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”said Pokaltchouk in a statement on his Facebook page overnight from Friday to Saturday, accusing the report published on August 4 of 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 went so far as to accuse the NGO of “attempt to grant amnesty to the terrorist state” Russian, putting “the victim and the aggressor in some way on an equal footing”.
“If you don’t live in a country overrun by occupiers who are carving it up, you probably don’t understand what it’s like to condemn an army of defenders,” added the head of Amnesty Ukraine.
Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Agnès Callamard, said ” sorry “ to learn of Pokaltchouk’s resignation, but added that she “respected his decision”.
“Oksana has been a valued member of Amnesty International staff and has led its office in Ukraine for seven years, with many human rights successes”she pointed out on Saturday.
Pokalchuk said he tried unsuccessfully 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.
Amnesty said it contacted Defense Ministry officials on July 29 about its findings, but did not hear back in time before its report was released.
According to Pokalchuk, Amnesty has “given very little time” at the ministry “for an answer”. “Consequently, the organization released a report that seemed to unwittingly support the Russian version. Striving to protect civilians, this report has become a tool of Russian propaganda”she laments.
In a previous Facebook post, Pokaltchouk claimed that Amnesty had ignored his team’s pleas not to publish the report. “Yesterday, I had the naive hope that everything could be arranged and that this text would be replaced by another. But today I realized that it wouldn’t happen.”she adds.
Friday, Agnès Callamard had assured that the conclusions of the report were “based on evidence obtained from extensive investigations subject to the same rigorous standards and vetting process as all of Amnesty International’s work”.
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.
Amnesty, however, insisted that Ukrainian tactics do not “in no way justify the indiscriminate Russian attacks” that hit the civilian population.
The head of Ukrainian diplomacy, Dmytro Kouleba, said to himself “indignant” by Amnesty International’s “unfair” accusations, which he says create “a false balance between oppressor and victim”.