Fake by fake: Russia gave false evidence against Ukraine in ICJ

Author : Serhiy Sydorenko

Source : 112 Ukraine

Russia accused Ukraine of capturing Crimea without previous agreement with the population
09:20, 8 March 2017

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On Tuesday, the judges of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, where hearing the case "Russia v. Ukraine" began, heard explanations of the Russian side.

Meanwhile, we have got access to the documents of the Russian side. Last week, folio consist of more than 600 pages was registered in the secretariat of the court. Russian diplomats cited this evidence in their speech.

Exchanging pleasantries

As you know, Ukraine asks the International Court of Justice to bring Russia to justice for violation of two conventions - Fight against money laundering and terrorist financing and on the Elimination of all forms of racial discrimination. The first concerns action in the East of Ukraine, the second is about the persecution of Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar communities in illegally annexed Crimea.

Related: Ukraine to pass UN Criminal Court all diplomatic notes sent to Russia since 2014

Arguments of the Russians, voiced at the hearings, deserve special attention - in particular, that the militants "found weapons in the mines," and Russia is not involved in its supply, and that Russia’s supply of "Buk" SAM does not violate international conventions.

Russian defenders minimized protection of the Crimean issue and majorly focused on Donbas. A representative of Russia Roman Kolodkin accused Ukraine of the fact that it has captured Crimea and did not agree it with the population. He presented the ICJ false information that the Crimean citizens could choose whether they want to live in independent Ukraine. In fact, during a referendum in 1991, Sevastopol and Crimea majorly voted in support of independence.

But let us go back to the 600-page explanations.

Related: Ukraine to appeal Russia’s statements made during session of UN Court

The papers, presented by the Russians, also contain the copies of correspondence between Russian Foreign Minister and Ukrainian diplomatic mission during the hottest periods of the conflict. Diplomatic notes have very interesting and unusual design - for example, Ukrainian Foreign Ministry uses Ukrainian language to talk to their Russian counterparts (the Russians have to study the documents in the "unofficial translation").

Even then, in 2014, Ukraine and Russia accused each other of lying through the diplomatic correspondence, and the Russians again and again stated that the claims against them are false. "The Ministry draws attention to the inadmissibility of the use of fictional information or groundless accusations in the diplomatic correspondence," as noted in the Russian letters.

Related: UN Court to listen Russian side's position regarding Ukraine's lawsuit

Let us concentrate on the final part of the document, where the Russian side has submitted the visual evidence - almost a hundred photos with captions that were to illustrate "Ukrainian crimes."

Crucified boy, Hague version

Tuesday morning - before the Russians officially presented their arguments - Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze said she expects that Russia would present lies and fakes in the ICJ.

"This would be something like from "Sputnik" or "Russia Today," Klympush-Tsintsadze suggested. And she was right. The first document refers to a link, to a specially edited for Russian broadcasting Poroshenko’s speech held in Odesa in November 2014.

The Russians decided to prove to the court that the Ukrainian president had threatened to hold terror in Donbas and to win the war.

"Our children would go to schools and kindergartens, but they are sitting in the basement instead. That's how we will win the war," Russian Foreign Ministry quoted Poroshenko. And it looks like they do not even try to find his original speech.

Related: Court refused to assign forensic medical examination for Nasirov

If you read the full text of Poroshenko’s speech, the president did not voice any threats to residents of the occupied territories. He rather talked that the local militants now force them to live in inhumane conditions, depriving future.

This is an essential difference, right?

Russian side also presented an illustration photo of school where people were hiding. The school on the outskirts of Horlivka really became a shelter for local residents. However, there are no children in this area that is on the very line of the conflict (and in 2014, in the midst of heated clashes); according to Russian media, Ukrainian "punitive" forces have forced to sit them in the basement.

Russians accused Ukraine of the use of banned chemical weapons - phosphorus bombs. Russian Foreign Ministry has fixed this fact and even provided a specific time and place - 12 June, Semenivka (near Sloviansk).

Related: Ukraine asked UN highest court to make Russia stop supporting rebels in Donbas

Three years ago, Russian media reported that Ukraine used phosphorus bombs, but subsequent events have confirmed that this was fake information. And there was no evidence of the use of phosphorous bombs. Moreover, local residents did not complain about burns on their skin or did not see any scorched earth.

In addition, the media published a talk between representative pro-Russian militants Andriy Purhin and an unknown interlocutor in Russia, and the militant admitted that there were no signs of phosphoric bombs.

Subsequently, information about phosphorous bombs appeared again and again, but each time it was denied.

Who was shooting?

A separate unit is false reports of attacks. For example, the Russians have provided information on the tragedy that took place January 22, 2015 in Donetsk. Precisely, a mortar shelling of the public transport; according to various estimates, it took lives of 8 - 13 civilians.

However, this bombardment, by contrast, is a good example of terrorist attack of the Russian-backed fighters, which was conducted from the territory controlled by the militants. The distance between the Ukrainian positions and the place of the tragedy was about 20 km, which is twice higher than the maximum range of the mortar fire.

Related: High Administrative Court rejected ex-judge’s reinstatement application

But of course, Donetsk media blamed the Ukrainian army of it. But this would not be a conclusive evidence for ICJ.

Another example is the shelling of Donetsk that took place November 5, 2014, when a shell fell on the school stadium, killing two children and injuring several others. Here the situation is more complicated, because the OSCE said in its report that the shell came from the north-west, i.e. from the territory controlled by Ukraine.

However, numerous media investigations conducted by Russian journalists (which, by the way, arrived at the scene immediately after the explosion), and detailed explanations of official Kyiv, show that actually the firing was conducted from Makiyivka, which is controlled by the militants.

For the majority of the other episodes there is no clear evidence that plays in favor of one or the other party. For example, the separatist checkpoint in Olenevka was shelled on April 27, 2016, killing five people, and the parties exchanged accusations, putting each other responsible for the tragic incident.

But numerous videos where militants are firing from residential areas, trying to cause a fire in response, the Russians could not answer in details. The report provided only two photos of tanks moving (not firing!) through the streets of Avdiivka. On one of these photos, there are OSCE monitors’ cars near the military vehicles. Representatives of the Russian Federation stressed that these pictures show that Ukrainian soldiers conduct their operations directly from the residential area.

Related: Court did not manage to choose preventive measure for Nasirov

Meanwhile, the Russian documents contain some episodes that Ukrainian side will have to explain. Almost all of them related to events of the first months of the war - as, for example, air bombardment of Luhansk Regional State Administration in June 2014.

Everything is about the junta

In general, the task of the Russian side in The Hague is to prove that it was not a revolution in Ukraine, but a "civil war."

Director of the Legal Department of the Foreign Ministry Roman Kolodkin, representing Russia in the trial, repeated thesis about the "bloody coup", "violent revolution," and "rebellion" in Ukraine.

All Russian explanations are based on this understanding; Kyiv junta has forced the regions of Ukraine to begin an armed resistance.

Related: Hague Court to hear Ukraine’s suit against Russia in March

And that is why most of the visual evidence relates to the events on Maidan in winter 2014.

The judges are offered to look at the "Molotov cocktails" and at Berkut fighter who assists wounded demonstrators (yes, we are not kidding!).

Only the time will tell us how these arguments and fake messages about events in Donbas would affect the court's opinion.

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