Delivered by Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna Ihor Prokopchuk at the OSCE Permanent Council meeting on 15 May 2014
Despite the concerted efforts of the international community, the Russian Federation continues to act in defiance of international law and the fundamental OSCE principles and commitments that have underpinned peace and security in Europe for decades.
We reiterate our strong condemnation of the ongoing violations of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine by the Russian Federation. Following the annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol the Russian Federation has proceeded further in its illegal actions against Ukraine through supporting the terrorist groups operating in the Eastern regions of Ukraine, which endanger civilians, commit crimes, seize hostages and create an atmosphere of terror and violence.
We note again that violations by the Russian Federation struck at the core of the OSCE. The founding principles, guiding relations between the participating States under the 1975 Helsinki Final Act have been grossly violated by Russia, namely: the principle of sovereign equality, 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; respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms; cooperation among states; fulfillment in good faith of obligations in international law.
The visit on 9 May by President of the Russian Federation to the temporarily occupied territories of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol serves as another evidence of blatant disrespect by the Russian side for the legislation of Ukraine and international law; gross violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty, the United Nations Charter, the United Nations General Assembly Resolution "On Territorial Integrity of Ukraine", as well as the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation of 1997. This step demonstrates yet again that Russia deliberately aims at further escalation of tensions in Ukrainian-Russian relations and is unwilling to hear calls of the international community and settle problem issues by diplomatic means.
We are gravely alarmed by continued efforts of the pro-Russian separatists to destabilize Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.
We register the growing number of murders, intimidation and humiliation of civilians, hostage-taking, robberies and looting, committed by armed terrorists and criminals, coordinated and funded from the Russian Federation. Murders for purpose of robbery, abductions for ransom, extortions are on the rise among the crimes, committed today in Ukraine by pro-Russian separatists.
Just a few examples. A shocking incident with shooting of a businessman and his family happened on 9 May on the illegal separatist checkpoint in the vicinity of Sverdlovsk, Luhansk region. The family attempted to flee for security reasons from another Luhansk region city of Antratsyt. As a result of the shooting, Oleg Burykhin and his wife Iryna were shot dead; their 10-year old daughter was seriously wounded.
On 11 May in Artemovsk, Donetsk region, a journalist of Russian Novaya Gazeta Pavel Kanygin was abducted while investigating voter fraud at the so-called “referendum”. Later he sent a message to his colleagues, informing that the kidnappers demanded 30.000 US dollars of ransom. After release the journalist reported that kidnappers robbed and severely beaten him for “wrong reports on voting in Artemovsk”. Moreover, he had also been threatened to be transferred to Slavyansk for interrogation by the Russian Federal Security Service officers.
Volunteers of the Red Cross office in Donetsk were kidnapped. When released one of them turned out to be severely beaten and was immediately taken to hospital. The last few days registered numerous additional cases of kidnappings of civilians and police personnel in various cities of the two oblasts where the illegal armed groups attempt to criminally establish their control and intimidate people.
Moreover, the armed extremists attempt to expand their terrorist activities to new parts of the regions. For instance, on 9 May in Mariupol, Donetsk region, 60 armed extremists attacked police office, killing and wounding several policemen. Later that day, numerous cases of robberies and looting were registered in the city.
On 13 May the Ukrainian convoy was attacked near Kramatorsk by well-positioned terrorists, who used concentrated fire from anti-tank weapons, grenade launchers, small arms and sniper rifles. The attack left 7 Ukrainian servicemen dead and 8 wounded. What we witness today is the attempt by terrorists to unleash a full-scale war against the Ukrainian authorities and peaceful population.
The concern of the people of the region, which has overtaken all others, is how to tackle a dramatic surge of criminality in the streets and re-establish peace, order and security.
Under these circumstances the Government of Ukraine continues the anti-terrorist operation to make sure that the rule of law is restored, safety for local residents is ensured and their rights and freedoms are protected. The operation is conducted with due restraint to avoid losses among civilians. At the same time, the extremists show contempt for human life and often use terrorist tactics of “human shield” and setting their firing positions in multi-story residence buildings.
As instructed by Russian masters, on 11 May the separatists went ahead with the so-called “referendums” in some parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions – an imitation show that failed to create even an impression of proper expression of will, except for propaganda reporting of the Russian media. These “pseudo-referendums” are illegal, illegitimate and do not entail any legal consequences.
We appreciate the firm reaction of the OSCE participating States, consistent with international law and OSCE commitments, which rejected and condemned these illegal and illegitimate acts. At the same time, Russia’s expressed “respect” for the acts that took place under conditions of terror imposed by extremists testifies to its acceptance of the practice of intimidation of the people, of open falsifications as well as demonstrates disrespect for democratic procedures. This position runs counter to all internationally recognized principles and standards, including those agreed in the OSCE.
We reiterate our deep concern over ongoing Russian military activity along the borders with Ukraine. Despite assurances of the Russian side at the highest level on withdrawal of troops, we did not register any signs of pull-back of the Russian troops from the state border with Ukraine.
