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OSCE representative calls for immediate release of all journalists missing in eastern Ukraine

VIENNA, 25 July 2014 – OSCE Representative of Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today demanded the immediate release of journalists who were reported missing in eastern Ukraine.

“I am seriously concerned about the continuing abduction and disappearance of members of the media,” Mijatović said. “This practice of intimidation continues to create an environment of fear for journalists and media workers.”

“This trend has to change and it has to change immediately,” she said.

On 23 July Graham Phillips, a freelance journalist with Russia Today, and Vadim Aksyonov, a camera operator with Anna News, went missing near Donetsk Airport. Aksyonov was found the next day while the whereabouts of Phillips remains unknown.

According to Aksyonov, he, along with Phillips and another media representative, was held by Ukrainian military forces.

Yury Lelyavsky, a freelance journalist with ZIK, also went missing on 23 July after he had been reportedly detained in Luhansk Oblast.

Mijatović also reiterated her call for the release of freelance journalist Anton Skiba who was abducted on 22 July by armed separatists in Donetsk.

Mijatović said her Office would continue to closely monitor the situation.

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. She provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom and promotes full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments. Learn more at www.osce.org/fom; Twitter: @OSCE_RFoM and on Facebook.com/osce.rfom.

25 July 2014
VIENNA, 25 July 2014 – OSCE Representative of Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today demanded the immediate release of journalists who were reported missing in eastern Ukraine...
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OSCE Head of Mission to BiH calls on Brcko District citizens to determine their citizenship before 28 August 2014

SARAJEVO, 25 July 2014 – The Head of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Fletcher M. Burton, today called upon the citizens of Brcko District to determine their citizenship before 28 August 2014 so that they can participate in the upcoming general elections.

Burton reminded citizens in Brcko District that they need to opt for one of the entity citizenships to be able to exercise their right to vote and run in the election, which are slated for 12 October 2014. “Anyone who still has not chosen, changed or registered their entity citizenship has one month left to act. They can do so in the office of the Brcko District Government or in 14 smaller offices across the District,” Burton said. “This is an important issue. Should they fail to acquire entity citizenship, citizens there will be unable to fully enjoy their democratic right to vote.” 

The Election Law of Bosnia and Herzegovina stipulates that a citizen of the country who is registered to vote in the Brcko District shall have the right to vote for the Members of the Presidency of BiH and the House of Representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH by casting the appropriate ballot in the entity of which the voter is a citizen, and in the elections of the entity of which the voter is a citizen.

25 July 2014
SARAJEVO, 25 July 2014 – The Head of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Fletcher M. Burton, today called upon the citizens of Brcko District to determine their citizenship before 28 August 2014 so that they can participate in the upcoming general elections...
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Deployment of OSCE observers to the Russian Federation one element to de-escalate situation, Chair says, calling for further and broader measures to follow suit

Bern, July 24, 2014 – Noting today’s consensus decision of the OSCE Permanent Council to deploy an Observer Mission to two checkpoints of Donetsk and Gukovo on the Russian-Ukrainian border, the Chairperson-in-Office and Swiss Foreign Minister, Didier Burkhalter, stressed the confidence-building character of this measure.

He underlined that further and broader measures will be necessary in order to have borders effectively secured by competent authorities. Reliable border control is a key element in a bigger set of measures to bring back stability in Ukraine, Burkhalter said. Recalling that the new OSCE Mission came about following the Berlin Joint Declaration of July 2 by the Foreign Ministers of Ukraine, Russia, Germany, and France, he added that political will by all sides and meaningful dialogue remain indispensable to develop cooperative solutions to resolve this crisis.

The Permanent Council, accepting the invitation of the Russian Federation, today decided that an OSCE Observer Mission will be tasked with monitoring and reporting on the situation at the Russian checkpoints at Donetsk and Gukovo, as well as on movements across the Russian-Ukrainian border. 16 monitors can be deployed for an initial duration of three months, which can be extended subject to another decision by the Permanent Council.

24 July 2014
Bern, July 24, 2014 – Noting today’s consensus decision of the OSCE Permanent Council to deploy an Observer Mission to two checkpoints of Donetsk and Gukovo on the Russian-Ukrainian border, the Chairperson-in-Office and Swiss Foreign Minister, Didier Burkhalter, stressed the confidence-building character of this measure.
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Press release by OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs

VIENNA, July 23, 2014 – The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (Ambassadors Igor Popov of the Russian Federation, James Warlick of the United States of America, and Pierre Andrieu of France) met separately with the Foreign Minister of Armenia, Mr. Edward Nalbandian, and the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, Mr. Elmar Mammadyarov, on July 22 in Brussels. The Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk, also participated in the meetings.

The Co-Chairs expressed their serious concern about the increase in tensions and violence, including the targeted killings of civilians, along the Line of Contact and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. They urged the parties to commit themselves to avoiding casualties and rejected the deliberate targeting of villages and the civilian population. They called on the Foreign Ministers to defuse tensions and adhere to the terms of the ceasefire.

