Head of Ukraine's Amnesty office leaves after group accuses Kyiv


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KYIV - The head of Amnesty International's Ukrainian branch is leaving the human rights body after the group accused Ukraine's armed forces of endangering civilians by basing troops in residential areas during the Russian invasion.

Amnesty made the comments on Thursday and Kyiv likened it to Russian propaganda and disinformation.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy accused the group of abetting what he called Russia's unprovoked attacks on Ukraine. The human rights group, he said, was trying to shift the responsibility from the aggressor to the victim.

Oksana Pokalchuk, national Amnesty leader, said on Facebook late on Friday that the Ukrainian office has consistently noted that the information that Amnesty issued on Thursday should take into account the position of the Ukrainian defence ministry.

"As a result of this, unwittingly, the organization created material that sounded like support for Russian narratives. In an effort to protect civilians, this study became a tool of Russian propaganda," Pokalchuk said.

"It pains me to admit it, but we disagreed with the leadership of Amnesty International on values. That's why I decided to leave the organization," she added.

Ukrainian officials have said they take every possible measure to evacuate civilians from frontline areas. Russia denies targetting civilians in what it describes as a "special military operation".

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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