More than 100 diplomats walk out of Russian Foreign Minister’s speech to the UN Human Rights Council.

More than 100 diplo­mats from about 40 coun­tries walked out of Russ­ian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergei Lavrov’s speech at the Unit­ed Nations in Gene­va to protest against Rus­si­a’s inva­sion of Ukraine.

Tues­day’s boy­cott by envoys from the Euro­pean Union, the Unit­ed States, the Unit­ed King­dom, Japan and oth­ers left only a few diplo­mats in the room.

Among those remain­ing at the Human Rights Coun­cil meet­ing was Rus­si­a’s ambas­sador to the UN in Gene­va, Gen­nady Gatilov, who is a for­mer deputy of Lavrov.

Envoys from Syr­ia, Chi­na and Venezuela also stayed.

Ukrain­ian Ambas­sador Yevheni­ia Fil­ipenko, who led the walk­out, thanked those who par­tic­i­pat­ed in the stunt.

“Thank you very much for this won­der­ful show of sup­port for Ukraini­ans fight­ing for their inde­pen­dence,” she told the crowd gath­ered around a large Ukrain­ian flag out­side the hemicycle.

Lavrov was address­ing the Human Rights Coun­cil from a dis­tance, after can­celling his vis­it due to the clo­sure of Euro­pean air­space to Russ­ian planes.

In his speech, the Russ­ian for­eign min­is­ter jus­ti­fied his coun­try’s attack on Ukraine by accus­ing the Ukrain­ian side of human rights vio­la­tions against its Russ­ian minority.

He also accused the EU of indulging in a “Rus­so­pho­bic fren­zy” by sup­ply­ing lethal weapons to Ukraine in Moscow’s mil­i­tary cam­paign that began last Thursday.

Moscow describes the inva­sion as a “spe­cial mil­i­tary oper­a­tion” to dis­lodge the “neo-Nazis” in pow­er in Ukraine.

Diplo­mats who left Lavrov’s speech said the Human Rights Coun­cil “should not be mis­used as a plat­form for disinformation”.

“For­eign Min­is­ter Lavrov’s grotesque claims must be exposed for what they are: a cyn­i­cal dis­tor­tion of the facts,” said Ger­man Ambas­sador Katha­ri­na Stasch.

Cana­di­an For­eign Min­is­ter Melanie Joly called Lavrov’s ver­sion “false” and “that’s why we want­ed to show togeth­er a very strong position”.

French Ambas­sador Jérôme Bon­na­font said that “any inva­sion is a vio­la­tion of human rights” and “it is impor­tant that the Human Rights Coun­cil shows by this walk­out that it is unit­ed with Ukraine and the Ukrain­ian people”.

The walk­out came less than an hour after diplo­mats vir­tu­al­ly cleared out a room next to the UN’s Euro­pean head­quar­ters in Gene­va when Lavrov’s video address was played to the Con­fer­ence on Dis­ar­ma­ment, a body set up in 1979 to try to curb the Cold War arms race.

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