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Russian NGOs demand investigation of massacres near Ukraine's Donetsk

September 24, 2014, 15:36 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Many of the victims are said to have been shot in the head at point-blank range
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© AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic

MOSCOW, September 24. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian non-governmental organizations are demanding a comprehensive investigation of the mass graves containing bodies of civilians near Donetsk. Local militias found the graves on September 23. Many of the victims are said to have been shot in the head at point-blank range. Just two days ago that territory had been under the control of Kiev’s forces. Now it will be explored most thoroughly. Militias say they have discovered other graves, too, which will remain unexcavated for the time being.

The Moscow-based Human Rights Bureau is about to dispatch appeals to the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International with demands for an on-site investigation, the bureau’s director, member of the presidential council for the promotion of civil society and human rights, Alexander Brod, said on the Russian News Service.

“The masterminds and culprits must be brought to justice exclusively on the basis of legal norms,” he said.

Russia’s ruling party United Russia has suggested creating a special international commission for investigating the mass graves. It also believes that the incident must be urgently considered by the Hague Tribunal. Speaking in State Duma (lower house of parliament) legislator Vyacheslav Nikonov wondered why international human rights organizations were keeping quiet about the affair.

“Where is Amnesty International? Where is the Helsinki Group? Where is the OSCE? Where is the Council of Europe? Where are the voices of European governments? Is the leadership of European Union capable of anything else apart from new sanctions against Russia?” Nikonov said.

The chief of the State Duma’s committee for security and resistance to corruption is certain that all factions will support United Russia’s proposal for creating a special international panel of inquiry.

“The international human rights organizations’ failure to take action will be tantamount to an expression of tacit consent. It will contribute to covering up these and other crimes and relieving war criminals of responsibility,” she said.

Russia’s Civic Chamber has urged international human rights activists to form an independent monitoring group for war crimes in Ukraine.

“We were deeply shocked by the news of the mass grave discovered in a coalmine in Donetsk. That crime was committed with particular cruelty reminiscent of Nazi war atrocities,” the Civic Chamber’s first deputy secretary, Vyacheslav Grib, has said.

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