Delivered by Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna, at the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on 17 December 2015
The Delegation of Ukraine takes the floor to express once again its protest against the abduction and illegal detention of Ukrainian citizens Nadiya Savchenko, Oleg Sentsov, Oleksandr Kolchenko and others by the Russian Federation in violation of the norms of international law, the OSCE commitments and the Minsk agreements. We reiterate that their criminal prosecution by the Russian authorities is illegal and illegitimate.
As stressed by a representative of an authoritative Russian NGO at the last HDIM, in today’s Russia Ukrainian citizens represent a new group of political prisoners which emerged since Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea and the start of aggression against Ukraine in Donbas. Political motives in the persecution are seen in the Russian government’s desire to confirm the narrative of official propaganda with sentences and to frighten broad layers of the public with targeted repressions.
We wish to emphasize that the Russian court continues to act on a political order to neglect the law and ignore ample evidence of the innocence of Nadiya Savchenko, as well as her diplomatic immunities as PACE member. The glaring contradictions and inconsistencies in the testimonies of prosecution’s witnesses at the hearings further amplified the fabricated nature of her case, while the denial by the court of a number of examinations requested by Savchenko’s defense aimed to conceal the truth. Only yesterday the court refused to include in the case file the documents from the Prosecutor-General’s Office of Ukraine which again prove to the factual baselessness of the accusations. Instead, the court took a decision on extension of detention of N.Savchenko to 16 April 2016. In view of pervasive injustice of the proceedings in the courtroom, N.Savchenko announced a hunger strike until the end of the court hearings.
On 15 December 2015 it became known that the Russian authorities sentenced on fabricated charges of espionage to 11 years in prison another Ukrainian citizen - Valentyn Vyhivskyi. He was abducted from Crimea in September 2014 by the Russian forces and illegally transferred to Moscow.
With already six unlawful and inhumane verdicts - against Oleg Sentsov, Oleksandr Kolchenko, Henadiy Afanasyev, Oleksiy Chirniy, Yuri Soloshenko and Valentyn Vyhivskyi, the Russian Federation placed into sharp focus its disregard for the principles of the rule of law and the universal norms in the field of human rights.
The travesty of justice in the cases of abducted and illegally detained Ukrainian citizens, based on falsified charges and so-called “investigation” employing, in particular, inhumane treatment, intimidation and torture clearly demonstrated the political motivation of the cases in the country which committed aggression against Ukraine.
We deem it as imperative for the OSCE ODIHR to be able to conduct trial monitoring of court proceedings in relation to all illegally detained Ukrainian citizens in Russia. We call upon the Russian Federation to accommodate such ODIHR’s request, which would be in line with relevant OSCE commitments and international obligations, including on the right to a fair trial.
We also call on Russia to immediately grant consular access to all Ukrainian citizens kept in custody on the territory of the Russian Federation, as well as to proceed to a prompt and impartial investigation, in close cooperation with the ODIHR and other competent international institutions, of the reported acts of torture against Ukrainian citizens in Russia.
The Russian Federation bears full responsibility for the life, health and observance of the rights of all Ukrainian citizens kept behind bars in Russia.
We stress again that according to the Minsk agreements Russia must release all hostages and unlawfully detained persons on the basis of “all for all” principle, including those Ukrainian citizens, who have been abducted from the territory of Ukraine and are illegally detained in Russia. We urge their immediate and unconditional release.
The discussion at the Human Dimension Committee meeting on 27 November 2015 has demonstrated that the Draft Declaration on Political Prisoners in the OSCE region, initiated by Ukraine, is seen as highly relevant and enjoys the overwhelming support of the participating States.
We encourage the Chair of the Human Dimension Committee to devote priority attention in 2016 to the issue of eradication of the phenomenon of political prisoners in the OSCE region.
We call on the incoming German Chairmanship, as the guardian of the OSCE principles and commitments, to use in full its mandate and facilitate the release of all abducted and illegally detained or imprisoned Ukrainian citizens in Russia.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.