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Covington Files Memorial in International Court of Justice on Behalf of Ukraine in Case Against the Russian Federation

June 13, 2018

WASHINGTON—Covington submitted a Memorial to the International Court of Justice on behalf of Ukraine that documents violations of international law by the Russian Federation. The Memorial, accompanied by a substantial evidentiary record, establishes that the Russian Federation has violated the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

The Memorial documents Russia’s violations of the Terrorism Financing Convention arising from the massive flow of money and weapons from Russia to illegal armed groups in eastern Ukraine known to commit acts of terrorism. With Russian arms and support, these groups have downed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, shelled a civilian passenger bus, bombarded densely populated residential neighborhoods, mounted a bombing campaign against a patriotic march, a popular nightclub, and other civilian targets, and attempted to assassinate a member of Ukraine’s Parliament.

The Memorial also demonstrates how Russia has violated the Racial Discrimination Convention by targeting the Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian communities in occupied Crimea in a systematic campaign of cultural erasure through racial discrimination. Specific examples of Russia’s discriminatory acts include the banning of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People; the exile and persecution of Crimean Tatar leaders; disappearances and murders of Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian activists; arbitrary searches and detentions; suppression of Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian media; and suppression of education in the Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar languages.

Ukraine seeks an immediate end to Russia’s treaty violations, including stopping the illegal flow of weapons to illegal armed groups in eastern Ukraine and ending discriminatory practices against Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians in occupied Crimea. Ukraine also has requested the Court to order Russia to pay compensation for the harm Russia has caused to the people of Ukraine.

Ukraine initiated its case against Russia in the ICJ in January 2017. In April 2017, the ICJ issued provisional measures, ordering the Russian Federation to refrain from limitations on the ability of the Crimean Tatar community to conserve its representative institutions, including the Mejlis, ensure the availability of education in the Ukrainian language, and not to aggravate the dispute before the Court.

The Covington team is led by partners Marney Cheek, Jonathan Gimblett, and David Zionts. Covington represents Ukraine in partnership with Professor Harold Hongju Koh of Yale Law School and Professor Jean-Marc Thouvenin of Paris-Nanterre University.

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