KYIV / MOSCOW (Reuters) – The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) will hear part of a case brought by Ukraine alleging Russian human rights violations in the Crimean peninsula annexed by Moscow in 2014, the court said on Thursday. Ukraine’s alleged abuses, including enforced disappearances, illegal detention and repression of non-Russian media, were deemed admissible and would be followed by a judgment at a later date, according to an ECHR statement. The court said there was insufficient evidence for the Ukrainian allegations of a pattern of killings and shootings and arrests of foreign journalists or the alleged confiscation of property of Ukrainian soldiers. Relations between Ukraine and Russia collapsed after Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in the Donbass conflict in eastern Ukraine that has killed 14,000 people since 2014. A statement by the Russian Ministry of Justice is focused on the court-rejected allegations, including the most serious, that civilians had been killed. Kremlin-backed Crimean chief Sergei Aksyonov wrote on social media that Ukraine’s accusations were false and that the court should investigate actual human rights violations perpetrated against Crimea by Ukraine and not Russia. He said European court rulings on Russian affairs were often biased and politicized. Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called the ruling a victory for his country. “This is an important step for Russia to take legal responsibility for the aggression against Ukraine,” he said. “And with each step the price of this responsibility will increase.” The Strasbourg-based ECHR said the case did not concern whether the annexation was legal under international law, but had taken into account the increase in Russia’s military presence in Crimea in January-March 2014 without consent. from Ukraine. The annexation has not been recognized internationally and led the West to impose sanctions on Russia, sending relations to their lowest level since the Cold War. Council of Europe members are supposed to abide by the court’s ruling, which may include demands for reform or compensation, but sometimes states ignore them.
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