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U.N. members vote to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council

Ukraine's U.N. Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya urged the General Assembly to adopt a draft resolution suspending Russia from the U.N. Human Rights Council, saying thousands of Ukrainians have been killed, tortured, raped and robbed by Russia's military.
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AFP via Getty Images
Ukraine's U.N. Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya urged the General Assembly to adopt a draft resolution suspending Russia from the U.N. Human Rights Council, saying thousands of Ukrainians have been killed, tortured, raped and robbed by Russia's military.

The U.N. General Assembly voted to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council on Thursday, approving a resolution that cited reports of "gross and systematic violations and abuses of human rights" in Ukraine.

The resolution needed a two-thirds majority of the vote in order to pass. The tally was 93 in favor and 24 against, with 58 abstentions.

Several countries spoke out against the resolution, such as China, Syria and Cuba, whose representatives said human rights were being politicized. Others abstained from the vote — including South Africa, whose representative said it did so because of a lack of due process in determining Russia's guilt.

Belarus' representative Valentyn Rybakov said his country is "categorically against" the resolution, saying it would demonize and isolate the Russian Federation.

The world is at a critical juncture and the Human Rights Council is in danger of foundering, Ukraine's U.N. Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya said ahead of the vote in Thursday's emergency special session of the General Assembly.

Kyslytsya evoked the council's core goal of preventing genocide as he urged delegations to take the extraordinary step of suspending Russia from the council.

"We are in a unique situation now," Kyslytsya said, when "a member of the Human Rights Council commits horrific human rights violations and abuses that could be equated to war crimes and crimes against humanity" in another country's territory.

Saying that thousands of civilians in Bucha and other Ukrainian towns have been killed, tortured, raped and robbed by Russia's military, Kyslytsya said the reasons for suspending Russia are "obvious and self-explanatory."

U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths puts his hand on his head as he reacts to the sight of a mass grave Ukrainians dug near a church in Bucha, on April 7. Griffiths said investigators will probe civilian deaths uncovered after Russian troops withdrew.
Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP via Getty Images
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AFP via Getty Images
U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths puts his hand on his head as he reacts to the sight of a mass grave Ukrainians dug near a church in Bucha, on April 7. Griffiths said investigators will probe civilian deaths uncovered after Russian troops withdrew.

Russia has repeatedly rejected claims that it has killed or harmed civilians, despite a mounting death toll and images showing Ukrainian residences destroyed by Russian attacks — and video of Ukrainians lying dead in the streets in Bucha and elsewhere.

"We don't target civilian facilities to save as many civilians as possible. That is why our advance is not that rapid as many expected," Vasily Nebenzya, Russia's ambassador to the U.N., said at a Security Council session on Tuesday. "We are not acting like the Americans and their allies were acting in Iraq when they wiped out entire cities," he added.


This story first appeared in the Morning Edition live blog.

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