The victims of repressions are mostly charged with extremism actions.
Over the last two and a half years, local authorities in temporarily occupied Crimea organise repressive measures against the Crimean Tatars and all those who disagree with Russia’s actions. The Amnesty International report “Crimea in the Dark: the Silencing of Dissent” provides the details of all cases of human rights violations in the peninsula. This was stated by Oksana Pokalchuk, acting director, Amnesty International Ukraine, at a presentation held at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. “The inclusion of Crimea into the Russian legal framework was a violation of international law and allowed the government to pursue key figures of the Crimean Tatar people on trumped-up charges of extremist acts. The representative body of the Crimean Tatars, the Mejlis, was willfully banned and called an extremist organization. Participation in any events that are related to it is now considered a crime in Crimea and Russia,” said Ms. Pokalchuk.
According to Krassimir Yankov, researcher on Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus, Amnesty International, both Crimean Tatar leaders and Crimean activists are persecuted in Crimea. In January 2015, Deputy Chairman of Mejlis, Akhtem Chyyhoz, was detained on suspicion of having allegedly organized mass riots on February 26, 2014. “This conforms neither to the events nor prosecution witnesses. The investigation began only in August 2016, and he had spent over 18 months in pre-detention jail by that time. They questioned 44 witnesses in the case, and no one could point to Chyyhoz as an organizer or at least mention seeing him there that day,” said Mr. Yankov. According to him, Chyyhoz is not allowed to attend court sessions, although he is kept at a distance of 500 m from the courthouse. He was interrogated via Skype. Connection was a very bad. He could hardly hear questions from the courtroom and cannot ask questions, which violates his right to a fair trial.
They put journalist Mykola Semena in the list of extremists and blocked his access to his bank accounts because he had written an article about the blockade of Crimea. “He faces up to seven years in prison, he cannot get access to his bank accounts. Besides, he has health problems; he needs surgery. That is, a prison term threatens the elderly person who needs surgery and has neither incomes nor access to his savings,” informed the Amnesty International researcher.
Denys Krivosheev, deputy director for Europe and Central Asia, Amnesty International, emphasized that the occupation authorities have begun to limit freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and now they are prosecuting these people criminally. “Russia has extended application of its criminal law to the peninsula in violation of international law. The prohibition of peaceful assembly in Russia is very strict, but in Simferopol it has been banned,” stressed Mr. Krivosheev. They consider the Mejlis of Crimean Tatar people the extremist organization for allegedly involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir. That is why the Mejlis members are court-martialed in Rostov in flagrant breach of the right to a fair trial. “Four persons have been found guilty – the Sevastopol Four. All in all, 19 people are on trial. However, all the witnesses tried to withdraw their testimony, claiming that they were compelled to testify,” explained Mr. Krivosheev.