BUSINESS QUESTION – UKRAINIAN POLITICAL PRISONERS IN RUSSIA – 3 November 2016
Dr Julian Lewis: I was going, yet again, to raise the question of BBC monitoring in Caversham, and the determination of the Defence Committee to get a Minister responsible before us, but I will let the Leader of the House off this week on that topic. Will he instead make a statement about the holding by Russia of 31 Ukrainian prisoners, half of whom are having their Ukrainian nationality denied by the Russians because they come from that part of the Ukraine that is now occupied by Russia? I believe he met Nadiya Savchenko, the courageous army pilot whom the Russians took prisoner and sentenced to 22 years in jail until a campaign successfully got her released. A statement from the Government on the way in which Russia could perhaps do something to improve relations between east and west by releasing those prisoners would, indeed, be welcome.
[The Leader of the House of Commons (Mr David Lidington): I have a great deal of sympathy for what my right hon. Friend said. I did, indeed, meet Nadiya Savchenko yesterday, and I said to her that it was really good to see her a free woman, but also to be able to meet her in a free and democratic Parliament. I just wish that those conditions pertained in Russia as well. The approach that the Russian authorities have been taking in detaining Ukrainian citizens and holding them as political prisoners is but one manifestation of the increasingly ruthless and authoritarian approach taken by the Kremlin. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has been very plain in his condemnation of the Russian Government’s approach, and the British Government will continue to urge Russia through all diplomatic channels to change its approach, and will continue to support international sanctions, including European sanctions, against Russia so long as it continues to occupy Crimea and to interfere in the Donbass.]