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‘International institutions must protect Ukrainians from abductions and executions’, Ukrainian SCOs

15.03.2022

We, representatives of Ukrainian NGOs, appeal to the international community in connection with the abductions and executions of Ukrainian activists, human rights defenders, volunteers, journalists, representatives of local self-government bodies living in the Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, Kyiv, Luhansk, and Kherson regions partially occupied by the Russian army.

On February 24, 2022, the full-scale war of the Russian Federation against Ukraine began. This has already resulted in thousands of civilian casualties, massive internal displacement, and departure of millions of Ukrainians abroad. As a result of hostilities, part of the populated localities of the south and east of Ukraine came under the temporary control of the troops of the Russian Federation. In these areas, the occupying forces seek to establish control, and thus take measures to intimidate the local population.

Over the past week, we have been documenting “arrests” and, in fact, abductions of Ukrainian activists, volunteers, journalists, and representatives of local self-government bodies in Hostomel, Kherson, Berdyansk, Melitopol, Volnovakha, Nova Kakhovka, and other Russian-occupied populated localities. There are also known cases of murders of Ukrainian activists.

On March 7, it became known that the Russian military shot dead Yuriy Prylypko, mayor of Hostomel town (Kyiv region), and two volunteers, Ruslan Karpenko and Ivan Zorya, while they were giving out humanitarian aid to people.

At least three people have been abducted in Melitopol, Zaporizhzhia region, including Mayor Ivan Fedorov on March 11, activist Olha Haisumova on March 12, and chairman of the district council Serhiy Pryima on March 13.

Activist Serhiy Tsyhipa went missing in Nova Kakhovka (Kherson region) on March 12, and local journalist Oleh Baturin disappeared in neighboring Kakhovka on the evening of the same day.

It became known about the abduction of Mayor Yevheniy Matveyev in the town of Dniprorudne (Zaporizhzhia region) on March 13.

The contact with them was lost, but there is credible evidence that they were detained by the Russian military. There are well-founded suspicions that abducted activists and local government officials are being subjected to intimidation and torture.

In addition, according to MP Dmytro Lubinets, Russian military “arrested” more than 20 Ukrainian activists in Volnovakha. Moreover, according to him, all these activists were on the lists covered by numerous Western media in February – the lists of activists to be “killed or sent to camps” after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

On March 13, it became known about the murder of a volunteer, Ukrainian activist Oleksandr Kononov, who was shot dead by Russian military in his own house in the village of Borivske near Severodonetsk, the Luhansk region. In 2014, Oleksandr Kononov spent 98 days in captivity of the so-called “LPR” militants. He was a person with disabilities, he had one arm and one leg.

Such actions of the Russian army, which temporarily controls certain populated localities in the north, south, and east of Ukraine, show a desire to intimidate local residents who resist the occupation, persuade them to cooperate, and the intention to take revenge on Ukrainian activists, human rights activistsб and local leaders for their pro-Ukrainian stance.

Disregard and passive reaction of the international community to the manifestations of Russian aggression will lead to a scale of human rights violations, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, including an increase in enforced disappearances and killings. In addition, citizens of other countries, including Belarusian activists, foreign journalists, and other persons legally staying in Ukraine, will also be at risk.

We demand that, in particular, International Committee of the Red Cross, UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Council of Europe Steering Committee on Media and Information Society, PACE Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, PACE Chief Rapporteur on Situation of Human Rights Defenders, representatives of the EU, European External Action Service, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, within the framework of all possible powers and mandates from the international community, should:

Take actions to protect Ukrainian civilians who are at additional risk in connection with their public, volunteer, civic activities, work in local self-government bodies or governmet agencies

Force the Russian Federation to comply with the provisions of Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, Additional Protocol (I) to the Geneva Conventions, Hague Convention (IV) respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land and its annex, and to end human rights violations

Call on the Russian Federation to immediately release all illegally detained persons in the territories of Ukraine temporarily occupied by the Russian army, including activists, journalists, and representatives of local self-government bodies

