Oleg Orlov on a statement by members of the Human Rights Council: ‘It completely fails to answer to the tragedy that is unfolding in both Ukraine and Russia.’

9 March 2022

by Oleg Orlov, a member of the board of the Memorial Human Rights Centre,

Source: Memorial Human Rights Centre

What can I say? It seems like they pronounced all the right words, but at the same time they were very cautious.

But seriously, if I were in my colleagues’ place, I would be ashamed to sign such a document. By God, it would be better to remain silent.

Obviously, it is pointless to ask what else this regime must do for them to consider it impossible to continue as advisers to THIS person.

I would point out that Leonid Nikitinsky ended his membership of the Human Rights Council as soon as the ‘special operation’ began.

If my esteemed colleagues for some reason or other choose to remain on the Council under this person, they could use their position to name things as they really are. If, as members of this Council, they are unable to do this, then the choice that Nikitinsky took is open to them.

For example, respected members of this Council suggest: ‘It is appropriate for there to be a range of views about the situation in Ukraine and about Russian-Ukrainian relations within society. But the last week has shown that the price of using the army to solve existing problems is too high. Military action on the territory of Ukraine should be stopped as soon as possible and all contradictions between the two countries be resolved within the framework of negotiations.”

Perhaps even Lavrov would not have objected to such wording. He might have commented roughly as follows: ‘Indeed, the price of using the army by both Ukraine and Russia is great. Indeed, the contradictions must be resolved through negotiations. Isn’t this precisely what the Russian leadership is talking about?! Have we not proposed negotiations, are we not negotiating?  But negotiations do not lead to a cessation of military action within the framework of a special operation, because the criminal regime in Kiev does not engage in real negotiations, but disrupts them.

It would have been worth adding just a few words more, for example something like this: ‘Such negotiations should be conducted without preconditions and in the course of such negotiations the parties should not issue ultimatums.’

With such an addition this point would have looked quite reasonable. But not, in my opinion, as it stands.

The same goes for other points and paragraphs. Even some small revisions, even without using the words ‘war’, ‘aggression’, and so on, could have made sense of this text.  As it is, it completely fails to answer to the tragedy that is unfolding in both Ukraine and Russia.

Of course, the authors at the very beginning of the statement wrote, with some cunning: ‘We, members of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights, do not make political judgements or political proposals.’ As though to say, don’t demand anything more specific from us.

But aren’t they making political proposals?! When they write about ‘negotiations’ – that is already a political proposal, a proposal that could quite easily have been further developed and supplemented.

Translated by Simon Cosgrove

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