UN body deplores 'grave' rights abuses by Russia in Ukraine

By Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber

GENEVA (Reuters) -A United Nations committee said on Friday it was deeply concerned about human rights violations by Russian forces and private military companies in Ukraine, including enforced disappearances, torture, rape and extrajudicial executions.

In its findings on Russia, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination called on the Russian authorities to investigate allegations of human rights violations committed during the invasion of Ukraine.

"The Committee was deeply concerned about the grave human rights violations committed during the ongoing armed conflict by the Russian Federation's military forces and private military companies ...," it said in a statement.

There was no immediate comment from the Russian permanent mission to the United Nations in Geneva.

In its report, the committee listed excessive use of force, arbitrary detentions, killings and the forcible transfer of children from Ukraine to Russia among the violations committed.

Russia, which the U.N. committee said had refused to provide it with information on the conflict, has denied committing atrocities and deliberately attacking civilians in Ukraine. It denies deporting Ukrainian children to Russia, saying it has evacuated them to keep them safe.

"The refusal of the Russian Federation to address these issues did not hinder us from addressing them in our concluding observations, but of course it made our work more difficult," committee member Mehrdad Payandeh told reporters in Geneva.

"We would have liked to engage in a constructive dialogue."

The U.N. committee also noted its concern about the Russian military drafting soldiers from ethnic minorities and "incitement to racial hatred and propagation of racist stereotypes against ethnic Ukrainians", including on state-owned television.

Rights activists from one region, Buryatia, have accused the authorities of focusing their draft efforts on far-flung regions with ethnic minorities to avoid sparking popular anger in Moscow and other major cities.

(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by William Maclean and Kevin Liffey)