18:16 26.10.2016

Ukrainian ombudsman gives reasons why Sentsov and Kolchenko convicted in Russia should be extradited to Ukraine

3 min read
Ukrainian ombudsman gives reasons why Sentsov and Kolchenko convicted in Russia should be extradited to Ukraine

Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada human rights ombudsman Valeria Lutkovska has asked Russian Human Rights Commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova to intervene in the situation with the handover of Ukrainian citizens Oleh Sentsov and Oleksandr Kolchenko and look into the legal grounds for the decision to grant Russian citizenship to them.

According to a report posted on the official website of the Ukrainian ombudsman, Lutkovska has contacted Moskalkova regarding the forced granting of Russian citizenship to Ukrainian citizens who had lived in Crimea and could not contact the migration services on time to reject Russian citizenship, including because they were in detention at the time.

Lutkovska said this issue is becoming increasingly vital because Sentsov's and Kolchenko's Russian citizenship, which was granted to them automatically, is the reason why the Russian Justice Ministry refused to extradite them to Ukraine to serve their jail sentences there.

"Automatic acquisition of Russian citizenship by persons who could not deny it for various reasons is in effect forced," the Ukrainian ombudsman said in her letter.

She said Sentsov and Kolchenko could not file a statement refusing Russian citizenship with the migration services while in custody.

Lutkovska also said Part 1 of Article 6 of the European Convention on Nationality provides that citizenship can only be acquired ex lege by children and no convention envisages possibilities of forced granting of citizenship, which the automatic granting of Russian citizenship to residents of Crimea essentially is.

Lutkovska said she is convinced that automatic acquisition of citizenship by Sentsov and Kolchenko not only contradicts the international standards on citizenship issues, but also violates their right to return to their homeland.

In the meantime, the case materials included Sentsov's passport, which indicated that he had Ukrainian citizenship, and Sentsov has said more than once that he had never changed his Ukrainian citizenship and had not taken Russian citizenship.

"I once provided to your predecessor evidence that Sentsov and Kolchenko are citizens of Ukraine, and the fact that a Ukrainian consul was allowed to visit them confirms that the administration of the Russian Federation has admitted that Oleh Sentsov and Oleksandr Kolchenko have Ukrainian citizenship. Moreover, Ella Pamfilova said, in the human rights commissioner's report for 2015, that the actions taken by the Commissioner on the complaints filed by Sentsov and Kolchenko had eliminated legal uncertainty regarding their civil affiliation and their Ukrainian citizenship was recognized," Lutkovska said in her report.

In August 2015, the Northern Caucasus District Court found Sentsov and Kolchenko guilty of creating a terrorist community in Crimea, the commission of two terrorist attacks and the preparations for another one, and also an attempt to acquire explosive devices and illegal weapons storage. Sentsov was sentenced to 20 years in a penal colony, and Kolchenko was sentenced to ten years in prison.

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