Delivered by Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna, at the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on 29 October 2015
Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has taken many forms and manifestations. Yesterday the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine expressed a resolute protest in connection with yesterday’s search by Russian authorities of the premises of the library of Ukrainian literature in Moscow – the single specialised institution designated to meet the cultural, language and information needs of the Ukrainian community. The search was carried out under the pretext of looking for “russophobic” and “extremist” literature. The staff report that during the search books were planted by the police officers. Director of the library was detained. We call on the Russian authorities to stop pressure on this library and put an end to the deliberate policy of eliminating everything Ukrainian.
While general calm has been observed in Donbas since the beginning of September, which we welcome, we remain concerned that the militants’ armed provocations continue, leading to new human losses and destruction. The number of ceasefire violations by the militants amounted to 10 between 22-27 October. Although this number may appear to be low, the incidents were indeed registered almost on a daily basis.
1 Ukrainian serviceman was killed on 26 October, after the militants shelled the positions of the Ukrainian forces near Piski and Opytne with high caliber machine guns and grenade launchers. 3 more soldiers were wounded over the past week following armed provocations by the pro-Russian illegal armed groups.
It shows the fragility of the ceasefire at time when its sustainability and comprehensiveness must be ensured as a crucial prerequisite for moving further in implementation of the Minsk agreements and viable peaceful resolution in Donbas. We again underline that it is the Russia’s responsibility to exert influence on the militants it backs to halt the armed provocations.
Ukraine continues to implement fully and in good faith its commitments on withdrawal of weapons under the Addendum to the Minsk Package of measures. In line with agreed arrangements, Ukrainian forces completed the withdrawal of tanks near Donetsk and artillery below 100 mm caliber – near Artemivsk. Every stage of withdrawal is subject to the thorough OSCE SMM verification.
While the OSCE SMM enjoys the cooperative and transparent approach of the Ukrainian side in government-controlled areas, it still experiences serious impediments and restrictions in the occupied part of Donbas. Over the past week the SMM again reported of militants’ impediments to access to the weapons storage sites and border area. Russia has not yet delivered on its commitment as the SMM is continuously prevented from monitoring most of the border areas in the occupied part of Luhansk oblast, as the Mission reported on 23 October.
This unacceptable situation is contrary to the outcomes of the Normandy Summit in Paris and the agreement of all participants. Urgent steps must be taken by Russia that would allow the Mission to perform without hindrance their monitoring and verification functions in the occupied part of Donbas, including border areas.
At the meeting of the Trilateral Contact group, held in Minsk on 27 October, the Ukrainian side presented a concept of application of Ukraine’s electoral legislation in relation to the local elections in the certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. The concept is based on the relevant provisions of the Minsk Package of measures, which stipulate that the local elections must be held in accordance with the Ukrainian legislation and OSCE standards and under the OSCE/ODIHR monitoring.
In our discussions the Russian delegation has repeatedly stated Moscow’s interest in the political resolution of the conflict. Russia’s response to the proposals submitted by Ukraine will be a test on how genuine those claims are. We urge Russia to abide by undertaken commitments which would allow to tackle outstanding issues on the conduct of the local elections in certain areas of Donbas in line with Ukraine’s legislation and through de-occupation of those areas.
Dire humanitarian situation in the affected areas of Donbas continues to receive primary attention of the Ukrainian authorities. Over the period of relative calm we have significantly intensified recovery and demining activities aimed at normalization of life in the towns and villages of Donbas. The Ukrainian administration received 58 applications from the local communities on conducting repair works, mostly related to gas, electricity and water supply infrastructure. In 50 cases the work has already started. Among the most recent examples are the restoration of the power line Khartsyzk-Zorya, demining of area around the Vuhlehirsk thermal power plant. A new crossing was opened in Stanytsya Luhanska on 27 October.
We have already informed the Permanent Council of the efforts, undertaken by the Ukrainian Government, to facilitate the delivery of the international humanitarian aid to the occupied part of Donbas. The simplified procedures of crossing the contact line were applied to deliver on 22-26 October to people, living there, 63 cargo vehicles with the humanitarian aid, including from the ICRC and the Government of Switzerland.
