Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Russia takes Ukraine to European court over MH17, civilian deaths

Prosecutors say Ukraine is to blame for deaths during a 2014 uprising in Kiev and in an ongoing conflict with pro-Moscow separatists in the country's east that has claimed more than 13,000 lives.

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Russia said on Thursday it had filed a complaint at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) accusing Ukraine over the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in 2014 and civilian deaths in Russia and Ukraine.

Prosecutors said Ukraine was to blame for deaths during a 2014 uprising in Kiev and in an ongoing conflict with pro-Moscow separatists in the country’s east that has claimed more than 13,000 lives.

Russia also alleged that Ukrainian shelling had killed and wounded people in southern Russia.

Ukrainian Justice Minister Denys Malyuska mocked the case, saying Moscow had confused the Strasbourg-based court with a Russian talk show.

“In the complaint to the court they laid out all the myths of Russian propaganda,” he said on Facebook.

“From a legal point of view, inevitable defeat is awaiting them.”

In the complaint, Moscow blamed Ukrainian authorities for the deaths of 298 people aboard MH17, which was taken out of the sky by a ground-air missile system in July 2014, saying Kiev refused to close airspace over war-torn eastern Ukraine.

Russia’s claim contradicts the findings of an international investigation.

The missile was said to have come from a Russian army brigade and four people linked with pro-Russia separatists are on trial for murder over the deaths.

‘Real threat’

The prosecutor general’s office in Moscow said in a statement that the court papers also accused Kiev of discriminating against Russian speakers and companies as well as cutting fresh water supplies to Crimea, annexed by Moscow in 2014.

“Ukraine’s armed forces are carrying out hostilities that pose a real threat to the life and health of Russian citizens who live in border regions, and force thousands of Ukrainian citizens to seek refuge in Russia,” the statement added.

Officials said it was the first time Russia had complained about another country at the court in Strasbourg, and the Kremlin’s spokesman said Moscow expected the EHCR to act.

“Of course, Russia has the right to expect the ECHR to respond to these negative processes,” Dmitry Peskov said, referring to grievances in the complaint.

The Russian foreign ministry said the court should carefully study case materials and handle the complaint in an “impartial” manner.

Ties between Ukraine and Russia collapsed after a pro-Western uprising in Ukraine in 2014 ousted Kremlin-backed leadership.

Kiev and its Western allies accuse Moscow of sending troops and weapons to support the separatists. Russia denies the claims.

After a largely respected truce in the second half of 2020, tensions have risen again this year, especially after Moscow deployed around 100,000 troops to Ukraine’s borders in the spring.

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