Kremlin warns of 'mass' rights violations by Ukraine ultra-nationalists

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russia on Monday released a report listing a litany of what it says are 'mass-scale' rights violations by ultra-nationalists in Ukraine, warning the escalating crisis could endanger peace in Europe.

The lengthy report compiled by the foreign ministry and dubbed the "White Book" was presented to President Vladimir Putin and could lead to a formal lawsuit being filed with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, officials said.

"Joint efforts by the Ukrainian people and the international community should as soon as possible put an end to racism, xenophobia, ethnic intolerance, (and) the glorification of the Nazis and their Bandera accomplices," said the report released by the foreign ministry.

Stepan Bandera was a leader of the hugely controversial Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), which battled against the Soviets and collaborated with Nazi Germany during World War II. He is hailed as a hero in western Ukraine which was occupied by the Soviet Union during the war.

"The alternative is fraught with such destructive consequences for Europe's peace, stability and democratic development that it is absolutely necessary to prevent it," said the study.

The report also said "ultranationalist, extremist and neo-Nazi" forces had monopolised the protest movement in Ukraine and committed "mass" rights violations against the country's Russian speakers.

The study reels off a list of what Moscow says are numerous rights violations and instances of "torture" and "inhumane treatment" in Ukraine between November 2013 and late March. It accuses the West of turning a blind eye to numerous attacks on Russian speakers, the tearing down of monuments and derogatory graffiti. Many of the claims neatly turn accusations against Moscow back on the West.

Citing Ukrainian police, it said that some of the pro-Western demonstrators had "Nato military gear" and some protesters were wounded with "Nato ammunition" - reversing accusations that Moscow is covertly operating in the east of the country.

"The goal of the report is to draw the attention of the international community and international legal structures to instances of human rights violations in Ukraine," Mr Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on radio.

The report is accompanied by photographs of the clashes which broke out in Ukraine in November when its Moscow-backed president Viktor Yanukovych refused to sign key political and economic agreements with the European Union. The report also contains WWII-era pictures including a photo depicting residents of the western Ukrainian city of Ivano-Frankivsk, formerly known as Stanislav, greeting the Nazis.

The report also features a picture of Washington's top diplomat for Europe, Ms Victoria Nuland, offering food to pro-Western protesters massing on Kiev's Independence Square, known as the Maidan, over the winter. Such images provided the basis for Mr Putin's statement last week that "these pies on the Maidan - it is with them that the road to the crisis has been paved."

Russia and the West have both accused each other of bringing Ukraine to the brink of war since Mr Yanukovych was ousted in February. "Unfortunately, the crudest violations of human rights and the rule of law that have been or are being committed, remain unpunished," said the report.

"The guilty should be duly punished. Otherwise, extremists of all stripes would receive a dangerous encouraging signal."

Mr Georgy Fyodorov, a member of the Kremlin-friendly Public Chamber, said his organisation planned to lodge a suit with the European Court of Human Rights. "It's necessary to speak about these facts at all international venues," he told AFP.

The study is based on reports by Russian, Ukrainian and Western media as well as witness accounts and interviews collected by Russian non-governmental groups, the Kremlin said.

The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor last month opened a probe into crimes committed during the Ukrainian crisis.