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How many deaths of peaceful Ukrainians in the war are still needed for Europe to react more quickly? UHHRU lawyer continues to advocate in the EU the issue of closing the sky over Ukraine

“The war is taking place next to the European Union behind the Carpathian Mountains and they are not very high, so there, that is, here in Europe, everything can be seen and heard!” — says Olena Sapozhnikova, the lawyer of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union (now she is in Warsaw). Last month she had the opportunity to speak to Swedish lawyers and OSCE representatives at one of the online events organized by the Swedish Foundation for Human Rights (SFHR), where issues of peace in Europe were raised, including the discussion war in Ukraine. The participants of the event also provided their comments on the draft report on the topic: “The role of regional human rights institutions and the quest for peace in Europe. With a comment on the invasion of Ukraine“, compiled by SFHR. This report has now been revised and published for the public. She draws your attention to the fact that one of the last chapters is devoted to Ukraine with a chronological outlook of the war from 2014 until recently.

“I tried to convey at least a tiny bit of trouble in Ukraine! After all, I am not the only one, but thousands of Ukrainians all over the world are carrying this information, asking to close the sky over Ukraine so that there are no deaths of peaceful people in Ukraine! And what do we have?! Yesterday from the ork missiles in the center of Vinnytsia – dead and wounded civilians! Therefore, every day in different parts of Ukraine!”, says Olena Sapozhnikova.

A month ago she spoke with these words and she can repeat them now, and as many more times as needed, until they hear and speed up all the procedures for granting permits, aid, etc. to Ukraine in order to win the war against the russians: “Close the sky over Ukraine!” They answer me that it is impossible; that it is difficult, and I think that it is possible, yes, difficult, but possible! In addition, not in a year or two, but maybe in weeks, the main thing is to believe that it’s not all fakes, but trouble, and we need resuscitation, not long-term therapy!”

“Ukraine will win, but I would like us not to pay dozens of lives every day for another year for victory, while the European world meanwhile sympathetically waits nearby to see if we will stand or not! It is necessary to stop the genocide of Ukraine today; the international community must punish the terrorists, if it is terrorism of such a level that covers theentire territory of Ukraine, which is not small, but more than 600,000 km2″, emphasizes the lawyer.

We are providing the full text of our colleague’s speech to European lawyers in the hope that those who can influence and change the world for the better today will hear her:

Peace to all!

My name is Olena Sapozhnikova. I am a lawyer-analyst at the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union and a Ukrainian court lawyer. First, thank you for the opportunity to take part in this eventJ

Let me briefly describe myself in the light of the topic under discussion.

I am from beautiful and strong Kyiv, the city-hero and the capital of Ukraine, which is now forced to defend itself with all its might against the insidious armed attacks of the Russian Federation.

For eight years, I had hoped that everything would be settled in the east of Ukraine and in the Crimea. For eight years, I did not understand why the world does not see what war is, and does not take decisive steps to stop it.

One day on February 24th, my life from a metropolitan lawyer has turned just a woman with three small children seeking temporary protection abroad.

Olena Sapozhnikova with her children. Warsaw, summer, 2022

 

When rockets fly from the sky, you can’t stop them with your hands and I wouldn’t protect children with legal speeches under those conditions, so I was forced to travel abroad, and my husband stayed there, like millions of men.

My young children do not understand where their father is, and why they were forced to leave without anything in an unknown direction and unknowingly. Moreover, I don’t know what to say to them…At first I explained to the children that the road near our house in Kyiv was broken and repaired and many other houses nearby, that it was dangerous for children to move there, but everything will be fixed quickly, and we will return when summer comes. Summer has come, but I understand that for many months we will not be sure that there will be a peaceful sky over Kyiv and the rocket will not fall on the city at any moment. So little by little, I begin to explain to them, they have been hearing this for a long time from other children who attend kindergarten and school with them here in Poland, Warsaw, that there is a war in the whole Ukraine and Russia is our enemy, who wants to destroy us, and we defend ourselves. However, I still do not know how to tell them that many people from Russia are killing thousands of people and still plan to do so in the future, despite the fact that the whole world is mentally with us, people are dying every day in Ukraine.

