28.11.2019

Releasing and resocialising the remaining Kremlin’s captives: The public develops an action plan

Religious and public figures, as well as representatives of the Government and
international organisations, discussed their further joint efforts to liberate
Ukrainian citizens taken prisoner of war or captive as a result of Russian
aggression and to rehabilitate them to civilian life.

This matter became one of the most widely discussed during a meeting of the Round
Table on Religious Freedom in Ukraine, held on November 18 in Kyiv — for the third
time this year.

 

Archbishop Eustratius, a representative of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine,
emphasised that Russia’s deceitful propaganda about the religious situation in Ukraine
and the occupied territories of Crimea and Donbas may be opposed through personal
attendance by the Ukrainian religious leaders at international events. Voices of direct
representatives from Ukraine’s religious community would sound convincing along with
the arguments from the official Ukrainian government representatives.

Religious scholar Ihor Kozlovskyi suggested that attention be paid not only to the
problem of torture, isolation and inhuman conditions of detention, particularly across the
prisons located within the occupied territories of Ukraine, but also to the need for
provision of psychological aid, pastoral care, assistance in employment and renewal of
documents to those Ukrainian citizens who have been liberated from Russian captivity
or survived torture in the occupied territories.

“Kremlin’s captives and other victims of Russian aggression hope that humiliation
and inhuman treatment experienced by them will not be forgotten. This makes
adoption of the draft Law No. 0892 essential, enabling prosecution of every criminal
who has committed crimes against humanity, whenever it may have happened,
without any statute of limitations, so that justice could be restored,” stressed
Oleksandra Matviichuk, Chairman of the Board, Centre for Civil Liberties, and the
Round Table co-coordinator.

The discussion also concentrated on the matter of enhanced interaction of religious and
civil society organisations, as well as representatives of the Ukrainian government, with
international institutions (UN, OSCE, Council of Europe, EU, etc.) on restoring the
violated rights of believers and religious communities in the occupied territories of
Crimea and Donbas.

Joint efforts by religious and civil society organisations in the field of peacebuilding were
discussed by the Round Table participants separately. In particular, attention was paid
to the issues associated with reintegration of residents from the occupied territories of
Crimea and Donbas in the Ukrainian society, decreasing the society’s polarisation,

search for common values. Father Andrii Nahirniak, Vice President of Caritas Ukraine
International Charity Foundation, and Father Serhii Dmytriiev, Head of Eleos Ukraine,
Chairman of the Social Services Commission of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches
and Religious Organisations, spoke about practical interaction implemented locally in
this field.

The outcome of the meeting was an agreement between the Round Table participants
to develop a joint action plan to cover all the events and initiatives suggested during the
discussion.

“A number of external and internal challenges facing the Ukrainian society encourage
cohesion and unity between various civil society actors, including those religious,
human rights and other civil society organisations that play a key role among them,”
stressed Oleksandr Zaiets, the Round Table moderator and Chairman of the Board,
Institute for Religious Freedom.

Apart from its regular participants, the Round Table meeting was attended by officials
from Ukrainian line authorities, representatives of foreign missions and international
organisations. A total of about 70 participants attended the event.
The Round Table meeting was held with the support of the Centre for Civil Liberties, the
British Embassy in Ukraine, and the Institute for Religious Freedom.
The next event scheduled by the Round Table on Religious Freedom in Ukraine is a
workshop for religious organisations’ representatives and human rights defenders on
the techniques of documenting religion-based crimes committed against believers in the
occupied territories of Ukraine, including the issues of information security during these
activities.

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