Unrest in eastern Ukraine "risks destabilising" the rest of the country

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Ivan Simonovic. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine

Ongoing unrest in the eastern Ukraine "risks destabilising" the rest of the country according to a senior UN human rights official.

Government buildings were stormed by pro-Russian militants last Saturday, a move which led to Ukraine accusing Russia of waging war in the east of the country.

The unrest follows a referendum in March in which the region of Crimea voted to secede from the country and join the Russian Federation.

Ivan Simonovic is the Assistant-Secretary-General for Human Rights.

Speaking to the Security Council, he urged calm.

"The situation in the east, if not adequately addressed as a matter of priority, risks seriously destabilizing the country as a whole. Those who exercise influence over the situation should take immediate action to halt the violence. The arming of the protesters and their transformation in to quasi- paramilitary forces must be stopped."

Mr Simoniovic has visited Ukraine twice in recent months.

He said that progress is still to be made in bringing to justice the perpetrators of serious human rights violations committed during protests in Kyiv in which 121 people were killed.

And he added that attacks on the ethnic Russian community were isolated incidents which were then exaggerated through what he called "biased media reporting."

He said the media significantly contributed to a climate of fear and insecurity in the country.

Stephanie Coutrix, United Nations.

Duration: 1’33″

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