Human rights violations have escalated in eastern Ukraine and serious problems are emerging in Crimea, United Nations monitors said in a report released on Friday.
The 34-strong U.N. monitoring mission’s report, which covered the period from April 2 to May 6 and which Russia criticized as politically motivated, said police and local authorities in eastern Ukraine connived in illegal acts and the takeover of towns by armed groups, undermining the rule of law.
The U.N. findings echoed a statement published on Monday by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, whose experts had identified “a significant number of serious human rights violations” during a visit to Ukraine in March.
Ukraine is preparing to hold presidential elections on May 25 and the U.N. monitors said a fair and democratic ballot would be an important factor in helping to calm the situation. But several candidates had reported intimidation and attacks and the monitoring mission said it had concerns about their security.
“Those with influence on the armed groups responsible for much of the violence in eastern Ukraine (must) do their utmost to rein in these men who seem bent on tearing the country apart,” U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay said in a statement accompanying the report.
The U.N. report also cited a “wave of abductions and unlawful detentions” of journalists, activists, politicians, representatives of international bodies and members of the military.