Delivered by Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna at the special meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on 15 December 2015
For over 6 months the Russian authorities have been illegally detaining Ukrainian pilot, a newly elected MP and member of the Permanent Delegation of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Nadiya Savchenko, Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov and other Ukrainian citizens, who had been abducted from the territory of Ukraine.
Despite consistent calls to release abducted Ukrainian citizens, no positive developments have been registered in relation to their cases.
The Delegation of Ukraine reiterates its resolute protest over the illegal detention by the Russian Federation of Ukrainian citizens N.Savchenko, O.Sentsov, O.Chirniy, O.Kolchenko, H.Afanasyev, S.Lytvynov, M.Karpyuk and S.Klyh. We draw attention of the Permanent Council to the failure of the Russian law enforcement authorities to present any credible evidence of their guilt as they have all been detained on trumped-up charges. At the same time evidence proving innocence of detained Ukrainian citizens continues to be ignored.
Moreover, we are deeply concerned over the Russian authorities’ denial to the Consul of the Consulate General of Ukraine in Rostov-on-Don to have access to Ukrainian citizens M.Karpyuk and S.Klyh, kept in custody on the territory of the Russian Federation, as well as reports by O.Sentsov and S.Lytvynov and other abducted Ukrainian citizens about the use of physical violence and torture against them to obtain testimony in flagrant breach of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
We urge the Russian side to provide information on places of detention of Ukrainian citizens M.Karpyuk and S.Klyh, to allow unhindered access of Ukrainian consular officials to the Ukrainian citizens at their places of detention, as well as to immediately stop the practice of torture against them.
Ukraine is deeply alarmed over growing pressures on the people’s deputy of Ukraine Nadiya Savchenko, illegally kept behind bars in Russia, who has been moved to solitary confinement, deprived of medical assistance and the right of correspondence.
Ignoring the fact that Savchenko’s defence lawyers lodged to the court irrefutable evidence of her innocence, with ample proof that N.Savchenko was seized by the illegal armed group one hour before the death of two Russian journalists on 17 June 2014, the court upheld her detention in custody until 13 February 2015.
Under such circumstances and despite severe deterioration of health, Nadiya Savchenko is resolute to continue a hunger strike, declared over a month ago in protest to the illegal actions of the Russian authorities. In her open letter of 12 January 2015 she wrote: “There is irrefutable evidence of my non-involvement and innocence of the crimes they accuse me of. What else do they need? ... I have taken the decision to go on hunger strike … until the day I return to Ukraine, or until the last day of my life in Russia”.
Given the extreme graveness of the situation, which endangers the life of Nadiya Savchenko, on 13 January 2015 the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted two documents, addressed to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and to Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Angela Merkel, President of the French Republic Francois Hollande, and President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin as leaders of the countries of the “Normandy format”. The Parliament of Ukraine called to facilitate urgent release of Nadiya Savchenko, Oleg Sentsov and other citizens of Ukraine, who are being illegally detained on the territory of Russia under false charges in violation of international human rights standards.
The two documents follow up on the December 2014 addresses of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation and the President of the Russian Federation, as well as international organizations and inter-parliamentary assemblies on this issue.
On 12 January 2015 the defence of N.Savchenko has submitted a request to the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation asking that the people’s deputy of Ukraine Nadiya Savchenko be allowed to exercise her powers as a member of the Permanent Delegation of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe during the Winter session of the PACE in Strasbourg on 26-30 January 2015.
We urge the Russian authorities to release immediately all Ukrainian citizens who are political prisoners in Russia and provide for their safe return to Ukraine.
We call on the Serbian Chairmanship to use its mandate to the full in facilitating the release of the illegally detained Ukrainian citizens who have become political prisoners in the Russian Federation.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.