On Wednesday, 31 January, members of the Foreign Affairs Committee and the European Affairs Committee of the Saeima held a joint meeting with Mariia Mezentseva and Olena Khomenko, parliamentarians representing the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, to deliberate on the current situation in Ukraine and the return of Ukrainian children kidnapped by Russia.
Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica, Deputy Speaker of the Saeima and Head of the Latvian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), underscored the significant efforts of Mezentseva and Khomenko to fight for the return of Ukrainian children kidnapped by Russia, to restore justice, and to hold the perpetrators accountable. "Our task is to raise awareness in various organisations at interparliamentary level about Russia's crimes, including the abduction of Ukrainian children, to explain the situation, to get the necessary support for Ukraine and to help children return home safely," said Kalniņa-Lukaševica.
Rihards Kols, Chair of the Saeima Foreign Affairs Committee, asserted: “Unwavering support for Ukraine in all its forms is our national position. We will continue our work using every possible means, including new sanctions, to hold Russia and every war criminal accountable for the atrocities they have committed.” Regarding Ukraine's European integration, the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee welcomed Ukraine's progress in reforms, particularly in combatting corruption, and looked forward to steady progress in the European Union accession negotiations.
Meanwhile, Edmunds Cepurītis, Chair of the European Affairs Committee of the Saeima, highlighted advancements in legal solutions for the confiscation and utilisation of frozen Russian assets for the reconstruction of Ukraine.
Ukrainian parliamentarians raised concerns about Russia's illegal relocation of Ukrainian children, forcibly placing them in Russian foster families, camps in Russia, its occupied territories, and Belarus. They emphasised that PACE was the first organisation to adopt a resolution on the forcible transfer of Ukrainian children, stressing that it constituted a crime of genocide.
Members of the Verkhovna Rada outlined the unimaginable suffering and trauma experienced by these children, calling for accountability of everyone involved in the abductions. According to Mezentseva and Khomenko, Latvia understands the nature and gravity of Russian aggression and they thanked Latvia for its selfless and steadfast support to Ukraine.
Parliamentarians highlighted the need to call on international organisations represented in Russia and Belarus to exert their utmost efforts in gathering information on the children kidnapped by Russia, finding them, and aiding their safe return home.
Mariia Mezentseva is a member of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Ukraine's Integration into the European Union, while Olena Khomenko is a member of the Committee on Foreign Policy and Interparliamentary Cooperation. Both parliamentarians represent the Verkhovna Rada in PACE.
An international conference "Kidnapped by Russia" is currently held in Riga to raise public awareness about the Russian abduction of Ukrainian children and to garner international support for their safe return and reunification with their families. Participants will also discuss instruments for holding perpetrators accountable both legally and politically. The conference is attended by the Deputy Speaker of the Saeima Kalniņa-Lukaševica and Ukrainian parliamentarians.
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Saeima Press Service