Delivered by Permanent representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna Ihor Prokopchuk at the OSCE Permanent Council meeting on 5 June 2014
This meeting of the Permanent Council takes place against the backdrop of the ongoing violations by the Russian Federation of international law, founding OSCE principles and commitments, as well as other international obligations.
Russia’s disregard for OSCE principles and commitments is marked by further consolidation of its illegal presence in temporarily occupied Ukraine’s territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, as well as by providing support to the terrorist groups in Ukraine’s east.
We reiterate in this respect that these aggressive actions of the Russian Federation pose a threat not only to Ukraine’s sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity but undermine the very foundations of our Organization and endanger peace and stability across the OSCE space.
As we address ongoing violations by the Russian Federation of the OSCE principles and commitments I must emphasize that as stipulated by the Astana Commemorative Declaration, all OSCE principles and commitments, without exception, apply equally to each participating State, and the participating States are accountable to their citizens and responsible to each other for their full implementation.
Russia’s violation of OSCE principles and commitments has not limited to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, but is now expanding further in relation to the two eastern oblasts of Ukraine. Escalating violence and further loss of life in the east of Ukraine is a direct consequence of Russia’s subversive interference and its support of criminal activities of terrorist groups in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine.
During the recent week the terrorist organizations “Donetsk People’s Republic” and “Luhansk People’s Republic” attempted to strengthen their criminal grip and widen the area of anarchy and lawlessness, where economic and public activities are paralyzed and fear among local population for their lives and property is constantly growing.
The terrorist groups continue to commit grave crimes, including murders, abduction and hostage-taking, harassment, robbery, looting and arson, forcible confiscation of private and state property, attacks on military compounds and enterprises. The terrorists use indiscriminate fire attacking also residential areas to provoke more fear among the residents.
According to the General Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine, 181 persons, including 59 Ukrainian servicemen, were killed and 293 were wounded by terrorists in two eastern regions of Ukraine.
Against this backdrop, the number of people, leaving the terrorist-infected areas for other parts of the country, is rapidly growing. According to the Donetsk City Mayor, around 15 000 people have fled the city for safety reasons. However, the illegal armed groups pose obstacles to the people who want to leave the area of their criminal operation.
In order to restore the public law and order throughout the entire territory of Donetsk and Luhansk regions and to protect safety and security of the population against the terrorist’ threat, the Ukrainian forces continue the anti-terrorist operation, which is targeting terrorist groups and is carried out with due restraint in order to avoid losses among civilians.
In recent week a number of military compounds were attacked by terrorists. On 1-2 June the Luhansk Border Command Unit withstood constant attacks by 400-500 separatists, equipped with mortars, rocket grenade launchers, heavy machine guns. The border guards in Luhansk were eventually supported by the Ukrainian Air Forces. In particular, on 2 June Ukrainian jets destroyed two illegal checkpoints in Luhansk outskirts. At the same time, we reject groundless allegations by the Russian media on air strike at the building of the Luhansk Regional State Administration on 2 June. There is evidence that a shot was made by MANPAD from the ground, but a missile changed its trajectory and targeted the window of the building. Relevant video as well as detailed expert analyses are available in Internet. The Ukrainian law-enforcement bodies, for their part, have launched an investigation, which is now underway.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We register the Russian Federation’s persistent support to the terrorist activities in Ukraine’s east. Flows of mercenaries, money and weapons from the Russian Federation are growing against the background of hypocritical grief by Russia over the human losses in the eastern regions of Ukraine.
For instance, on 30 May the Ukrainian Border Guard patrol detained 5 armed men, who tried to illegally cross the Ukrainian border from the Russian Federation carrying 27 assault rifles, 4 machine guns, 5 grenade launchers, 5 sniper rifles, 197 grenades, 74 boxes with ammunition.
I will again reiterate the absence of steps taken by the Russian side towards preventing infiltration of its citizens to the territory of Ukraine, stopping illegal arms supply to terrorists and thus contributing to de-escalation of the situation in Ukraine’s east.
Moreover, some statements by Russian high officials appear to encourage Russian citizens to join separatist and terrorist groups in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. In this regard we are particularly concerned over the recent statements made by head of the Chechen Republic R.Kadyrov.
Those actions serve as a solid proof of unwillingness of the Russian side to implement its commitments under the Geneva statement of 17 April 2014. We are confident that common efforts are needed in order to make the Russian Federation stop export of terrorism to Ukraine and withdraw its saboteurs from Ukrainian territory, thus leading to restoration of peace and order in the region.
