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UN: Ukraine tensions continue to flare despite recent decrease in civilian deaths

ukrainian border
[JURIST] Last month marked a welcome trend in the Ukrainian conflict, with civilian deaths decreasing for the first time in three years, according to a report [text, PDF] released Tuesday by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website]. The report attributes the reduced violence to the “harvest ceasefire,” which began in late June, while cautioning [press release] that “the ceasefire never fully took hold, with hostilities suddenly flaring and then easing.” In addition to updated statistics related to the conflict, which has claimed at least 2,803 lives to date, the report includes new allegations that some conflict-related detainees may be facing ill treatment, solitary confinement, and torture. The OHCHR says that one development compounding their concerns about the ongoing conflict is the detention of business people by governments on both sides of the conflict, on charges of financing terrorism, stemming from payments made as “taxes” to armed groups who control the area.

Russia and Ukraine have been in conflict since the annexation of Crimea [JURIST backgrounder] in March 2014. In July Amnesty International and Human Rights released the 56-page report detailing how Ukrainian government officials and Russia-backed separatists in Ukraine have subjected citizens to [JURIST report] “prolonged, arbitrary detention,” torture, or other forms of inhumane treatment, including refusing necessary medical attention. In July the Security Service of Ukraine accused [JURIST report] a cyber attack on Russia and the Kremlin. The SBU stated that the hackers behind the attack are the same as those who conducted an attack on the Ukrainian power grid in December 2016. In May an Austrian man was extradited from Poland to Austria to face war crimes charges [JURIST report] for allegedly killing civilians and surrendering troops while fighting for the Ukrainian army. A Ukrainian official said last January that the nation plans to sue Russia [JURIST report] in the International Court of Justice on claims of financing terrorism. In March 2015 the EU committed to stand by its policy of refusing to recognize Crimea’s annexation [JURIST report].

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