Briefing, June 17th, 2014
I would like to give you more details on measures taken by Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry in order to return the kidnapped orphaned children from Snizhne, Donetsk Oblast. As reported earlier, on June 12 armed representatives of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic kidnapped a group of 28 Ukrainian citizens in Snizhne, Donetsk Oblast. Among them there were 25 orphaned children who were on the way to Dnipropetrovsk oblast for sanative purposes. Intruders captured the bus, forced the driver to change route and went to Dolzhanskiy checkpoint in Luhansk oblast in order to transport the kidnapped children to Russia.
Later, while crossing the Ukraine-Russia border, 9 children and their attendant were dropped off, while another 18 persons were transported to the city of Donetsk in Rostov oblast, Russia.
While responding to this situation, the Foreign Ministry took a number of measures of a diplomatic and legal nature aimed at stopping illegal actions against Ukrainian citizens and returning them home. The measures are the following:
– A diplomatic note was sent to Russian Foreign Ministry demanding to immediately return the kidnapped children to Ukraine and bring to justice those responsible for their transportation onto the territory of Russian Federation. In this regard, on June 13, the Ministry initiated a phone conversation between Ukraine’s acting Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
– Information about the kidnapping of Ukrainian children was spread operatively through diplomatic channels in order to shape proper reaction of the international community and to get its political, social, and media support in returning the children home, and bringing to justice those responsible for the kidnapping.
– Ukraine’s Consul General in Rostov-on-Don visited the kidnapped Ukrainian citizens to render all necessary consulate assistance.
– After the information about Ukrainian children held in Russia was confirmed, the Ukrainian side filed applications to police bodies and Investigation Committee of the Russian Federation in order to press criminal charges on kidnapping and illegal smuggling, and in order to immediately return the children to Ukraine.
In the frameworks of international law practices, Ukraine’s Ministry of Justice appealed to the European Court of Human Rights.
Following these measures taken by the Foreign Ministry, Ukraine reached a consensus with the Russian side to immediately return the illegally transported group of Ukrainian children back home.
On June 13, 16 children and 2 attendants were conveyed by Russian executive bodies to Ukraine’s Consulate General in Rostov-on-Don. The group accompanied by Ukrainian diplomats was safely transported to Rostov-on-Don international airport. The same night, at 10.20 p.m., they departed to Ukraine by charter flight. The plane was provided thanks to close cooperation with the Donetsk Oblast administration.
I would stress that since we received information on the opportunity to bail out the Ukrainian children, the Minister, Deputy Minister, Department of Consulate Service, and Ukraine’s Consulate General in Rostov-on-Don worked round-the-clock to solve this issue. The Ministry held numerous consultations and negotiations. We didn’t make any plans on returning the children home public until the plane with them departed from Rostov airport, since there was a real threat of the children being re-captured by terrorists. Despite the Russian side having offered us to transport children back to Snizhne by bus, we insisted and implemented a different, safer scenario in close cooperation with the Donetsk Oblast administration.
Translated by Ivan Zhezhera, edited by Alya Shandra