Russia must release all illegally held Ukrainian mayors - joint statement of 40 states

Russia must release all illegally held Ukrainian mayors - joint statement of 40 states

Russia must stop persecuting representatives of local communities in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine and release all those illegally detained, including mayors.

That’s according to a joint statement on the situation of Ukrainian mayors, delivered by UK's Ambassador to the WTO and UN in Geneva, Simon Manley, at Human Rights Council, Ukrinform reports citing the British Government press service.

“The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action emphasizes the international community’s dismay at the use of summary and arbitrary executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions and torture. Reports of Ukrainian civilians being detained arbitrarily by Russia’s forces are shocking, and numerous,” rapporteur said.

According to these reports, civilians often face inhuman or degrading treatment, torture and inadequate conditions.

Read also: A year ago, world saw truth about Russia: Zelensky publishes photos of tortured Ukrainians

The envoy has emphasized the fact that Russia has systematically gone after prominent members of local communities in every Ukrainian territory it has attempted to illegally annex.

“This is part of Russia’s strategy to suppress dissent and to assert its control by menacing the local population. Those taken include journalists, activists, religious officials and local leaders,” Manley said.

At least 30 mayors have been detained since the invasion on February 24, 2022. At least six remain in Russia’s custody, according to the report.

Among others, Manley recalled Ihor Kolykhaiev, Mayor of Kherson, who was taken by Russia’s forces in June 2022. Since then, his family has relied on testimony from other detainees, upon their release, to hear news of his condition.

“The international community will not ignore violations of international law, including arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances. Russia must confirm who it is holding, where, and why. It must cease committing enforced disappearances and release all who have been detained in contravention of international law. And it must respect all of its commitments under the VDPA [The Vienna Declaration and Program of Action],” the ambassador said.

Read also: Ombudsperson: Ukraine abides by Geneva Convention in treating Russian POWs

The statement was delivered on behalf of 40 countries: UK, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Bosnia and Herzegovina, New Zealand, Australia, North Macedonia, Georgia, Albania. Canada, USA, Iceland, Ukraine, Japan, and Moldova.

As Ukrinform reported earlier, at least 644 people were subjected to violent abductions in Kherson region during Russia’s full-scale invasion.

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