A UN human rights report describes measures taken in Crimea since it was annexed by Russia as “deeply concerning”.
It says the introduction of Russian citizenship has made it hard for those who want to remain Ukrainian to stay.
The report finds there were some attacks against ethnic Russians but says they were neither systematic nor widespread.
“The report says we do not have any credible evidence of issues that would justify concern on the part of the Russian speaking population of Ukraine,” said Gianni Magazzeni of the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, presenting the document.
The circumstances surrounding last month’s referendum on Crimea’s status are criticised, especially the presence of paramilitaries, self-defence groups and unidentifiable soldiers. There were many reports of vote-rigging, the report says.
It is based on the visits of two UN missions to Ukraine since mid-March.
Examining the root causes of the Maidan protests since November 2013, it says violence by the Berkut special police and other security forces helped radicalise the movement and should be investigated.
The report concludes that photos of the demonstrations, exaggerated stories about Ukrainian nationalist extremists and misinformation about alleged threats to ethnic Russians, were all used to create a climate of fear that influenced Crimea’s integration into the Russian Federation.
As for the situation now in Ukraine, the report says misinformation, propaganda and incitement to hatred must be urgently countered.
It warns the government in Kyiv to take measures to build confidence with all people in Ukraine – including the large minority of ethnic Russians in the east.
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