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UN court rejects Ukraine case against Russia

April 20, 2017

A request by Kyiv for emergency measures against pro-Russia rebels in eastern Ukraine has been rejected by the International Court of Justice. The court did, however, warn Moscow to protect ethnic rights in Crimea.

Pro-Russian soldiers block the base of a Ukrainian military unit
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/Citypress24

The United Nations' top court denied a bid by Ukraine on Wednesday for measures to block alleged Russian support for rebels in eastern Ukraine.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) said Kyiv did not provide enough evidence to support its claim that Russia is funneling money and arms to groups in eastern Ukraine.

The Ukrainian government had been seeking an emergency interim court order demanding that Russia control its borders and prevent weapons, money and people from reaching the rebels while the case is heard in full.

The judges, however, found that so far Kyiv "has not put before the court evidence which affords a sufficient basis" to show that any funds from Moscow were used "to cause death or serious bodily harm to a civilian."

Protection for Tartars

Kyiv had also urged the court to order Moscow to stop racial discrimination against the ethnic Tartar community in Crimea, the area which Russia annexed in March 2014.

The court took Ukraine's side in the discrimination portion of the complaint, saying Russia "must refrain from maintaining or imposing limitations on the ability of the Crimean Tatar community to conserve its representative institutions."

In a 13-3 decision, the court also said Russia must also "ensure the availability of education in the Ukrainian language."

Last year, Russia banned the Mejlis of the Crimean Tartar People, the self-governing legislative body of the Crimean Tartars, labeling it an extremist organization.

Relations between Ukraine and Russia have fallen to an all-time low since Kyiv ousted its pro-Russian president during mass protests in early 2014.

At the time, Russia denounced the president's ouster as a Western-orchestrated coup and responded by annexing Crimea. Moscow also began supporting rebel groups fighting the Ukrainian military in the country's two easternmost regions.

Moscow has vehemently denied accusations that it is supplying rebels with active military personnel or weapons.

rs/cmk (AP, AFP, dpa)