The head of Amnesty International in Ukraine, Oksana Pokaltchouk, announced her resignation following the NGO’s report accusing the Ukrainian armed forces of endangering civilians, which angered kyiv. “I am resigning from Amnesty International in Ukraine,” she said in a statement on her Facebook page overnight from Friday to Saturday. She criticized the report, published on August 4, for having unwittingly served “Russian propaganda”.
Amnesty said Friday fully assume its report accusing the Ukrainian army of endangering civilians in its resistance to the Russian invasion by installing military infrastructure in inhabited areas. The publication the day before of the document had aroused the ire of kyiv. President Volodymyr Zelensky had gone so far as to accuse the NGO of “attempting to grant amnesty to the Russian terrorist state”, by putting “the victim and the aggressor in a certain way on an equal footing”.
Calls not to publish the report
“If you don’t live in a country invaded by occupiers who are dividing it, you probably don’t understand what it is to condemn an army of defenders,” added the head of Amnesty Ukraine. She said she tried to convince Amnesty International’s management that the report was partial and did not take into account the views of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence.
According to her, Amnesty eventually “sent a request to the Ministry of Defence” but “gave it very little time for a response”. “Therefore, the organization unwittingly released a report that seemed unwittingly to support the Russian version. In an effort to protect civilians, this report became a Russian propaganda tool,” she laments.
In a previous Facebook post, Oksana Pokaltchouk claimed that Amnesty had ignored calls from her team not to publish the report. “Yesterday I had the naive hope that everything could be fixed and that this text would be replaced by another one. But today I realized that it would not happen”, she adds.
From military bases to schools and hospitals
On Friday, the NGO’s secretary general, Agnès Callamard, assured that the report’s conclusions were “based on evidence obtained during large-scale investigations subject to the same rigorous standards and verification process as all of Amnesty’s work. International”.
In its report after a four-month investigation, Amnesty accused the Ukrainian military of establishing military bases in schools and hospitals and launching attacks from populated areas, a tactic it said violates the international humanitarian law.