Russia is responsible for the genocide, and the Ukrainians are the real heroes – an interview with Eleonora Mongelli


Russia is responsible for the genocide, and Ukrainians are the real heroes, – interview with Eleonora Mongelli

Putin's pseudo-referendums in the occupied Ukrainian territories are worthless, and the kidnapping and removal of Ukrainian children to Russia is genocide. Read about this and more in an exclusive interview with Eleonora Mongelli, Vice-President of the Italian Federation for Human Rights of the Helsinki Committee.

The well-known human rights activist agreed to answer the question about the violation of human rights by the Russian occupiers, and also mentioned the important presentation in Italy of a book about Russia's war against Ukraine with speeches by Vladimir Zelensky.

О pseudo-referendums of the Kremlin and human rights

I would like to start with the so-called referendum that Russia held in the occupied Ukrainian territories. With armed men, accompanied by portable ballot boxes, as we have seen in numerous videos. How does all this look from the point of view of human rights?

For Russia, this is another way to legitimize the annexation of the Ukrainian territories they seized. And this forcible change of generally recognized international borders is a very clear violation of international law. And the very fact of planning such a referendum by representatives of illegal groups that have seized power in the occupied Ukrainian territories is also a violation of international law and any international standards.

The OSCE has repeatedly noted that any referenda or expression of will that may be held in Ukraine must take place exclusively under the control of the legitimate Ukrainian authorities and exclusively in accordance with national legislation, as well as international standards. Let me remind you that Russia held a similar referendum in Crimea years ago. And in some European countries there were open speakers – people in Crimea decided to take advantage of the referendum and “show their will there”.

This clearly shows how Russia, under the guise of alleged legality, uses referendums as propaganda tools. For all Europeans, a clear understanding should come – the very fact that they are talking about these referendums as a fait accompli is, in fact, the spread of the same Russian propaganda. The European media are also a big problem when they do not use the correct terminology, because these are not referendums, these are illegal procedures, without observers, this is just a show.

There are many cases of how Russia bred families in Ukraine. For example, the occupiers took Ukrainian children somewhere to Russia, and thus broke up families. What do you think about the illegal removal of children and Ukrainians from the territory of Ukraine to Russia?

In international humanitarian law, the forced deportation of people during a war is clearly defined as a war crime. When it comes to children, it is classified as genocide. According to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, genocide is an attempt to destroy a people or an ethnic group.

The fact that Russia is taking children out of the occupied territories is an indisputable manifestation of genocide – an attempt to destroy the national identity of Ukrainians. We can also see manifestations of genocide in other cases, such as the forced Russification of abducted children, or the forced adoption of Ukrainian children by Russians.

Again, this also includes the Russification of schools in the occupied territories, the replacement of the Ukrainian language with Russian – all these the facts unequivocally testify to the genocide of Russia against Ukraine.

Are there any similarities in human rights violations when comparing the Russian-Ukrainian war with other wars where Russia directly participated? Is there anything similar?

Yes. certainly. If we remember Syria, it was there too. The same methods were used, certain types of weapons were illegally used, people's homes and humanitarian institutions, schools and hospitals were destroyed. The Russians destroyed everything to terrorize the population. That is, this is the standard tactic of the Russians, which we talk about when it comes to a Russian attack on a country.

We all saw what happened in Bucha, Borodyanka, Gostomel, and the recently liberated Izyum. Terrible things that Russian soldiers did to our people. And we call it genocide. Are such actions of Russians a sign of genocide?

The destruction of civilians clearly falls under the classification of crimes against humanity. and they can also be classified as genocide. As I noted earlier, the concept of genocide involves the destruction of an ethnic, religious or national group. That is why it is very difficult to prove the fact of genocide in court. At the same time, we see clear signs of genocide in the crimes that Russia is committing in Ukraine against the local population – kidnapping children and taking them to Russian territory, changing school programs, forced Russification. So these are elements of genocide – they are difficult to prove, but we will work on this, as well as war crimes.

Are there any violations that are difficult to prove? How to prove such violations in general, what was the practice and have you encountered such cases?

When we are faced with crimes that are difficult to investigate and difficult to prove, such as rape, the so-called hidden crime during conflict or war, this crime can be used as one of the weapons. In general, crimes against humanity, like rape, are very difficult to investigate, primarily because its main goal is the humiliation of a person, the destruction of a community, the oppression of the spirit to resistance and, in general, the spread of despondency between people. And that is why the victims of these crimes often do not want to talk about them, let alone report them, but it is necessary to investigate such crimes.

Mobilization is actively going on in Russia now. The media say that a total of more than 1.2 million people will be mobilized, these are big numbers. The manual does not provide new soldiers with equipment, but provides lists that they need to buy on their own. Of course, all these soldiers will come to Ukraine and die here. But let's look at this situation from the point of view of human rights, how do you evaluate it? And in general, everything that happens there?

Of course, Russia grossly violates human rights, especially if we are talking about the invasion of Ukraine and Russian war crimes. But the regime also violates the rights of its own people on its own terrain. Yes, of course.

A few words about your book. And the first question – why did you decide to present the book “We will fight to the end” on behalf of the Federation for Human Rights in Italy?

The curator of this book is the journalist Massimiliano Mellier, an Italian who worked with a focus on Ukraine. And this book includes a selection of President Zelensky's speeches from April 23rd, sorry, February 23rd through April.

Publishing this book and presenting it to the Italian reader in a country where Kremlin propaganda is extremely powerful is an opportunity for us to talk about Ukraine without the Russian filter. And it is also an opportunity to hear the voice of Ukraine, the voice of the victims, because the main topic for discussion should be Russian aggression and its victims in Ukraine. In this aspect, this book is extremely valuable in order to understand what horror ordinary Ukrainians are going through now.

What motivated people to write this book?

Massimiliano Mellier collected all Zelensky's speeches so that the voice of the representative of all Ukrainians could be heard. After all, this is a leader who decided to stay with his people, and was with them even when his life was in great danger. That is, from a certain point of view, this is support for the Ukrainian people.

Who do you think Volodymyr Zelensky is for readers?

Readers have very different opinions about President Zelensky as about Ukraine and the war. And we would like to note that the crimes against Ukraine and the attack on it by Russia, all the war crimes that have occurred – there can be no different opinions here. We need to be very specific here – and we need to clearly communicate to people that crimes must be condemned. Even those who personally do not like President Zelensky.

What has President Zelensky's policy changed in Europe and Italy in general?

First of all, Zelensky conveyed to us all the fact that we must fight for our democracies. We must fight for our freedom. And if we conclude some kind of profitable economic agreements with the regimes and depend on them, especially in matters of energy, then we can become victims of blackmail.

And this price we pay for this is our independence and our democracy. And I believe that President Zelensky taught us these lessons and was able to consolidate the cooperation of Western countries when it comes to fighting for our values, for example, so that all Western countries join the sanctions and condemn Russia's actions.

And what is your attitude towards Zelensky as a politician and leader of the people of Ukraine?

He is the president of a country and people who are now suffering from war crimes. He leads a country fighting for its right to exist. And in need of the support of the international community.

Therefore, I believe that Zelensky is the voice of all the victims of this war, all Ukrainians. and the international community should thank him for what he is doing. And again, we must all come together to support and preserve European values, our democracy, our freedom and our security against regimes.

What could you say to the people of Ukraine, who are fighting every day for your independence?

The international community is with you, you are our heroes, you must remain one people, one nation, and you truly represent European values, and we are very proud of you.< /p>

Thank you for taking the time to interview us, I hope everyone who watches will get their questions answered.

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