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Steady and Deplorable Trend: Report on Political Reprisals in Occupied Crimea in 2021

The Ukraine Crisis Media Centre hosted a briefing, “Analysis of human rights violations in occupied Crimea in 2021,” organised by the Crimean Tatar Resource Centre (CTRC). According to the organisation, Russian security forces conducted 53 searches; 366 detentions/confinements; and 366 interrogations, questionings, and “interviews” over the reporting period. A total of 210 arrests were recorded over the reporting period. Most of the violations by the occupiers were committed against representatives of the indigenous Crimean Tatar people. This practice has become systemic on the peninsula.

Eskender Bariyev, Chairman of Board of the Crimean Tatar Resource Centre, head of the Department of Legal Affairs and Foreign Affairs of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People; Tetiana Podvorniak, communications manager at the Crimean Tatar Resource Centre; and Server Cholachyk, coordinator of the Crimean Solidarity NGO, took part in the press conference.

According to the CTRC data, 53 searches, including 33 searches conducted in the houses of Crimean Tatars, were recorded in the occupied Crimea in 2021. The figure remains almost the same as the CTRC recorded 50 searches in 2020. The trend of political and religious persecution has remained unchanged since the beginning of the occupation of the peninsula.

“During searches, security forces often violate the rights of victims. In particular, there were cases of property damage, a search in the absence of owner, or planting the banned literature during the intrusion into houses,” said Bariyev.

Over the reporting period, the CTRC recorded 366 detentions/confinements, 330 of which related to Crimean Tatars. The dynamics remain unchanged as 364 detentions were documented in 2020.

“Such a large number of violations in this category is due to the fact that the occupiers massively detained activists who come to the buildings of ‘courts,’ ‘pre-trial detention centres,’ ‘temporary detention facility,’ etc. to support their compatriots,” said the Chairman of the Board of CTRC.

The detentions of Kryvyi Rih native Vladyslav Yesypenko, Crimean Tatars Asan and Aziz Akhtemovs, Nariman Ametov, and Kurtumer Chalhozov were mentioned separately. Tortures were used against them.

Tetiana Podvorniak stressed that 210 arrests, including 167 arrests of representatives of indigenous people, had been recorded in the occupied Crimea over the reporting period. Out of 210 cases: 28 – sentences, 40 – administrative cases, 25 – new arrests, 118 – extension of detention. In 2020, 197 arrests were recorded. Over the reporting period, 478 cases of violation of the right to a fair trial were recorded, including 393 against representatives of indigenous Crimean Tatar people, showing an increase of almost 100 cases compared to 2020 as 398 such violations were recorded. The communications manager added that violations of the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health are also systemic. In 2021, there were 135 violations of this right, including 96 related to Crimean Tatars. The trend has not changed as the CRTC recorded 112 such cases in 2020.

The CTRC report also contains information on violations of religious rights, environmental norms on the peninsula, inadequate conditions in pre-trial detention centres and prisons, violations of the rights of political prisoners, violations of women’s rights, and illegal military exercises in occupied Crimea.

Server Cholachyk spoke about the trends of human rights violations in 2021. He drew attention to the systematic use of secret witnesses, whose testimony underpin the charges brought against Crimean political prisoners. According to him, if activists refuse to lay information against someone, they are tortured as was the case with Nariman Ametov and Kurtumer Chalhozov.

“The authorities are trying to quell the non-violent struggle. Over three months, there were six waves of detentions, about 180 administrative protocols, including 17 detentions of citizen journalists. It is also a trend that makes us think about the authorities’ plans to cover these events. The authorities easily go unpunished for the crimes nobody talks about,” he added.

Ukraine Crisis Media Centre

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