The Federation Council adopts a statement on the violation of Russian citizens’ voting rights by Ukrainian authorities

Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko proposed instructing the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs to draft a White Book on violations of international law, human rights and freedom of expression in Ukraine.

The senators adopted the statement as a response to the violation of Russian citizens’ voting rights by Ukrainian authorities. First Deputy Chair of the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs, Vladimir Dzhabarov, addressed this matter in his remarks at the Federation Council meeting and read out the statement draft.

In the statement, the Federation Council expressed its indignation over the actions by Ukrainian authorities, who failed to ensure Russian citizens’ access to voting stations, located in Russian diplomatic and consular missions in Ukraine, during the Russian presidential election.

“By acting this way, the Ukrainian authorities committed a grave violation of their commitments under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, the 1993 Consular Convention between the Russian Federation and Ukraine, as well as a violation of Russian citizens’ voting rights along with the universal principles and norms of international law, enshrined in the UN Charter, the 1950 Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and other instruments,” the Federation Council statement said.

The Federation Council stated with regret that since the 2014 government coup Ukraine’s political system has been degrading, paving the way to increasingly objectionable decisions and statements by the country’s authorities. Earlier, Ukrainian authorities de facto abetted radical nationalist groups who attacked opposition politicians and Russian-speaking Ukrainian citizens, committed acts of vandalism against Orthodox churches, buildings hosting Russian official missions and other Russian organisations and companies.

“On March 18, 2018, by hindering access for Russian citizens to diplomatic and consular missions of the Russian Federation, where voting stations were created, the Ukrainian authorities initiated and committed hostile acts against foreign citizens and official missions of a sovereign state,” the Federation Council said in the statement.

In the document, the Federation Council noted that, guided by exaggerated political ambitions, the Ukrainian authorities were trying to question the legitimacy of the Russian presidential election in the Republic of Crimea and the federal city of Sevastopol, which are Russian constituent entities. Kiev formally threatened residents of the Republic of Crimea and the federal city of Sevastopol, as well as citizens of other countries who had visited these constituent entities of the Russian Federation. Kiev also advised these countries’ governments on how to respond to visits of this kind.

“The Federation Council strongly believes that the infringement on Russian citizens’ voting rights by the anti-democratic Kiev regime should not be left unnoticed by the international community and deserves a corresponding response. The Chamber expects international observer missions at the Russian presidential election to take into consideration and mention in their reports on the March 18, 2018 vote that Ukrainian authorities de facto prevented this vote from taking place at the diplomatic and consular missions of the Russian Federation in Ukraine,” the statement said.

The Federation Council called on the United Nations, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, parliaments of OSCE member countries, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the European Parliament to condemn Ukraine’s actions, which violated the voting rights of Russian citizens, as well as the universal norms and principles of international law.

A number of senators took the floor during the discussion of the Federation Council statement. Deputy Chair of the Federation Council Committee on Defence and Security, Alexei Kondratyev, expressed his indignation over the persecution and repression of political rights of Russians in Ukraine. “We must be proactive in asking international institutions to condemn actions of this kind by Ukrainian authorities.”

First Deputy Chair of the Federation Council Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State Building, Lyudmila Bokova, qualified the disrupted voting by Russian citizens in Ukraine as an egregious violation of international law that was unprecedented in contemporary history.

Member of the Federation Council Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State Building, Alexei Pushkov, noted that international parliamentary organisations and Western countries were usually passive when it came to dealing with matters of this kind, thereby shielding Ukraine from any accusations of violating international law.

Member of the Federation Council Committee on Defence and Security, Olga Kovitidi, said that Ukraine encouraged terrorism and was a danger not just for Russia but for all European countries.

First Deputy Chair of the Federation Council Committee on Federal Structure, Regional Policy, Local Government and Northern Affairs, Stepan Kirichuk, supported his colleagues, saying that the Federation Council statement was a timely initiative.

Deputy Chair of the Federation Council Committee on House Rules and Parliamentary Governance, Sergei Mamedov, described the incident as an unprecedented violation of fundamental international rights by Ukrainian authorities.

Deputy Chair of the Federation Council Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State Building, Yelena Afanasyeva, said she believed that Ukraine’s actions were akin to outright state-level banditry in breach of all international commitments.

Summing up the discussion, Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko proposed instructing the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs to draft a White Book on violations of international law, journalists’ rights, human rights, and the freedom of expression in Ukraine. “We need to bring to the attention of all international structures a detailed review demonstrating all kinds of outrageous violations of international norms and rules. We cannot stand aside.”

Following the debate, the senators adopted a resolution to this effect.