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Guilty! ‘Russell Tribunal’ condemns Obama, Poroshenko ‘war crimes’ in E.Ukraine

Guilty! ‘Russell Tribunal’ condemns Obama, Poroshenko ‘war crimes’ in E.Ukraine
The presidents of Ukraine and the US, in addition to heads of NATO and the European Commission have been condemned for war crimes in Eastern Ukraine by an informal Russell Tribunal, which took place in Venice, Italy on Saturday.

The show trial in Venice was inspired by the Russell Tribunal organized by British philosopher and Nobel Prize winner Bertrand Russell and hosted by French philosopher and writer Jean-Paul Sartre in 1966 to investigate US war crimes in Vietnam.

Further tribunals focused on human rights violations in the dictatorships of Argentina and Brazil (1973); on Chile's military coup (1974–76), on human rights in psychiatry (2001); on Iraq (2004), and on Palestine (2009–12).

Although the Russell Tribunal has no legal status, its decisions have always affected public opinion around the globe.

The Tribunal’s ruling on Eastern Ukraine will be forwarded to the UN Secretariat, the EU, the International Criminal Court and other competent international bodies.

A woman stands at her destroyed house in the village of Kominternovo, on the outskirts of the southern coastal town of Mariupol, September 6, 2014 (Reuters / Vasily Fedosenko)

“The Russell Tribunal, which met to condemn the war crimes in Donbas (south-eastern Ukraine), based on the presented evidence, ruled to hold Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, US president Barack Obama, European Commission head, Jose Manuel Barroso, and NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, accountable for their direct responsibility in the war against the people of Donbas,” the decision by the Russell Tribunal board of judges said.

The board at the show trial consisted of Venice residents, chaired by the president of the Veneto Government, Albert Gardin.

Invitations to attend the tribunal were send to a number of human rights organization, including Amnesty International, but none of them attended, Gardin said.

The irregular forces of Lugansk and Donetsk Regions were represented at the “hearing” by Galina Kozhushko, a native of Lugansk, who currently resides in Italy.

“The protests [in Donbas] escalated into armed resistance after the voices of the people were ignored. As a result, schools, hospitals, nursing homes and churches were destroyed. People in Lugansk just couldn’t believe that their own government would be killing them,”
she said, reported Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency.

Kozhushko also told the panel the she last heard from her father, who remains in Lugansk, one and half months ago as he was trying to find shelter from the fighting.

READ MORE: Amnesty Intl: Both sides of Ukrainian conflict committed war crimes

The events in Ukraine are “a planned provocation by the US against Russia,” Giulietto Chiesa, journalist and former European MP, said during the session.

“Ukraine was conquered by the US long ago,” he alleged. “If NATO does send its troops to the border with Russia, we’ll find ourselves on the verge of a war between the west and Russia.”

A man walks past vehicles destroyed during the recent shelling in the eastern Ukrainian town of Ilovaysk, August 31, 2014 (Reuters / Maxim Shemetov)

Ukraine has been engulfed in violent internal conflict since April, when Kiev’s military began its crackdown on the southeastern regions of the country after they refused to recognize the country’s new coup-imposed authorities.

The United Nations said that the death toll in the Ukrainian conflict has exceeded 3,000, with this number including the 298 passengers and crew on board the MH17 airliner.

The number of internally displaced Ukrainians has reached 260,000, with another 814,000 finding refuge in Russia, the UN said.

The sides agreed a ceasefire during talks in Minsk, Belarus on September 5, but there are still considerable amounts of work to be done for the conflict to be settled peacefully.