Ukraine: a challenge for statehood, a challenge for human rights?

Dr Anna Neistat, Associate Director for Program and the Emergencies division, Human Rights Watch

Co-presented with the Human Rights Program, the University of Sydney

Since pro-Russian forces seized Crimea, the situation for civil society actors and reporters in the Black Sea peninsula has deteriorated rapidly. Activists from the Euromaidan protests that toppled Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, have been abducted and journalists, harassed and threatened, sometimes at knifepoint.

Human Rights Watch Associate Director for Program and Emergencies, Anna Neistat, was in Kiev in January during the Euromaidan protests as well as in Crimea during the contentious referendum, that backed a union with Russia but was deemed illegal by the US and the EU. Neistat, who also monitored the human rights situation in Eastern and South-Eastern Ukraine in May, will discuss the current situation in Ukraine, the importance of accurate, careful documentation in the battle over information, and the role of Russia and the current climate of propaganda, of the kind not seen since Soviet times.

Anna Neistat

Dr Anna Neistat, Associate Director for Program and Emergencies, and a specialist in humanitarian crises, works to investigate and expose human rights violations in crisis situations on a rapid-response basis. In her capacity as associate director in the Program office at Human Rights Watch, she develops and implements staff training in the areas of security and research methodology. She has experience working in Haiti, Zimbabwe, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Armenia, Belarus, Israel, the Philippines and Kenya. Previously, as director of Human Rights Watch's Moscow office, Neistat worked on the conflict in Chechnya and other human rights problems in the former Soviet Union, and acted as the organization's spokesperson in the region.

Before joining Human Rights Watch, Neistat worked for 'Echo of Moscow', Russia's leading radio station, the Open Society Institute, and as a constitutional law researcher at Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies. Neistat holds an LL.M. degree from Harvard Law School, a J.D. and Ph.D. in law, and an M.S. in history and philology.