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March 17, 2014 : Global Fallout From Weekend Referendum Builds

 

  • Russian President Putin signs decree recognizing the independence and sovereignty of the Republic of Crimea
  • U.S. & EU officials impose sanctions on over 30 Russian officials and Crimean separatists
  • Ukrainian officials vow to never accept Crimea’s annexation by Russia
  • Despite suspected voting irregularities, 96.7% of Crimeans vote to join Russia

 

Interim Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov spoke to his embattled nation in a televised address Monday night, vowing to never accept Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region.

 

The area, home to about 2 million people, the majority of them ethnic Russian, voted 96.7% in favor of leaving Ukraine and joining Russia. Ethnic Ukrainian and Muslim Tatar minorities had vowed to boycott the referendum, which the United States and the European Union have called illegal.

 

After Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree recognizing the sovereignty and independence of the ‘Republic of Crimea’, U.S. and EU officials wasted no time in announcing sanctions against certain Russian lawmakers and military leaders as well as secessionist leaders in Ukraine.

 

First a report from CBS News on the latest developments, followed by U.S. President Barack Obama’s statement:

March 17, 2014 : Global Fallout From Weekend Referendum Builds

 

  • Russian President Putin signs decree recognizing the independence and sovereignty of the Republic of Crimea
  • U.S. & EU officials impose sanctions on over 30 Russian officials and Crimean separatists
  • Ukrainian officials vow to never accept Crimea’s annexation by Russia
  • Despite suspected voting irregularities, 96.7% of Crimeans vote to join Russia

 

Interim Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov spoke to his embattled nation in a televised address Monday night, vowing to never accept Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region.

The area, home to about 2 million people, the majority of them ethnic Russian, voted 96.7% in favor of leaving Ukraine and joining Russia. Ethnic Ukrainian and Muslim Tatar minorities had vowed to boycott the referendum, which the United States and the European Union have called illegal.

After Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree recognizing the sovereignty and independence of the ‘Republic of Crimea’, U.S. and EU officials wasted no time in announcing sanctions against certain Russian lawmakers and military leaders as well as secessionist leaders in Ukraine. First a report from CBS News on the latest developments, followed by U.S. President Barack Obama’s statement:

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March 8, 2014 : Tensions Rise As ‘De-Badged’ Russian Convoys Enter Ukraine

 

  • Convoy of 50 trucks and 8 armored vehicles takes control of border checkpoint in Crimea
  • U.S. President Obama telephone conferences with global leaders to demand that Russia ‘de-escalate’ the crisis 
  • Ukraine State Border Patrol plane fired upon as it crosses Crimean border
  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warns Russia continued escalation will close available ‘space for diplomacy’

 

Reuters News Agency is reporting that a convoy of hundreds of Russian soldiers in 50 trucks and eight armored vehicles drove into a base near Crimea’s capital, Simferopol, on Saturday, March 8.

 

Vladislav Seleznyov, a Crimean-based spokesman for the Ukrainian armed forces, told The Associated Press, “Neither the equipment nor the paratroopers have insignia that identify them as Russian, but we have no doubt as to their allegiance.” 

Witnesses reported seeing another 200 military vehicles unload in Eastern Crimea as Russian troops reinforced their presence in Crimea overnight Friday, while reports emerged of unidentified soldiers seizing a missile defense base.

 

Lt. Col. Vitaly Onishchenko, deputy commander of the sieged base, said unmarked soldiers climbed the walls overnight, cut power and phone lines and demanded that 100 Ukrainian troops swear allegiance to Russia.

 

Russia claims its only troops in Crimea are those usually stationed with the Black Sea Fleet, which Washington has dubbed “Putin’s Fiction.” The Pentagon estimates there are about 20,000 Russians in Crimea, while Kiev says there are 30,000.

 

The White House says it is examining sanctions as a response to the Russian military presence in the Crimea. But will they work? CBS News National Security Analyst Juan Zarate joins “CBS This Morning: Saturday” for a discussion on whether sanctions against Russia could be effective:

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March 6, 2014 : Standoff Intensifies Between The West & Russia

 

  • U.S. President Obama announces sanctions & sends more fighter jets  to region
  • Crimean lawmakers vote to join Russia | Referendum scheduled next week
  • Russia launches large-scale air defense drills – sinks ship to block port
  • Russian forces turn away international observers from Crimea

 

Thursday has been an extremely fast-paced day of developments in the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

 

Both the United States and European Union joined Ukraine in condemning the Crimean Parliament’s vote to leave Ukraine and join Russia, saying the referendum scheduled for next week is illegal and violates international law. As armed, pro-Russian men took control of the parliament building late last month, Crimea installed a new, pro-Moscow government late last month that does not recognize the Ukrainian government in Kiev.

