Delivered by Permament Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna, Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk at the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on April 10, 2014
It is over a month now that the Russian Federation has launched an illegal act of aggression on Ukraine in breach of international law and the core OSCE principles and commitments.
As full and good-faith implementation of the OSCE principles and commitments is central to the OSCE concept of comprehensive and indivisible security, it is critical to continue our intensive dialogue to encourage the Russian Federation to return to implementation of the fundamental OSCE principles and commitments which are now violated, in particular, by Russia’s occupation and annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol in Ukraine. In this context I wish to emphasise again that the international law prohibits the acquisition of part or all of another state’s territory through coercion or force.
Violations by the Russian Federation struck at the core of the OSCE – the founding principles of the Helsinki Final Act of 1975 which had been agreed upon by then adversaries to lay ground for the Conference on security and co-operation in Europe which later transformed into this Organisation. Let me be more specific. The Russian Federation is now in breach of such founding principles as the principle of sovereign equality and respect for the rights inherent in sovereignty; refraining from the threat or use of force; inviolability of frontiers; territorial integrity of states; peaceful settlement of disputes; non-intervention in internal affairs; fulfilment in good faith of obligations in international law.
Moreover, the actions of the Russian Federation violate numerous OSCE commitments, contained, inter alia, in: Concluding Document of the Madrid meeting of 1983, Document of the Stockholm Conference on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures and Disarmament in Europe of 1986, Concluding Document of the Vienna Meeting of 1989, Charter of Paris for a new Europe of 1990, The Prague Document on Further Development of CSCE Institutions and Structures, The Helsinki Document: The Challenges of Change of 1992, The Stockholm Document of the Third Meeting of the CSCE Council of Ministers of 1992, The Budapest Document: Towards a genuine partnership in a new Era of 1994, Istanbul Summit Declaration of 1999 (Charter for European Security), Maastricht document of 2003, Athens document of 2009 and the Astana Commemorative Declaration of 2010.
Over the past weeks we have witnessed strong international support by the international community to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine and broad international condemnation of the illegal occupation and later annexation by the Russian Federation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol in Ukraine, that violate imperative norms of international law, the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act, as well as binding on Russia bilateral and multilateral agreements.
On 3 April the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe reinforced its support to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Its decision on “Situation in Ukraine” rejected illegal referendum held in Crimea on 16 March and the subsequent annexation by the Russian Federation as the basis for any alteration of the status of the aforementioned Ukrainian regions. This firm position was reiterated and further amplified by yesterday’s resolution of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly which also called on the Russian Fedration to withdraw its military forces from Crimea.
As Russia continues to violate the OSCE principles and commitments, we witness consolidation of Russia’s illegal presence on the Crimean peninsula.
Under the conditions of occupation the situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea continues to deteriorate, leading to serious violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Alarming news, coming on a regular basis, indicate that the basic right - the right to life is in jeopardy on the occupied territory. I have already informed the participating States at the joint FSC-PC meeting on Monday of a tragic incident that happened on 6 April in the Crimean village of Novofedorivka, where unarmed Ukrainian officer, major Stanislav Karachevskii, was shot dead by a Russian soldier with the machine gun. Indications already emerge of attempts on the Russian side to whitewash the murderer. We therefore call on the Russian side to halt any attempts to justifying the murderous act, ensure its thorough investigation and bring to justice the serviceman who committed the murder.
Following the occupation the local population in Crimea is effectively forced into the Russian citizenship as an artificial deadline of 18 April was established for submitting, at four locations in Crimea, a written application on refusing to acquire the citizenship of the Russian Federation. Residents who miss this unlawfully imposed deadline, restricting their rights, are to become Russian citizens automatically.
We express our deep concern about numerous reports that tensions between the peninsula’s communities are on the rise and media freedom is under siege.
In this connection we take note of the recent statement by High Commissioner on National Minorities Astrid Thors following her visit to Ukraine, in particular of her concerns about the “precarious position” of the Crimean Tatar and the Ukrainian communities in Crimea. New evidences of increasing vulnerability of these communities emerge. We are concerned about recently announced intentions to change the language of education at the Ukrainian Gymnasium No 9 in Simferopol from Ukrainian to Russian despite strong objections from the parents. We urge the Russian side to refrain from steps that would deprive over 1000 young people of the right to receive education in their native language. We also find alarming the news that in the village of Malorechinskoye near Alushta two days ago the windows at a school, where the headmaster happens to be a Crimean Tartar, were marked by swastika signs. In Simferopol a 14-year old schoolboy was attacked and beaten up in the street simply because he spoke his native Crimean Tartar language on the phone.
We are deeply worried about the significant concentration of Russian armed forces in areas adjacent to eastern and northern regions of Ukraine, including battle aircrafts, battle tanks, great number of artillery pieces, assault paratrooper units and air forces. Noting that the capabilities and configuration of these armed forces are of an offensive nature, we again express deep regret that the Russian Federation decided not to take part in the joint FSC-PC meeting of 7 April and thus disengaged from dialogue that could dispel legitimate security concerns over its military activities in close vicinity to the Ukrainian border.
