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Friday 12 July 2019

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy (file photo)

The Group of Seven countries' ambassadors to Ukraine have expressed caution about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's proposal to lustrate Ukrainian officials who held office after the Maidan uprising in 2014.

In a statement posted on Twitter on July 12, the ambassadors said that "electoral change and political rotation are the norm in democracies."

"Indiscriminate bans on all participants in executive and legislative governance are not," they continued, adding that "the situation in Ukraine today is, in our conviction, not comparable to that after the Revolution of Dignity."

The Revolution of Dignity refers to the 2014 uprising that drove pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych from power.

On July 11, Zelenskiy proposed expanding Ukraine's law on lustration to include everyone who held a government post between February 21, 2014, and May 19, 2019.

The current law was aimed at preventing those who held office under Yanukovych from continuing to do so.

Zelenskiy said he daily wonders what to do with state officials – "either to exchange them for prisoners or put them in the substandard bulletproof vests that they bought and send them to the front lines" of the war against Russia-backed separatist formations in parts of eastern Ukraine.

Former President Petro Poroshenko said the proposal was "Russian revanchism."

He said the purpose of Zelenskiy's initiative was to remove "those who defended Ukraine" to "clear space for a fifth column."

In recent months, various monuments to Stalin have been unveiled in numerous places across Russia. (file photo)

A commission of Russia's Presidential Human Rights Council has said the erection of monuments to Soviet dictator Josef Stalin on state land across the country is unacceptable.

The statement by Sergei Karaganov, chairman of the council's Permanent Commission on Historical Memory, was made public on July 11.

"Those of our fellow citizens and those political forces that are prepared to forget and even justify the deaths and suffering of millions of our fellow countrymen, often the best people of the country, who fell victim to political repression,
deportation of peoples, collectivization, and the Holodomor evoke sadness and pity," Karaganov's statement said.

"Such actions not only violate morality and disrespect our deceased ancestors, who suffered despite being innocent, but also contradict official state policies."

The Presidential Human Rights Commission is purely advisory and its statements are not binding.

In recent months, various monuments to Stalin have been unveiled in numerous places across Russia, while for several years Stalin has been presented by state media and officials as "a successful manager" who led the Soviets to victory over Nazi Germany as part of the Kremlin's effort to glorify the Soviet past.

Millions of people were executed, sent to labor camps in Siberia and Kazakhstan, or starved to death in famines caused by forced collectivization during Stalin's reign.

During World War II, entire ethnic groups were sent to Central Asia as collective punishment for what the Kremlin said was collaboration with Nazi Germany.

"Those who put up monuments to him justify this repression, voluntarily or involuntarily," Karaganov's statement said.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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