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Russia Continues to Neglect International Humanitarian Law in Crimea

Kremlin Russia

The Executive Board of UNESCO adopted the 13th decision “Follow-up of the situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (Ukraine).” The report of the Director-General of UNESCO on the situation on the peninsula was submitted for consideration.

Information for the report was provided by Ukraine and UNESCO’s institutional partners, including the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), and Amnesty International. Hope was expressed that this information would later be supplemented by the data of UNESCO’s field monitoring, which is currently prevented by the Russian Federation by blocking the access for international monitoring missions to the peninsula.

The information presented in the report indicates a further deterioration of the human rights situation in the temporarily occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.

The Russian occupying authorities persistently violate international humanitarian law; they continue human rights violations, political persecution, cultural and religious suppression of Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar communities. The educational process has become a deliberate erasure of Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar national identities.

The illicit trafficking of Ukrainian cultural property from  Crimean museums and illegal archaeological excavations have reached shocking proportions. Objects of national importance suffer irreparable losses due to barbaric treatment and looting. Special attention is drawn to the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Ancient City of Tauric Chersonese and its Chora,” towards which the Russian authorities implement plans incompatible with its protection status.

In accordance with the adopted decision, the Director-General of UNESCO is to present the next report on the situation in the temporarily occupied Crimea at the 215th session of the Executive Board.

Today’s decision of the 212th session of the UNESCO Executive Board “Follow-up of the situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (Ukraine)” is more evidence of international support for Ukraine in its efforts to protect human rights, cultural and natural heritage on the temporarily occupied peninsula.

Natalia Tolub

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