US Department of State published report on human rights in annexed Crimea: Torture, abductions and strange deaths in detention centers

14 March 2019, 17:33

Following the Russian occupation of the Crimea, the Russian security services consistently strengthened their control on the annexed peninsula and violated human rights.

This follows from the report of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the US Department of State.

According to American experts, the Russian occupation authorities did not conduct an adequate investigation into the abductions and killings of the residents of Crimea in 2014 and 2015.

The report presents UN data from 2014 to 2018, which indicated that 42 people were abducted in the peninsula, 12 of them were missing, one was found dead, two were officially detained and 27 were released. None of the perpetrators were brought to justice.

The document notes the fact that Russian occupying forces subject the Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians to physical violence.

For example, on June 28, 2018, the FSB of Russia searched the house of the Crimean Tatar activist Akhtem Mustafayev and detained him. Moreover, the Russian security forces put a plastic bag over his head and took him to the basement of an unknown building. Then he was beaten, forced to kneel, handcuffed his hands behind his back and threatened that no one would ever find him.

Reportedly, Mustafayev was tortured for four hours, and immediately after his release, he fled to mainland Ukraine.

The report was also based on data from the Crimean Human Rights Group, which states that from the beginning of the occupation until October 2017, the accused Crimean Tatars were subjected to psychiatric examination and detention against their will without obvious medical necessity.

Human rights monitors reported that the occupation authorities also threatened people with violence or imprisonment if they did not testify in court against those who were against the occupation.

In April 2018, at least four people died in suspicious circumstances in Simferopol pretrial detention center, including two Crimean Tatars. On April 6, Server Bilyalov and Oleg Goncharov were found hanged. On April 12, Dmitry Shaposhnik was found hanged in a punishment cell. On April 13, Islam Iskers was found with his throat slit in an isolation cell.

The Directorate of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia officially confirmed three deaths, but the occupation authorities did not initiate investigations.

According to the Crimean Human Rights Group, 31 Crimean prisoners have been transferred to the Russian Federation since the beginning of the occupation in 2014. The report further stresses that detention in prisons and places of detention in the Russian Federation is life threatening due to overcrowding and poor conditions.

The report also notes that Russia restricts freedom of expression, media, peaceful assembly, association, religion, movement and travel, and so on in Crimea.

Earlier, the US House of Representatives, with 427 votes in favor, adopted a bill prohibiting from recognizing the annexation of Crimea to Russia. The new law also prohibits US federal departments and agencies from carrying out any actions or providing any support that may be interpreted as contrary to US policy.