In this regard and recognizing the continuing relevance of the full use of the OSCE politico-military toolbox, in particular the Vienna Document, I wish to reiterate my call on the Russian side to voluntarily host inspection visits to dispel concerns about its military activities.
Despite the existing security challenges in the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine the Ukrainian authorities continue to safeguard necessary conditions for the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms, in particular the freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.
However, according to the Spot report of the Special OSCE monitoring mission in Ukraine the rallies, held last Sunday in Kharkiv, Donetsk and Luhansk, turned violent as pro-Russian extremists incited people to seize administrative buildings, attacked unarmed police officers and set transport vehicles on fire. Later protestors self-proclaimed themselves “regional deputies” and declared “independent people’s republics”, thus committing a serious crime against the national security and unity of Ukraine.
It is evident from the limited number of protesters in the streets that the local population has not supported the ideas of the separatists. Moreover, the residents of Kharkiv, Donetsk and Luhansk are now seriously concerned over their safety in view of the presence of aggressive separatists and extremists, who use terrorist tactics. The local authorities, for their part, unequivocally dissociate themselves from self-proclaimed bodies and continue to fulfill their tasks in managing the functioning of the cities.
Following numerous unsuccessful negotiations with extremists the police units freed the building of the regional state administration in Kharkiv. The police acted unarmed and used only special devices, while the opposite side possessed firearms and wounded three policemen. The authorities continue to exert every effort to free the remaining seized public buildings and disarm the extremists through negotiations, while being fully cognizant of the responsibility to ensure public safety and order. We have shared with you some photo materials that we prepared to illustrate the equipment and firearms in possession of the criminal paramilitary formations operating now in the east of Ukraine.
There is growing evidence of Russia’s involvement in instigating and coordinating the separatist actions that destabilize the situation in the east of Ukraine. Russian provocateurs and coordinators from among intelligence services are infiltrated to these regions of Ukraine with the aim of stirring unrest and thus creating pretext for the second stage of the Russian occupation of Ukraine. Among numerous cases of recent detentions in connection with espionage and subversion, let me point out that on 5 April an operative of the Russian military intelligence Roman Bannykh was detained by the Security Service of Ukraine when he was on his way to Luhansk for coordinating the separatist actions on the ground.
We therefore call again on the Russian Federation to put an end to interference into internal affairs of Ukraine and spreading extremism to Ukraine.
As we have already informed the Permanent Council a new national Constitution is now under preparation in the Ukrainian Parliament which will contain provisions for decentralization of power and increase the competencies of the regions. The draft is to be shortly released for further public discussion on decentralization and competencies of the regions at the expanded meeting of the Parliamentary Commission on Amending the Constitution.
Let me also inform about the state of investigation of the tragic events in Kyiv on 18-20 February 2014 which resulted in murder of over one hundred people. A group of persons suspected in mass murder, including 12 officers of riot police Berkut, have been recently detained. The competent Ukrainian authorities continue to conduct thorough investigation of those events. In this regard I recall requests to the Russian side expressed at the last meeting of the Permanent Council which, if duly responded, would facilitate the investigation.
In pursuance of justice, we also expect that the Russian Federation will respond to Ukraine’s requests on providing information on contractual grounds and contracting party on the Ukrainian side in connection with supplies to my country of special riot control devices of a total weight of more than 5 tons, delivered to Kyiv by flights from Chkalovsk on 21 January and 24 January 2014. The relevant request to the Russian side was submitted on 4 April. We also hope that the Russian side will find it possible to accommodate our request for questioning colonel general of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation Sergey Beseda regarding the details of his stay in Kyiv on 20-21 February 2014.
In the context of activities of the law-enforcement authorities, I will also note that they will continue to take necessary measures to disband and disarm paramilitary formations, to prevent any provocations threatening public safety and order and to counter any attempts to encroach on the state’s constitutional system and its territorial integrity.
I would like to conclude my statement by reiterating Ukraine’s readiness for international dialogue in such frameworks, which could be effective for achieving practical results on de-escalating the situation and resolving the crisis. Diplomatic avenues remain open. At the same time those issues, pertaining to the rights inherent in sovereignty of Ukraine, including the right to determine its internal and external policies, cannot be subject to negotiations. It is for the Ukrainian people to define their future.
We call on the Russian Federation to revoke the authorisation of 1 March on the possibility of use of the Russian military forces on the territory of Ukraine. This would be an important step towards deescalation.
Putting an end to aggressive actions of the Russian Federation and subversive activities of its citizens, pulling the Russian troops back from Ukrainian border and in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea are key elements for resolving the crisis.
We urge the Russian Federation to renew full and good-faith implementation of the OSCE principles and commitments, in particular on respect of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other participating States.
Thank you, Mr.Chairman.