Abusing human rights

I came across the following while reading the Globe and Mail newspaper over breakfast this morning. Referring to former Canadian foreign minister, Lloyd Axworthy, who has been leading the Canadian mission observing the presidential election in Ukraine, the Globe informed readers that:

Russia is abusing the human rights of people living in Crimea and other Kremlin-backed parts of eastern Ukraine by using landmines, border delays and online propaganda to discourage them from voting in the Ukrainian election, the head of Canada’s election monitoring mission says.

Axworthy is particularly exercised by the fact that, ‘There were no voting stations for Ukrainian citizens in Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014, and the Russian-controlled parts of the eastern Donbass region.’ The Globe continues:

‘I think the Russians really are abusing the human rights of these people,’ Mr. Axworthy said. ‘They have an important right to vote, and I think they are doing everything in their power to try to undermine it.’

He said some of the election observers in eastern Ukraine heard about voters being deliberately held up at the Russian-controlled border, while others couldn’t even get to the border.

‘We had discussions with some of the observers who were talking about how in the areas around some of the checkpoints there were land-mine fields that people see as a real risk,’ Mr. Axworthy said.

Obviously, it’s not good news if people living outside their country can’t get to vote. But whose fault is that? It’s not Russia’s responsibility to set up polling stations for the Ukrainian election. That’s the responsibility of the Ukrainian government. But back in January, the Ukrainian Central Election Commission announced that it would not open any polling stations in the Russian Federation, thereby depriving 3-4 million Ukrainians living in Russia of the right to vote. Why doesn’t Mr Axworthy mention that?? Do Ukrainians in Russia not ‘have an important right to vote’? And why is it Russia which is ‘doing everything in their power to try to undermine it’ when it is the Ukrainian government which took the decision to deprive its citizens of the ability to exercise this right?

As for delays on the borders between rebel-held Donbass and government-controlled Ukraine, these are real, but as has long been reported, the Ukrainian government is in large part to blame. Let me here cite a headline from the New York Times: ‘Ukraine Clamps Down on Travel to and from Rebel Areas’. As the report which follows says, ‘the Ukrainian authorities are now doing all they can to halt cross-border movement, deploying the full force of a Byzantine bureaucracy on the more than three million people living in rebel-held areas.’ But somehow, according to Lloyd Axworthy, the fact that people in Donbass find it hard to get into government-controlled Ukraine is Moscow’s fault! Go figure.

Land mines are another issue which is much more complicated than presented in this article. It’s natural that Mr Axworthy should be concerned about them as he was one of the architects of the 1999 Ottawa Land Mines Treaty. Tens of thousands of landmines have been laid in Donbass. Alexander Hug of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission has complained, ‘Not only are the sides not de-mining, they are in fact laying more mines.’ Note the use of the word ‘sides’ – both the rebels and the Ukrainian army are guilty of using these weapons. Ukraine denies this, but both the OSCE and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights accuse the Ukrainian army of laying anti-personnel mines in Donbass. The Russian Federation, incidentally, has not signed the Land Mines Treaty. Ukraine, however, has both signed and ratified it. Ukraine is thus in clear breach of its treaty obligations. Why then does Mr Axworthy paint the mine problem as a Russian one and not condemn the Ukrainian army for its actions?

Returning to my earlier point, the Russian government isn’t depriving Ukrainians of their right to vote: the Ukrainian government is. But that’s not all. The Ukrainians previously also deprived Russians of that right too. For when the Russian presidential election was held last year, the Ukrainian government posted policemen outside the Russian embassy in Kiev and the Russian consulates in Kharkov, Odessa, and Lvov to physically prevent Russians from entering the buildings in order to cast their votes. Lloyd Axworthy says that voting is an ‘important right’ and that it is an ‘abuse of human rights’ to stop people from voting. But we never heard so much as a peep from him when the authorities in Kiev did just that.

