Activists collect evidence base of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in eastern Ukraine


The NGO “Myrnyi bereh” has published report “Executed in Donbas” that includes the facts and evidence of crimes committed in eastern Ukraine. The investigation continued for more than six months. Its task is to bring the perpetrators to justice. The report includes data on 95 crimes. The data were collected by human rights defenders, lawyers and civil investigators. This was informed by Kateryna Vizhevska, author of the report “Executed in Donbas”, coordinator of the project “Executed in Donbas: facts of torture and murders in the east of Ukraine”, deputy chairman of the NGO “Myrnyi bereh,” during a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

International law determines the crimes included in the report as crimes against humanity and war crimes. The report lists several categories. The first category is a cause of death. According to the investigation results, in 63 cases it was an execution or murder, in 16 the death was preceded by tortures or violence. Besides, the time of the murder has been analyzed. In 43 cases, the murder took place during detention, in the others – when people were illegally held in captivity. In another 20 cases, the time of death of the victims was not known. Out of 95 victims 84 were men and 11 – women. In 50 cases, the victims were civilians, in 45 – the military.

In addition to the facts about crimes, the report also includes the likely perpetrators and evidence of their involvement in the crimes. In 49 cases the crime was committed by militants of the so-called “DPR”, in 30 – “LPR”. Representatives of the Ukrainian military are likely to be involved in 11 cases. In 5 cases the likely culprits have not been identified. Kateryna Vizhevska stressed that the investigation was conducted in accordance with the Ukrainian and international humanitarian laws.

Borys Knyrov, author of the report, lawyer of the NGO “Myrnyi bereh”, notes that all the collected information is included in the specially created database. It will serve as a strong evidence base of the crimes and involvement of “DPR”, “LPR” and the Russian Federation during the proceedings at the national level and the international court.

Borys Knyrov focused on the gaps in the Ukrainian legislation which prevent from investigating these cases effectively and punishing the perpetrators. However, according to him, the main thing impeding the investigation is irresponsibility and lack of initiative of high-ranking officials.

The lawyer believes that we can solve the problem of protecting the rights of Ukrainian citizens in the temporarily occupied territories through forcibly terminating the conflict via the international community’s pressure on the Russian Federation. In his opinion, the latter should bear the whole burden of responsibility for the events in Eastern Ukraine. Ukraine, for its part, must legislatively provide social protection not only to the military servicemen affected by the hostilities in Donbas, but also to the civilian population.