UN expert: the war unleashed by Russia against Ukraine turned into a war against its own people

Эксперт ООН: развязанная Россией война против Украины обернулась войной и против собственного народа

Moscow, Russia. UN expert: the war unleashed by Russia against Ukraine turned into a war against its own people Human rights

Marking the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, UN Special Rapporteur on the Russian Federation Mariana Katsarova called for bringing those responsible to justice and showing solidarity with all victims of the war, including Russian anti-war activists. She stressed that the invasion demonstrated a clear connection between external aggression and internal repression.

External Aggression and Internal Repression

“Two years ago, on February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine. This act of aggression, which escalated into a protracted war now in its third year, not only led to the deaths of thousands of people and destroyed the lives of millions in Ukraine, but also contributed to an even greater suppression of civil and political rights in Russia itself,” Katsarova said in a statement.

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According to her, the invasion of Ukraine demonstrated the obvious connection between external aggression and internal repression. The war unleashed against the people of neighboring Ukraine turned into a war against its own people. There is no longer room for safe civic activity and political opposition in Russia.

“Who’s next” after Navalny?

The death of Alexei Navalny last week shocked all Russians and people around the world, who are alarmed by the brutal repression of government critics and anti-war activists in the Russian Federation, the expert recalls. “I keep wondering, ‘Who’s next?,’” she says.

Following news of Navalny’s death, a group of UN special rapporteurs, including Katsarova, called on the Russian government to conduct an independent investigation into the circumstances of Navalny’s death and immediately release all political prisoners in Russia. “Instead, since last Friday, Russian authorities have forcibly and arbitrarily detained hundreds of civilians for laying flowers in memory of Navalny in more than 39 Russian cities,” the independent expert emphasizes.

Suppression of Anti-War Sentiment in Russia

The Russian government has largely undermined the system over the past two years, she said. guarantees of human rights and silenced civil society, independent media and any anti-war protests.

Katsarova recalls that the “infamous” package of laws banning so-called “fakes” about the war and “discrediting the army” was adopted a week after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. At the same time, the list of “foreign agents”, “undesirable organizations” and “extremists” was expanded. These laws resulted in thousands of administrative and criminal cases and arbitrary detentions of Russians who opposed the war against Ukraine.

Such measures, which have no basis in international law, led to to fear-mongering show trials and lengthy arbitrary prison sentences designed to suppress anti-war sentiment.

Release political prisoners

“Russian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners, including Vladimir Kara-Murza, Alexey Gorinov, Ilya Yashin and many others, whose health and lives are in serious danger,” demands Mariana Katsarova.

Right to refuse participation in war

She notes that despite the existence of a law allowing alternative civilian service for those liable for military service, the Russian government denies men the right to conscientious objection to participation in war. “Many were mobilized by force or deception, taking advantage of their vulnerability due to their distress. Mobilization was particularly aggressive in the most remote and poorest regions of Russia, during which a disproportionate number of representatives of ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples were drafted,” the expert writes.

“Crimes against civilians” in Ukraine

Russian authorities also commit crimes against Ukrainian civilians, including children, many of whom have been kidnapped and deported to Russia, Katsarova emphasizes. “I am receiving reports of forced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment of Ukrainian civilians held captive by Russian authorities,” she states.

Bring those responsible to justice

“As we mark the grim anniversary of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, it is extremely it is important to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice,” the Special Rapporteur emphasizes. According to her, all crimes committed during the war against Ukraine must be investigated, and every victim must receive the justice they deserve, with the perpetrators brought to justice.


She called on the international community to show solidarity with all victims of the war against Ukraine, including the “brave Russian human rights defenders, journalists and activists” who continue to fearlessly speak out against the war despite intimidation, persecution, long prison terms and even a threat to their lives.

UN Special Rapporteurs

Mariana Katsarova – Special Rapporteur on the issue on the situation of human rights in the Russian Federation.

Special rapporteurs and working groups are part of the so-called special procedures of the Human Rights Council. They are not UN employees and are not dependent on any government or organization. They work in a personal capacity and are not paid for their work.


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