Russia Gathering Facts on Violence, Nationalists in Ukraine

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti, March 21) – Russia is collecting facts on lawless extremists and neo-nationalists in Ukraine as well as on the violence that has racked the country, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday.

“We are scrupulously collecting all of the facts that show the lawlessness of neo-nationalists and extremists and would like to complete this work as quickly as possible,” Lavrov said, addressing a session of Russia’s upper house of parliament.

Far-right parties have stepped up their influence in the country following the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych last month amid often violent protests that left 103 Ukrainians dead and over 1,400 injured.

Lavrov added that it was difficult to engage in dialogue with the West, which is cut off from reality and thinks Russia will still change its mind about the reunification of Crimea with the country.

A treaty providing for the reunification was ratified by Russia’s two houses of parliament on Thursday and Friday, following a referendum on Sunday in the region that saw overwhelming popular support for the measure.

Lavrov said that Moscow hopes Kiev will engage in constructive dialogue on issues of language and federalism.

The foreign minister said that the country’s Ukrainian partners believe Russia is attempting “to impose principles on Ukraine that have nothing to do with its statehood,” a reference to initiatives to protect the status of the Russian language and to promote a federal system of government to defuse inter-regional tension in the country.

“I hope that these approaches will be reviewed,” Lavrov said.

On Thursday UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said during a visit to Moscow that he shares “the legitimate concerns that Russia and President Putin has, particularly in terms of human rights protection and of those Russian-speaking people and Russian minorities.”


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