The occupying Russian administration in Crimea continues to persecute Ukrainian citizens, using arbitrary arrests, torture and threats to restrict fundamental freedoms.
This is according to the annual report "Human Rights & Democracy" published on July 9 by the United Kingdom Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.
According to the 2020 report, human rights violations and abuses are ongoing: arbitrary arrests and detentions; intimidation of lawyers; and torture and ill-treatment. Russia continues to restrict freedoms of expression, association and of religion or belief, and to conscript Ukrainian citizens.
"The persecution of religious minorities continued, including the detention of Jehovah’s Witnesses who were labelled as ‘extremist’ and therefore banned. At least ten people remained imprisoned, 417 under criminal investigation, and 35 in pre-trial detention across Russia and Russian-occupied Crimea," the report says.
Stating that Russia continued to commit human rights violations in illegally annexed Crimea and, through its support to proxies, in eastern Ukraine, the report emphasised Russia continued to ignore calls to allow international monitoring organisations access to Crimea, and to remove restrictions on their access to non-government controlled areas of eastern Ukraine, obstructing an independent assessment of the human rights situation.
"In Crimea, the de facto Russian authorities continued to persecute minority groups and dissidents, using arbitrary arrests, torture and intimidation to restrict fundamental freedoms. At least 109 political prisoners remained in detention in Russia and Crimea, including 72 Crimean Tatars, many held in inhumane conditions, subject to torture and ill-treatment, or denied medical care. The UK provided support to human rights defenders in Crimea so that NGOs could continue to monitor human rights, and seek redress for victims of abuses," it reads.
The UK urged the Russian authorities to implement its international human rights obligations, saying that it would also support the new International Crimean Platform aimed at bringing together the international community to support the return of Crimea to Ukraine.