UN slams Crimea occupation
Russia has committed “multiple and grave” human rights abuses in Crimea since the 2014 occupation, the United Nations said. It detailed arbitrary arrests, torture and the imposition of Russian citizenship on Ukrainian nationals.
A UN reported presented in Geneva documented evidence of arbitrary detentions, torture and abductions, linking abuse to the Federal Security Service, Russian police and paramilitaries.
It noted that hundreds of prisoners were illegally transferred from Crimea to Russian prisons.
The UN report said the Geneva Conventions and other international humanitarian and human rights laws were violated when the occupiers replaced Ukrainian with Russian laws in Crimea and imposed citizenship on tens of thousands.
The peninsula’s Turkic-speaking minority, the Tatars, making up 12 per cent of its population, had been targeted, it said.
The Tatar parliament, the Mejlis, boycotted a referendum on joining Russia and was labelled an extremist organisation and banned last year.
The imposition of citizenship had “a particularly harsh impact” on residents “who formally rejected citizenship; civil servants who had to renounced their Ukrainian citizenship or lose their jobs, and Crimean residents who did not meet the legal criteria” to become Russian citizens and “became foreigners”, the UN report said.
Crimeans without Russian citizenship were now “deprived of important rights” and “do not enjoy equality before the law”, it said.
They “cannot own agricultural land, vote and be elected, register a religious community, apply to hold a public meeting, hold positions in the public administration, and reregister their private vehicle on the peninsula”, the report stated.
“Education in the Ukrainian language has almost disappeared from Crimea,” it added.
There was an extrajudicial killing of at least one Ukrainian campaigner, the panel reported, and 10 or more of the many arrested were still missing. Many of the cases soon after the March 2014 with arbitrary arrests still regular occurrences along with attempts to stifle opposition.
“The frequency and severity of these human rights violations, together with the lack of accountability, has created an atmosphere of impunity which encourages the further perpetuation of such violations,” said Fiona Frazer, who led the investigation.
But Zaur Smirnov, a member of the Crimean regional government, told Russia’s Interfax news agency that the report was filled with anti-Russian bias and had used sources from Ukrainian monitoring groups.
The 2014 Russian invasion of Crimea. Picture credit: Wikimedia