The Book “The Fear Peninsula” Describing What Happened to Crimea during a Year Was Presented in Kyiv

The publication “The Fear Peninsula: Chronicle of Occupation and Violation of Human Rights in Crimea” (the authors – Serhii Zaiets, Oleksandra Matviichuk, Tetiana Pechonchyk, Daria Svyrydova and Olha Skrypnyk) was presented in Kyiv. The book contains the results of work of Ukrainian human rights organisations, in particular, the analysis of violations of international law in connection with the occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol by troops of the Russian Federation, the list of main resolutions of international bodies assessing these events, as well as the documentary evidence of human rights violations on the temporarily occupied territory of Crimea in the period from February 2014 to March 2015.

The publication debunks allegations of Russian propaganda that the annexation of Crimea took place in a peaceful and non-violent manner, and contains a chronicle of the occupation actions taken by the Russian militarised groups and evidence of their presence since February 23, 2014. The book contains the documented evidence of forced disappearances, torture and murders that accompanied the occupation actions on the Crimean Peninsula, and description of political persecutions and the most serious violations of human rights in Crimea during a year.

According to Olha Skrypnyk, the Head of Civic Education Centre “Almenda”, in the international arena, the Russian Federation is stressing the voluntary annexation of Crimea. However, de facto, Russia by military intervention seized a part of independent Ukraine, which is defined as occupation in the international law.

“The main military and administrative facilities of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol had been captured by “green men”, most of which are the Russian military men, by March 16. What kind of “voluntary referendum” can be held in the situation of occupation? The Russian Federation is also trying to hush up the facts of resistance of the Crimeans. Therefore, pro-Ukrainian and anti-war rallies were brutally dispersed, activists were kidnapped and tortured, and independent journalists were persecuted. After that a regime was established aimed at full suppression of fundamental rights and freedoms,” says Olha Skrypnyk.

“Russia says that the annexation of Crimea took place without bloodshed, but it is not this way: We know at least three cases of death of people in Crimea due to occupation actions taken by the Russian troops and the so-called “Crimean self-defence”. It refers to the murders of Crimean Tatar Reshat Ametov and two Ukrainian military men – Serhii Kokurin and Stanislav Karachevskyi,” says Tetiana Pechonchyk, the Chairman of the Management Board of the Human Rights Information Centre.

According to her, the occupation actions in Crimea were accompanied by kidnapping, illegal detention and torture of those who protested against the occupation or recorded and documented illegal actions of the Russian military men and local paramilitary groups. “First and foremost, it concerns the enforced disappearances of pro-Ukrainian activists (Andrii Shchekun, Anatolii Kovalskyi, Oleksandr Riazantsev, Kateryna Butko, Oleksii Hrytsenko, Nataliia Lukianenko, Serhii Suprun) and Crimean Tatars (Reshat Ametov), as well as journalists and photographers (Olena Maksymenko, Oles Kromplias), cameramen of the Babylon’13 group (Yaroslav Pilunskyi and Yurii Hryzunov; the latter is a citizen of the Russian Federation). However, there were also “accidental victims”, such as, for example, Yurii Shevchenko who was neither interested in politics nor engaged in public activities, but at the railway station in Simferopol he was mistaken for an activist of “some radical organisation”, detained and then tortured and shot in the legs,” says Tetiana Pechonchyk.

Oleksandra Matviichuk, the Chairman of the Management Board of the Centre for Civil Liberties, stated that in general, persecutions are not systematic in the Russian Federation and are used selectively in respect of specific persons. At the same time, the occupying authorities in Crimea use whatever tools that are provided for by the legislation and practice of the Russian Federation to suppress any alternative points of view in order to completely destroy the entire independent civil society in the peninsula.

“The situation is complicated by the fact that currently there are no legal mechanisms for protection from political persecutions in the peninsula. Therefore, people who carry out public activities that are not controlled by the authorities or have any point of view which differs from a pro-government one must choose – either to leave Crimea or to stop any social activity and hold their tongues,” says Oleksandra Matviichuk.

The legal situation faced by the Crimean Peninsula after the occupation by the Russian Federation creates not only prerequisites for the development of new approaches in terms of international law, but many serious daily problems for ordinary people on the occupied territories of Crimea as well.

“The so-called “legal grey area” in Crimea leads to the simultaneous use on these territories of both Russian and Crimean legislations, which are sufficiently rigid and less favourable to the protection of human rights, and Ukrainian legislation that largely governs the citizens of Ukraine in Crimea. The forced and opaque system of obtaining the citizenship of the Russian Federation, criminal prosecutions of activists and forced deportation of opponents, almost complete absence of an independent judiciary in the peninsula, daily threats and insecurity of property rights – all this became a “legalized” reality of the Crimeans under occupation,” says the Lawyer of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union Daria Svyrydova.

In this context, the book “The Fear Peninsula” is an important advocacy material, as the publication contains the systematised compilation of main resolutions of international bodies and institutions assessing the events in Crimea, as well as the basic legal acts which were adopted in Ukraine, the Russian Federation and the self-proclaimed authorities of Crimea for the year. These documents regulate the legal status of the peninsula and are important for the solution of daily life problems of ordinary people.

In opinion of the expert of the Regional Human Rights Centre Serhii Zaiets, the existence of such compilation with direct references to specific documents can be a very useful resource for international and domestic lawyers and institutions when dealing with the “Crimean issue”.

The publication is designed for representatives of human rights organisations, diplomatic missions and governmental bodies. 

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