 

At an emergency summit in Brussels, the EU announced it will suspend bilateral talks with Russia on visa matters and has threatened asset freezes, travel bans, and cancellation of the EU-Russia summit.

 

In Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama Obama signed an executive order laying the groundwork to impose sanctions against individuals and entities responsible for the crisis, and the State Department has already imposed visa bans on some Russian and Ukrainian officials.

 

In turn, Russian lawmakers are drafting a law that would allow for the seizure of assets belonging to American and European companies if the West slaps sanctions on Russia.

 

Meanwhile, Interpol says it is reviewing a request by Ukrainian authorities that would allow for the arrest of deposed Ukrainian Viktor Yanukovych on charges of abuse of power and murder, allegations tied to the deaths of over a hundred protesters.

 

For more on President Obama’s statement and reaction from the EU Summit, here are two reports from CNN:

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March 3, 2014 : On The Brink Of Disaster 

 

  • Ousted Ukrainian President asks Russia to use military force in Ukraine
  • Ukrainian sources say Russia demands Crimea surrender – Russia denies
  • U.S. preparing sanctions against Russia over Ukraine crisis
  • Emergency EU Summit called for Thursday on the crisis

 

U.S. administration officials say Russian forces now have ‘complete operational control of the Crimean Peninsula and are flying in more reinforcements. What began as so-called ‘military exercises last week have escalated to what Ukraine’s interim Prime Minister Arsenly Yatsenyuk calls war, ‘This is a red alert. This is not a threat. This is actually a declaration of war to my country.

 

From the other side, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev called the toppling of Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych a ‘seizure of power’ and warned ‘it will end with the new revolution. With new blood.

 

Meantime, the United Nations Security Council held a meeting Monday to discuss the situation, while U.S. President Barack Obama ponders sanctions against Russia and economic aid for Ukraine.

 

The latest, from CNN:

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February 23, 2014 : Mourning, Reflection & Questions 

 

  • President Yanukovych flees Kiev
  • Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko freed from prison
  • Elections scheduled for May

 

After the months of growing unrest and the upheaval and violence that shook Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, it was a somber Sunday as thousands gathered in the city’s Independence Square to mourn the more than 100 people killed in the previous week’s demonstrations and to contemplate the future.

 

A whirlwind of events saw Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych free his main political rival Yulia Tymoshenko from prison, and declare elections for May. Since then, Yanukovych’s whereabouts are unknown – it’s thought he fled to eastern Ukraine and reportedly tried to leave the country – but he maintains he is still in control.

 

Here is an overview of the weekend’s events from CNN:

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February 21, 2014 : Deal Reached To Try To End Crisis

 

After mediation by EU foreign ministers, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and opposition leaders have signed a deal to try to end the country’s political crisis

 

Under the agreement, a national unity government will be installed and a presidential poll will be held by the end of the year and there will be electoral reform and constitutional changes.

 

Ukraine’s parliament has voted to reduce the President’s powers and also approved laws which could see the release of jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko.

 

Read more on the Agreement and Analysis of it at the BBC and at Time.com.

Bloodbath In The Streets of Kiev As Government Snipers Fire On Their Own People

 

‘I’m cleaning blood from the floor and I’m crying because this is really hard for me.‘ Those sentiments expressed to CNN by a volunteer named Anton at a protest medical clinic set up in a hotel summed up the feelings of many as Kiev descended into a day of record carnage since protests began last November over a reversed decision by Ukraine’s President to sign a trade pact with the European Union, turning instead to Russia’s promise of $15 Billion in aid and steep discounts for natural gas supplies.

 

Press coverage from the scene at various times showed what appeared to be government security forces firing at protestors with sniper rifles, and a medic falling to the street after being shot.

 

A doctor, acting as a volunteer medic, accused the security forces of shooting to kill, telling CNN she had treated 13 people she believed had been targeted by ‘professional snipers’, saying ‘They were shot directly to their hearts, their brain and to their neck. They didn’t give any chance to doctors, for us, to save lives’.

 

At the end of the day, protest medics said the death toll was over 100, while the government said three security personnel were killed.

