Overview of the situation in Crimea in 2016

January 20, 2017 18:15
Please find the report on human rights violations in Crimea in 2016. The report contains key dates and facts related to criminal cases, searches, abductions, harassment and other crimes of Russian Federation against human rights on the occupied peninsula.

Following the establishment of control over the territory, in 2014-2015 Russia started to introduce its governance and legislation, as well as establishing control over all state and public institutions in Crimea. In 2016 the focus of occupation policy shifted to establishing control over the society in Crimea. The Russian Federation tries to colonize the society, to make it a part of Russian society and to destroy all connections with the mainland of Ukraine. Due to this fact in 2016 systematic policy of marginalization of anyone who disagree with occupation and division of the society into "law-abiding" citizens and "extremists" was introduced. The instruments of this policy are criminal and administrative law, pro-government media pressure and state officials’ rhetoric.

On April 26, 2016 the Mejlis of Crimean Tatar people was recognized as an extremist organization and was banned by “the Supreme Court” of Crimea. On September 29, 2016 this judgment was left in force by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation. The ban of Mejlis means criminalization of all Crimean Tatars, especially those, who are politically active, and recognizing them as extremists. The Mejlis is not only 33 members of this body; it is a whole people’s self-governing system. The Mejlis is also 2500 members of the local Mejlises, 350 members of the Kurultai and all Crimean Tatar people, who elects the Kurultai and participates in the events organized by the local Mejlises. The ban of Mejlis provides a legal background for arrest of any people’s representative. In 2016, the criminal cases on separatism were initiated against Ilmi Umerov, the deputy chairman of the Mejlis, and Suleiman Kadyrov, the member of the Feodosia city Mejlis. This year 10 Mejlis members were subjected to administrative liability for the participation in the Mejlis meeting after it was banned.

Another object of marginalization is the religious Crimean Tatars as well as persons of other ethnic origin practicing Islam. Mass detentions, searches and arrests were held in the religious communities within the so-called "Hizb ut-Tahrir" case. Within this case, almost any Muslim could be accused of terrorism. Mass arrests, searches and propaganda create impression that Muslims are dangerous to society. In 2016, 15 persons were detained as suspects within the case in Yalta, Bakhchisarai, Simferopol. Six of them were subjected to forced psychiatric examination. Four persons detained in 2015 in Sevastopol on this case (Ruslan Zeitullaev Rustem Vaitov, Yurii (Nuri) Primov and Ferat Saifullaev), were convicted and sentenced to imprisonment. The investigation of these cases was conducted with serious violations of procedural guarantees, reliable evidence of the defendants’ membership in the organization were not provided to the court. Human Rights Center "Memorial" recognized them as political prisoners. It is also important to note that the Mejlis representatives (Ilmi Umerov) and the persons accused within the "Hizb ut-Tahrir" case were subjected to forced psychiatric examination, which without control and fair trial guarantees might have a negative impact on the physical and mental health of defendants.

The third target for the marginalization is Ukraine as a state and any person supporting the territorial integrity. The Russian propaganda disseminates the message that Ukraine is a terrorist state, and consequently anyone supporting it is a dangerous terrorist. Within this policy de facto authorities initiated the “sabotage” case. In August 2016 without any explanation Russia has blocked the checkpoints at the administrative border, three days later the Federal Security Service declared the prevention of the terrorist acts, organized by Ukraine and the group of “saboteurs” in Crimea. State officials claimed the act of aggression by Ukraine and that nine persons had been detained, two persons were killed. During the next weeks the personalities for four detained were revealed, no information about other persons detained or killed were provided. In October-November 2016 five more persons have been detained within this case. As within “Hizb ut-Tahrir” case the reliable evidence of the guilt of accused was not provided. Some accused publicly declared about tortures police used to get confession. In this way using the actual for many states “war against terror”, Russia labels secular and religious Crimean Tatars and persons with pro-Ukrainian views as “terrorists” and “extremists”.

Two other tendencies within the occupation policy of Russia is militarization of the peninsula and strengthening the occupation state system. In 2016 Russia continued modernization of the military bases, increasing the number of military personnel and military vehicles, manouvres of military vehicles and trainings in the penninsula. The situation at the administrative border in August 2016 has been very illustrative. Ukrainian military reported the numerous provocations these days, including concentration the additional military along the administrative border, usage of small arms and maneuvers in zero-kilometer zone, surveillance drones and illumination of the Ukrainian positions. Despite the appeared stability, the military escalation is still possible. In Crimea Russia creates the atmosphere of insecurity and threat.

The occupation state system was, first of all, strengthened by the parliamentary elections in September 2016, following which the representatives of Crimea are now present in the Duma. Crimea Federal district was liquidated and Crimea was included into Southern Federal district, and thus integrated into the federal administrative system. As before the appointments of state officials from the mainland of Russia, rearrangements and relocations of state officials took place. The recent tendency within this area is suppression of any criticism by the supporters of the occupation regime. 2016 witnessed dispersal of several pro-Russian demonstrations and arrests of pro-Russian activists and officials, protesting against corruption and economic problems. Russia demonstrates that any criticism is banned in Crimea.

 

Download the whole report HERE

 



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