Russia Files Case Against Ukraine At European Court Over MH17, Alleged Rights Abuses

Local people hold portraits of lost passengers during a mourning ceremony at the MH17 crash site on the seventh anniversary of the disaster near the separatist-controlled village of Hrabove on July 17.  

Russia has filed a complaint against Ukraine with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) saying Kyiv is responsible for the 2014 crash of a Malaysian airliner and civilian deaths and human rights abuses in Russia and Ukraine.

The filing of the case on July 22 comes exactly five months after Ukraine filed its latest in a series of legal complaints against Moscow at the same court, which hears complaints over alleged breaches of the conventions on human rights.

In its complaint, Russia lists a litany of alleged transgressions, blaming Kyiv for civilian deaths during the Euromaidan uprising in 2014 and a conflict with Russian-backed separatists in the country’s east that has claimed thousands of lives.

Moscow also said that shelling by Ukrainian armed forces in eastern Ukraine had killed and wounded people in southern Russia.

The filing appears to be part of an effort by Russia to flood the ECHR with cases against Ukraine.

An investigation by RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service, published in April, showed lawyers based in Russia and in parts of eastern Ukraine held by Moscow-backed separatists had filed around 6,000 claims related to the conflict in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, often referred to as the Donbas.

More than 13,200 people have been killed and thousands more wounded in the war that erupted in the Donbas in April 2014, a month after Russia’s armed takeover of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.

Russia denies involvement, despite ample evidence showing it has provided arms, fighters, financing, and other aid to the separatists.

Ukraine itself has filed nine cases against Russia, including one over the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in July 2014.

The flight was on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was downed by a Russian-made Buk surface-to-air missile fired from territory controlled by separatists in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 passengers and crew.

A team of international investigators concluded in May 2018 that the missile launcher used to shoot down the aircraft belonged to Russia’s 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade.

During the 2014 Euromaidan anti-government rallies that toppled Ukraine’s Russian-friendly president, Viktor Yanukovych, 104 people were killed and 2,500 injured as a result of violent crackdowns against the protesters.

Yanukovych abandoned power and fled Kyiv on February 21, 2014.

The former president, who was secretly flown to Russia and remains there, denies that he ordered police to fire on protesters, saying that the violence was the result of a "planned operation" to overthrow his government.

Ukrainian prosecutors, however, blame Yanukovich for the violence.

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