Over the past year, Ukraine succeeded in conducting three stages of the release of detained persons and bringing back over 130 citizens of Ukraine from the Russian prisons. Nonetheless, the issue of release of the Ukrainian citizens, illegally held by Russia on political grounds, remains a pressing problem, primarily due to the on-going repressive practices on the temporarily occupied territories of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol, and on the territory of the Russian Federation itself.
Against the backdrop of new detentions and court decisions, as well as Russian attempts to misuse the toolbox and frameworks of the UN institutions to legitimize the attempted annexation of Crimea, the MFA of Ukraine considers its task to be that of reinvigorating international efforts aimed at the release of the Ukrainian citizens, illegally held by Russia on political grounds.
Issue of the political prisoners must remain at the top of the agenda of our dialogue with the foreign partners, while the international pressure on the Russian Federation aimed at their speedy release must be strengthened. To this end the Ministry initiates launching the Platform For Coordinating International Efforts To Free Ukrainian Political Prisoners Held By Russia.
We consider the list of participants should include representatives of the state institutions, dealing with support, protection of rights and release of the illegally detained citizens of Ukraine; human rights NGOs and associations of political prisoners’ relatives; the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people. Engagement of former prisoners of the Kremlin will also be an important element of our common actions.
Such a framework is not a new one for the MFA. In 2016-2019 a Civil Platform on Issues Related To Release of the Ukrainian Citizens Illegally Detained by Russia already acted under the Ministry’s auspices. It was a good example of effective cooperation between the state and civil society aimed at seeking viable solutions of those problems, related to political persecution and illegal detention of the Ukrainian citizens by the Russian Federation.
The Platform will not duplicate the work of authorized state institutions. There will be a framework for discussion and coordination of actions aimed at strengthening the international pressure on the Russian Federation in order to ensure release of all the illegally detained citizens of Ukraine.