“Turkey commits a crime and Russia is after its own interests”

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Russian human rights activist, lawyer Maria Bast accused Turkey of violating international law by attacking Afrin and said, “On the other hand Russia has the mentality that is based on the principle that says everything’s fair on the way to victory”.

President of Russian Lawyers Defending Human Rights, Maria Blast spoke to ANF about Turkish invasion attack on Afrin and Russia’s role in the region.

How do you evaluate the invasion attack?

Turkey, especially Erdogan doesn’t want to see Kurds getting their rights. During ISIS presence in Rojava, Erdogan didn’t raise his voice because ISIS was fighting against the Kurds on his behalf. But after ISIS was defeated things have changed. This time Turkish army had to take the field. The current operation against Afrin is a human rights violation. This is against the international law. Turkey mustn’t be allowed to violate this law.

Why do you think the UN is silent on this issue?

Let’s not forget that the United Nations is formed by different nations. If UN really tried to solve the problem, if it represented the will of people that want to solve the problem, this wouldn’t have become this complicated. But international states approach things politically not humanely. And this makes the solution of problems really difficult. UN consists of these states and therefore it takes the interests of these states into account. Have you ever seen the UN challenge a decision by a political power? This is impossible. Shortly UN is an organization that defends some countries’ interests on another level. Under these circumstances UN’s statement on Afrin can only include a call to both sides to be cautious and solve the problems by political means.

Turkey massacres civilian population in Afrin. Women and children lost their lives. The international community is also silent about this….

This is a massacre. Turkey has signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. What it does in Afrin is a violation of these human rights. Not only in Afrin, Turkey committed grave human rights violations and crimes within the country as well. These should be carefully investigated and proved. Once these are proved then Turkey and those politicians who were in power at that time could be tried.

Kurdish people think that Russia approved Turkish attack on Afrin. But there is no statement from the Russian side about this. We know that Russia worked in coordination with Kurdish forces in Afrin region. Can we say that Russia switched sides?

In the Soviet era, Russia always supported Kurds. There were important Russian initiatives so that Kurds could be successful. It had good relations with several Kurdish political parties. If Russia followed the Soviet’s politic approach towards Kurds, we would be talking about a Kurdish state in the Middle East which would be a friend of Russia. Russia’s position is different now. There are various nations living in Russia and there are different issues. Russia has to follow policies in accordance with this reality. Sometimes Russia takes decisions that are not approved by the people. Maybe Russia makes these decisions to protect itself.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia accepted its role as an imperialist state and put itself in a position to make political moves to increase its influence in the region and protect its interests. Russia always had close relations with totalitarian states and tried to protect its interest this way. While doing this it didn’t react to many human rights violations. There is only one thing important to Russia. It’s the mentality of “everything’s fair on the way of victory”. Under these circumstances Russia took sides with the powerful. In the name of protecting its own interests Russia switched sides without considering who is right or wrong. So I don’t think that Russia really cares about whether Turkey violates human rights, invades Syrian soil or forms alliances with terrorist groups.

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