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UN Rapporteur Urges Ukraine To Strengthen Minority Protections

The United Nations’ special rapporteur on minority issues is calling on Ukraine’s new authorities to take action to strengthen minority protections and work toward a peace resolution of the country’s crisis.

Rita Izsák released a written statement following a visit to Ukraine from April 7-14.

The Hungarian expert said that the “overwhelming majority of minorities and others” whom she consulted described “harmonious inter-ethnic and inter-faith relations and conditions of non-discrimination in all spheres of life.”

But she added: “Recent developments in the country have increased animosity against certain groups and created an environment of uncertainty and distrust that may create fractures along national, ethnic, and linguistic lines and threaten peaceful coexistence if not resolved.”

The special rapporteur noted that “anxiety” was created among ethnic Russians after pro-Western lawmakers in February voted to abolish the 2012 law making Russian an official language in mainly Russian-speaking regions. The legislation was eventually vetoed.

Izsak said she was not able to visit Crimea, the Ukrainian territory annexed by Russia in March.

However, the rapporteur said she had interviewed people who had recently left Crimea. She said they cited “uncertainty, social and political pressure, and fear for their security and rights, as among the reasons for their decision to leave.”

The UN said Izsák visited Kyiv, Uzhgorod, Odesa, and Donetsk.

She is expected to submit a full report on her visit and recommendations to the United Nations Human Rights Council.
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