Delivered by Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna at the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on 23 April 2015
For nearly a year now the Russian Federation has illegally detained Ukrainian citizens, abducted from the territory of Ukraine. The actions of Russian authorities contravene the norms of international law and the OSCE commitments.
We reiterate that the cases of Nadiya Savchenko, Oleg Sentsov, Oleksandr Kolchenko and other Ukrainians – political prisoners in Russia fall under the provision of para 6 of the "Package of measures” agreed in Minsk on 12 February 2015. We deplore that Russia continues to systematically violate its Minsk commitments, in particular regarding the release of all hostages and illegally detained persons.
On 22 April 2015, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted two resolutions calling on the Russian Federation to immediately release all hostages and illegally detained citizens of Ukraine. They are the Resolution "On address of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to the President of the Russian Federation regarding the necessity to comply with the Package of measures for the implementation of the Minsk agreements and release of illegally detained people's deputy of Ukraine of the VIII convocation Nadiya Savchenko" and the Resolution "On introduction of personal sanctions against those persons responsible for illegal detention in the Russian Federation of the people’s deputy of Ukraine, member of the Permanent Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Nadiya Savchenko".
Russia’s failure to observe its international obligations by non-respect to diplomatic immunities, including from arrest and prosecution, of the people’s deputy of Ukraine and member of the Permanent Delegation of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to the PACE Nadiya Savchenko has prevented her from taking part in the work of already two sessions of the Assembly in 2015. These immunities are established by the Article 15 of the 1949 General Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the Council of Europe, which is a legally binding document.
On 20 April 2015, on the occasion of this week’s spring session, the CoE Parliamentary Assembly’s President called once again on the Russian authorities to free Nadiya Savchenko, including on humanitarian grounds and in line with the Minsk agreements.
We deplore that instead of releasing N.Savchenko in view of irrefutable evidence of her innocence presented by her defence lawyers, the Russian authorities continue to illegally keep Ms. Savchenko behind bars.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine in its Statement of 17 April 2015 expressed strong protest in connection with the Moscow’s Basmanny District Court decision to reject the Savchenko lawyer's complaint against the decision of the Russian investigative bodies to refuse the closure of her case for lack of evidence. The Foreign Ministry demanded the unconditional fulfillment by the Russian Federation of its international obligations and Minsk agreements, as well as called for taking into account the humanitarian grounds.
The Delegation of Ukraine remains deeply alarmed over the illegal detention by the Russian Federation of other Ukrainian citizens - Oleg Sentsov, Olexandr Kolchenko, Henadiy Afanasyev, Mykola Karpyuk, Stanislav Klyh, Yuri Soloshenko, Valentyn Vyhivskyi and Serhiy Lytvynov.
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 the Russian authorities continue to deny access of Ukrainian consular officers to Ukrainian citizens kept in custody on the territory of the Russian Federation, and there are reports 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. In contravention of international standards on nationality, Russia continues to use the pretext of illegitimate conferral of the Russian citizenship to the residents of Crimea to substantiate denial of access of the Ukrainian consular officials to those Ukrainian citizens abducted from Crimea.
We urge the Russian side to provide for 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.
We reiterate that the actions of the Russian authorities in these cases are unfounded and politically motivated. We call on the Russian Federation to comply with its Minsk commitment regarding the release of all hostages and illegally detained persons, to immediately release the abducted and illegally detained Ukrainian citizens and provide for their safe return to the homeland.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.