By Babatunde Opalana
The United Nations Human Rights Office has accused the Russian government of grave human rights violations in the occupied Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
Agents of the Russian state were alleged to have committed serious human rights abuses, including torture since Russia occupied and seized control of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, a UN human rights report says.
The rights situation in Crimea “has significantly deteriorated under Russian occupation,” the UN Human Rights Office said in the September 25 report, also citing disappearances, infringements of the Geneva Conventions, and violations of international law.
It says that “grave human rights violations, such as arbitrary arrests and detentions, enforced disappearances, ill-treatment and torture, and at least one extra-judicial execution were documented.”
“There is an urgent need for accountability for human rights violations and abuses and for providing the victims with redress,” UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a statement.
Russia seized Crimea in March 2014, sending in troops and staging a referendum denounced as illegal by dozens of countries, after Moscow-friendly Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted by mass protests in Kyiv.
Many Western countries have imposed sanctions on Russia in response to the takeover of the Black Sea peninsula.
The UN report said the Geneva Conventions and other international humanitarian and human rights laws were violated when Moscow replaced Ukrainian laws with Russian laws in Crimea and imposed Russian citizenship on tens of thousands of residents.
The imposition of Russian citizenship had “a particularly harsh impact” on residents “who formally rejected citizenship; civil servants who had to renounced their Ukrainian citizenship or lose their jobs, and Crimean residents who did not meet the legal criteria” for Russian citizenship and “became foreigners,” the UN report said.
People without Russian citizenship, who hold a residency permit in Crimea are now “deprived of important rights” and “do not enjoy equality before the law,” it said. It said they “cannot own agricultural land, vote and be elected, register a religious community, apply to hold a public meeting, hold positions in the public administration, and reregister their private vehicle on the peninsula.”
“Education in the Ukrainian language has almost disappeared from Crimea,” the report said.
With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP