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Statement by the Delegation of Ukraine on "Abduction and illegal detention of Ukrainian citizens by the Russian Federation”
08 September 2015 10:19

Delivered by Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk, Permanent Representative of Ukraine at the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on 3 September 2015

Mr. Chairman,

The Delegation of Ukraine reiterates its resolute protest against the on-going unlawful actions of the Russian Federation towards the people’s deputy of Ukraine and PACE member Nadiya Savchenko, Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, civil society activist Oleksandr Kolchenko and other Ukrainian citizens, who had been abducted from the territory of Ukraine and illegally detained by the Russian authorities on trumped-up charges. These citizens are political prisoners in Russia.

We deplore that the Russian Federation continues to ignore its Minsk commitment regarding the release of all hostages and illegally detained persons on the basis of “all for all” principle, which applies to abducted Ukrainian citizens illegally detained in Russia.

The first verdicts announced by the Russian authorities against illegally detained Ukrainian citizens testify to Russia’s contempt to the norms of international law, the OSCE principles and commitments, and the Minsk agreements.

Mr. Chairman,

On 25 August 2015, the Russian authorities announced unlawful and inhumane decision to sentence Ukrainian citizens Oleg Sentsov and Oleksandr Kolchenko, who were illegally arrested by the Russian occupants in May 2014 in Crimea, to 20 and 10 years in prison, respectively.

The travesty of justice, based on falsified investigation that employed, in particular, psychological pressure, intimidation and tortures against the Ukrainian citizens, clearly demonstrated politically-driven nature of judicial system in Russia. The court and law-enforcement eager to fulfil the Kremlin’s political order, neglected the law and ignored ample evidence of innocence of the Ukrainian citizens, provided by their lawyers. With this verdict the Russian Federation chose to highlight its disregard for the principles of the rule of law and the universal norms in the field of human rights.

 

As Oleg Sentsov stated in the courtroom, “the trial by occupants cannot be fair by definition”. He emphasized that Oleksandr Kolchenko and himself were citizens of Ukraine, had been detained on the territory of Ukraine and put to trial on a falsified case.

We highly appreciate the international solidarity in condemning the political verdict and urging the immediate release of the Ukrainian citizens by Russia.

The ODIHR’s Director, for his part, reminded the participating States’ commitment to international humanitarian law guaranteeing fair trial rights in occupation situations. He also underlined that the rejection by the Russian authorities to recognize the Ukrainian citizenship of Sentsov and Kolchenko contravenes international humanitarian law.

Let me recall that Ukrainian consular officers have not been admitted to Sentsov and Kolchenko since their illegal detention last May.  

The human rights NGOs, in particular, “Amnesty International” and Russia’s “Memorial”, also reacted to the blatant injustice in the cases of political prisoners Sentsov, Kolchenko and others. They brought to the public attention the credibility of their torture, emphasizing that evidence extracted under torture or other ill-treatment should be considered inadmissible in court.

We urge the Russian authorities to undertake effective investigation of information on torture and other ill-treatment of Oleg Sentsov, Oleksandr Kolchenko, Henady Afanasyev and others. We call on Russia to invite OSCE representatives to this investigation.

Distinguished colleagues,

We strongly protest against the politically motivated trial in the case of the people’s deputy of Ukraine and member of the Permanent Delegation of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to the PACE Nadiya Savchenko, illegally held behind bars in Russia.

The Russian authorities continue to ignore the irrefutable evidence of her innocence presented to the court and her diplomatic immunities as PACE member.

We condemn the recent court decisions to extend Ms. Savchenko’s pre-trial detention until 30 September 2015, as well as to refuse the transfer of Savchenko’s case from the Donetsk City Court of Rostov oblast of Russia to Moscow. It significantly complicates the work of her defence team and hides the hearing from the public.

Mr. Chairman,

It remains unacceptable that the Russian authorities continue to illegally keep behind bars Nadiya Savchenko, Oleg Sentsov, Oleksandr Kolchenko, Henadiy Afanasyev, Oleksiy Chirniy, Mykola Karpyuk, Stanislav Klyh, Yuri Soloshenko, Valentyn Vyhivskyi and Serhiy Lytvynov.

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