The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union (UHHRU) has appealed to the European Court of Human Rights about Russia’s involvement in the abduction and abuse of hostages carried out by terrorists in Slovyansk. The court will decide whether Russian soldiers have been directly involved in kidnappings (UHHRU).
As reported on the Union’s site, “our organization hopes that the court will establish whether Russian soldiers have been directly involved in kidnappings; the Russian government will then be obliged to pay compensation to the victims.” Human rights activists say that Ukraine is not doing enough to free non-military hostages. Citing the example of the SBU employees who were taken prisoner, activists state that the former are far more likely to be exchanged for captured terrorists than actual civilians. Oleg Veremeyenko, the lawyer representing the UHHRU, claims that Russia is using the same methods in Ukraine as in Chechnya, and adds that Russian weapons in the hands of terrorists clearly point to Russian involvement in eastern Ukraine.
“Similar cases in the European Court are referred to as “Chechen”claims. The practice of taking hostages appeared in the 1990s (during the first and second Chechen campaign). Then, lawyers representing human rights organizations appealed to the court in Strasbourg under Regulation No.39 (urgent cases) and demanded the release of hostages. In our case, the challenge was to prove a link to the terrorists arriving from Russia, thus establishing the responsibility of Russian agents, meaning … the Russian government itself. We pointed to the fact that these terrorists carried the latest weapons – MANPAD complexes – worth $80,000 US, T-72 tanks, guns, armoured vehicles, etc. I hope the court will listen and hear our line of argument.” said the lawyer.translated by Christine Chraibi