Persecution of Ukrainian Cultural Center activist in Crimea

On August 29, at about 6.40 am, representatives of occupying authorities in Crimea conducted a search in the apartment (Simferopol) of Ukrainian Cultural Center activist Olga Pavlenko. According to available sources, the reason for the search was the suspicion of the occupying authorities regarding the activist’s alleged involvement in the activities of the Right Sector (in 2014, after the start of aggression against Ukraine, this organization was declared an extremist group by Russia and banned in Russian territory).

Photo credits: Mikhail Batrak Facebook page

Human rights organizations strongly condemn the persecution of activist Olga Pavlenko by Crimean occupying authorities. Human rights defenders demand that Russia-controlled authorities immediately cease human rights violations, investigate the Ukrainian citizen’s illegal arrest and the search in her home, and return her property.

We appeal to the Ukrainian Government to carry out a thorough investigation into the persecution of Ukrainian citizen Olga Pavlenko, with the purpose of subsequent prosecution of those responsible for gross human rights violations in Crimea.

We address the international community and international organizations to help draw attention to the persecution of Olga Pavlenko, to apply political and diplomatic pressure on the Russian Federation in order to stop systematic persecution of Ukrainian activists in Crimea.

We are convinced that the true reason behind the activist’s persecution is her civic position and her peaceful educational activities aimed at promoting Ukrainian culture in Crimea. This persecution is part of the systematic policy of the peninsula’s occupying authorities aimed at complete destruction of Ukrainian national identity in captured Ukrainian territories. It is also part of the persecution of the Ukrainian Cultural Center, which has been banned several times from holding peaceful cultural events in support of the Ukrainian language and culture in Crimea.

The Ukrainian Cultural Center is not a political organization. It was established by activists after the start of the peninsula’s occupation in order to preserve and promote ​​Ukrainian culture in Crimea. In spite of this, UCC members experience constant harassment at the hands of Russia-controlled occupying authorities. In April 2018, Olga Pavlenko and other UCC activists were summoned for a “talk” to the Prosecutor’s Office of Crimea’s occupying authorities. UCC members were repeatedly summoned for interrogations and interviews by law enforcement officers, who were interested in the creation and release by UCC activists of the educational newspaper Krymskyi Teren (Crimean Blackthorn ) and applied other forms of pressure in order to obstruct the Center’s work.

Oleksandr Pavlichenko, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

Olga Skrypnyk, Head of the Board of the Crimean Human Rights Group

Mariya Tomak, Coordinator of the Media Initiative for Human Rights

Sergiy Burov, Executive Director of the Educational Human Rights House Chernihiv

Tetyana Pechonchyk, Head of the Board of the Human Rights Information Center

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