Tsymbaliuk: OSCE should step up pressure on Russia to release Ukrainian political prisoners.

Ukraine calls on OSCE participating States to increase pressure on Russia in order to release Ukrainian political prisoners, including by raising this issue during bilateral contacts with the Russian leadership.

“The problem of politically motivated persecutions by the Russian occupation authorities in the occupied parts of Ukraine was discussed on 15 June in the MFA of Ukraine during a meeting of a Platform to Coordinate Actions on Release of Ukrainian Political Prisoners by Russia. The Platform agreed on the need to draw additional attention of the international community to this issue. In this vein, we reiterate our call to participating States to enhance pressure on Russia, including by raising this topic in bilateral contacts with the Russian leaders,” Ambassador Yevhenii Tsymbaliuk, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna, said at the OSCE Permanent Council meeting on 17 June.

As the Ukrainian ambassador pointed out, the Izolyatsia prison with torture chambers has been functioning in the occupied Donetsk for seven years, where tens and hundreds of people have been illegally detained.

“In Crimea, local residents continue to be systematically detained under trumped-up charges, based on the so-called ‘testimonies of anonymous witnesses’, whenever the Russian special services feel the need to demonstrate unacceptability of any dissent with Russia’s occupation,” Tsymbaliuk said.

Citing the data collected by the NGO “Crimea Human Rights Group”, he added that the number of Crimean residents illegally sentenced under Russia’s so-called anti-terrorist and anti-extremist legislation, inapplicable in the occupied parts of another state, had reached 74 persons in May 2021. Seventeen more are illegally detained under the falsified charges of subversive activities, weapon storage, and espionage. In May, 13 new criminal cases were opened against Crimean residents and 6 persons were sentenced for denying forced military conscription to the Russian Armed Forces, which is illegal under international humanitarian law.

“Until Russia’s temporary occupation of Ukraine’s parts of territory ends, the Ukrainian government makes every effort to support those citizens who remain under occupation,” Tsymbaliuk said and informed the delegations on several steps undertaken by the Ukrainian authorities in this regard.

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