Delivered by Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna at the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on 29 January 2015
It is today 47 days as Nadiya Savchenko, people’s deputy of Ukraine and member of the Permanent Delegation of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, abducted and illegally detained by the Russian Federation, has been on a hunger strike in protest against the illegal and inhumane actions of the Russian authorities.
She lost nearly 20 kilograms of weight and her health as severely deteriorated. We therefore once again draw attention to the extreme graveness of the situation, which endangers her life.
On 26 January Savchenko's lawyer, Mark Feigin, wrote a letter to the Russian President, stating that there is "catastrophically little time" to save her.
We remain deeply concerned that despite the fact that Savchenko’s defence lawyers lodged irrefutable evidence of her innocence to the court, the Russian authorities continue to illegally detain her behind bars on trumped-up charges, in solitary confinement, deprived of medical assistance and the right of correspondence. N.Savchenko must have been long released under the Minsk agreements, signed also by the Russian Federation.
On 26 January N.Savchenko has been confirmed by PACE as a member of the Parliamentary Assembly, a position that grants international immunities, including from prosecution.
According to the Article 15 of the 1949 General Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the Council of Europe, during the sessions of the Assembly, the Representatives to the Assembly shall enjoy exemption from arrest and prosecution on the territory of all member States. This immunity also applies when they are travelling to and from the place of meeting of the Assembly.
The General Agreement, being a legally binding instrument, was ratified by the Russian Federation on 23 February 1996. Therefore the Russian Federation has undertaken legal obligations to implement this international treaty.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe at its winter session this week adopted on January 27 a Resolution which calls on the Russian authorities to immediately release member of the Ukrainian Parliament and of the Ukrainian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly, Nadiya Savchenko and other Ukrainian citizens who remain illegally detained in Russian prisons. The Resolution calls on the Russian Federation to release N.Savchenko within 24 hours.
We urge Russia to respond to the calls of the international community and fulfill its international obligations under the afore-mentioned General Agreement by providing for immediate release of N.Savchenko.
In a remarkable manifestation of support people in over 30 countries around the world made loud their voices for Savchenko’s release by joining rallies in their cities and organizing Twitter campaign called "Free Savchenko".
We deplore that the peaceful rally of some 20 activists in support of Savchenko and other political prisoners in Moscow on Lubyanka Square on 26 January was dispersed by the Russian law enforcement and the protesters were detained.
We express our deep concern over the fact that illegal forced conferral of the Russian citizenship to the residents of Crimea continue to be malpracticed by Russia as an occupying authority to limit the rights of Ukrainian citizens, including those illegally detained in Russia, in contravention of relevant OSCE commitments and international standards on nationality.
The illegal pretext is used by Russia to substantiate denial of access of the Ukrainian consular officials to Oleg Sentsov, Oleksandr Kolchenko and other Ukrainian citizens abducted from Crimea and illegally detained in Russia.
We urge the Russian side to respect its OSCE commitments and to immediately and unconditionally release all Ukrainian citizens, who are political prisoners in Russia.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.