Ukrainian activists appealed to British experts & politicians to help free Kremlin’s hostages

On 20 November 2017, a set of events dedicated to freeing Ukrainians illegally imprisoned by Russia took place in London. Ukrainian human rights lawyer from the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union Nadiya Volkova and Euromaidan Press managing editor Alya Shandra, together with British Conservative MP and hybrid war specialist Robert Seely, participated in a debate in the House of Commons, where they told about Ukrainian political prisoners as an instrument of Russia’s hybrid war against Ukraine, and discussed possible solutions to freeing them.

Alya Shandra, managing editor of Euromaidan Press, addresses the audience during the debate on the Russian hybrid war and its Ukrainian hostages. London, UK Parliament, 20 November 2017

The visitors of the debate had the opportunity to view an exhibition prepared by the Media Initiative for Human Rights, which highlighted the specific facts of severe human rights violations in the cases of the Ukrainian prisoners of the Kremlin on the examples of concrete cases and tendencies to violation of fundamental rights, in which Russia defied nearly all articles of the European Convention.

The participants of the debates emphasized that Russia’s hybrid war is multi-faceted and unpredictable, and that the country uses a set of non-military means to achieve a military goal: the subjugation of Ukraine. Russia takes Ukrainian hostages for the goal of showing them in propaganda media as imaginary terrorists, extremists, spies, saboteurs, and with this ensuring the support of Russians for Russia’s undeclared war against Ukraine.

The activists stressed that the UK could help free Ukrainian political prisoners through:

  • adopting targeted sanctions against those responsible for torture used against the victims and fabrication of their cases,
  • applying universal jurisdiction,
  • attracting more international attention to the cases of the political prisoners,
  • assisting in the creation of an international platform to negotiate their future release.
Posters on the Ukrainian prisoners of the Kremlin prepared by the Media Initiative for Human Rights at the British Parliament

Posters on the Ukrainian prisoners of the Kremlin prepared by the Media Initiative for Human Rights at the British Parliament

During the discussion, it was mentioned that after Brexit, Britain will reintroduce the EU’s sanctions lists on a bilateral basis, which can be a good opportunity for its supplementing with additional entities of those responsible for the torture of the Ukrainians. It was also noted that Britain has already adopted a law allowing to arrest the British assets of foreign human rights abusers, which can also be applied to the offenders in the cases of Ukrainian political prisoners. The idea of boycotting the 2018 FIFA World Cup was mentioned as an additional instrument of pressure on Moscow into releasing the hostages.

Apart from the parliamentary debates, a meeting was held in the Chatham House analytical center, at the Foreign Office. Alya Shandra also granted an interview to Sky News, where she suggested that the British Foreign Minister raised the topic of Ukrainian political prisoners at his next meeting with Vladimir Putin.

We thank the organizers, the Embassy of Ukraine to the UK, Chatham House, the British-Ukrainian Society for the possibility to raise the problem of Ukrainians unjustly jailed by Russia in London.

You can view the exhibition or download & print it below:

Download online version; Download hi-res for print

Download online version; Download hi-res for print