Local councillors in the UK have launched an appeal demanding “an end to the use of kidnapping, arbitrary imprisonment and other violence” against elected officials, journalists, civic activists and others in the Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine.
The statement condemns “attempts by the Russian army and security services to destroy elected local government structures and replace them with their own appointees”.
The appeal was drafted after mayors and elected officials in Enerhodar, Melitopol, Kherson, Berdyansk and other towns in south-eastern Ukraine were abducted, often in the course of Russian army attempts to force local administrations to collaborate.
The abductions in the occupied areas are part of the same terror campaign whose cutting edge – summary executions, mass graves and wholesale terror against civilians – has been exposed in Bucha, Irpin and other areas near Kyiv from which the Russian forces withdrew last week.
In eastern Ukraine, victims of abductions in the last few days include Oleksandr Khoshelevych, mayor of Prymorsk in Zaporizhya region, and Viktor Maruniak, head of the Stara Zburivka Council in Kherson region,
The intimidation of elected officials, journalists and activists goes hand in hand with violent assaults on demonstrations against the occupation, such as the assault on crowds in Enerhodar on Saturday. Such protests continue in many occupied cities, such as the one in Kherson on Sunday (in the photo).
The signatories of the UK appeal say they hope to record all cases of abduction and other violence against elected officials in Ukraine, and to “offer material and legal support to mayors and local government representatives whose human rights are abused”.
The appeal has been signed initially by eleven Labour office-holders, six Greens (including three London Assembly members) and two independent councillors. The organisers are inviting local councillors and other elected officials of all parties to add their names by sending an email to 2022ukrainesolidarity[at]gmail.com.
The appeal is below. Please copy and circulate. SP, 4 April 2022.
An appeal by mayors and local government officials in the UK
We, elected mayors and other local government representatives, condemn the reign of terror in areas of Ukraine occupied by the Russian army. We demand an end to the use of kidnapping, arbitrary imprisonment and other violence against mayors, local government representatives, journalists, civic activists and other civilians.
We condemn attempts by the Russian army and security services to destroy elected local government structures and replace them with their own appointees. We declare our solidarity with those who resist such blows against democracy, freedom of representation and freedom of speech.
We call on the United Nations, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and other international bodies urgently to protest to the Russian government.
To the best of our ability, we will take the following actions, and we appeal to mayors and local government representatives here in the UK, and in other countries, to join us:
1. To record all cases of human rights abuses against mayors and local government representatives in areas of Ukraine occupied by Russian forces.
2. To offer material and legal support to mayors and local government representatives whose human rights are abused.
3. To campaign internationally in support of Ukrainian mayors and local government representatives whose human rights are abused, and publicise each and every breach of human rights and attack on democracy.
□ More information on the appeal at ukraine-solidarity.org.