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“Thousands Detained”: OSCE Report Details Russia’s Large-Scale Detention of Ukrainian Civilians

The report calls for the immediate release of thousands of detainees, including OSCE staff members.

Russia has been arbitrarily detaining civilian Ukrainians since 2014. The crimes are stated by the new report of OSCE Moscow Mechanism presented on April 25 in Vienna.

The Moscow Mechanism is a special procedure developed by the OSCE in 1991 that allows for independent international missions to study information on human rights violations and crimes against humanity.

The newly released report states Russia’s detention of civilians started with the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 and continued after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, occurring on a massive scale: “Arbitrary deprivation of liberty of Ukrainian civilians started in the unlawfully annexed Crimea in spring of 2014 and quickly spread to the areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions controlled by the so-called People’s Republics.”

Since the outbreak of the full-scale invasion on 24 February 2022, this practice has become pervasive in all the areas that have got under the temporary occupation of the Russian Federation.”

The EU statement on the Russian Federation’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine reiterated its concern about Russia’s unlawful detention of Ukrainian civilians: “We remain gravely concerned about the fate and well-being of the thousands of Ukrainian civilians that have been arbitrarily detained by Russia since 2014”.

The statement has also demanded the release of detained OSCE staff members: “We would like to reiterate our strong call on Russia to immediately release all individuals arbitrarily deprived of their liberty, including the three OSCE staff members who have been held captive since April 2022”.

The ongoing war makes it impossible to establish the exact number of detained civilians, but the Mission has concluded that this number is large and can be measured in the thousands.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba welcomed the report of the OSCE Moscow Mechanism on the arbitrary detention of Ukrainian civilians by Russia.

“This important document rings an alarm bell about Russia’s systematic and widespread campaign of taking civilian hostages in Ukraine’s occupied territories,” Kuleba wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

Kuleba emphasized that the report shows evidence of Russia’s systematic and consistent pattern of targeting Ukrainian civilians.

“The document will become an important element in the work of national and international judicial bodies aimed at identifying specific individuals who should be held criminally responsible,” Kuleba added.

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