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'Without Further Delay': European Parliament Calls On Russia To Release Detained Ukrainians


Ukrainian sailors sit inside the defendants' cage prior to a hearing at a court in Moscow on July 17.
Ukrainian sailors sit inside the defendants' cage prior to a hearing at a court in Moscow on July 17.

BRUSSELS – The European Parliament has overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling on Russian authorities “to release without further delay and unconditionally all illegally and arbitrarily detained Ukrainian citizens both in Russia and in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.”

The nonbinding resolution, which was backed in the July 18 vote by all major groups in the chamber, said Moscow should provide for the safe return of Ukrainian detainees -- including demonstrators who were arrested on Moscow's Red Square on July 10 and the 24 crew members of Ukrainian Navy ships who were captured near the Kerch Strait by Russian forces in 2018.

The resolution was the first text about Russia to be passed by the newly elected European Parliament.

It calls on Russia "to publish a full list of prisoners held in occupied Ukrainian territories" in eastern Ukraine and "facilitate their contact with families and lawyers.”

It also says that “Russian courts, whether military or civilian, are not entitled to judge acts committed outside the internationally recognized territory of Russia," and it points out that "judicial proceedings in such cases cannot be regarded as legitimate.”

The resolution also calls for the European Union to establish “a permanent monitoring of the trials of victims of political persecution in the Russian Federation and the occupied Crimea.”

It says EU member states should organize “missions involving independent physicians to Ukrainian citizens who are detained by political motivation” in Russia and Russian-annexed Crimea to monitor their detention conditions and their health.

It also says the EU should consider sanctions on individuals “responsible for detention and trial of the political prisoners” in Russia and Russian-occupied Crimea.

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    Rikard Jozwiak

    Rikard Jozwiak is the Europe editor for RFE/RL in Prague, focusing on coverage of the European Union and NATO. He previously worked as RFE/RL’s Brussels correspondent, covering numerous international summits, European elections, and international court rulings. He has reported from most European capitals, as well as Central Asia.