Delivered by Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna at the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on 14 May 2015
The Delegation of Ukraine is compelled to raise again the issue of abduction and illegal detention of Ukrainian citizens by the Russian Federation as they continue to suffer from injustice and cruel treatment.
For one year Ukrainian pilot and people’s deputy Nadiya Savchenko, Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, Ukrainian antifascist Oleksandr Kolchenko, civil society activists Henadiy Afanasyev and Oleksiy Chirniy have been abducted and illegally detained by the Russian authorities on trumped-up charges.
They are political prisoners in Russia together with other Ukrainian citizens, who had been illegally detained for openly expressing their protest against Russian aggression and illegal occupation of Crimea.
We reiterate that the provisions of Minsk agreements regarding the release of all hostages and illegally detained persons on the basis of “all for all” principle apply to the Ukrainian citizens illegally detained in Russia. We also remind that Nadiya Savchenko is enjoying diplomatic immunity as a PACE member in line with the Council of Europe 1949 General Agreement on Privileges and Immunities.
On the occasion of Nadiya Savchenko’s birthday on 11 May 2015 many people around the world again voiced out their strong call for Savchenko’s release by taking to the streets to join peaceful rallies.
In an open letter of 11 May 2015 Ms. Savchenko wrote: “While placing in a cage a human body, one cannot lock up the will, strength, soul and speed of thought of a human being”, reiterating her determination to continue to resist injustice and illegal actions of the Russian authorities.
We note with concern that the peaceful rallies in support of Nadiya Savchenko and other political prisoners in Moscow and Yekaterinburg on 11 May were dispersed by the Russian law enforcement. Some participants were detained, although they expressed their views in the form of individual pickets, which does not require permission of the authorities under Russia’s laws.
There are reports about detention and use of force against a number of Ukrainian and Russian journalists covering the assembly and peaceful expression of opinion. These reports deserve a close attention of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media.
We are deeply concerned over the recent statements by Sentsov’s defence lawyer about the use of physical violence, torture and other ill-treatment against Oleg Sentsov to obtain testimony, before he was transferred to the Lefortovo prison. These illegal practices constitute a flagrant breach of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
We urge the Russian side to stop torture and ill-treatment of illegally detained Ukrainian citizens, as well as to allow unhindered access of Ukrainian consular officials to their places of detention.
We call on the Russian Federation to implement its commitments undertaken in Minsk, in particular by releasing Nadiya Savchenko, Oleg Sentsov, Oleksandr Kolchenko and other Ukrainian citizens, who are illegally kept behind bars in Russia.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.