We condemn hostage taking by separatist forces of 4 monitors from the Donetsk team and 4 monitors from Luhansk team (on 26 May and 29 May respectively).
We call for immediate and unconditional release of the hostages, the end of all harassment of SMM staff, and full respect for the SMM to carry out its mandate, unimpeded and across all of the territory of Ukraine. Ukraine fully supports the work of the SMM to assist the Government and people of Ukraine in securing and advancing their democratic future.
The Ukrainian authorities undertake efforts, together with the SMM, to secure release of the monitors. We also call on the Russian Federation to use in full its influence on the armed separatists to facilitate the release. In this connection I will note that the Security Service of Ukraine released evidence yesterday that the group, holding monitors hostage, is controlled by a Russian citizen who, in his turn, is supervised from Moscow.
We remain seriously concerned over the deteriorating situation in the occupied Crimea in the area of exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The situation is particularly worrying with regard to limitations on the freedom of the media, including attacks on and torture of journalists, freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of movement, freedom of religion or belief, the right to education, including the right to receive education in a native language for Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars.
The cases of torture, disappearances, discrimination and persecution on the basis of religion, ethnicity and language, manifestations of racism and xenophobia, violations of human rights on the grounds of citizenship and nationality are on the rise.
We condemn in strongest terms the on-going intimidation of independent journalists by the occupation authorities and armed militants from the so-called “Crimean self-defence”. In particular, on 2 June, the latter detained 2 journalists from the Center of Investigative Journalism Serhiy Mokrushyn and Vladlen Melnikov. After one day in detention, where both journalists had been severely beaten, they were released without explanation.
On 1 June 2014, in Perevalne village in Simferopol region, a group of armed Russian Cossacks illegally entered by force into the premises of the temple “Presviata Bogorodytsia” of the Kyiv Patriarchate and destroyed relics, causing injuries to the pregnant parishioner and a priest's daughter.
We express our strong protest with regard to the decision by the Crimean occupying authorities to cancel the direct elections of local mayors throughout the peninsula. We reiterate that attempts by the Russian Federation to impose the Russian legislation on the integral part of the territory of Ukraine are illegal and violate the legislation of Ukraine and norms of international law.
We urge the de-facto authorities exercising control in Crimea to immediately stop all human rights violations in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and allow accesss of international observers to monitor the situation on the ground.
We have already informed the Permanent Council about the arrest on 11 May in Crimea of an award-winning Ukrainian film director and civil society activist Oleg Sentsov, who along with two other Ukrainian citizens – residents of Crimea - Oleksiy Chirniy and Gennadiy Afanasjev, is charged with terrorism. The mentioned Ukrainian citizens were transported to Moscow to a Lefortovo prison. Moreover, on 16 May another Ukrainian citizen Oleksandr Kolchenko was arrested in Simferopol by the Russian security service and also transferred to the Lefortovo prison.
We refute groundless allegations against those Ukrainian citizens and regard their arrest as part of a campaign of intimidation against those who disagree with Russian's annexation of Crimea and oppose the Russian policy. Part of the same campaign of intimidation is the increasing number of extremism charges against Crimean Tartars.
Let me draw attention of the Permanent Council that the lawyer of Oleg Sentsov filed a complaint to the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation concerning the beating and intimidation of Mr.O.Sentsov by Russian law-enforcement.
As we did at the last PC, we reiterate our insistent call on the Russian Federation to allow urgent meetings of the arrested Ukrainian citizens with the consul of the Embassy of Ukraine to the Russian Federation. Until now such meetings have not yet been allowed.
The successful conduct of the presidential elections in Ukraine represents a crucial step towards restoring peace and order across the country, ensuring its political and economic development as well as reaffirms Ukraine’s commitment to the democratic process.
On 2 June the Central Election Commission declared Petro Poroshenko elected President of Ukraine. The President-elect will take office on 7 June, following the inauguration ceremony.
Ukraine remains fully committed to a comprehensive reform agenda, including constitutional reform, where a broad national dialogue will play an important part. We appreciate the role of the OSCE in assisting this effort.
Let me conclude by urging the Russian Federation to recognize the fundamental principles of sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity that it has itself invoked many times and 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; halt exporting terrorism to Ukraine and stop interference into internal affairs of our country.
Thank you, Mr.Chairman.