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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Russia Update: December 27, 2014

Publication: Russia Update
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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Moscow Lawyer and Moscow Red Cross Chairman Says West's Concerns about 'Humanitarian' Convoys Are Legitimate

Igor Trunov, a lawyer and professor who is also the chairman of the Moscow City Department of the Russian Red Cross made a remarkable statement about Russia's humanitarian convoys to Ukraine on December 25 that has been picked up by a lot of Ukrainian media.

There are differing versions of his remarks.

Here's a full translation by The Interpreter of his remarks from Ukrinform.ua, which says it received commentary from Trunov:

The ten convoys have been absolutely correctly characterized [by the West and Ukrainian authorities who believe the Russian "humanitarian" convoys on the territory of occupied pro-Russian fighters of regoins of the Donbass--Ukrinform]. I don't want to throw stones at our agencies, our government, I'm a law-abiding citizen of Russia. But there is international law. What is the Emergencies Ministry -- it is militarized agency of the Russian state. How has a militarized agency ended up on the territory of another state? It doesn't matter of which, a self-proclaimed one or whether it is Ukraine -- it is a foreign country, and not Russia. How did this [militarized agency] get there? Is it a subject of international humanitarian law? No. It is regulated by some kind of convention? No. Then what it is? It is an invasion, it is a violation, this is wrong to do.


Trunov said the only legitimate humanitarian convoy from Russia was the trucks sent by the Moscow Section of the Russian Red Cross in cooperation with the Lugansk Section of the Red Cross with the support of Russia's Emergencies Ministry. This humanitarian convoy consisted of 15 trucks with 80 tons of good, disinfectants and medicines sent on December 20. The freight was unloaded at the Lugansk Medical Academy. Said Trunov:


We had two of our colleagues who monitored the distribution. Our destination was five orphanages on Lugansk territory and free cafeterias at churches and monasteries where the socially needy are fed.


Trudnov noted that the convoy was escorted by the Emergencies Ministry (Emercom), and that the Red Cross or any other charity is unable to cross Russian customs without paying fees, and only Emercom is able to do this. He said that OSCE representatives inspected the freight at the Ukrainian-Russian border and recorded it as a Red Cross convoy. The next convoy is scheduled for January 15.

Another outlet, News Times of Ukraine (nvua.net, not related to the New Times of Moscow), has reported on Trunov's remarks as follows, but in the first reference does not have a direct quote from him (translation by The Interpreter):

The sending of Russian "humanitarian convoys" to Ukraine is a violation of international humanitarian law, and the "Putin convoys" themselves most likely brought weapons into rebel-controlled Donbass, said Igor Trunov, the head of the Moscow City Department of the Russian Red Cross.


Then it has the following statement, including a direct quote from him that was not included in the Ukrinform story:

Moreover, he acknowledged that 10 Russian "convoys" could bring anything at all into occupied Donbass. "We should not subject humanitarian freight to doubt. Therefore it is natural that legitimate aid is understood to mean the absence of dual-use goods, as a minimum. And what we are talking about is a direct violation of international humanitarian law, that is, most likely, they brought weapons," said the head of the Red Cross.


We are seeking confirmation of his remarks, which have not appeared in the independent Russian press, and specifically the claim about the weapons, which only appears in some accounts.

It's important to note that Trunov is head of a local chapter of a national Red Cross -- and that is something separate from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva.

It's also important to understand how it came about that Trunov could make such a statement -- he is already a prominent Russian public figure who holds a number of civic positions and is famous for representing the survivors of terrorist attacks, disasters, and plane crashes in Russia.

Trunov is president of the Union of Attorneys of Russia, and chairman of the board of Trunov, Ayvar and Partners, a law firm. He is a professor at Moscow State University of Culture and Arts, and also was elected on to the presidium of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences (RAEN) and chairman of the Department of Problems of Law.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

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