 

Read and see more about the escalating cycle of truces and violence at CNN.com.

 

Will Recent Gains in Human Rights and Disability Rights be Wiped-Out By This Crisis?

 

It all comes in stark contract to just over a year ago when Ukraine implemented new legislation to protect the rights of persons with disabilities and an EU Commission Joint Working Staff Document pointed out very modest advancements in working to improve democracy and human rights.

The document, from the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, covered ‘Implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy in Ukraine – Progress in 2012 and recommendations for action‘.  Among its findings:

 

  • The new law on civic organizations, which entered into force on 1 January 2013, represented an important step forward in the area of freedom of association.
  • Freedom of assembly has been undermined by the lack of modern legislation. Steps have been taken to prepare new legislation, though this has still to be adopted.
  • The establishment of a National Preventive Mechanism against torture is a substantial step forward, in line with Ukraine’s obligations under the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, which it ratified in 2006. Together with the new Criminal Procedure Code, it should significantly reduce cases of torture and ill-treatment
  • Media freedom did not improve in 2012. Reports of physical attacks on journalists have become more frequent, and the law-enforcement agencies have failed to investigate alleged cases properly.
  • Confidence in Ukraine’s judiciary was undermined by trials which did not meet international standards as regards fair, transparent and independent legal processes and which indicated a selective use of justice vis-à-vis leaders of the opposition and members of the former government. Ukrainian judges are subject to interference from the executive branch.
  • Despite the adoption of anti-discrimination provisions related to disability, Ukrainian legislation lacks comprehensive provisions regarding the rights of disabled persons and the need for their integration in society and in the workplace.
  • Progress has been made in terms of children’s rights. In June, Parliament ratified the Council of Europe’s Convention on the protection of children against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. The Government approved the concept and subsequently the National Strategy to Prevent Social Orphanhood.

 

The latter came in the wake of a documentary on the BBC that exposed the shame of parents discarding their disabled children at orphanages and hospitals – an estimated 88 thousand so-called ‘social orphans’. This is what Kate Blewett wrote about it in an Op-Ed for her documentary, ‘Ukraine’s Forgotten Children‘ in the Daily Mail newspaper online at the time: ‘

 

It is Ukraine’s secret shame – and it is heartbreaking. Across the country there are 88,000 ‘social orphans’, young disabled children abandoned by their parents and handed over to the state. A grim hangover from the communist era, it is done in the belief that the state will do a better job of raising a disabled child. The truth, as I found when I spent six months in Ukraine filming a documentary after hearing reports of severe neglect, is very different.

 

AbledRights photo shows a video still of 'social orphans' - disabled children abandoned by their parents, from the documentary 'Ukraine's Forgotten Children' which aired on the BBC.

 

Nikolai, who runs the Chernihvsky Institute, truly tries to do his best for those in his care, such as Lyosha, a bright and sparky ten-year-old with no arms or legs. Lyosha at least stands a chance of experiencing some form of learning thanks to Nikolai, who has seen many of his charges leave as adults to end up in big, unfamiliar psychiatric institutions.

 

For others, the story is bleaker, as the anonymous graves in cemeteries attached to the institutes in which they have spent their short, unhappy lives prove.

 

This in a country which has spent £9 billion on improving infrastructure in preparation for co-hosting Euro 2012. Ukraine says it is in favour of de-institutionalisation – but the number of children in such institutions has doubled in ten years, according to Unicef.’

 

Read more of Kate Blewett’s Op-Ed at MailOnline.

Related Organizations banner

 

Abled Public Service link for the United Nations Human Rights Officer of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Click here to go to their website.

 

Abled Public Service link for Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative. Click here to go to their website.

 

Abled Public Service link to The Carter Center. Click here to go to their website.

 

Abled Public Service link to the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. Click here to go to their website.

 

Abled Public Service link for the American University Washington College of Law Center For Human Rights And Humanitarian Law. Click here to go to their website.

 

Abled Public Service link to the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims. CLick here to go to their website.

 

Abled Public Service link to Freedom from Torture. Click here to go to their website.

 

Abled Public Service link for Human Rights Watch. Click here to go to their website.

 

Abled Public Service link to Amnesty International and their comments on the situation in Ukraine. Click here to go to their website.

 

Abled Public Service link to Global Rights. Click here to go to their website.

 

Abled Public Service link for Disability Rights international. Click here to go to their website.

 

Abled Public Service link for Disabled People's International. Click here to go to their website.

 

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