Kremlin Rights Council Split on Ukraine

MOSCOW, March 4 (RIA Novosti) – Highlighting the divisive nature of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the Kremlin’s rights council has failed to agree on a position on the Crimean invasion, with members trading criticism in public.

Twenty-seven of 78 members of the high-profile advisory body denounced Russian military involvement in Ukraine in a joint statement published Sunday.

Russia deployed troops to Ukraine’s Crimea last week, saying it wants to protect ethnic Russians there from possible nationalist violence after the victory in the capital Kiev of a pro-Western revolution whose leaders include far-right nationalist groups.

The intervention was excessive and could lead to escalating violence, the statement said.

But at least seven members refused to sign the statement, and some of them posted dissenting opinions on the council’s website.

“We’ll get a Nazi, anti-Russian neighboring state crowned with NATO bayonets as a result of this ‘ostrich policy,’” said council member Alexei Kozyrev, a theater director.

Another member, Igor Borisov, demanded a formal withdrawal Tuesday of the original anti-invasion statement, whose authors had not reacted to his call as of this article’s publication.

The majority of the council has maintained silence on the issue, though a meeting on Ukraine was scheduled for Tuesday.

The Kremlin rights council has a track record of criticizing the Russian authorities, including over high-profile cases such as the jailing of magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky and the death in detention of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, though such criticism had few, if any, legal consequences.

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