Delivered by Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna at the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on 16 April 2015
The delegation of Ukraine once again draws attention of the Permanent Council to the continued illegal detention in the Russian Federation of the Ukrainian citizens, abducted and illegally transferred to the territory of Russia, in grave breach of international law and the OSCE principles and commitments.
We remind that when signing the Minsk agreements the Russian Federation undertook commitment regarding the release of all hostages and illegally detained persons based on the principle “all for all”. The cases of Nadiya Savchenko, Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, Crimean activist Oleksandr Kolchenko and other Ukrainians - political prisoners in Russia fall under the provision of para 6 of the "Package of measures” of 12 February 2015.
The destiny of people’s deputy of Ukraine and member of the Permanent Delegation of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to the PACE Nadiya Savchenko remains of high concern to Ukraine.
We reiterate that immediate release of N.Savchenko, as a person enjoying international diplomatic immunities and exempted from arrest and prosecution as PACE member, remains Russia’s legal obligation under the Article 15 of the 1949 General Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the Council of Europe.
We stress again that Russia bears the full responsibility for the life and health of Nadiya Savchenko, who continues hunger strike as the Russian side further ignores obvious evidence of her innocence. We urge Russia to immediately and unconditionally release her from custody. This would be a practical step by Russia to implement the agreed "Package of measures for the implementation of the Minsk agreements", specifically the commitment to release all hostages and detained persons.
So far no positive developments have been registered in relation to the cases of other Ukrainian citizens, who are illegally detained in Russia and are persecuted as political prisoners.
We remain deeply concerned that despite numerous requests through diplomatic channels, the access of the Ukrainian consular officials to the Ukrainian citizens Oleg Sentsov, Olexandr Kolchenko and Henadiy Afanasyev (all detained in May 2014), Mykola Karpyuk (detained in March 2014), Stanislav Klyh and Yuri Soloshenko (detained in August 2014), and Valentyn Vyhivskyi (detained in September 2014) was denied by the Russian authorities. Through these denials of access Russia contravenes its international legal obligations under the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, as well as the provisions of the 1993 Consular Convention between Ukraine and the Russian Federation, which stipulates an immediate access of a consular official to a detained citizen.
On 8 April 2015 the MFA of Ukraine transmitted a Note Verbale to the Russian Foreign Ministry, expressing a strong protest in connection with the above violations of the rights of Ukrainian citizens in Russia.
Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov’s detention in Russia’s Lefortovo prison has been unfoundedly extended once again - this time until 11 May 2015. No evidence of his guilt has been provided by the Russian authorities for almost a year of his detention.
We emphasize that all these Ukrainian citizens are political prisoners in Russia and urge the Russian authorities to release them immediately and provide a safe return to Ukraine.
We reiterate that abduction of the Ukrainian citizens, their illegal transfer across the Ukrainian-Russian state border, and their further placement in detention to face trumped-up charges constitute blatant violation of universal norms and principles of international law in the field of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Their criminal prosecution is illegitimate.
We call upon the OSCE Chairmanship, the OSCE Institutions and the participating States to redouble our joint efforts in facilitating their release. We reiterate the need in ODIHR’s independent trial monitoring of court proceedings in relation to the Ukrainian citizens who are being illegally kept in detention in the Russian Federation.
We urge the Russian side to fully comply with its commitments and obligations, and immediately and unconditionally release all abducted and illegally detained Ukrainian citizens.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.