At the same time the international humanitarian organizations continue to face restrictions on their activities, imposed by the pro-Russian illegal armed groups in Donetsk and Luhansk. While at the last week’s Permanent Council the Russian representative claimed that apart from ICRC it was also the international health charity Medicine Sans Frontieres, operating in the area, it was exactly the same week when this international charity was banned from working in the occupied part of Donetsk oblast. The Russian Federation must be aware that this ban deprives thousands of people of life-saving medical assistance. It will have, in particular, life-threatening consequences for diabetics as the MSF supplies more than 75% of insulin in the occupied part of Donetsk oblast and almost all its dialysis equipment. Interruption to the treatment of around 150 persons with drug-resistant tuberculosis poses another serious threat to public health in the region. Last week certain easing of restrictions was made in Luhansk in relation to the UN humanitarian assistance, however such restrictions remain in full force in Donetsk.
We urge Russia to take immediate steps on lifting all restrictions on the activities of the humanitarian organizations in those areas of Donbas that remain occupied by the Russian troops and the illegal armed groups supported by Russia.
We welcome that the TCG meeting in Minsk on 27 October resulted, in particular, in resumption of the process of release of hostages and illegally detained persons, which had been stalled by the pro-Russian militants for almost two months. The exchange of “11 to 9” is taking place today. At the same time we are concerned over the destiny of more than 130 Ukrainians, who remain in captivity of the militants. The relevant provision of the Minsk Package of measures applies equally to the Ukrainian citizens, who continue to be illegally detained in Russia. Among them are the deputy of the Ukrainian Parliament and PACE member Nadiya Savchenko, Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, civil society activist Oleksandr Kolchenko and other Ukrainian citizens. We strongly urge the release of all hostages and illegally detained persons on the basis of “all-for-all” principle, reminding of specific provision of the Minsk package that the process of release must be completed at the latest within five days after the withdrawal of weapons.
As the judicial farce against Nadiya Savchenko continues in Russia, we are outraged that yesterday a camera crew of the Ukrainian TV channel “STB” was detained by the Russian road police when on the way to report from the courtroom. Only a personal interference by the Ukrainian consul and a lawyer who were called to the scene allowed the crew to proceed with significant delay.
We condemn the decision of the Chechen Supreme Court of 26 October, which left Ukrainian citizens Mykola Karpyuk and Stanislav Klyh behind bars for the period of 4 months. During the hearing both reiterated that they had been tortured and dismissed the evidence extracted under torture.
We again call on Russia to inform the Permanent Council on the steps taken by the Russian authorities to investigate the reported cases of torture of the Ukrainian citizens in captivity in Russia.
We urge the Russian Federation to comply 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, who are political prisoners in Russia.
The situation in the area of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the occupied Crimea remains a matter of deep concern.
The past week brought us further evidence that the repressive policy of the occupying authorities aims primarily at those communities and individuals, who oppose the illegal occupation and annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea. It was made public yesterday that on 6 October the so-called “Kyivskyi district court” in Simferopol decided to arrest Mr.Refat Chubarov, the Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People under the pretext of his “public calls for actions aimed at violating Russia’s territorial integrity”.
It is clear that this ruling is null and void, as well as others made by the so-called “courts” of the occupying authorities. What it proves is that repressions and intimidations remain the principal tools of the Russian occupants in relation to the Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian communities and all those who do not recognize the illegal occupation and annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea by Russia.
We remind the Russian Federation that under international law it bears responsibilities as an occupying authority. We call on Russia to put a halt to human rights violations and allow free and unconditional access of the international monitors to Crimea.
Ensuring sustainability of the peace process remains a crucial task, whose implementation depends upon the readiness of the Russian Federation to practically deliver on the resolution of the conflict as the country that resorted to armed aggression against Ukraine, supplied weaponry to illegal armed groups, sent its mercenaries into Ukraine. They remain in the occupied areas of Donbas.
We call on Russia to abide fully and in good faith by the Minsk agreements, to put an end to its aggression against Ukraine.
We urge Russia to restore its respect for international law and the OSCE principles and commitments and reverse the annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.
Thank you, Mr.Chairman.