Disseminate information about the abduction, intimidation, and forced detention of civilians by the Russian army, including activists, journalists, and representatives of local self-government bodies of Ukraine

Signatories

ZMINA Human Rights Center

NGO “GROUP OF INFLUENCE”

Vostok SOS Charity Foundation

Charity Foundation Stabilization Support Services

NGO “Donbas SOS”

NGO “CrimeaSOS”

Crimean Human Rights Group

Center for Civil Liberties

Ukrainian Legal Aid Foundation

NGO “Human Rights Platform”

All-Ukrainian Charitable Foundation “The Right to Protection”

Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

Directors Guild of Ukraine

National Union of Journalists of Ukraine

NGO “SIMP”

NGO “ORGANIZATION OF IDPS NECESSARY PEOPLE”

Charitable Foundation “MEETING THE PEOPLE OF SUMY REGION”

NGO “AGRU”

NGO “Human Rights Center “ACTION”

NGO “MART”

CHESNO movement

NGO “Civic Network “OPORA”

NGO Kremenchuk Information and Education Center “European Club”

NGO “Information Press Center”

NGO “Media Center IPC -Kherson”

NGO “Tochka Dostupu”

NGO “Volyn Institute of Law”

Volyn Institute of Support and Community Initiatives Development

NGO “Association for Support and Development of Association of Co-Owners of Apartment Buildings and Bodies of Self-Organization of Population”

Charity Foundation “Social Innovation Foundation”

NGO “Volyn Chamber of Young Entrepreneurs and Professionals”

Association “Public Initiatives of Ukraine”

NGO “Our Podillya”

NGO “Center of Joint Action”

NGO “Egida – Center” (Kryvyi Rih)

NGO “Time to Gather Ukrainians”, Mykolaiv

NGO “Sosnytsia Horizons”, Sosnytsia urban-type settlement

Educational Human Rights House Chernihiv

Charity Foundation LASKA, Mykolaiv

Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group

NGO Spilno HUB (Zaporizhzhia)

NGO Donbas Initiative Mist

ISAR Ednannia

Association of Relatives of Political Prisoners of the Kremlin

International Non-Governmental Organization “Foundation for Research and Support of Indigenous Peoples of Crimea”

Civil Movement “Vira, Nadiia, Liubov”

International Charitable Foundation “AIDS Foundation East-West” (AFEW-Ukraine)

NGO “Regional Center for Human Rights”

NGO “Human Rights Vector”

NGO “Ukraine without Torture”

NGO “Blue Bird”

NGO Center “Women’s Perspectives”

NGO “Theater of Change”

All-Ukrainian Association of Local Self-Government Bodies “Association of Ukrainian Cities”

Media Club of Zaporizhzhia Region (Prymorsk, Zaporizhzhia, Melitopol)

Roma radio Chiriklo (Ukraine)

Human Rights House Crimea

GO “INVISIBLE”

Media Initiative for Human Rights

NGO “Crimean Tatar Resource Center”

NGO “Cherkasy Human Rights Center”

NGO Human Rights Association “Right Cause”

Initiative “Who ordered Katia Handziuk?”

All-Ukrainian NGO Human Rights Defender

Charity Association “Another”

Open Dialogue Foundation

NGO “Social Action Centre”

NGO “Institute of Mass Information”

Center for Social Initiatives ATOM

NGO “Zakarpattia-Donbas”

Zakarpattia Region Resource Center

NGO “Kolping’s Case in Ukraine”

NGO Center for Support of Civic and Cultural Initiatives “Tamarisk”

NGO “From Dream to Action”

NGO Kyiv educational center “Tolerspace”

NGO “Roma Human Rights Center”

NGO “La Strada-Ukraine”

NGO “International Society for Human Rights – Ukrainian Section”

Ternopil Human Rights Group

NGO “Docudays”

Charity Organisatin “Mercy and Health Foundation”

NGO “Helsinki Initiative – XXI”

Regional Public Charitable Foundation “Law and Democracy”

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