Crimea, murders and kidnappings

Serious and repeated human rights violations, persecution of Tatar and Ukrainian minorities, intimidation of journalists and activists, restriction of freedom of religion. According to the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, after the annexation, Crimea is a hell for freedoms.

 Anadol AjansAnadol Ajans

Nils Muižnieks, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, is an American of Latvian birth. Probably, for somebody, there's nothing more anti-Russian than a Baltic with mentality formed in the United States. Muižnieks was on a mission in Crimea on early September. He met with political leaders and senior local officials, like president-elected Sergei Aksionov and the beautiful attorney general Nadija Poklonskaja; but also with representatives of the local community of Tatars, activists and journalists. When asked to sum up the situation that he found in Crimea, he spoke frankly: "I have received reports of at least two murders and five politically motivated kidnappings, not to mention intimidation, harassment and assaults." I think it’s the moment he showed his Anglo-Saxon pragmatism.

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I have to try that. The words "human rights violations" in some cases - and this is one - sound like a sterile definition that ends up hiding what's really going on. Then I try to tell one of the stories mentioned in the report. Reshat Ametov was a 39-year-old Tatar, a seasonal worker and father of three children. He often posted his Facebook page issues related to the community The last time he was seen, on March 3, he was in the streets of Simferopol to take part to the protest march against Russian troops in Crimea. Three men - two in military-style jackts and one in black leather jacket - took him from the group and pushed him in a dark car. Someone filmed the whole scene, and that's the reason why we know how things went on. Otherwise, we would know only of his body found with signs of torture in the woods 60 kilometers from Simferopol, two weeks later. The beautiful Poklonskaja told Muižnieks that investigation was going on.

A hell for freedoms
According to the report, and the words of Muižnieks, many victims of serious violations expressed a critical position against the pseudo-referendum and the Russian annexation of Crimea. It may be a coincidence. Or it may be that both the pro-Russian local authorities and the federal Russian authorities are directly involved in the killings and kidnappings. What is sure is the involvement of the Samooborona Kryma, the paramilitary "self-defense force", which operated throughout the ''Operation Crimea". According to Muižnieks its existence is a major cause of concern for the protection of civil rights in Crimea, but Aksionov told him it is " an effective police-like force and will continue to operate."
Meanwhile, a few days before the arrival of Muižnieks, Liza Bohutska, a popular blogger, was arrested, her computer seized and her house searched of "banned literature". Liza was questioned about her participation in the same march when Ametov was abducted. When Muižnieks pointed out the case to Poklonskaja, he was told that the authorities do not intend to do take any action. "They told me it’s a personal matter", Muižnieks said. Who is going to tell them that justice is not a personal-matter-based issue?

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