Delivered by Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna at the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on 30 April 2014
The current, most acute challenges to security in the OSCE area continue to stem from ongoing flagrant violation of international law and the core OSCE principles and commitments by the Russian Federation.
A part of Ukraine’s territory, specifically the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, has been occupied and forcibly annexed by the Russian Federation. The Russian Federation has moved to the second covert stage of aggression by escalating tensions in the eastern regions of Ukraine through instigating local extremists to violence, coordinating and funding their activities.
12 days have passed since Ukraine, the EU, the US and the Russian Federation reached Geneva agreement of 17 April 2014. Under these grave circumstances, the Ukrainian Government ramps up its efforts, aimed at de-escalating tensions and restoring security for all citizens in Ukraine in full compliance with national legislation and international standards.
At the previous Permanent Council meetings I have informed about meaningful concrete steps undertaken by Ukraine to implement the provisions of the Geneva agreement in good faith. On 28 April 2014 the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine and representatives of the parties to the Geneva agreement visited the Kyiv City State Administration to monitor the vacation of the building. The parties stated that the building was released by protesters. We note the on-site assessment given by the OSCE Chief Monitor Ambassador Apakan, who considered that the release of the building served a good example of implementation of the Geneva agreement by Ukraine.
As part of the efforts of Government of Ukraine to promote an inclusive political dialogue on constitutional reform and decentralization, yesterday, on 29 April, the debates on the constitutional reform took place in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.
As Ukraine stands committed to implementation of the Geneva agreement, we have not yet registered any steps on the part of the Russian Federation which would demonstrate its commitment to the Geneva agreement. Such steps would have been instrumental to achieving de-escalation in the eastern regions of Ukraine. Thus we urge the Russian Federation to undertake these overdue steps without any delay.
The Government of Ukraine stands fully committed to all OSCE commitments in the human dimension and seeks to enhance their implementation through active co-operation with the OSCE Institutions. In this context I would also like to inform the Permanent Council that on 27-30 April 2014 the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office on Combating Anti-Semitism Rabbi Andrew Baker visited Kyiv upon invitation of the Ukrainian Government. During the meeting with Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Andrii Deshchytsia, the CiO Personal Representative, in particular, welcomed the efforts of the Government of Ukraine to meet cultural, religious and educational needs of the Jewish community of the country. According to Rabbi Baker, there are no serious anti-Semitic incidents in Ukraine, some isolated cases are of а provocative nature and used for propaganda purposes.
While the Geneva agreement was aimed at immediate implementation of initial de-escalation measures in areas where such measures are most needed, and that is in eastern Ukraine, the period since Geneva meeting was marked by further rapid deterioration of the situation in Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. Intimidation and murders of opponents, armed attacks on governmental buildings and weapons storages, hostage-taking and abduction of civilians, journalists, law-enforcement and international representatives are perpetrated by groups of armed extremists supported by the Russian special services.
We condemn the capturing in Slovyansk of unarmed OSCE military inspectors under the OSCE Vienna Document and accompanying escort team from the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and demand their immediate and unconditional release. The OSCE must stay united in condemning this provocative act of terrorism. We call upon the Russian Federation to take a clear stance on this subject, which would also be in line with its OSCE commitments in the area of combatting terrorism.
On 28 April a body of an unknown man with signs of torture was found in the vicinity of Slovyansk on the same place, where one week earlier bodies of Volodymyr Rybak, a deputy of Horlivka city council, and Yuriy Popravko, a 19-year-old activist from Kyiv, had been found.
On 28 April the Security Service of Ukraine detained a Ukrainian citizen who was coming back from Moscow to Donetsk region with money and cell phones scrambler for a Slovyansk-based subversive group of Russian agent Igor Girkin. This citizen confirmed his meeting in Moscow with a Russian supervisor of the subversive group, who provided him with updated instructions on further activities.
Actions of the pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine have been characterized by intolerance, intimidation of local population as well as outright brutal violence against those, who go out in support of the unity of the state. On 28 April a peaceful pro-Ukrainian demonstration in Donetsk was attacked by local separatists, armed with bats and iron rods. 14 people, including women, were injured as a result of attack.
Yesterday a new outburst of violence was registered in Luhansk, where the buildings of regional state administration, the Prosecutor’s office and the local broadcasting company were seized by armed militants. The local administration in Pervomaysk, Luhansk region, was also seized by people with automatic weapons.
According to the Security Service of Ukraine, the terrorists in Slovyansk continue to hold hostage about 40 people, with journalists, civilians and law-enforcement officers among them. This number must be on the rise as people continue to be abducted in cities around the Slovyansk area.
Ukraine strongly condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. The crimes, committed by armed militants in Donetsk and Luhansk region, which fall under legal qualification of acts of terrorism, require a coordinated anti-terrorist response to bring perpetrators to justice.
In view of OSCE commitments in the area of combating terrorism, we call on the Russian Federation to join other in condemning the acts of terrorism - the cases of murder, abduction and hostage-taking committed by armed militant groups.
We are continue to be seriously concerned over significant concentration of Russian troops for what was referred to as “military exercises” in various areas in the immediate vicinity of the state border with Ukraine which leads to further escalation of tensions. Recent reports of the media with reference to the Russian Minister of Defence on withdrawal of troops from the border do not find their confirmation.
In view of today’s joint FSC-PC meeting requested by Ukraine in accordance with Chapter III of the Vienna Document we take note and regret that the Russian Federation again decided not to participate in such a meeting to dispel any concerns over the military activities of the Russian Armed Forces. While, on the one hand, the Russian Federation continues to maintain the view on the benefits of this Organisation as a platform for dialogue, on the other hand it deliberately disengages from dialogue. I use this opportunity to call upon the Russian delegation to review its decision and take part in this afternoon’s meeting to use this platform for dialogue to dispel existing serious concerns.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We remain seriously concerned over the deteriorating situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea in the area of exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The abuse of human rights and fundamental freedoms of Ukrainian citizens is on-going, including the violations of the freedom of the media and expression, freedom of movement, freedom of assembly and association, discrimination on the basis of religion, ethnicity and language, the right to property, the right to education.
On 28 April 2014 Acting President of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov signed the Law of Ukraine “On ensuring rights and freedoms of citizens and a legal regime on the temporary occupied territory of Ukraine”. The law declares the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol as a temporarily occupied territory. The temporarily occupied territory is an integral part of the Ukrainian territory to which the Constitution and laws of Ukraine apply. According to the document, Ukraine does not recognize forced granting of foreign citizenship to residents of the occupied territory. The residents of temporarily occupied territories are guaranteed free expression of will at the elections, which they can do in other parts of Ukraine (by way of changing place of voting without changing election address). The law stipulates that the Russian Federation is held responsible for violations of human rights, protection of cultural heritage on these territories, and payment of damages.
We call on the occupying authorities to safeguard human rights and fundamental freedoms of all residents of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and to allow international monitors, including from the OSCE, access to Crimea for an independent and unbiased assessment of the human rights situation on the ground.
I will conclude by reiterating our call upon the Russian Federation to fulfil its part of the Geneva agreement, put an end to Russian subversive activities in eastern Ukraine and support for armed separatists and provocateurs; to withdraw the Russian troops to their permanent bases of stationing away from the borders with Ukraine; to reverse annexation of Crimea and to abide fully by international obligations and commitments.
Thank you, Mr.Chairman.