WASHINGTON (QHA) -

The US State Department, in its statement published on March 14, condemned the repression and persecution of Crimean Tatars in the Crimea.

A statement entitled "Crimea is Ukraine" says that the Russian occupation authorities have subjected Crimean Tatars, ethnic Ukrainians, pro-Ukrainian activists, members of civil society and independent journalists to politically motivated persecution and ongoing repression, methodically suppressing non-governmental organizations and independent media.

The State Department notes that the so-called referendum held in 2014 in the annexed Crimea was fabricated and illegitimate.

“Crimean residents were compelled to vote under scrutiny by heavily armed Russian troops. Russia’s claim that Ukrainians made a free choice in that sham “referendum” has always lacked credibility," State Department spokesperson Heather Neuert stressed.

She pointed that claims of Russia on Ukrainian territory, which Russian President Vladimir Putin voiced while visiting the peninsula on March 14, are false.

"In his campaign rally in Crimea today, President Putin reiterated Russia’s false claims to Ukrainian territory in another open admission that the Russian government disdains the international order and disrespects the territorial integrity of sovereign nations," Neuert said in a statement.

She added that the US confirms its commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine in its internationally recognized borders.

"Crimea is part of Ukraine and our Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control of the peninsula to Ukraine," said a spokesperson for the US State Department.

Reportedly, the problems of observing human rights in the occupied Crimea were discussed in London and Paris at the round table "The Human Rights Situation in Crimean Tatars in Crimea" in the framework of the meeting of the Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

QHA