Delivered by Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk, Permanent Representative of Ukraine at the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on 23 July 2015
The Delegation of Ukraine once again draws attention of the Permanent Council to the on-going grave violations by the Russian Federation of human rights, international norms and obligations in connection with Ukrainian citizens who had been abducted from Ukraine and illegally detained in Russia. When signing the “Package of measures” in Minsk on 12 February 2015, Russia agreed to release of all hostages and illegally detained persons based on the principle “all for all”. However, until now the Russian authorities continue to ignore the commitments they have undertaken, as Nadiya Savchenko, Oleg Sentsov and other Ukrainian citizens continue to be held behind bars, being political prisoners in that country.
We view as unacceptable that Russia, contrary to its international obligations, continues to ignore that Ms.Savchenko, people’s deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, enjoys diplomatic immunity granted by her status of a PACE member. According to the Opinion of the Assembly’s Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs, she should not have been subject to any detention or prosecution measures from the moment her credentials were confirmed in January of 2015.
We are deeply concerned with the decision by the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office to transfer the criminal case against Ms.Savchenko to the Donetsk city court of Rostov oblast of Russia for trial, which significantly complicates the work of her defence team and hides the hearing further away from the public eye. Although presumably Ms.Savchenko is already in Rostov, her defence lawyers cannot yet identify her location and reach her.
We call on Russian authorities to review this decision. The Ombudsperson of Ukraine Ms. Valeriya Lutkovska has also addressed Russia’s High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms. Ella Pamfilova to facilitate the change of place of hearing of the case of Ms. Savchenko and transfer it back to Moscow.
We are deeply concerned over the reports that Oleg Sentsov has been tortured. He has not yet been allowed to meet with the Ukrainian consul.
At the court hearing that took place in the District Military Court in Rostov-on-Don on 21 July the Ukrainian citizens Oleg Sentsov and Oleksandr Kolchenko have again been denied a meeting with the Ukrainian consular officer despite the defence pointed out the absence of any documental proof of their Russian citizenship while their case files contained copies of Ukrainian passports. Other Ukrainian citizens are also being denied meetings with the consular officers.
We urge the Russian authorities to allow immediate access of Ukrainian consular officials to Oleg Sentsov, Mykola Karpyuk, Stanislav Klyh and other Ukrainian citizens and to stop the practices of inhumane treatment of detainees.
Regrettably, we continue to bear witness to unabated Russia’s disrespect for the persistent calls of the international community, including the Parliamentary Assemblies of the OSCE and the Council of Europe, to strictly abide by the norms and principles of international law, the OSCE principles and commitments, the Minsk Agreements and to immediately release Nadiya Savchenko, Oleg Sentsov and other Ukrainian citizens that remain illegally detained in Russia.
We call upon the OSCE Chairmanship, the OSCE Institutions and the participating States to continue concerted efforts in facilitating the release of abducted Ukrainian citizens, illegally detained in Russia. We call on ODIHR and the participating States to ensure presence at the staged court hearings to monitor the developments in these forged cases.
We urge the Russian Federation to immediately stop the illegal and illegitimate actions towards the Ukrainian citizens and to demonstrate compliance with its obligations under international law and the Minsk agreements by immediately and unconditionally releasing them.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.