LUGANSK, September 4 (Lugansk Media Centre) - Kiev has violated international norms on the right to freedom of movement by shutting down the crossing point in the Stanitsa Luganskaya area, as well as its own Constitution and the Constitution of the Lugansk People’s Republic, deputy director of the LPR Justice Ministry Department for International Law, Cooperation and Legislative Activity Marina Grischenko said at a press briefing at the Lugansk Media Centre on Tuesday.
She reminded that Ukraine had unilaterally shut down the Stanitsa Luganskaya crossing point for the period from September 2 till September 7.
“I should note that over the past few days the Justice Ministry has been taking complaints concerning the Stanitsa Luganskaya crossing point closure, both from residents of the LPR and Kiev-controlled areas of the Lugansk region,” Grischenko said adding that people had described their situation and problems they encountered.
“As a rule, they are unable to visit their relatives in hospitals, buy medicines or receive welfare payments or pensions. In this connection, people ask the Justice Ministry to give legal assessment of the situation. The basic question is whether the crossing point shutdown violates residents’ constitutional rights,” Grischenko said.
“The answer to this question is unequivocal and precise; the closure of the only officially functioning crossing point violates a person’s right to freedom of movement and choice of place of staying and residence. This right is acknowedged by the international community and spelled out in international norms. It is a basic inalienable right of the citizen of any state.
Under Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.” A similar norm is envisioned by Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 20 of the LPR Provisional Basic Law (Constitution).
“The Constitution is the fundamental law of our Republic; it has highest legal force and no law or by-law can contradict it,” Grischenko said. “Also, Constitutional norms are direct force norms, i.e. they are implemented immediately and do not require any additional mechanisms.”
“The Ukrainian Constitution guarantees the same right. Article 33 says that “every person who is present within the territory of Ukraine on a legal basis is guaranteed freedom of movement, free choice for place of residence, and the right to leave the territory of Ukraine, except for the limitations established by law.”
The closure of the Stanitsa Luganskaya crossing point made residents who cross the contact line change their route and leave through the territory of the Russian Federation. A traveller has to pay additional costs; on top of that, they bear responsibility for illegal border crossing in accordance with Ukrainian laws.
“Therefore, the legal aspect of the situation is as follows: limiting a person’s right to freedom of movement, or, to be exact, the complete impossibility to realise this right in the Stanitsa Luganskaya area is direct violation of the Constitution of the Lugansk People’s Republic, the Constitution of Ukraine and, foremost, the universally recognised norms of international law,” Grischenko said.
LPR representative in the Contact Group humanitarian subgroup, head of the LPR working group on prisoner exchange Olga Kobtseva urged the Ukrainian government not to close the Stanitsa Luganskaya crossing point without launching the Schastye crossing point first.
Deputy DPR Foreign Minister Anna Soroka said that Ukraine’s decision to shut down the Stanitsa Luganskaya crossing point from September 2 till September 7 was aimed to heighten tensions on the contact line.
Acting LPR Foreign Minister, LPR envoy to the Minsk talks Vladislav Deinego told the Lugansk Media Centre that the Contact Group had not made the decision to shut down the Stanitsa Luganskaya crossing point and that Ukraine’s statements on this account were not true to facts.
The LPR State Security Ministry Border Service said that the crossing point on the Republic’s side would operate as usual in September, regardless of Kiev’s decision on its unilateral closure.
LPR State Security Ministry spokeswoman Evgenia Lyubenko said that Ukraine’s engineering works at the Stanitsa Luganskaya crossing point pursued a military objective and had nothing to do with creating more comfortable conditions for residents.
LPR People’s Militia’s spokesman Andrey Marochko said that OSCE Special Monitoring Mission observers refused to tell the LPR People's Militia what was happening on the Ukrainian side of the closed crossing point.
He also noted that Ukraine, under the pretext of repairs in the Stanitsa Luganskaya crossing point area, might reinforce its positions with weapons and hardware.
Currently there is only one official checkpoint at the line of contact in the LPR area of responsibility in Donbass and it is accessible via the bridge in vicinity of Stanitsa Luganskaya. Only pedestrian traffic here is possible thanks to temporary conduit, as the bridge was blown up by Ukrainian forces in early 2015. The LPR repeatedly proposed to rebuild it.
The Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements was adopted by the Contact Group on Ukraine on February 12, 2015 and supported by member states of the Normandy Four (Germany, Russia, Ukraine and France). The UN Security Council approved the document by its 2202 Resolution and called upon all the sides to ensure full implementation of the Package of Measures.
The document provides for comprehensive ceasefire, withdrawal of all heavy weapons from the contact line, starting a dialog on reconstruction of social and economic ties between Kiev and Donbass. It also envisages carrying out constitutional reform in Ukraine providing for decentralization and adopting permanent legislation on a special status of certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.