The Co-Chairs and Foreign Ministers also discussed possible agenda items for a presidential summit, underscoring the importance of a meeting between the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan for achieving progress in peace negotiations. They also discussed meetings which could take place in New York on the margins of the UN General Assembly.

The Co-Chairs continue to review possible security confidence building measures and people-to-people programs with the parties. They believe that such programs build the trust and confidence necessary for a lasting peace.

In Vienna, the Co-Chairs briefed the countries of the Minsk Group about the status of peace negotiations.

23 July 2014
VIENNA, July 23, 2014 – The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (Ambassadors Igor Popov of the Russian Federation, James Warlick of the United States of America, and Pierre Andrieu of France) met separately with the Foreign Minister of Armenia, Edward Nalbandian, and the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, Elmar Mammadyarov, on July 22 in Brussels. The Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk, also participated in the meetings...
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OSCE representative calls for release of journalist abducted by separatists, denounces new cases of grave media freedom violations in Eastern Ukraine

VIENNA, 23 July 2014 – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today condemned the abduction of freelance journalist Anton Skiba in Donetsk and called for his immediate release.

Skiba was abducted on 22 July by armed separatists at a hotel in Donetsk. He had been assisting a CNN film crew. His current whereabouts are unknown.

“I strongly condemn this incident. Journalists must not become targets just for fulfilling their professional duties,” Mijatović said. “I call on those responsible to immediately release Skiba.”

Mijatović also expressed concern about other recent cases of media intimidation by the separatist groups in Eastern Ukraine:

  • 19 July – the brief  detention, confinement and harassment of 10 foreign journalists in Donetsk including representatives of Dagens Nyheter, BBC, The Daily Beast, Nieuwsuur, Time and Russia Today. The journalists were attempting to report on the Malaysia Airlines plane crash;
  • 15 July – an attack on Natalia Filatova, a journalist with the Novosti Donbassa news portal. The journalist sustained minor injuries;
  • 6 July – the abduction of journalist Darya Shatalova and an attack on and abduction of editor Sergei Sakadynskiy, both with Politika 2.0 news portal in Luhansk. The same day an armed group robbed the news portal’s office, stealing all the equipment. Both journalists were released the next day.

​“This hostile practice of obstructing the work of journalists and media outlets cannot be tolerated and has to immediately stop. I sincerely hope that there will be an opportunity for law enforcement officials to investigate this continuing violence against media representatives in Eastern Ukraine and arrest the perpetrators to put an end to the climate of impunity,” Mijatović said.

The Representative said she was worried about plans voiced on 21 July by the self-proclaimed defence minister of the so-called ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ to effectively ban all media representatives from working in the conflict zone and the territories adjacent to the military compounds.

She also noted reports that on 15 July the self-proclaimed authorities of the so-called ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ announced the switching off of all Ukrainian television channels in Donetsk.

“Access to information and safety of media workers need to be ensured at all times by all, and those in control of the situation have a full responsibility for this,” Mijatović added. 

23 July 2014
VIENNA, 23 July 2014 – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today condemned the abduction of freelance journalist Anton Skiba in Donetsk and called for his immediate release...
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OSCE media freedom representative welcomes release of blogger in Tajikistan, expresses hope for charges to be dropped

VIENNA, 23 July 2014 – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today welcomed yesterday’s release of Alexander Sodiqov, a blogger and commentator on Tajik and Central Asian politics, from a pre-trial detention centre in Dushanbe and expressed hope that the criminal charges brought against him would be dropped altogether. 

“I welcome the fact that Sodiqov was allowed to return to his family,” Mijatović said. “However, I am concerned that the criminal charges against him remain and hope that they will be abandoned.”

Sodiqov is currently prohibited from leaving the country. He was detained in Khorog in Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province on 16 June and was later charged with high treason and espionage. The University of Exeter, as well as Sodiqov’s co-researchers, said that Sodiqov was in Tajikistan to conduct research for the university’s project on conflict prevention.

The OSCE Representative said her Office would continue to follow Sodiqov’s case. She also reiterated her Office’s readiness to assist the authorities in Tajikistan on advancing the free media and free expression.

Mijatović has previously expressed concern over the case (http://www.osce.org/fom/119926).

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. She provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom and promotes full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments. Learn more at www.osce.org/fom; Twitter: @OSCE_RFoM and on Facebook.com/osce.rfom.

23 July 2014
VIENNA, 23 July 2014 – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today welcomed yesterday’s release of Alexander Sodiqov, a blogger and commentator on Tajik and Central Asian politics, from a pre-trial detention centre in Dushanbe and expressed hope that the criminal charges brought against him would be dropped altogether...
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Press statement by the Trilateral Contact Group

KYIV, 22 July 2014 - The Trilateral Contact Group, consisting of senior representatives of Ukraine, the Russian Federation and the OSCE Chairperson-in Office, (President Kuchma, Ambassador Zurabov, Ambassador Tagliavini respectively), met on 22 July 2014 and held another round of video consultations with representatives of separatists operating in eastern Ukraine.

It was a follow-up to several meetings and consultations in the same format, which had taken place in the aftermath of the crash of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 on 17 July 2014 at Grabovo, in eastern Ukraine.

