Statement by Estonian expert Rena Tasuja at Russia’s Arria-formula meeting on Odessa events

We strongly condemn the hypocrisy of the Russian propaganda that continues exploiting the tragedy in Odessa, to incite hostility, division and hatred. The Russian Federation deliberately diverts attention of the international community from Russia’s armed aggression led against Ukraine since 2014. Victims of Odessa’s tragedy seven years ago paid the ultimate price for Russia’s massive provocations and military activities against Ukraine. The Novorossia project is dead, but it caused deaths of thousands of innocent people who believed in it and fought for the idea because of Russian propaganda. We strongly condemn the Russia’s illegal annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol and its agression towards the certain parts of Luhansk and Donetsk regions of Ukraine.  Russia’s actions are clearly of global concern and in violation of international law, including the UN Charter, and contrary to the Helsinki Final Act. Moreover it is a stark manifestation of Russian chauvinism, a special form of nazism. Russia’s obsession with Ukraine that led to attacks on European soil, killing innocent people.

As we saw during the March 12 High-Level Arria-formula meeting on Crimea hosted by Estonia and with 23 co-sponsors and from several GA resolutions adopted since 2014, Ukraine has the full support of the international community in defending its sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.

We urge Russia to stop politicizing human tragedies, and as a party and instigator of the conflict, to admit its responsibility for destabilizing Ukraine, start immediately implementing its commitments under the Minsk agreements that Russia breaches on a regular basis since its adoption and proceed to peaceful resolution of the conflict it had initiated in 2014.

Furthermore, Russia must stop human rights violations immediately – all persons illegally detained must be released and international human rights monitoring mechanisms, including the Red Cross, and non-governmental organizations must be given access to the annexed and occupied territories.

We call on Russia, instead of attacking Ukraine, to focus on the worrisome developments in their own country regarding the massive surge of nationalism, neonazism and neostalinism.