THE EUROPEAN COURT of Human Rights (ECtHR) has called on Russia to refrain from any measures that could threaten the life and health of civilians in the escalating conflict in Ukraine.
However, Tatar community leader Mustafa Dzhemilev has urged NATO to intervene in Crimea to avert a “massacre” and called on the Crimean Tatars to boycott the upcoming referendum to join Russia.
“If other measures do not work, then NATO should intervene like in Kosovo,” Dzhemilev told AFP in a phone interview from Brussels, where he was preparing to meet NATO officials on Friday.
NATO intervention “usually only happens when there is a massacre, we want it to happen before there is a massacre,” said Dzhemilev, currently a lawmaker in Kiev who spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone call earlier this week.
“I told him that we would not wage war against Russia but that we would struggle for the territorial integrity of our country. We still have to decide on what methods we will use,” the Tatar said.
Dzhemilev also criticised inaction in the West, saying: “We haven’t seen any serious steps from the West. They imposed visa bans but so what? Those people (targeted by the bans) have a comfortable enough life in Russia.”
Tatars are planning a series of demonstrations across Crimea on Friday ahead of Sunday’s vote under the slogan: “No to the illegal referendum!”
Crimean Tatars make up just over 12 per cent of the population of Crimea.
The ECtHR has told Kiev and Moscow should also avoid steps, “in particular military actions, which might entail breaches” of the European Convention on Human Rights for the civilian population, including putting their life and health at risk.
The court reaction followed a complaint made by Ukraine earlier today, it said in a statement.
A resident walks by a poster reading “Stop fascism! Everybody to the referendum!” in Sevastopol, Ukraine. (Image Credit: Andrew Lubimov/AP/Press Association Images)
“Both States were also asked to inform the Court as soon as possible of the measures taken to ensure that the Convention is fully complied with,” it added.
The Court said it may indicate to the parties “any interim measure which it considers should be adopted in the interests of the parties or of the proper conduct of the proceedings before it”.
Moscow’s ambassador to the United Nations told an emergency meeting of the Security Council on Thursday that Russia does not want war over the Ukraine crisis.
His speech came after Western powers delivered a stinging rebuke of Moscow’s actions in Ukraine and condemned a planned referendum in Crimea on Sunday to decide whether to join Russia.
“If there is no sign of any capacity to be able to move forward and resolve this issue, there will be a very serious series of steps on Monday in Europe and here with respect to the options that are available to us,” US Secretary of State John Kerry told lawmakers in Washington.
Secretary of State John Kerry preparing to testify on Capitol Hill in Washington before the Senate. (Image Credit: Charles Dharapak/AP/Press Association Images)
His blunt comments came shortly after Ukraine’s parliament voted to set up a huge volunteer force that could keep Russian troops from advancing beyond the region of two million people they seized at the start of the month.
Russia on Thursday launched its own military manoeuvres at its neighbour’s doorstep and also dispatched fighter jets to Belarus in a show of military muscle that betrayed no willingness to compromise.
“If NATO decided, together with the Americans, to ramp up their air force presence near our borders, what, should we just watch them?” Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko said.
A pro Russia protester, right, kicks a pro Ukraine protester during clashes between the two sides following a rally in Donetsk. (Image Credit: Sergei Grits/AP/Press Association Images)
In the Ukrainian city of Donetsk, a pro-Kiev protester was stabbed and killed in the first death since tensions began in the southeast of the country with Russia’s advance in Crimea.
The 22-year-old was killed as demonstrators were attacked by a pro-Moscow rally, health services said.
“According to preliminary conclusions by doctors, he has been stabbed,” the local branch of Ukraine’s health ministry told AFP, as regional authorities spoke of another 16 wounded in the clashes.
Thirteen of these were in trauma or in surgery with serious injuries, one was hospitalised and two could be treated at the scene, Ilya Suzdalev, a spokesman for the regional authorities, said.