During these meetings, including the latest one of 22 July, it had been possible to achieve progress on a number of problems emanating from the situation in the aftermath of the MH17 tragedy. This includes the initiating of repatriation of most of the bodies of the victims of the plane crash and handing over of the airplane’s “black boxes” to international experts.

In all the video consultations, the Contact Group highlighted the importance of secure access to the crash site and safety for the recovery and investigation workers.

The Trilateral Contact Group noted with satisfaction that it had been able to be instrumental in the easing of tension and in solving a number of problems, which had arisen out of the airplane crash of 17 July 2014.

The Trilateral Contact Group notes the fact that it was able to make use of its already established communication channels with representatives of separatists for the above purposes.

Together with the efforts to provide assistance for the solving of problems arising from the airplane crash tragedy, the Trilateral Contact Group will continue its determined efforts aimed at achieving a sustainable peaceful solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

22 July 2014
KYIV, 22 July 2014 - The Trilateral Contact Group, consisting of senior representatives of Ukraine, the Russian Federation and the OSCE Chairperson-in Office, (President Kuchma, Ambassador Zurabov, Ambassador Tagliavini respectively), met on 22 July 2014 and held another round of video consultations with representatives of separatists operating in eastern Ukraine.
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OSCE representative calls on Russian authorities to immediately release Ukrainian journalist

VIENNA, 21 July 2014 – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today called on Russian authorities to immediately release Yevgeny Agarkov, a journalist with the Ukrainian 2+2 television channel.

On 18 July Agarkov was arrested by authorities in Voronezh in southeast Russia for working in the country  without an accreditation issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry. A district court found Agarkov guilty of working illegally in Russia and assessed an administrative fine of 2,000 roubles (approximately €42) and ordered his expulsion from the country. Agarkov is in custody at the immigration detention centre near Voronezh since 18 July.

“I call on the authorities to immediately release Agarkov and refrain from such disproportionally restrictive measures in the future,” Mijatović said. “This decision is excessive and it essentially bans the journalist from reporting.”

“Accreditation should not be, in effect, a work permit, so that the failure to obtain this bars journalists from fulfilling their professional duties,” she said.

Agarkov was in Voronezh to cover the case of detained Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko.

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. She provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom and promotes full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments. Learn more atwww.osce.org/fom, Twitter: @OSCE_RFoM and on facebook.com/osce.rfom.

21 July 2014
VIENNA, 21 July 2014 – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today called on Russian authorities to immediately release Yevgeny Agarkov, a journalist with the Ukrainian 2+2 television channel...
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OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović, delivering her regular report to the OSCE Permanent Council, Vienna, 28 November 2013.
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After tragic crash of the Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 in Ukraine, CiO offers condolences and OSCE support

Bern, July 17, 2014 - Didier Burkhalter, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Swiss Foreign Minister, expressed his sincere condolences to the families of the many victims of the shocking crash of the Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukrainian territory. He said that the circumstances which led to this tragedy had to be investigated in a thorough and impartial manner and commended Ukraine’s readiness to involve international expertise.

Burkhalter welcomed the two rounds of video conference-based talks of the Trilateral Contact Group with representatives of separatist groups who agreed to securing the site of the crash, to providing safe access to the site for rescue teams, national and international investigators, and SMM monitors, and to cooperating with competent Ukrainian authorities on further practical questions in the course of the rescue operation. He commended the respective efforts of the Trilateral Contact Group, the Special Monitoring Mission, and other actors involved. The OSCE stands ready to support Ukraine in this difficult rescue operation in every possible way, he added. 

Too many innocent civilians have already died in this conflict, Burkhalter stressed. It is the common responsibility of all to put the security of the people first and now redouble efforts to work towards a sustainable ceasefire, he added. The OSCE will continue its efforts to support Ukraine in de-escalating the situation, Burkhalter concluded.

18 July 2014
Bern, July 17, 2014 - Didier Burkhalter, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Swiss Foreign Minister, expressed his sincere condolences to the families of the many victims of the shocking crash of the Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukrainian territory. He said that the circumstances which led to this tragedy had to be investigated in a thorough and impartial manner and commended Ukraine’s readiness to involve international expertise.
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Press statement by the Trilateral Contact Group

The Trilateral Contact Group of senior representatives of Ukraine, the Russian Federation and the OSCE convened in Kiev on July 17, 2014.

In view of the terrible crash of a Malaysian airliner in the region of Donetsk and in order to agree on a number of urgent practical measures, the Group held a video conference with representatives of separatist groups in Donetsk.

The representatives of separatist groups in Donetsk committed to the following:

1.   As a matter of priority, they shall close off the site of the catastrophe and allow local authorities to start preparations for the recovery of bodies;

2.   they shall provide safe access and security guarantees to the national investigation commission, including international investigators, in the area under their control;

3.   they shall provide safe access and security guarantees to OSCE monitors;

4.     they shall cooperate with the relevant authorities of Ukraine on all practical questions arising in the course of the recovery and investigation works.

18 July 2014
The Trilateral Contact Group of senior representatives of Ukraine, the Russian Federation and the OSCE convened in Kiev on July 17, 2014.
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