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Children die in Donetsk. Who is to blame?

Children die in Donetsk. Who is to blame?
Article by: Zhanna Bezpyatchuk
Translated by: Mariya Shcherbinina
Kyiv – A lot of resonance, numerous condemnations and demands of immediate investigations were evoked in Ukraine by the death of two children and the injury of another four adolescents at a sport complex near schools #63 in Donetsk. The location of the tragedy has already been examined by OSCE representatives, they promise to publish their report soon. Meanwhile the Ukrainian Education Ministry emphasizes that the school year in Donetsk should not have even started and that the education process should not have been going on there. School #63 is very close to the airport. And this is now a question for the parents and the illegal armed formation’DNR,’ which pretends like life is normal, Radio Liberty informants note.

A 14-year-old eight-grader and an 18-year-old alumnus of school #63 died near it in an artillery explosion. Three 17-year-olds and one 21-year-old were injured.

SKM group communication director Natalya Yemchenko reported that one of the wounded is in critical condition, three have moderately grave injuries. The boys simply came out to play football.

On November 6, the Ukrainian NSDC Information Center published its own version of what happened surrounding the explosion. They claim that the artillery shell was launched from the territories which are being controlled by illegal armed formations, in particular, from the general direction of Makiyivka.

The NSDC published satellite images and photos from the tragedy location which, to their mind, demonstrate where the ammunition came from to his the sports complex.

The SBU drew up criminal charges.

The Ukrainian MIA officially accused the pro-Russian mercenaries of firing at the school in Donetsk. Ukrainian MIA spokesman Yevhen Perebiynis wrote on his Twitter page that there is proof that the shell which hit the school was fired from the territory which is under terrorist control. He cites the same photos as the Ukrainian NSDC.

Besides, Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Pavlo Klimkin called for the leadership of the OSCE to immediately send their observers to where the shell fell near school #63 in Donetsk.

On the other hand, the Russian Investigative Committee accused the Ukrainian army of the deaths, posing this version of the investigation, and drew up criminal charges because of the shelling.

As senior media expert of the OSCE monitoring mission Iryna Hudyma told Radio Liberty, on Thursday, November 6, the experts of the mission visited the site, examined it, questioned the witnesses and will soon publish a report on their visit.

Verkhovna Rada representative for human rights Valeriya Lutkovska demanded that the ATO leadership and the Office of the Prosecutor General immediately investigate the explosion on the school stadium in Donetsk, reports her press service.

The Ministry of Education does not acknowledge the learning process in Donetsk schools

Deputy Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine Pavlo Polyansky told Radio Liberty that the ministry does not officially acknowledge the learning process in Donetsk schools, as it has considered it dangerous from the very beginning. Accordingly, those who are responsible for the fact that schools in ‘DNR’-controlled territories continue working are the illegal armed group and the school principals, who acknowledged their ‘government.’ The Ukrainian Education Ministry emphasizes that these schools will be unable to issue legal education certificates to the graduates.

“What happened is horrible. We see that Russians and local terrorists stop at nothing. Naturally, education cannot be conducted there under these conditions of occupation. We see that the price for this is too high: the lives and injuries to Ukrainian children. We emphasized this numerous times, so that the parents and teachers are not acting under illusions,” said Pavlo Polyansky.

Meanwhile the Ministry for Education and Science and OSCE representatives in Ukraine are beginning an ‘anti-mine campaign’ in Ukraine, within which they will publish videos and booklets for parents and children about how to preserve the lives and health of children on the territories where combat happened (or is still ongoing).

Amnesty International: both sides violate obligations to protect the population

International human rights organization Amnesty International called to conduct an immediate and effective investigation into the deaths of the children. They stated that both sides of the conflict violate their obligations to protect the civilian population.

Director of Amnesty International Ukraine Tetyana Mazur commented on the organization’s position to Radio Liberty.

“This is not the first time we documented random shelling in Donetsk oblast and Donetsk. What our investigators have seen is that both sides of the conflict make random attacks. Besides, we saw that quite frequently the separatists locate themselves inside civilian objects and fire from there. The Ukrainian side responds in the direction of residential buildings,” stated Tetyana Mazur.

Tetyana Mazur noted as to the conduction of such an investigation under conditions when the Ukrainian government does not control Donetsk territory: “We understand that certain combat is underway. But as soon as the situation changes, the Ukrainian government has to ensure such an investigation, provide law enforcement on locations with necessary resources to conduct investigative action. We see quite frequently that the Ukrainian law enforcement is hesitant to investigate violation of human rights.”

Harmash: whom does Akhmetov appeal to? 

Donetsk oligarch Rinat Akhmetov expressed his condolences to the children’s families in the official website of Shakhtar football club and also promised that his humanitarian headquarters would ensure that all necessary assistance is given to those who suffered from the tragedy. School #63 is his alma mater, he studied there.

“Tell me, how many more children should die or be maimed, how many more tears are needed to end this war? I am asking everyone: stop shooting! Stop killing civilians! Stop killing children!” Says Rinat Akhmetov’s statement. However, its author does not detail whom it is addressed to in particular.

Editor-in-chief of Donetsk publication Ostrov Serhiy Harmash thinks that such addresses to nobody in particular constitute a lack of position, and does not prevent new tragedies from happening in any way.

“I did not understand whom he’s talking to: someone in space, foreigners, whom? It’s the same illness – the lack of a concrete position. Akhmetov doesn’t have it, I think neither do our government or our President. And most Donetsk citizens. They just live, you see. They want to live normally, which is why such tragic events happen. If three of our soldiers of the same age had died there, nobody would probably know about it. As this is Akhmetov’s school, it is a serious event,” says the journalist.

Serhiy Harmash emphasizes that school #63 is located quite close to Donetsk airport – within 2-3 kilometers, and the shelling could have been predicted.

Children in Donbas have died not only due to shelling. As such, in the town of Zuhres in Donetsk oblast, two children died and five were injured when trying to take apart a shell that did not explode. As the Donetsk OSA Headquarters for Information Policy and Press reported, seven schoolchildren encountered another shell there that did not explode, and when they tried to move it, it blew up.

80 children from various parts of the world, including three infants, died in the Malaysian Boeing 777 crash. According to international intelligence, accounts of the Ukrainian side and according to the conversations between pro-Russian mercenaries intercepted by the SBU, the plane was downed by the representatives of the illegal armed group ‘DNR,’ which could have taken it for a military jet, using the zenith-missile complex, Buk.

However, Russian propaganda also manipulated the topic of children during the conflict. As such, before this mass death of children, Russian First Channel spread lies about a three-year-old boy who was allegedly crucified by the National Guard of Ukraine. Sloviansk citizens themselves denied this misinformation, the MIA identified the woman who spoke about it in an interview to First Channel. However, the channel is yet to acknowledge the lie.

According to the most recent data published by the UN on October 8, 3660 people have died and 8756 have been wounded since the beginning of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. Earlier, as of September 11, the UN reported that no less than 27 children have died and 56 were wounded as consequence of combat in Donbas.

Translated by: Mariya Shcherbinina
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