 13-year-old Russian girl, Masha Moskaleva, drew an anti-war drawing at an Art lesson at school. It depicted the Russian and Ukrainian flags – one had lettering “No to war”, another – “Glory to Ukraine”, a woman with a child standing between two flags, missiles heading towards them from the side of the Russian flag. The Art teacher snitched on the sixth grader to the schoolmaster, who, in turn, reported to the police.
On March 1, 2023, Masha’s father Aleksey Moskalev (he is raising his daughter alone) was sent to a detention center, and Masha was placed to a “rehabilitation center” – a location where children taken from families are brought.
On March 28, 2023 he was sentenced to two years after being convicted of discrediting the armed forces.
Two years of prison…
Russia has unleashed an unprecedented crackdown on dissent during its invasion of Ukraine, which has extended into education. An English teacher Irina Gen, 45, received a five-year suspended sentence and has been barred from working in state school for telling students about war crimes in Ukraine (2022). A former history teacher Nikita Tushkanov, 29, has been sentenced to five and a half years in a penal colony for referring criticising the war online (2023).
The list goes on
“Ukrainian neo-Nazism is by no means a direct replication of German National Socialism, it is largely a new phenomenon, it is a weakened national linguistic cultural violence of an aggressive minority [meaning Ukrainianspeakers] over the majority [meaning the Russianspeakers]” – This is not just another propaganda narrative articulated by Russian officials, but an abstract from the Russia’s new history schoolbook – unified textbook for grades 10 and 11 (17-year-olds).
New history book, released recently in Moscow, has already received extensive press coverage (see namely The Guardian)
There is much more to the book, but I would like to draw the reader’s attention to the following. The history schoolbook describes Ukraine as an “artificial state”, parroting Putin’s long essay “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians” , which states that “Russia was robbed, indeed” when Ukraine gained independence in 1991.
This idea, which is now enshrined in the official state school textbook, is very important for understanding the senselessness and utopia of the “peace negotiations” with current Russia’s regime.
If one state treats another as an artificial, considers the statehood of another country to be fake, then what kind of negotiation can we talk about?
Many want Ukraine to make concessions to Russia today for the long-awaited peace to come. But did anyone wonder if mr. Putin is interested in a peace deal of any kind?
On July 6, 2023 NBC reported on the “back-channel diplomacy taking place behind the scenes” involving former U.S. officials and prominent Russians close to the Kremlin as well as a meeting with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in an effort to lay the groundwork for negotiations to end the war in Ukraine. Following this publication, on the Wiki-page of US diplomat Richard N. Haass in the section “Foreign policy views” new information of his biography appeared: “In April 2023 former U.S. officials including Richard Haas, Charles Kupchan, Thomas Graham, and Mary Beth Long, among others, were reported to have conducted unofficial meetings with Russian diplomat Lavrov.”
On July 27, 2023 Moscow Times issued another publication with an intriguing title “Former U.S. Official Shares Details of Secret ‘Track 1.5’ Diplomacy With Moscow”
It was actually an interview with one of the individuals directly involved in these talks. The name of the former U.S. official has not been disclosed (yet most experts name Tomas Graham). He said a lot. I will give you two short quotes:
“Putin is the major block to all progress,” he said. “The U.S. administration has made at least one attempt to speak with the Kremlin but Putin himself refused.”
“From his vantage point, sitting across from senior Kremlin officials and advisers, it was apparent that the greatest issue was that the Russians were unable to articulate what exactly they wanted and needed.”
During a public discussion in the Norwegian city of Arendal on Tuesday, Aug. 15, Stian Jenssen, the Head of the NATO Secretary-General’s Office, has suggested that Ukraine could potentially join the Alliance in exchange for its territory
Kremlin official – Russia’s Security Council deputy chief Dmitry Medvedev reacted immediately: “The idea is curious. The only question is that all allegedly their territories are highly controversial. And in order to enter the bloc [NATO], the Kyiv authorities will have to give up even Kiev itself, the capital of Ancient Rus” – he wrote on his Telegram channel
Ukrainians want peace more than anyone else, but they don’t want Ukraine without Ukrainians. Think carefully whether Europe needs such a country, geographically located in the European body.