During my working visit to Ukraine, having studied on the spot the situation with the dissemination in the Ukrainian media of inaccurate information about the actions of the EOI aimed at protecting the rights and freedoms of Ukrainian sailors captured by the Russian border guards on November 25, 2018, I consider it necessary to state the following:

European Ombudsman Institute (EOI):

– sharing the concern expressed in PACE Resolution No. 2198 of January 28, 2018;

– as well as guided by paragraphs 10.5 and 10.6 of this Resolution, urging the Russian side to release all Ukrainian prisoners in prisons of the Russian Federation and in the annexed Crimea, and until they are released, allow their state of health and detention conditions to be monitored by independent international observers and international organizations;

Appealed to the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation, Mrs. Tatiana Moskalkova to grant EOI the possibility to conduct independent international monitoring and mediation.

When conducting international monitoring, the EIO acts independently on the issues of observance and protection of human rights, using “quiet diplomacy” methods, based on the fact that human rights and freedoms have no boundaries and are guided exclusively by international standards of human rights and freedoms. Thereby, we promote these standards without making any policy on this. In matters of resolving conflict situations that require our participation, we act exclusively in the interests of human rights and the destiny of specific people.

In our letter from December 7, 2018, the EOI pointed out the escalating situation in the Azov-Black Sea basin, in particular – the military incident on November 25, 2018 and the detention of three Ukrainian ships with 24 sailors on board and urged the Russian Federation Commissioner for Human Rights to promote de-escalation of the conflict, taking steps to prevent and stop the violation of human rights and freedoms, including the return of all those detained and arrested during this conflict.

In the response from Mrs. Tatiana Moskalkova dated January 30, 2019 special attention was paid to the situation regarding the three wounded Ukrainian sailors A. Artemenko, V. Soroka and A. Eider. The EIO requested a joint visit to the wounded Ukrainian seamen, along with Nina Karpachova, the Vice-President of the EOI, mandated by the EOI to monitor human rights in Ukraine and the Russian Federation.

As a result of the joint visit of N. Karpachova together with T. Moskalkova to the Lefortovo pretrial detention facility No. 2 in Moscow to the wounded Ukrainian sailors, concrete results were achieved in the interests of the three wounded sailors: each of them was provided with additional medical examinations in civilian medical institutions in Moscow on high-tech special equipment, which allowed A. Artemenko and A. Eider to prescribe additional courses of treatment for the effects of their injuries, and V. Soroka to receive operational surgical treatment to restore the functions of the hand in order to avoid a possible disability.

In this regard, we are highly concerned by the position of the some Ukrainian politicians, as well as individual lawyers of Ukrainian sailors, who tried to politicize the mission of the EOI and its official representative N. Karpachova through the media, deliberately distorting this mission and putting forward unfounded speculations about the alleged actions of the EOI in the interests of one of the parties to the conflict.

We believe that such actions are obviously confrontational in nature, do not comply with the tasks formulated by the PACE to de-escalate the conflict, and aimed at undermining confidence in the activities of the EOI, discredit it, and ultimately make harm to the security and protection of the rights and freedoms of the Ukrainian sailors. Excessive publicity, and especially the scandalousness in such situations, harms and makes impossible a constructive dialogue between the ombudsman institutions of Ukraine and Russia, creates additional barriers for effective actions in protecting the rights and freedoms of citizens of both countries.

We declare that the Vice-President of the EOI N. Karpachova from the beginning of her mission and so far has been acting solely on behalf of the Board and the Secretary General of the EOI. To carry out this mission, she was issued a special mandate. The EOI supports the position of the Union of Lawyers of Ukraine, set out in the Statement of February 18, 2019 regarding the actions of Nina Karpachova to protect the rights of Ukrainian sailors.

The European Ombudsman Institute is an international non-governmental, politically neutral organization with a consultative status to the Council of Europe, which unites representatives of the human rights community of more than 67 countries. Its main tasks are: to facilitate the exchange of experience in the promotion and protection of human rights, to expand the field of action of these rights, to cooperate with international and national institutions in order to promote and ensure human rights and freedoms.

We urge to abandon the rhetoric of confrontation and politicization of the protection of human rights and freedoms, to act in this case from the point of view of ensuring and protecting a specific person whose rights and freedoms are violated, to move to dialogue and join efforts to use the best human rights practices in order to protect the rights of the Ukrainian sailors to life and health, as well as promote their speedy release and return home.

We will also protect human rights directly and will also keep in the future our independent status.

Dr. Joseph Siegele,

The General Secretary of the EOI

 Kyiv, February 28, 2019