DISINFO: Ukraine's human rights violations are concrete facts, but Strasbourg will dismiss them
Euromaidan Ukraine Ethnic Russians Human rights Defender Europe 2020

DISINFO: Ukraine's human rights violations are concrete facts, but Strasbourg will dismiss them


In Ukraine, killing people in Maidan, suppressing freedom of expression, and discrimination against the Russian-speaking population are concrete facts.

For the first time, Moscow is filing a lawsuit in the Strasbourg European Court of Human Rights against another country. Ukraine is the defendant. The main charges that judges will find difficult to evade are: the seizure of power by force, terrorism during Maidan and in the Odessa Trade Union Council, fueling civil war, and discrimination against Russians.

In Strasbourg, they will reject the case at the preliminary examination stage. But in this case, it will be important to compare the way in which the European Court of Human Rights considers cases against Russia and those brought by Russia. In addition, it should be noted that Kyiv initiated legal proceedings against Russia first in all possible international fora. Moscow simply responds in a symmetrical way.


These are recurring pro-Kremlin narratives attempting to deflect blame from Russia for the outbreak of the war and territorial disintegration in Ukraine, and to present the Council of Europe and its European Court of Human Rights as biased against Russia. These claims were neither counterbalanced nor critically challenged in the article.

First, it was Russia, not Ukraine, that triggered the war in Ukraine. The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has stated that “the information available suggests that the situation within the territory of Crimea and Sevastopol amounts to an international armed conflict between Ukraine and the Russian Federation.

This international armed conflict began at the latest on 26 February 2014 when the Russian Federation deployed members of its armed forces to gain control over parts of the Ukrainian territory without the consent of the Ukrainian Government. The European Union stated in July 2014 that "arms and fighters continue flowing into Ukraine from the Russian Federation". At the NATO Summit in Wales in September 2014, NATO leaders condemned in the strongest terms Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine and demanded that Russia stop and withdraw its forces from Ukraine and along the country’s border.

Second, the claim about the rights of Russians being violated is also false, and usually refers to the status of the Russian language in Ukraine. On April 25 2019, the Verkhovna Rada passed the law 'on ensuring the functioning of the Ukrainian language as a state language' but this law does not discriminate against any other languages. Russian, as well as other languages, can be used in private communication, religious ceremonies, press, book publishing etc. The law also allows the use of other languages in the healthcare system and law enforcement.

Additionally, the claim that the European Court of Human Rights is biased against Russia vis à vis Ukraine is ungrounded. The Court's 2020 Annual report shows that the Court's rulings on Russian-related applications where at least one violation was found is not exceptional. According to the report, in 2724 out of the 2884 Russian-related judgements issued by the Court, at least one violation was found, that is in about 94.4% of cases. The corresponding rate was 1465 out of 1499 cases for Ukraine (97.8%) (p. 165). The average number of applications to the court per 10,000 inhabitants is also higher for Ukraine at 0.94 applications/10,000 inhabitants, while in Russia it is 0.62 applications/10,000 inhabitants (p. 161).

Russia leads among other Council of Europe (CoE) member states in terms of pending cases in the ECtHR with 13,645 cases currently pending, the same report from the Court shows. It is followed by Turkey (11,750 cases) and Ukraine (10,408 cases). However, this figure does not mean anti-Russian bias as it just reflects the large numbers of applications lodged to the ECtHR by the nationals of given CoE member states, something the Court cannot control. Also, if cases are counted relative to population size of the respective countries, Ukraine, as well as many other countries, will have a much higher figure than Russia.

See similar cases that the Council of Europe is Russophobic and the Strasbourg court rulings are anti-Russian, that the Council of Europe is indifferent to discrimination of Russian-speaking people in Ukraine and the Baltic states, that the Council of Europe is silent about discrimination against Russian speakers in neighbouring countries, and that the European Court of Human Rights turns into a political tool against Russia.


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Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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