The only thing I know is that Ukraine will win, because we are defending our home land from the invader in the face of the Russian Federation. We can defend our land and we will do it, but when rockets fly from the sky, it is not like a battle, but cunning destructions, which in the Russian propaganda machine calls liberation and wants the whole world believe in this lie.

 

The more times I have the opportunity to turn to the world, the more times I will ask the civilized world to help close the sky over Ukraine! Help save millions of lives and stop the evil that may come to neighbouring lands!

 

I would like to thank the Swedish foundation for Human Rights for taking the time to break up the thorough research outlined in the “Draft of the Report The role of regional human rights institutions and the ques for peace in Europe – with a comment on the invasion of Ukraine”.

In my opinion, the draft report successfully reveals all European institutions that have an impact on changes in world politics and, accordingly, on the course of the war now in Ukraine, in particular.

I would like to note that it could be added to the report that the European Court of Human Rights has suspended the proceedings against Ukraine since 24 February pending a separate ruling to the contrary.

I would also like to point out that the report could focus more on the situation in military support of Ukraine, because Ukraine has only just begun to receive a significant amount of military equipment, which is still not enough to win the war quickly, and the long war will bring even more loss of people, which is terrible. The adoption of international documents and the holding of international meetings will not be able to stop Russian military equipment, which travels to Ukraine every day and kills thousands of people. We need faster and more decisive action on the part of Europe, because God forbid Ukraine falls, Russia will go further and Poland will be next, and then Russia will go even further, it will not stop at European principles and prohibitions not to fight. Russia will just fight for now a literal understanding of the word will not stop it, not diplomatically.

A restrained and slow European position on the war in Ukraine can lead to people’s disappointment, and such sentiments already exist in Ukraine, in European values ​​and laws. Then when we ask them if they want to move to Europe, we can get a negative answer. The European principles concluded after the Second World War are currently outdated and require significant changes that can be made today during the war in Ukraine, optimizing all bureaucratic procedures in Europe and making it more mobile and efficient in the face of new challenges.

In addition, I want to draw your attention to other important issues facing Ukraine today:

  • Russia’s numerous attacks on hospitals and schools in Ukraine are war crimes.
  • The military of the Russian Federation is conducting brutal persecution of local government officials, journalists, religious leaders, volunteers and civil society activists on the territories of Ukraine temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation following its full-scale invasion in February 2022.
  • Russian Federation continues using Crimea as a military base in its full-scale offensive on mainland Ukraine. Therefore, the Russian Federation is forcibly forcing Ukrainians to fight in Ukraine against Crimea, handing them summonses and threatening repression if they refuse. In addition, political persecution continues against those who speak out against the all-out Russian aggression against Ukraine or so much as claim that the war is a war.
  • We have problems in the situation with internally displaced persons and externally displaced persons; humanitarian corridors; prisoners of war; due process of war crimes, in particular, respect for all the rights of the prosecution, including effective legal protection; the persecution of the population in the occupied territories; compliance with legal procedures regarding the activities of the Ukrainian ombudsman, and so on.

Ukrainians need the help of the civilized world in these and other questions, we are open to discussion!

I would like to take this opportunity, to once again thank foreign specialists for their assistance to Ukraine in various fields. At the same time, I would like to draw attention to the fact that Ukrainians have been living in the war since 2014 and have not only theoretical but also practical knowledge, in particular, regarding the recording and qualification of war crimes in Ukraine. Therefore, we ask you to take into account the conclusions of Ukrainian specialists and to involve them in cooperation when compiling reports on Ukraine and planning activities aimed at helping Ukraine.

I would also like to note that special attention needs to be paid to working with victims of war crimes against civilians, in particular sexual crimes and crimes against children. Victims should be treated with respect, providing them with security, both physical and psychological. First, their right not to tell about the crimes committed against them in case of severe trauma of these memories should be respected.

 

Olena Sapozhnikova, the lawyer of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

15 July 2022

+380993090739, +380638566022, +48575476422, olena.sapozhnikova@helsinki.org.ua

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