Advisory Committee deplores Russia’s use of minority rights as a pretext to invade Ukraine, concerned war aggravates mistrust in inter-ethnic relations

Strasbourg, 23 May 2022 – The Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, condemning in the strongest terms the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, “deplores that the Russian authorities have used the questions minority rights as a pretext for invasion”. The Committee is deeply concerned about the aggravation by the war of the situation of inter-ethnic relations in Ukraine.

It is appalled by the loss of life and human suffering caused by the war, which also affects persons belonging to national minorities in war-affected areas, displaced persons and refugees, the Committee said in the statement adopted during its plenary session last week.

“Ukraine is a multi-ethnic country, and the most devastated regions of eastern and southern Ukraine are home to many national minorities”, noted the Advisory Committee, joining the Secretary General of the Council of Europe to condemn barbaric violence against women and children.

“The Advisory Committee is deeply concerned that the war has exacerbated the situation of inter-ethnic relations in Ukraine, deepening the mistrust between people identifying as ethnic Russians and the majority population. It will also have an impact on people who identify with other national minorities or with Ukraine but who use Russian as their primary language of communication,” the statement said.

The aggression not only violates Russia’s obligations under the Statute of the Council of Europe, but goes against the principles of the Framework Convention, and this contradiction “could not be more flagrant”, underlines the Committee . According to the Framework Convention, the protection of national minorities is an integral part of the international protection of human rights and its provisions “shall be applied in good faith, in a spirit of understanding and tolerance and in accordance with the principles of good neighborliness “. , friendly relations and cooperation between States”.

Following the aggression, the Russian Federation was expelled from the Council of Europe. Since the Framework Convention is open to non-member states, the Russian Federation remains a Contracting Party to this convention and is therefore bound by its obligations and subject to its monitoring procedure. In this context and if circumstances permit, the Advisory Committee will continue to follow closely the impact of these developments on persons belonging to national minorities in the Russian Federation.