Delivered by Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk, Permanent Representative of Ukraine at the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on 16 July 2015
The Delegation of Ukraine draws again the attention of the Permanent Council to the on-going violation by the Russian Federation of its Minsk commitments and international obligations within the Council of Europe as it continues to illegally detain for over one year the people’s deputy of Ukraine and PACE’s member Nadiya Savchenko, Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov and other Ukrainian citizens. These citizens are political prisoners in Russia.
We recall that when signing the Minsk agreements the Russian Federation undertook commitment to release all hostages and illegally detained persons. The cases of abducted Ukrainians fall under the provision of para 6 of the "Package of measures” of 12 February 2015. Nevertheless, the Russian Federation continues to hold them hostage.
We resolutely protest against the Russian Prosecutor General's Office decision to forward the criminal case against Nadiya Savchenko to the Donetsk City Court in Russia's Rostov region. Additional trumped-up charges accusing her of the murder of two Russian citizens, brought recently by the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, are entirely unfounded and only add to the absurdity of the fabricated accusations.
The Russian investigative authorities ignore with determination the ample and irrefutable evidences on Savchenko’s innocence provided by her defense lawyers. The refusal to conduct any additional examinations requested by the defense is yet another clear sign of prejudice and political motivation of the Russian authorities in Savchenko’s case.
In its statements of 9 and 14 July the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine reiterated its calls on the Russian side to immediately stop this judicial farce and release Ms. Savchenko.
We also express our protest against the decision, taken by the District Military Court in Rostov-on-Don at the hearing behind closed doors on 9 July, to extend the pretrial detention of Oleg Sentsov and Oleksandr Kolchenko until 16 December.
We remind that in grave breach of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations they have been not allowed to meet with the Ukrainian consul for almost 14 months of their detention now.
We urge Russia to immediately grant consular access to all Ukrainian citizens kept in custody on the territory of the Russian Federation.
We reiterate that by its actions Russia continues to fall far short of respect for the norms and principles of international law, and the OSCE principles and commitments.
As we are all aware, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has expressly pronounced on several occasions its insistent calls on the Russian Federation to immediately release Nadiya Savchenko and other illegally detained Ukrainian citizens.
We welcome that these calls have been convincingly reinforced by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, which is consistent in its resolve to protect human rights. At its 24th Annual Session in Helsinki the OSCE PA adopted the Resolution “On Abducted and Illegally Detained Ukrainian Citizens in the Russian Federation”. In particular, the Assembly emphasizes that Russia’s actions towards those Ukrainian citizens and their criminal prosecutions are illegal and illegitimate as they constitute a flagrant violation of norms of international law and the Minsk agreements.
It calls on the Russian Federation to immediately release all Ukrainians - political prisoners in Russia and urges the OSCE Chairmanship, OSCE Institutions and the participating States to take vigorous efforts and use all instruments available to facilitate their release.
We urge the Russian Federation to demonstrate compliance with its obligations under international law and the Minsk agreements and to immediately and unconditionally release Nadiya Savchenko, Oleg Sentsov, Oleksandr Kolchenko and other Ukrainian citizens that are illegally detained in Russia, as well as to ensure their safe return to Ukraine.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.