The Week in Review: January 15th to January 19th
At the Permanent Council: Russia’s Ongoing Violations in Ukraine
The Permanent Council convened on Thursday for its first regular session of 2018. Russia’s ongoing violations in Ukraine remain high on the agenda, and we repeated our call on Russia — as the instigator of the conflict — to command the forces it arms, trains, leads, and fights alongside to withdraw and disengage. Russia and its proxies must also stop their threats, harassment, and violence against the OSCE’s monitors in Ukraine.
We also voiced our concern about the January 16 conviction by Russia’s occupation authorities in Crimea of Ukrainian activist Volodymyr Balukh. Balukh was convicted on baseless weapons possession charges in retaliation for his public displays of Ukrainian patriotic symbols, and the court sentenced him on the same charges an appeals court rejected just two months ago. We do not, nor will we ever, recognize Russia’s occupation and purported annexation of Crimea. Crimea-related sanctions on Russia will remain in place until Russia returns full control of the peninsula to Ukraine.
At the Permanent Council: A Call on Russia to Respect Human Rights in Chechnya
The United States spoke out against the arrest of Oyub Titiev, head of the local Chechen branch office of the Russian human rights NGO Memorial, on questionable drug charges. Titiev’s arrest is the latest in a string of alarming recent human rights violations in Chechnya, and it came less than two weeks after the speaker of the Chechen parliament called human rights activists “enemies of the people” and suggested they should be executed.
We also voiced our concern over reports that Memorial’s offices in Ingushetia were destroyed in an apparent arson attack, and urged Russian authorities to conduct a prompt, thorough, and impartial investigation into this attack and to hold accountable all those responsible.
At the Permanent Council: On the Murder of Oliver Ivanovic
The United States joined many other delegations in condemning in the strongest possible manner the murder in Kosovo of Oliver Ivanović, and we extended our deepest condolences to Mr. Ivanović’s family and friends.
The OSCE has a deeply vested interest in ensuring adherence to the rule of law in the Republic of Kosovo, which hosts the OSCE’s largest field mission. We also voiced our belief that the presence of Kosovo officials in this Permanent Council would provide a forum for OSCE States to raise concerns directly with the country’s leaders, and enable us to hear their responses directly.