Unfortunately, Canada’s political elites, like those in many other Western countries, seem to have absolutely no discernment when it comes to matters concerning Russia and Ukraine. They lap up and regurgitate Ukrainian propaganda without the slightest bit of critical thinking; they seek to turn every story about Ukraine into an opportunity to bash Russia, even when Ukraine is actually the one responsible for the problems being discussed; and they display the most shameless double standards. Today’s article in the Globe and Mail is a case in point. It gets absolutely everything wrong. Sadly, that’s pretty much par for the course.

My subscription to the Globe expires on 12 April. I’m not renewing.

11 thoughts on “Abusing human rights”

  1. And unfortunately FOR western elites, most of their citizens do not view Russia as a threat despite years of Russophobic demagoguery. Part of the reason the political systems of so many western countries are breaking down is that citizens are tired of out-of-touch elites who care more about policing the globe than they do about the domestic welfare. This will not end well.

    (Heh–I live in the DC area, and gave up my subscription to the Washington ComPost more than a decade ago because its editorial page had been almost completely given over to neoconservatives. Since Bezos bought the Post, things have gotten even worse as it has gone from neocon to neo-McCarthyite.)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “It’s not Russia’s responsibility to set up polling stations for the Ukrainian election.”

    Well, it sounds like he’s alleging that Russian and the LDNR governments prevented people from crossing into the Kiev-controlled territory, to prevent them from voting there.

    Of course this one: “we had discussions with some of the observers who were talking about how in the areas around some of the checkpoints there were land-mine fields that people see as a real risk” sounds, in context, completely preposterous.

    But this: “He said some of the election observers in eastern Ukraine heard about voters being deliberately held up at the Russian-controlled border, while others couldn’t even get to the border.” would certainly be noteworthy, if those observers who “heard about voters being deliberately held up” could produce any real evidence.

    Frankly, I can’t imagine the motive for Russia to prevent LDNR citizens from voting. In fact, the whole point of the Minsk agreement, from the Russian point of view, is to integrate the LDNR into the new Ukraine, precisely with the purpose of throwing their votes into the mix.


    1. MCJ, lots of problems of my own. possibly misusing someone’s words:

      Thus hardly 100% concentrated on matters. And yes, this is a rather superficial reply based on Paul’s intention to not renew his Globe and Mail subscription.

      Yes, true Michelle Zilio quoted “the expert” on matters in Canada extensively. But? She ended on the fact that presently a TV star and comedian was the top candidate. True, from a perspective of objectivity, like facts are sacred, comment is free, she should have quoted a voice from the opposite camp. But whom in Canada could she have cited but let’s say Paul Robinson? Semi-irony-alert. Obviously, he can only respond from a reader’s perspective.

      But thus this tell us something about Globe and Mail’s inner dynamics, let’s say beyond the reality of media in Germany between 1933 and 1945. Or let’s say does it tell us something about the post 1917 Weimar Republic dynamics to change the law so the respective journalist had real vs the owner’s freedom of expression. If the law didn’t make it then, how could it nowadays? With a bit of an idea of the complex interest field, hot waters, if I may, a comparative study on “liberal” media, ownership vs the reporters freedom of judgement then an now might get us in.

      Thus what is new under the sun, really? Ok, yes, what exactly?

      My look into Canadian papers happened long ago. But strictly …. I assume the problems are pretty similar.

      Ok, problems of my own, you know. ….


      1. But thus
        But does.
        Returning to my tasks now. If there are more typing or spelling errors, please forgive.

        If the law didn’t make it then, how could it nowadays?
        Would it be an advantage, to start with?


  3. thanks for this… perhaps someone can post on his twitter feed.. i can’t find contact info for axworthy… Lloyd Axworthy (@lloydaxworthy) | Twitter


  4. I wish you would rethink your decision not to renew your subscription to the Globe. We need to know what the media is saying, especially when it generates propaganda. You serve an important purpose by helping reveal the dismal state of the media.


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