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Russia Must Release Ukrainian Hostages


Russia Ukrainian Prisoner Nadiya Savchenko. (File)

The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the continued detention of Nadiya Savchenko, Oleksander Kolchenko, and Oleg Sentsov.

The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the continued detention of Nadiya Savchenko, Oleksander Kolchenko, and Oleg Sentsov, said U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Daniel Baer.

Ms. Savchenko, a Ukrainian military pilot, stands accused of directing artillery fire that killed two Russian journalists, Igor Kornelyuk and Anton Voloshin, during fighting in eastern Ukraine. She faces 25 years in prison on charges of murder, attempted murder and illegally crossing the border. Ambassador Baer called her so-called trial in Donetsk, Russia a "travesty of justice." He also expressed deep concern by the "misuse of the Russian judicial system."

Last month, a Russian court sentenced Oleg Sentsov, a pro-Ukrainian film director from Crimea, to 20 years in prison over accusations that he planned terrorist acts after the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March 2014. Amnesty International described proceedings as "redolent of Stalinist-era show trials."The rights group also noted that "credible allegations of torture and other ill-treatment" were ignored by the court.Mr. Sentsov's alleged accomplice, activist Oleksander Kolchenko, was sentenced to 10 years.

Ambassador Baer called on Russia to immediately dismiss baseless charges and convictions against Savchenko and all of the Ukrainian hostages it holds and release them.These hostages, said Ambassador Baer, have not been forgotten, nor have any of the other Ukrainian hostages detained on baseless charges by Russia.

The continued detention of Ukrainian hostages is directly contrary to the commitments Russia made in the Minsk peace plan struck in February, under which Russia and Ukraine agreed to exchange all hostages and unlawfully detained people. Sanctions against Russia will remain in place until all these innocent hostages are released.

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