Sivan Gamliel

Why Everyone Must Boycott Putin

invIt was recently reported that six countries including Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan decided to attend the Victory Parade in Moscow, even though the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin after it was reported that his forces abducted thousands of Ukrainian children.   The fact that these six countries attended Putin’s Victory Parade is a complete and utter outrage, especially given the barrage of missiles that were fired at Ukraine, as Putin disrespected the memory of the Soviet soldiers who fought against Nazism by going on an anti-Western tirade.

Russia is a country that continues to commit grave crimes against humanity as we speak in the Ukraine.  Due to Russia’s unlawful invasion of the Ukraine, as of last February, the OHCHR reported that more than 7,199 Ukrainian civilians were killed and more than 11,756 Ukrainian civilians were injured.   7.8 million Ukrainians fled their country to other parts of Europe, while 5.6 million Ukrainians are internally displaced and 3.7 million Ukrainians lack access to basic necessities.

As if that were not bad enough, hundreds of women and girls in the Ukraine have become victims of sexual assault, rape and torture committed by the Russian Armed Forces.   Yulia Gorbunova, a senior Ukraine researcher at Human Rights Watch, noted: “Russian occupying forces carried out terrifying torture and other abuses against Kherson residents in the torture center on Teploenerhetykiv Street and numerous other detention facilities.   Those responsible for these horrific acts should not go unpunished and the victims and their families need to receive redress for their suffering and information about those still missing.”

Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin said that nearly 80,000 cases of war crimes have been registered in his country since Russia began its war against the Ukraine in February 2022.  According to him, around 20 torture chambers were uncovered and more than 1,000 survivors have reported that Russian torturers implemented electric shocks, waterboarding, forced detainees to strip naked, and threatened detainees with mutilation and death.  Kostin added that more than 60 cases of rape were documented in the Kherson region alone.   This does not even include the documented cases of Russia literally transferring Ukrainian children to Russia and telling these kids that their parents do not want them anymore, which is a direct violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

For all of these reasons, the West boycotted Russia’s Victory Parade in Moscow, as it is more about promoting Putin’s propaganda machine than about remembering the sad fate of Soviet soldiers who lost their lives as part of the heroic struggle against Nazism.   To add insult to injury, anti-Semitism has skyrocketed in Putin’s Russia ever since the Ukraine war broke out, as demonstrated by the infamous remarks by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who said: “the biggest anti-Semites are the Jews themselves” and that “Hitler had Jewish blood,” alongside other long discredited anti-Semitic tropes.  Despite making these remarks, Putin kept Lavrov as his Foreign Minister.

For all of these reasons, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan should not have attended Putin’s Victory Parade, as their attendance gives positive public relations to a man who for all intents and purposes is a war criminal, who should face justice for his crimes.    At the same time, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev should be commended for refusing to attend Putin’s Victory Parade in Moscow, especially given that Russian troops are patrolling part of his territory and thus it is not easy for him to stand up to Putin in this manner.

About the Author
Sivan Gamliel is a freelance journalist based in Bat Yam. Originally from Nahariyya, she grew up exposed to the threat posed by Hezbollah based in Lebanon. She has a BA in communications from Emek Yezrael College.
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