GENEVA, Oct 7 (Reuters) – A U.N. human rights body comfortably passed a motion on Friday to appoint a new independent expert on alleged human rights abuses in Russia, accusing Moscow of creating a “climate of fear” through repression and violence.
Members voted 17 in favour and six against, with 24 abstaining. The move is the first time that the Human Rights Council has set up a Special Rapporteur to examine the rights record of one of its so-called ‘P5’ members, which hold permanent seats on the Security Council.
It follows stronger Russian laws this year to punish people Moscow says discredit the armed forces or spread fake information, and the forced closure of human rights groups, including Memorial, which won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.
Russia’s ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, Gennady Gatilov, said the resolution contained a “stream of false allegations”.
“This draft resolution is one more example of how Western countries are using this council to obtain their political goals,” he said.
The win comes as a relief to Western countries after the historic defeat of a China motion on Thursday.
The resolution was brought to the Geneva council by nearly 50 countries, including all EU countries, barring Hungary, as well as the United States, Britain, Ukraine, Japan and Colombia.
In Other Developments:
* U.S. President Joe Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons is the biggest such threat since the Cuban Missile Crisis, and human rights campaigners of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine won the Nobel Peace Prize.
* amid fawning congratulations from subordinates and a plea from Orthodox Patriarch Kirill for all to pray for the health of the longest-serving paramount leader of Russia since Josef Stalin.
* Ukrainian rescuers have found 11 bodies and rescued 21 people from the rubble of buildings destroyed in missile attacks in the city of Zaporizhzhia, in the southern region of the same name, the State Emergency Service said.
* A Ukrainian missile hit a bus in the Russian-controlled city of Kherson, killing four and wounding three civilians, Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency reported.
* A Russian-backed official in Ukraine publicly criticised President Vladimir Putin’s “generals and ministers” for failing to understand the problems on the front lines.
* In remarks to an Australian think tank, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy suggested he supported preventive strikes to preclude Russian use of nuclear weapons. Russia denounced those comments and said they confirmed the need for what it calls its “special military operation” ” in Ukraine. Kyiv said Zelenskiy was referring to sanctions, not military strikes.
NOBEL PEACE PRIZE
* Jailed Belarusian activist Ales Byalyatski, Russian organisation Memorial and Ukrainian group Center for Civil Liberties won the 2022 . The prize will be seen by many as a condemnation of Putin, who was celebrating his 70th birthday on Friday, and Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko.
ENERGY AND ECONOMY
* Ukrainian parliament approved Andriy Pyshnyi, a banker who has helped advise the government on implementing sanctions against Russia, as the head of .
* Ukrainian farmers have completed the 2022 , threshing 19.2 million and 5.5 million tonnes respectively, the agriculture ministry said.
* International Atomic Energy Agency head Rafael Grossi said the U.N. nuclear watchdog considered the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant to be a Ukrainian facility. A four-member team of was due to arrive at the plant on Friday to replace the agency’s team of two specialists, Interfax reported, citing Russian-installed authorities.
* A crime scene investigation of the damages on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines has strengthened suspicions of “gross sabotage”, Swedish security police said. Norway has deployed to inspect a subsea gas pipeline to Germany because of safety concerns, according to sources and data.
* Putin said he expected sanctions pressure on the Russian economy to intensify, in televised remarks from a meeting with government officials.
Kirill Stremousov, the Russian-installed deputy head of the annexed Kherson region: “Many say: if they were a defence minister who had allowed such a state of affairs, they could, as officers, have shot themselves.”