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Historic PACE resolutions condemn Russian aggression, rule out elections in occupied Donbas

Marieluise Beck (right) and Kristyna Zelienkova (left) were the rapporteurs of the resolutions. Photo: Iryna Gerashchenko
Historic PACE resolutions condemn Russian aggression, rule out elections in occupied Donbas

On 12 October, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) had adopted two historic, in the words of Iryna Gerashchenko, first deputy chairperson of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada, resolutions on Ukraine.

After the overly cautious statements since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine, these resolutions are a breakthrough: the Assembly clearly states that Russian troops have to be withdrawn from the territory of Ukraine, that the war in Ukraine is not a “Ukrainian conflict” but “Russian aggression,” and elections in Donbas are not possible in the current situation.

It declares that Russia bears full responsibility for the occupied territories and rules out the return of the Russian delegation to PACE before the Minsk agreements are implemented and territorial integrity of Ukraine is restored. 

This comes as welcome news to Ukrainians after PACE President Pedro Agramunt called to return the Russian delegation to the Assembly on 10 October. Mr.Agramunt was absent during the voting for the two resolutions, summarized below:

Rapporteur: Marieluise Beck, Germany. Supported by 87 members.

The Assembly:

  • formulates that Russia is responsible for the population of the occupied territories and must guarantee the human rights of all inhabitants of Crimea and of the “DNR” and “LNR”;
  • notes that severe human rights violations are taking place in Crimea and the “DNR” and “LNR” and that repressions against Crimean Tatars are a threat to their very existence;
  • notes that under international law, amnesty cannot be provided to perpetrators of serious human rights violations in Donbas;
  • urges Russia to end repressive actions against people loyal to the Ukrainian authorities, restore the historical rights of the Crimean Tatars and to enable the re-establishment of the rule of law in the whole of eastern Ukraine;
  • urges Russia to transfer convicted Ukrainian citizens to Ukraine upon their wish and stop bringing Crimeans without Russian citizenship to Russia;
  • considers that in the current situation, elections are not possible in the “LNR” and “DNR”;
  • calls the international community to refrain from placing demands on Ukraine the fulfillment of which would cement the unlawful status quo.

These last two calls are especially good news for Ukraine, the population of which had felt that their government was under western pressure to conduct elections in the “DNR” and “LNR” before Russia withdraws from this territory, which would effectively open the country to Russia’s further destabilization from within.

Resolution 2132 (2016): Political consequences of the Russian aggression in Ukraine

Rapporteur: Kristýna Zelienková, Czech Republic. Supported by 82 members. Importantly, this resolution was renamed from “Political Consequences of the Conflict in Ukraine” to “Political consequences of the Russian aggression in Ukraine,” leaving no room for vague interpretations.

The Assembly:

  • calls on the Russian authorities to un-ban the Mejlis, allow Ukraine to regain control of Crimea, condemns and does not recognize the results of the illegal Duma elections held on 18 September in occupied Crimea;
  • asks Russia to withdraw its troops from the territory of Ukraine and stop military supplies to the separatists;
  • underlines that for elections to be held, full access of the OSCE SMM to entire Donbas is required and border to be sealed, Russian troops, mercenaries, and weapons have to be withdrawn;
  • calls to release all captured persons;
  • calls to ensure accountability for serious human rights violations committed during the conflict;
  • calls to maintain international pressure, including sanctions, Russia ceases its aggression and Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders have been restored.

The resolution also lists a number of requirements for Ukraine, in particular – to follow international standards regarding media pluralism and the political opposition and combat corruption.

Previously, PACE had released four resolutions regarding Russia’s aggression in Ukraine over 2014 and 2015 – resolution 1990, 2034, and 2063. Russia had not implemented a single call in the resolutions. In 2016, PACE adopted resolution 2112 calling on Russia to release all captured Ukrainian prisoners.

On 12 October 2016, PACE called on the Russian authorities to implement the demands formulated in these resolutions and resolved that only “significant and measurable progress” towards their implementation can contribute to the reinstation of the Russian delegation at PACE.

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