Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe notes Russian repression in Crimea


RISU, 11 November 2020


In a year in occupied Crimea, the number of cases fabricated by Russian security forces involving Muslims increased to 70 and the persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses and ousting of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (PTsU) intensified.


This was described by the expert Alexander Sedov at a supplementary conference on the human dimension organized by the CSCE, Ukrinform reports, with reference to the Facebook page of a Crimean rights advocacy group.


"From October 2019, the number of Muslims deprived of liberty in fabricated cases grew by 14 persons and reached 70. In the first place, people falling under repression are those who are not indifferent and who actively oppose such persecutions. Besides direct imprisonment, punitive psychiatry is being used in the form of compulsory admission to psychiatric hospitals. The only charges advanced by the Russian authorities against Muslims are conversations on religious topics," Sedov reported. The expert noted that prison terms of up to 19 years are being imposed on the basis of such charges.


Since October 2019 alone, 16 long term prison sentences have been imposed on Crimean Muslims.


In addition, Sedov noted, the persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses in Crimea has reached a new level; they are accused of extremism merely because this religious organization is considered extremist in the Russian Federation.


"Whereas earlier when criminal cases were opened against Jehovah's Witnesses, during the time of investigation they were released on the own recognizance, in 2020 they are being imprisoned immediately after being charged," the expert reported.


According to his information, in October four representatives of Jehovah's Witnesses were placed in a SIZO. In all, in 2020 six Jehovah's Witnesses have been imprisoned in Crimea and another two are awaiting sentencing.


Sedov also described the refusal of registration in Crimea of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and the confiscation of the churches of the PTsU faithful.


"In the media that are under the control of Russian authorities, the church is called 'schismatic' and illegitimate inasmuch as it is not subordinate to the Russian Orthodox Church," the expert noted.


The Crimean rights group also identified more than 100 illegally rendered decisions "for missionary activity" in Crimea, for which fines totaling no less than 1,340,500 rubles were imposed.


Sedov urged participants in the conference to work out an effective mechanism of pressure on countries where human rights and international law are being systematically violated.


"Crimea is occupied Ukrainian territory and therefore the application of the norms of Russian law in Crimea for prosecution of religious organizations violates not only human rights but also international humanitarian law," the expert of the Crimean rights advocacy group summed up. (tr. by PDS, posted 11 November 2020)

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