According to the commander of the National Guard of Ukraine, the number of troops remains practically unchanged and the Russian Armed Forces are engaged in active redeployment of formations and provocative behavior close to the state border with Ukraine.
We call upon the Russian Federation to pull back without delay the military forces massed on Ukraine’s border to their permanent bases of stationing.
Violation by the Russian Federation of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine has brought to the forefront the issues of observance of human rights on the Crimean peninsula and in the affected regions.
On 12 May 2014 the report of the Human Rights Assessment Mission (HRAM), undertaken at the request of the Ukrainian Government by two autonomous OSCE institutions – the ODIHR and HCNM, was released.
The report found that a number of serious human rights violations, which occurred during the reporting period of March-mid April 2014, did not precede but rather accompanied and followed the emergence of various illegal armed groups, first and foremost in Crimea and eastern and southern Ukraine. The victims of these violations were primarily pro-Maidan activists and journalists, while those in Crimea also included Ukrainian military personnel and members of the Crimean Tatar community.
According to the findings of the Human Rights Assessment Mission, the situation of national minorities in Crimea has suffered the most dramatic changes over the past couple of months. Ethnic Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars found themselves in a very precarious situation. Ethnic Ukrainians, especially those who speak Ukrainian rather than Russian, have come to fear potential violence and harassment based on their ethnic affiliation. Following a string of reported incidents, including physical attacks, Crimean Tatars are now deeply concerned for the safety and security of their community. Specific concerns exist with respect to citizenship and residency status, employment and the right to work, and land and property rights.
At the same time the Mission did not find any evidence of violations of the rights of Russians in Crimea, as well as in other regions covered by the HRAM during its deployment.
It is noteworthy in this respect that the recent Report of the Presidential Council of the Russian Federation for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights, issued following the visit of its members to the cities of Simferopol and Sevastopol in Crimea, Ukraine, on 15-18 April 2014 contains a significant number of findings and observations that fully coincide with the assessment made by the ODIHR/HCNM HRAM in its Report. According to the Council, the situation is particularly worrying with regard to threats and limits to the exercise of the human rights and fundamental freedoms, in particular in the sphere of media freedom, education, religion, as well as citizenship, right to property, and an array of other economic and social rights. The cases of murder, torture, ill-treatment and discrimination, including on ethnic grounds, were registered.
In view of the above it is critical to continue independent monitoring of the human rights situation in Crimea and other affected regions in order to provide transparent and unbiased reporting on the human, economic, and security situation on the ground, affected by the aggression and subversive actions of the Russian Federation.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Ukraine remains fully committed to the implementation of the Geneva agreement of 17 April 2014.
In addition to information provided to the Permanent Council at previous meetings on implementation by Ukraine of its provisions, I wish to inform that the Acting President of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov and Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatseniuk launched nationwide round tables of national unity. The round-tables are co-chaired by two former President of Ukraine – Mr Leonid Kravchuk and Mr Leonid Kuchma, and the first one of them took place yesterday in Kyiv.
Representatives of all political forces, civil society, expert and scientific community from across Ukraine have been invited to dialogue on pertinent issues and challenges for the Ukrainian people. These include, in particular, decentralization and reform of local self-governance, protection of rights of national minorities, reform of judiciary and law-enforcement and others.
The dialogue aims at consolidating national consensus over these issues with further implementation of agreed proposals through established legal mechanisms, including constitutional changes.
We welcome the OSCE engagement in supporting this nation-wide dialogue in Ukraine. I would also like to thank the Chairmanship for developing and presenting to the four parties of the Geneva meeting its ideas on supporting implementation of the Geneva statement.
In ten days the people of Ukraine will vote for the President of the country. We are fully committed to conducting free, fair and transparent presidential elections on 25 May in accordance with the OSCE and international standards. The elections constitute an important step to consolidate the society and address the concerns of the Ukrainian people through democratic process.
We strongly support the broad international observation of these elections and note that it will be the largest ever election monitoring mission by the OSCE. I would like to inform the Permanent Council that as of today 1130 international observers have been already registered by the Central Election Commission, including 617 from the OSCE/ODIHR observation mission.
Ukraine reiterates its call on all participating States, including the Russian Federation, to support the presidential elections in the country.
Let me conclude by reiterating our consistent call on the Russian Federation to:
- Reverse annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea;
- Revoke the authorization of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation of 1 March 2014 on the possibility to use Russian military force on the Ukrainian soil;
- Pull back the Russian military forces massed along the borders with Ukraine to their permanent bases of stationing;
- Stop interference into internal affairs of Ukraine;
- Take effective steps with regard to fulfilling the commitments of Geneva statement, in particular by publicly disavowing the activities of separatists, saboteurs, and provocateurs, halting support of terrorism in Ukraine.
As violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity continue by the Russian Federation, we deem it highly important for the OSCE to consider what additional steps might be taken to address the consequences of these flagrant violations of the OSCE principles and commitments by one OSCE participating State.
Thank you, Mr.Chairman.