Russian military illegally seizes property of Ukrainian soldiers in Crimea

On August 1, 2017, the press conference concerning facts of the seizure of property of Ukrainian citizens by Russian members of the armed forces was held at the Ukrainian Crisis Media Center.

Maksym Tymochko, a lawyer of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, said that in late June 2017 in Simferopol, representatives of the occupation authorities of Crimea, together with representatives of the Russian authorities, committed an illegal seizure of the housing of a family of the Ukrainian soldier. As a result of the occupation of the peninsula, the man was forced to leave his home and moved with the family to mainland Ukraine.

Maksym Tymochko

“Russian military forces, taking advantage of the absence of the owner at home, broke the door of the apartment and changed the locks. All the property that was inside was assigned to a representative of FSB of the Russian Federation, which was later intrigued into the seized apartment. As it turned out, this is not the first case of violent criminal acts of the representatives of the Russian Federation. The military and members of their families told us about the facts of raider attacks on their homes and in other cities of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea,” said Maksym Tymochko.

Vladyslav Seleznev, colonel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and owner of housing in occupied Crimea, said that since December 2014 and until now, unknown persons in the Russian military uniform, accompanied by representatives of the Simferopol apartment commission and district police officer, repeatedly tried to break into the house, where members of the family of Ukrainian military lived on legal grounds.

Vladyslav Seleznev

“In the beginning, we were able to resist the illegal actions of Russian security forces, but events of summer 2017 indicate that there are no customs of war and they are resolutely ready to commit serious crimes against the civilian population”, — said Vladyslav Seleznev.

The Russian Federation continues to pursue a policy of massive violations of property rights in the occupied territory of Ukraine, including the illegal expropriation of property, accompanied by repressions against families of Ukrainian military and other citizens who hold positions of the sovereignty of Ukraine and the inviolability of its borders. Human rights activists have emphasized that the Russian Federation and its officials will be responsible for implementing such a policy.

Vitalii Nabukhotnyi, a lawyer of the Regional Human Rights Center, drew attention to the fact that modern international law stands in defense of the property rights of Ukrainian citizens. He emphasized that, under Article 33 of the Geneva Convention, robbery and reprisal against protected persons and their property are prohibited. Article 46 of the Hague Convention states that honor and family law, the lives of individuals and private property, as well as religious convictions must be respected. Private property is not subject to confiscation, the lawyer emphasized.

Vitalii Nabukhotnyi

“The facts presented by us today testify about committing military crimes by Russian military and officials, which are prosecuted by the International Criminal Court. Human rights activists will not leave victims of these offenses alone with the aggressor and will help counteract the illegal expropriation of the property of Ukrainian citizens “, — said Vitalii Nabukhotnyi.

“Such manifestations of repression, robbery, and looting are a gross violation of the customs of the war. These actions will not be unpunished. We will make every effort to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice. We also see the need to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights with a complaint that the Russian Federation has violated the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which guarantees every citizen the right to peaceful possession of the property “, — said lawyer Maksym Tymochko.

Vladyslav Seleznev, together with human rights activists, urged the Government of Ukraine to take active and decisive action in order to protect the rights of citizens and influence the occupation state both on the national and international levels. Despite the fact that responsibility for the illegal expropriation of property is fully borne by the Russian Federation, the Ukrainian Government should also not stand aside from the problems of victims of the armed conflict, including the problems of internally displaced persons from occupied Crimea. Unfortunately, the families of the Ukrainian military, like other citizens who were forced to move from Crimea, were denied access to new housing outside the occupied territory. Human rights activists emphasize that the Government should pay attention to this problem and take measures to minimize losses of Ukrainian citizens who suffered from aggression in the Russian Federation.

The Principles on Housing and Property Restitution for Refugees and Displaced Persons oblige Ukraine to give priority to the right to restitution as an overriding means of redress in the event of displacement and as one of the key elements in restoring justice. National legislation also obliges Ukraine to take active measures to guarantee its citizens the right to own immovable property in the temporarily occupied territory and to facilitate internally displaced persons in obtaining housing at a new place of residence.

Photo by the Ukrainian Crisis Media Center

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