The presentation took place on April 28, 2017, in Kyiv.
The problem of release of captives is vital for Ukraine. The negotiation process has been giving no results for a long time. During 2017, no one was released. Relatives of the hostages continue to struggle and hope for results.
Experts of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, Media Initiative for Human Rights, Global Rights Compliance and Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group presented their view of the situation as the concept of Ukrainian citizens’ return, who are under the control of the Russian Federation and were captured as a result of the armed conflict. On April 28, 2017, the concept was presented to representatives of foreign embassies in Ukraine and international organizations. The concept is available to the public in English under the link.
Arkadiy Bushchenko, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, told about the history of the concept and its background. He also stressed the need to support the victims of the conflict in eastern Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea by the international community.
Nadia Volkova, a lawyer of the Strategic Litigations Center of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, presented the main points of the concept.These are separation of political and humanitarian issues in the negotiations, recognition of the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine by adopting a law on the occupied territories; recognizing the status of captives, hostages, political prisoners and prisoners for political reasons, missing persons by adopting a separate law. The expert stressed that this is unacceptable to use captives and hostages as bargaining things in negotiations.
Victoriia Pantyushenko told about her story. Her husband Bohdan Pantyushenko, a soldier of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, is a captive of illegal armed groups in Donetsk Oblast since January 2015. Victoriia said that she has no contacts with her husband; she does not have the possibility to give him medicine and food.
Mariia Tomak, Coordinator of the Media Initiative for Human Rights, mentioned the lack of a single platform to discuss issues of captives in Crimea and Russia. Also, the expert noted that no public authority in Ukraine is responsible for the coordination and defense of political prisoners and prisoners for political reasons.
Tamara Klykh, mother of convicted in Russia Stanislav Klykh,and Ihor Kotelianets, brother of detained in Crimea Yevgen Panov also shared thier stories. They stressed the brutal tortures that are used by the Russian Federation to the captives in order to obtain informative evidence. Ihor Kotelianets also described the newly established association of relatives of captives.
Wayne Jordash, Managing Partner of Global Rights Compliance, pointed out that the only state strategy about the armed conflict in Crimea and eastern Ukraine will strengthen the position of the state in international courts. Also according to the experts, special attention should be given to collecting evidence against aggressor states.