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Russian parliament to review statement on journalists detained in Ukraine

May 21, 2014, 12:22 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Russian lawmakers also hope that OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic will make all efforts within her mandate to prevent such situations in the future

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Russian State Duma building in Moscow

Russian State Duma building in Moscow

© ITAR-TASS/Vyacheslav Prokofyev

MOSCOW, May 21. /ITAR-TASS/. Leaders of the four factions at the Russian parliament and the house speaker have submitted for review on Wednesday a draft statement on the detention of Russian journalists in Ukraine.

"The statement is ready; it has been signed by State Duma speaker Sergei Naryshkin and heads of all the factions," A Just Russia leader Sergei Mironov told reporters on Wednesday. The document will be presented by chairman of the house committee on international affairs Alexei Pushkov (United Russia faction).

He underlined that the detention of Russian journalists had violated all norms of international law and human rights.

Initially, the text was drawn by United Russia lawmakers. It condemns the inhuman treatment of LifeNews reporters Marat Saichenko and Oleg Sidyakin and calls for immediate release of the captured journalists and punishment of those who violated their right to the performance of their professional duties.

The lawmakers pointed out that "violations of law against mass media representatives are becoming customary for the incumbent Kiev authorities, who declare unsubstantiated commitment to democratic principles where free media are an inalienable part."

In this connection, they urged the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) whose human rights practice and purpose, in connection with the Ukrainian events, has been increasingly disappointing causing doubts as to the sincerity of declared European values and ideas, "to raise its voice in defense of the freedom of expression in Ukraine."

Russian parliamentarians also hope that OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic will make all efforts within her mandate to prevent such situations in the future.

"State Duma deputies are expecting resolute measures towards securing the release of Russian journalists from the western capital without whose silent consent and connivance the incumbent Kiev authorities would not have dared to resort to reprisals against mass media representatives," the State Duma statement said.

LifeNews reporters Oleg Sidyakin and Marat Saichenko were detained by Ukraine's National Guard near Kramatorsk, Donetsk region. They last communicated with their colleagues on May 18.

Ukraine's Deputy Secretary of National Defense and Security Council Viktoria Syumar accused the detainees of abetting terrorism.

On Tuesday, Russia's presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that "all available instruments were in use in the efforts to secure the release of the LifeNews reporters."

According to Peskov, "the Foreign Ministry has taken all the necessary measures." This involves OSCE mechanisms, the necessary demarches at the bilateral level and assistance of ombudspersons' public organizations, Peskov said.

Russian ombudswoman Ella Pamfilova and Human Rights Council head Mikhail Fedotov expressed indignation at the detention of journalists. They urged their Ukrainian colleague Valeria Lutkovskaya to contribute to their release.

Meanwhile, members of the Federation Council upper house of Russia's parliament have proposed to set up a commission for release of the detainees.

FC member Igor Morozov reminded that a month ago, the house had raised the issue of release of Ukrainian public opinion leaders "detained by the Ukrainian Security Service and taken to Kiev prisons." At that time, the detainees were few, but now their number has increased by dozens of times," he said.

"We have to raise this issue at all levels, in our public speeches and at meetings in parliamentary assemblies where we're represented," Morozov said. "This reflects Russia's support of the Council of Europe's human rights convention and loses our PACE colleagues the right to talk about democracy which exists in Ukraine today."

In this context, the FC member suggested setting up a commission, together with the Russian Foreign Ministry and the ombudsperson for the release of the people illegally detained in the Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk.

For her part, Federation Council speaker Valentina Matviyenko noted a large number of political prisoners and persecution of dissidents in Ukraine.

She believes Russian legislation should use parliamentary mechanisms. "Let's be active in this area; I will support you," she told Morozov.

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