The United States remains deeply concerned about the fate of Ukrainian hostages that Russia continues to hold on Russian territory in defiance of the Minsk ceasefire agreement.
Among these is Nadiya Savchenko, a member of the Verkhovna Rada and of Ukraine's delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. She was captured by Russia-backed separatists last year and transferred to Russian custody.
Ms. Savchenko was charged in connection with a June 2014 mortar attack that killed two Russian journalists covering the conflict between government forces and Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. She has held a lengthy hunger strike, protesting her arrest and insisting the charges against her are fabricated. The United States is deeply concerned about the state of Ms. Savchenko's health and urges that she be examined by a doctor appointed by the Ukrainian embassy.
Another hostage is Oleg Sentsov. He has been held in pre-trial detention for nearly a year since his arrest in Crimea on May 11, 2014. He was arrested on trumped-up terrorism charges. It was announced on April 8 that Sentsov’s pre-trial detention would once again be extended until at least May 11.
Speaking at the hearing on April 8 in Moscow's Lefortovo District Court, Mr. Sentsov reportedly said that he could not agree with the decision to extend his custody since there hadn’t been any evidence presented of his alleged participation in or organization of terrorist activities in Crimea last year.
The fact that Ukrainian consular officials have not been able to visit Mr. Sentsov at all since his arrest compounds the illegality of Russia's actions in Crimea, said U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Daniel Baer.
The United States again calls on Russia and the separatists it backs to follow through on their Minsk commitments and release immediately Ms. Savchenko, Mr. Sentsov, and all of the other Ukrainians unlawfully detained in Russia.