Skip to main content


Amnesty’s “Russian propaganda”

Ukrainian forces near the eastern city of Slavyansk. Enya Savilov/AFP/Getty

I can’t understand Amnesty International’s “moral myopia” on Ukraine, says Max Boot in The Washington Post. Last year, the human rights organisation announced that it no longer considered Vladimir Putin critic Alexei Navalny a “prisoner of conscience”, because he had “once echoed some Russian nationalist views”. That decision was reversed after it prompted widespread outrage. But now Amnesty has issued a bizarre statement accusing Ukrainian forces of “violating the laws of war”, on the basis that they use weapons “in populated residential areas, including in schools and hospitals”. Yes, the same Ukrainian forces that are desperately fighting off an entirely unprovoked attack by “a merciless and bloodthirsty foe”.

The head of Amnesty’s Ukraine office quit in disgust, calling the statement “a tool of Russian propaganda”. And sure enough, Putin’s cronies were delighted: the Russian embassy in London, which recently called for Ukrainian POWs to be executed, said Amnesty had proven “exactly what Russia has been saying all along”. It’s outrageous that an organisation built on upholding international law is showing a “bewildering and unconscionable bias against Putin’s enemies”. Yes, the Ukrainian army fights in urban areas. But passively retreating from cities would leave civilians vulnerable to murder, rape, looting, and other grievous war crimes committed by Russia – the sort of stuff Amnesty should really be worrying about. Here’s hoping executives realise that a human rights organisation should not be used to “justify war crimes”.