Russia Committed Grave Rights Abuses in Crimea by Nick Cumming-Bruce

Russia has committed “multiple and grave” human rights abuses in Crimea . . . including arbitrary arrests, torture and the imposition of Russian citizenship on residents of the former Ukrainian region.

United Nations investigators have documented evidence of arbitrary detentions, torture and abductions since Russian troops annexed the Crimean Peninsula, according to a report presented in Geneva on Monday and linking abuses to the Federal Security Service, Russian police officers and a paramilitary group.

The abuses included the extrajudicial killing of at least one pro-Ukrainian activist, the panel found, and while dozens of people abducted from 2014 to 2016 have been released, at least 10 are still missing. . . . Arbitrary arrests are still reported regularly and appear to seek to instill fear and stifle opposition.

“The frequency and severity of these human rights violations, together with the lack of accountability, has created an atmosphere of impunity which encourages the further perpetuation of such violations,” said Fiona Frazer, who led the investigating mission, which the United Nations General Assembly ordered in December.

The Russian authorities have transferred hundreds of prisoners and pretrial detainees in Crimea to Russian prisons, a violation of international law, the United Nations said on Monday. At least three detainees who were moved to a prison in Adygea, a republic in the Western Caucasus, died after failing to receive medical treatment for serious health conditions.

They cited the case of the Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, who was arrested in May 2014 on charges of “plotting terrorist acts,” taken to Lefortovo Prison in Moscow and, after his trial and conviction in August 2015, sent to a high-security penal colony in Siberia.

Russia’s imposition of its citizenship on residents of Crimea has had particularly harsh effects, the United Nations said. The move has prompted thousands to leave Crimea altogether, and has left tens of thousands who either rejected Russian nationality or did not qualify for it to be considered foreigners — losing health, property, employment and political rights as a result.

Moscow has also arbitrarily imposed laws passed by the Russian Federation, using provisions intended to fight terrorism and separatism to curb dissent and freedom of the press, the United Nations said. Crimean Tatar institutions and media outlets have been particularly singled out, the international organization found, but the activities of some religious groups have also been curtailed.

As one example, the Russian Supreme Court banned Jehovah’s Witnesses in April; all 22 congregations of the Christian denomination in Crimea were de-registered in June.

“Dissent and criticism are not tolerated by the Russian Federation authorities in Crimea,” Ms. Frazer said.

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