Human rights above politics: Ukrainian prisoners are kept in terrible conditions in Russian prisons while investigation takes the most surprising turns.
Kyiv, 17 June 2016. Valeriya Lutkovska, Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights, stated that she is planning to meet the Russian ombudsman till the end of June. “This meeting is to be a humanitarian conversation devoid of any political coloring. Our task is to achieve protection of human rights in Crimea. Ombudsmen should be beyond politics and work for exclusively humanitarian purposes,” said Ms. Lutkovska at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. She noted that Russia, unlike Ukraine, has no law when convicts have the right to serve their sentences close to their home. Currently, 16 Ukrainian political prisoners are serving sentences in different districts of the Russian Federation.
“Russian anti-extremist legislation, due to its indistinctness, makes it possible to prosecute any groups that stand out from the mainstream. At the same time, it makes this kind of persecution legitimate and legal,” said Oleksandra Matviychuk, coordinator of the campaign #LetMyPeopleGo, civil initiative “Euromaidan SOS”. According to her, in 2014 opponents of the Russian policy on Crimean occupation became part of these possibilities. Ms. Matviychuk noted that 14 people are now connected to the so-called “investigation of Crimean Muslims’ case”. Currently, the first four were transferred to Rostov-on-Don. “They were transferred from the occupied Crimea to Russia. It is prohibited by international humanitarian law, which imposes certain duties even on the occupier,” stressed Ms. Matviychuk.
She supposes that other cases will adhere to the similar scenario. This case was initiated by the former employees of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), who now work for the Federal Security Council (FSB). According to Oleksandra Matviychuk, the prisoners’ wives and supporters are called as witnesses for the prosecution. Since they have their lawyers, they have waived a public attorney. But despite their waiver, a public attorney has been appointed for them. However, these “imposed” representatives continue to take part in the process, and to declare “the conflict in defense.” “The conditions of their detention are terrible. They sleep in turns, because the cells are overcrowded. They are malnourished because of the religious holidays, which the prison has not been adapted to,” added Oleksandra Matviychuk.
“Russian occupiers exclude any possibility of helping people. These people who are imprisoned in Russia have 49 children under 18 years. It was planned to create a charitable initiative group “Our Children” to help them. However, the next day we were accused of allegedly creating interethnic, interracial and inter-religious strife. They consider our efforts to save children as developing hatred,” informed Refat Chubarov, Head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People.
Pavlo Klimkin, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, stated that Ukraine insists on continuing presence of monitoring missions of international organizations in the territory of temporarily occupied Crimea. “Russia is certainly rejecting it, but without the presence of such a monitoring mission we will not have any leverage to contain this avalanche of human rights violations in Crimea,” noted the Minister. He informed that from July 1 to July 5 in, Tbilisi will host the annual session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE, where Ukraine will propose a resolution on human rights violations in Crimea. Pavlo Klimkin hopes that the Parliamentary Assembly will support this document.