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Statement by the Delegation of Ukraine in response to Mr. Michael Georg Link, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights
14 October 2016 10:02

Delivered by Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna, at the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on 13 October 2016

Mr. Chairman,

We join previous speakers in warmly welcoming back to the Permanent Council the Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights H.E. Mr. Michael Georg Link and thank him for the comprehensive report on the 2016 Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw.

The Delegation of Ukraine expresses its gratitude to the ODIHR for excellent organization of the Meeting. We also thank the Polish authorities for their hospitality and tireless efforts as a host country in facilitating the organization of the annual human dimension meeting.

We regret that preparations to this important OSCE event were overshadowed by the unprecedented speculations and political manipulations of the Russian delegation, which used the negotiation process on the 2016 human dimension events to advance its policies of undermining the OSCE commitments.

Dear colleagues,      

The two-week discussions in Warsaw clearly reaffirmed that the most blatant violations of human rights take place in the situations of occupation, resulting from Russia’s ongoing military aggression against Ukraine and violation of the OSCE fundamental principles and commitments.

Numerous eye-witness accounts and NGO presentations testified that the residents of Crimea under the Russian illegal occupation have witnessed a sharp deterioration of the human rights situation, including abductions, torture and enforced disappearances, the silencing of dissenting voices through the initiation of repressive measures, targeting mainly Crimean Tatar community and pro-Ukrainian activists.

There is a total breakdown in the rule of law in the certain areas of Donbas controlled by the combined Russia-separatist forces, where people are effectively denied basic protection and deprived of basic human rights and freedoms.

We once again emphasize that all responsibility for human rights violations in the temporary occupied regions of Ukraine and the failure to stop them rests with Russia.

OSCE Institutions should continue to attach great significance to protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the occupied territories and seek by all available instruments the permanent monitoring and presence in Crimea in compliance with the UN GA Resolution 68/262 “Territorial Integrity of Ukraine”.

The current threats to human rights and security in the OSCE region, emanating from the gross breach by one participating State of the Helsinki Decalogue principles and commitments, must be duly reflected in the human dimension deliverables at the Hamburg Ministerial Council meeting. Grave human rights violations, committed by the occupying power on part of Ukraine’s territory affect people of all religious denominations, including Christians and Muslims, and of different ethnic background.    

Dear Director Link,

Ukraine, as our many international partners, does not recognize parliamentary elections held by Russia in the temporary occupied Crimea, which was yet another manifestation of Russia’s violation of international law.  

Ukraine expects that OSCE/ODIHR in its final report about the September Duma elections will contain a clear explanation of the reasons to refrain from observing the election process in Crimea and will give its clear assessment of the fact, that the voting in the illegally occupied Crimea affected the majority of parliamentarians of the State Duma.

Mr. Chairman,

The debates in Warsaw have again highlighted the increasingly deteriorating human rights situation in Russia.

Along with restrictive legislation on “foreign agents”, “undesirable organizations” and “Yarovaya package”, censorship in the media and internet, restrictions on freedom of assembly, association and expression, violation of rights of national minorities and religious communities, we witness Russia’s further departure from its obligations in the area of protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

We regret that the Russian Federation again failed to seize the opportunities offered by HDIM to commit to correcting the violations of fundamental OSCE principles and commitments. Instead, Russia resorted to propaganda and hatred rhetorics, aiming at shifting its responsibility on others. 

We stress that close monitoring and reporting on the human rights’ situation in Russia must be one of the important tasks for the OSCE Institutions. Such activities must also cover reports of torture against the Ukrainian citizens – political prisoners in Russia and serious violations of their rights to a fair trial, as well as deteriorating conditions for the Ukrainian national minority and the cases of ungrounded detention on fabricated charges of Ukrainian citizens in Russia.

 Dear colleagues,

Ukraine continues to view the HDIM as the main instrument for the effective monitoring of compliance by all participating States with the human dimension commitments, including through the unique involvement of civil society, which we fully support.

At the same time, we view as unacceptable that the issue of civil society participation in the HDIM was manipulated to advance attempts of legitimizing Russia’s illegal occupation of a part of Ukraine’s territory - the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.

We do expect that the ODIHR will strictly adhere to the aforementioned UN GA Resolution, OSCE principles and commitments, and take appropriate measures to prevent the recurrence of such manipulations.

Let me conclude by reiterating Ukraine’s resolve to adhere to undertaken OSCE human dimension commitments, as well as our support for ODIHR’s mandate. We highly appreciate our close cooperation with the ODIHR to enhance implementation of relevant commitments and we are confident that this cooperation will continue to be result-oriented and productive.

We once again thank you, Director Link, for your report and wish every success to you and your team.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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