At a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council, US Ambassador D. Baer stated, “The United States condemns the continued detention of Nadiya Savchenko, Oleg Sentsov, Oleksander Kolchenko, Stanislav Klikh, Mykola Karpyuk, Akhtem Chiygoz, and all other Ukrainians unjustly held in Russia, separatist-controlled areas in eastern Ukraine, and in Russia-occupied Crimea. Human rights groups estimate there are currently at least 20 such cases. These raise serious concerns about Russia’s respect for the rule of law, and its international obligations and commitments to protect the ability of those detained to exercise their rights. […] Mr. Sentsov and Mr. Kolchenko have both been recognized as political prisoners by the Memorial Human Rights Center in Russia. Russian human rights defenders describe their trials and sentences (20 years and 10 years, respectively) as ‘ideologically motivated terror’ against opponents of Russia’s military intervention in Crimea and its subsequent occupation. We are also concerned by reports that they and their Ukrainian co-defendants have been transferred to prisons in remote areas of Russia, and in some cases have been subjected to mistreatment. The charges against Ukrainian citizens held for politically-motivated reasons should be dismissed, and in the case of those being held within Russia, they should be allowed to return to Ukraine. By failing to do so, Russia continues to contravene its OSCE commitments, as well as its commitments under the Minsk agreements.”
Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
3 March 2016, 7 PM Kyiv time
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported that yesterday towards Luhansk, a Ukrainian soldier was killed by a Russian-terrorist sniper near Stanytsia Luhanska. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions with Grads (truck-mounted multiple rocket launchers). Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions at Pisky, Luhanske village, Zaytseve and Verkhnotroitske. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions with mortars and other heavy weapons at Maryinka, Dokuchayevsk and along the Talakivka-Shyrokyne line. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours one Ukrainian soldier was killed and one was wounded in action.
2. Nadiya Savchenko announces dry hunger strike as Russian court delays verdict
Ukrainian pilot and MP Nadiya Savchenko announced she will begin a dry hunger strike, refusing water, tomorrow in protest of the court’s decision to delay the verdict in her illegal trial to 9 March, the BBC’s Ukraine service reported. The court refused to allow Savchenko to make her final statement following the defense’s final arguments today. Savchenko was serving in eastern Ukraine, when abducted by Kremlin-backed terrorists in June 2014 and taken to Russia, where she has been illegally detained and imprisoned since that time. Russia has ignored repeated calls from the international community for her immediate release.
3. US President issues executive order extending sanctions against Russia for one year
On 2 March, US President B. Obama signed an executive order extending US sanctions against Russia. The White House stated, “The actions and policies of persons that undermine democratic processes and institutions in Ukraine; threaten its peace, security, stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity; and contribute to the misappropriation of its assets, as well as the actions and policies of the Government of the Russian Federation, including its purported annexation of Crimea and its use of force in Ukraine, continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”
4. US condemns continued detention of Savchenko and other Ukrainians unjustly held by Russia