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OSCE urges Russia to release three Ukraine’s mission employees illegally held in Donetsk and Luhansk by its soldiers

The OSCE secretary general said that unjust imprisonment by Russian soldiers under harsh conditions has taken a severe toll on their employees health.
The OSCE monitoring mission in Donbas. Photo:
OSCE urges Russia to release three Ukraine’s mission employees illegally held in Donetsk and Luhansk by its soldiers

Chair-in-Office Ian Borg and Secretary General Helga Maria Schmid of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) have renewed their demand for Russia to immediately release three members of its former Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, who were unlawfully detained by Russian troops in Donetsk and Luhansk two years ago.

Three OSCE officials – Vadym Golda, Maxim Petrov, and Dmytro Shabanov – were detained in April 2022 while they were performing their duties as mandated by all 57 participating states of the organization.

Five months later, Petrov and Shabanov were sentenced to 13 years in prison following what was described as legal proceedings conducted by a Russian terrorist entity within Ukrainian territory. The legal proceedings regarding Vadym Golda are currently ongoing.

The Special Monitoring Mission of the OSCE in Ukraine began its operation on 21 March 2014 and ceased its activities on 31 March 2022. However, Russia has still not released the organization’s employees.

“This week marks two years since three OSCE officials were unjustly detained in Luhansk and Donetsk. The OSCE Chair-in-Office, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs and Trade of Malta Ian Borg, and OSCE Secretary General, Helga Maria Schmid, reiterated the demand for their immediate release and urged all members of the international community to amplify this message,” said the OSCE statement.

Secretary General Helga Maria Schmid emphasized that the detention of the organization’s personnel while they were carrying out their official duties “has been nothing less than a flagrant injustice and a violation of their human rights”

“Our position is clear: our colleagues must be freed. They must be treated humanely and with dignity. They must have access to medical care. They must be able to get in contact with their families and loved ones, and, most importantly, they must be released immediately,” the OSCE head stressed.

Helga Maria Schmid also expressed concerns about the well-being of the detained personnel, adding that their unjust imprisonment under harsh conditions has significantly affected their health.

“I would like to call on participating States to join us in our relentless efforts to secure the release of our detained colleagues and express my deep gratitude to all who have already offered their support. We will continue to do all we can and more, publicly and privately, and we will not stop until our detained colleagues are freed,” Schmid said.

Earlier, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba announced the OSCE activated the Moscow Mechanism in response to the arbitrary detention of Ukrainian civilians by the Russian army and occupation administration in occupied territories.

OSCE launches special mechanism to investigate Russia’s arbitrary detention of Ukrainian civilians

The mechanism, approved in 1991 in Moscow, allows OSCE participating states to request the formation of a special mission of independent experts to investigate specific human rights issues. Over these years, it has been activated 13 times. The mechanism’s latest activation aims to investigate the arbitrary deprivation of liberty of Ukrainian civilians by Russia.

In February 2024, Vyacheslav Volodin, Russian State Duma Speaker, claimed that Russia would suspend its membership in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE PA), describing the OSCE PA as “an absolutely dependent, politicized organization dancing to Washington’s tune.”

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