The statement at the OSCE Permanent Council meeting on 3 March 2016 was delivered by Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna Ihor Prokopchuk
The Delegation of Ukraine takes the floor to express once again its resolute 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.
In today’s Russia these 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.
The defence lawyer of Serhiy Lytvynov believes that by fabricating cases against Ukrainian citizens the Russian authorities aim to deliberately incite hatred against Ukrainians to create an image of enemy and justify the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine. Such bias continues to be actively fueled by the Russian state propaganda machinery and the fakes it produces.
In S.Lytvynov’s case, the Russian investigators were unable, for a year, to find a single victim or witness of the alleged mass murder or the use of prohibited methods of warfare of which this Ukrainian citizen was accused, while being held behind bars in Russia. The prosecution had to finally drop these absurd charges due to “absence of event”, but instead concocted a new charge about alleged assault by Mr. Lytvynov on a Russian citizen on the territory of Ukraine.
The clumsiness of the Russian authorities in manufacturing false charges rests on the continued denial of ample and irrefutable proof of the innocence of Nadiya Savchenko and other citizens presented by their defence lawyers, as well as failure of the Russian authorities to offer any credible evidence to corroborate the charges against them.
The verdicts against O.Sentsov, O.Kolchenko, H.Afanasyev, O.Chirniy, Y.Soloshenko and V.Vyhivskyi are all based on the so-called evidences, which have been extracted under torture or resulted from self-incrimination, or have been invented in the calm of the FSB offices.
Let me note in this regard, that while recognizing another two citizens of Ukraine – Mr.Klyh and Mr.Karpyuk as political prisoners, the Russian NGO “Memorial” stressed that their case had been built upon self-incrimination obtained under torture, and a slander by an individual convicted and imprisoned for grave crimes. The case contains a large number of factual errors, including description of non-existent crimes. We have learned with concern about the Russian authorities’ intention to fabricate additional criminal charges against Mr.Klyh.
We express our protest against the Russian prosecutor’s demand to sentence Nadiya Savchenko to 23 years in prison. The prosecution and the court duly perform the roles that have been assigned by the Russian authorities at the very beginning of this judicial farce. The process of this politically-motivated persecution breaches the universal norms in the field of human rights.
Speaking in the court room yesterday, N.Savchenko pointed out that the hearings had proved the guilt of the Russian media executives who sent journalists to the conflict area without taking any responsibility for their lives, they proved the guilt of the Russian military and fighters who killed Ukrainians on the Ukrainian soil, they proved the guilt of the Russian Federal security service (FSB) and the Investigative committee who kidnapped and tortured people and fabricated charges and evidence against them. What the hearings failed to prove was the guilt of N.Savchenko herself – an officer of the Ukrainian Armed Forces performing her duty. She emphasized, appealing to the prosecution and the judges, that “you have not broken me and you will never break me!”.
We urge the Russian side to stop this shameful process and immediately release Ms. Savchenko.
We reiterate our deep concern over the transportation of Oleg Sentsov, Oleksandr Kolchenko and Henadiy Afanasyev to the remote Russian regions of Yakutiya, Chelyabinsk and Syktyvkar respectively, which seriously limits the possibility for their relatives from Ukraine to visit them and complicates the monitoring of their cases.
The conditions of their illegal detention further worsened. It became known that during the transfer Mr. Sentsov was detained in Samara for one week in degrading conditions as they were 12 people in a prison cell designed for 4 persons, situated in a basement with abnormal humidity, which negatively affected his health.
We reiterate again our call on the Russian Federation to effectively investigate the reports of torture against the Ukrainian citizens held in captivity in Russia, as well as to immediately grant consular access to them.
We urge Russia to comply with the norms of international law and the Minsk agreements and to immediately and unconditionally release all Ukrainian citizens illegally detained or imprisoned in Russia.
We call on the OSCE community to maintain a principled stance of condemnation of Russia’s attack on human dignity and fundamental human rights as well as to step up political and diplomatic pressure to ensure the release of all citizens of Ukraine who are illegally detained in Russia.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.