The United States is deeply disturbed by the decision of Russian authorities to increase the charge against Ukrainian Member of Parliament Nadiya Savchenko to murder.
We are further concerned by the decision to change the location identified as her so-called “illegal border crossing” from Voronezh to Rostov-on-Don, apparently in order to ensure that her trial will be held in Rostov.
Rostov is a place far less visible to the international community than Moscow, and is also the region in which Savchenko’s fellow Ukrainian hostage, Oleg Sentsov, will begin to stand trial in a military court on July 21.
We note that Sentsov’s pretrial detention was recently extended until December 15 and that Russian authorities have denied each of the 15 attempts made by Ukrainian consular officials to gain access to him, falsely claiming that as a resident of Crimea, he is now a Russian citizen.
We reiterate our assertion that Ms. Savchenko and Mr. Sentsov are being held hostage in Russia after having been abducted from Ukraine by Russia-backed separatists and spirited across the border.
We continue to have serious concerns over their treatment in detention.
We call on Russia to release Nadiya Savchenko, Oleg Sentsov, and all other Ukrainian hostages immediately – a commitment Russia made when it signed the Minsk agreements in September of last year, and again on February 12 of this year, when it signed the Minsk Implementation Plan.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
As delivered by Ambassador Daniel B. Baer to the OSCE Permanent Council, Vienna