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U.S. Condemns Rights Abuses in Crimea


Crimean Tatar community leader Refat Chubarov arrives for a Security and Defense Committee meeting at the European Parliament in Brussels on Tuesday, March 24, 2015. The committee exchanged views on the militarization of Crimea and the security situation one year after the annexation by Russia. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

The Russian Ministry of Justice has suspended the activities of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, an institution registered with the Ukrainian Government and operating in Ukrainian territory, putting it on the Russian Government’s list of “extremist organizations.”

The Russian Ministry of Justice has suspended the activities of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, an institution registered with the Ukrainian Government and operating in Ukrainian territory, putting it on the Russian Government’s list of “extremist organizations.”

The Mejlis has long been a representative body for the Crimean Tatar population. It has also served as an important independent voice in preserving their culture and protecting them from discrimination.

State Department Spokesperson John Kirby called on Russia "to reverse the Ministry of Justice’s recent decision to designate the Crimean Tatar Mejlis as an 'extremist' organization and the decision by de facto authorities in Crimea to suspend this democratic institution."

This move against the Mejlis is the latest in a series of abuses perpetrated by de facto authorities against those in Crimea who oppose the Russian occupation and attempted annexation, including Crimean Tatars and members of other ethnic and religious minorities in Crimea.

According to latest State Department Human Rights Report, over the past year, Russian security services engaged in an extensive campaign of intimidation to suppress dissent and opposition to the occupation that employed kidnappings, disappearances, physical abuse, and deportations in Crimea.

More broadly, Russian authorities engaged in a widespread campaign to suppress free speech and media in Crimea. They refused to register Crimean media and news organizations, preventing them from operating legally. Security services also detained and abused journalists and threatened them with prosecution for opposing the occupation.

On April 19, Russian authorities detained several journalists in Crimea and raided five offices of media outlets on the peninsula. One journalist, Mykola Semena, was detained for allegedly speaking out against Russia’s occupation. This is the latest in a pattern of attempts to muzzle free speech in Crimea.

The United States condemns the ongoing abuses in Crimea and again calls on Russia to end its occupation of Crimea. Sanctions related to Crimea will remain in place until Russia ends its occupation and returns the peninsula to Ukraine.

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