Focus: Human rights infringements in Crimea

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Weekly digest,

18-25 March, 2014

Based upon information received through our hotline (dozens of calls from victims or witnesses every day) and other sources, Euromaidan-SOS reports about the following human rights infringements following Russian occupation and annexation of Crimea.

 

Deaths

Several people were killed in attacks of Russian military or “Crimean self-defense”

One Ukrainian military, S. Kakurin, was killed on March 18th during the attack of Russian armed forces on Ukrainian military unit in Simferopol. Several other soldiers and officers were injured.

Reshat Ametov, a Crimean Tatar, kidnapped on March 3rd in Simferopol, was found dead with signs of torture and degrading treatment.

 

Human rights abuses

Activists report numerous violations of human rights under Crimea’s new administration

Tortures, kidnapping, inhuman and degrading treatment, arbitrary arrests, violations of right on life, on private life, of property rights, of freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly are among the most typical infringements reported under Crimea’s new administration.

During the attack of Russian military in Simferopol on March 18th several persons were injured, but Russian military blocked the ambulance access to the wounded persons. Russian snipers were working in the nearby buildings.

Ukrainian high-rank officers were repeatedly kidnapped by the Russian troops and were subject to humiliating treatment. Sergiy Haiduk, Ukraine’s rear admiral, reports that he was handcuffed and detained in the solitary cell for 24 hours. A lawyer of Abu Youssuf, another kidnapped person, was denied access to his client.

 

Kidnapping

People are being kidnapped by Russian soldiers and Crimean self-defense militia

Dozens of people, primarily Ukrainian military, activists and journalists, were kidnapped by the Russian soldiers or «Crimean self-defense» militia. Some of the kidnapped reported about tortures and humiliations they have suffered. A number of them were released; however, as of March 25, 11 people were still reported missing (the real number can be much higher). Here is the list of the 10 missing people whose names are known:

1. Vladislav Polishchuk, civic activist

2. Ivan Bondarets, civic activist

3. Valeriy Vashchuk, civic activist

4. Abu Youssuf (Serhiy Selentsov), civic activist (reportedly detained; lawyer was denied access to him)

5. Oleksandr Philippov, military

6. Yuliy Mamchur, military

7. Igor Voronchenko, military

8. V.M. Demyanenko, military

9. Dmytro Deliatytskyi, military

10. Rostyslav Lomtev, military

 

Tortures

Kidnapped people report severe tortures

Yuriy Shevchenko, a young man who came to Crimea with a Ukrainian flag in his bag, was captured by the unknown on the railway station in Simferopol, handcuffed, put into the car and tortured. The aggressors cut his year, shot his legs and severely beaten him. Food was provided only on the third day of detention (his story in this video: http://youtu.be/jWo23De_HIs).

Olena Maksymenko, journalist at Ukrainian news magazine Tyzhden, who was kidnapped in Crimea, said the detained were repeatedly undressed, put on their knees, with faces to the wall, under permanent threat of being shot in the dark; they were also repeatedly beaten; attempts were made to strangle them with their shoe strings.

Andriy, another kidnapped person who wrote a letter to Euromaidan SOS, says he was taken off the train to Crimea by the unknown “self-defense” soldiers and brutally aggressed after they found Euromaidan photos on his phone and in his laptop. Andriy was aggressively tortured: soldiers knifed his legs, hit him into his chest and threatened they would cut off his fingers. They also threatened to cut off his ear, and put a gun muzzle into his mouth. At one moment they shot near his head. Andriy was also forced to humiliating actions, including cleaning up a dirty toilet and picking up cigarette stubs (more about his story: http://on.fb.me/1rwzPyO)

 

Media rights abuses

Rights and freedoms of journalists are repeatedly abused

The “Crimean self-defense” is also regularly aggressing journalists trying to cover Crimean events. As many of them say, journalist IDs provoke severe hostility from these people, who blame reporters for “distorting” information and who consider media to be their enemies. Last week unknowns have beaten special correspondents of Segodnia newspaper Dmytro Bunetskyi and photographer Sergiy Nikolayev: they were assaulted in their faces, and their teeth were knocked out. On March 18 journalist and cameraman of Crimean Tatar TV channel ATR were detained (they were released after a while). On March 19 a group of Romanian journalists was blocked from entering the Crimea, the reporters were taken off the train; attempts were made to confiscate their video and photo equipment. Journalists were released but banned from entering Crimea, and warned that “Crimean self-defense” would not let them go as easily next time.

Tetyana Rikhtun, director of a Sevastopol-based media centre, was forced to leave Crimea after the “Crimean self-defense” broke into her office, and threatened with detention.

 

Antisemitism

Several Jewish leaders and activists left Crimea fearing attacks

Mykhaylo Kapustin, key reformist Rabbi in Crimea, was forced to flee from Crimea to Kyiv, fearing antisemitic mood widely spreading across Crimea after its annexation by Russia. Media reported about inscriptions «Death to Jews» in Simferopol, qualified by representatives of Crimea’s Jewish community as the first aggressive antisemitic action in Ukraine since the country’s independence in 1991.

 

Asylum seekers

Thousands endangered Crimea dwellers seek their asylum throughout Ukraine

From March 1st, two volunteer activists’ groups, “Friends Home” and “30 November Group”, received in total 120 asylum requests from people willing to move from Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. These requests covered in total 245 people, including 82 children.

At the same time, Lviv regional authorities report that in total 2,085 Crimea dwellers (450 families, including 1046 children) expressed their willingness to move from Crimea to Lvivska oblast.

 

Intimidations

Crimean asylum seekers receive SMS intimidations

Office of UN High Commissioner for human rights reports that Crimean dwellers who left the peninsula receive intimidations through SMS or social networks. Through these messages they are called traitors and warned of punishment in case they decide to return.

 

Repressions

New Crimean authorities engaged into repressions against business.

Oleksiy Matsuka, an independent Donetsk-based journalists, reports about attack on a hotel owner in Crimea who is forced by the new authorities to give away one of his hotels for free, and sell another at half-price.

ATR, a Crimean Tatar TV channel, is attacked both in Crimea and in Moscow, where the business of ATR owner, Lenur Islamov, is facing repressions.

 

Military occupation

By March 25 Russia has cleared Crimea of Ukrainian military forces

By March 25 Russia has de facto cleared Crimea of Ukrainian military forces as Russian army seized the last Ukrainian military unit, the “Cherkassy” vessel.