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OSCE activates 'Moscow Mechanism' for Ukraine's civilian hostages in Russia

OSCE activates 'Moscow Mechanism' for Ukraine's civilian hostages in Russia Photo: Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba (Vitalii Nosach, RBC-Ukraine)

The member states of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) initiated the use of the so-called 'Moscow Mechanism' to investigate the detention of Ukrainian civilians by Russia, according to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba.

"I welcome the invocation of the Moscow Mechanism by the overwhelming majority of OSCE States to address Russia’s arbitrary detention of Ukrainian civilians.," he wrote.

According to the minister, during this war, Russia took thousands of peaceful Ukrainian citizens hostage in the temporarily occupied territories. And these people "are the most vulnerable and internationally overlooked group."

"I anticipate that invoking the OSCE Moscow Mechanism will assist us in determining the true scope of this crime and establishing facts. This is the first existing international mechanism invoked on the matter. Earlier, I urged OSCE, the UN, and other international organizations to use all tools and establish new ones, if needed, to address the problem of Ukrainian civilian hostages and facilitate their release," Kuleba noted.

The minister added that he would continue to call on all international organizations, public organizations and mass media to pay more attention to Ukrainian civilian hostages held by Russia.

"We will continue to make every effort to free them all, and I am grateful to our partners for their strong support in this regard. Every single Russian crime must be investigated and the perpetrators held accountable," Kuleba concluded.

'Moscow Mechanism' and its role in Russian war against Ukraine

The 'Moscow Mechanism' of the OSCE provides an opportunity for member states to send missions of experts to assist in solving a specific issue or problem related to the human dimension of the OSCE.

As for Russia, the 'Moscow Mechanism' was specifically engaged by the OSCE on March 30, 2023. At that time, forty-five member states of the Organization initiated the use of a mechanism to investigate the deportation of children from the territories of Ukraine occupied by the Russian Federation.

Thousands of Ukrainian civilians are captives of Russia

According to Andrii Yusov, a representative of the Defense Intelligence of Ukraine, Russia is holding thousands of Ukrainian civilians in captivity both on its own territory and on the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine.

Earlier, the media compiled a list of penal colonies where Ukrainian citizens were held in Russia and the occupied territories. It includes 34 institutions in 17 regions of Russia and two pre-trial detention centers in occupied Simferopol.

By the way, last year the Ombudsman of Ukraine Dmytro Lubinets said that more than 140 Ukrainian civilians returned home as part of all prisoner exchanges.