Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman Sunday reported that Russia is illegally detaining 180 political prisoners in occupied Crimea. Dmytro Lubinets’ report comes as the country marks the ninth anniversary of Russia’s occupation of the peninsula.
Since Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, President Volodymr Zelensky has promised to take back all of Ukraine’s territory including Crimea, stating that “by returning Crimea, we will restore peace.”
Lubinets stated that Russia continues to persecute Ukrainians in occupied Crimea by performing illegal searches, fabricating criminal cases and reaching false verdicts. He stated that this harsh repression fell particularly hard on the indigenous Crimean Tatars.
He described the recent deaths of two political prisoners after they were tortured as an example of Russia’s “flagrant violation of fundamental human rights.”
Kostiantyn Shiring was sentenced to 12 years in prison last year for alleged spying and died in a penal colony in the remote town of Novotroitsk. Dzhemily Gafarov was sentenced in January of this year for belonging to a banned political organisation, Hizbut Tahrir, members of which are regularly persecuted in Russia and Crimea. He died in Russian pre-trial detention.
Neither were provided with necessary medical attention. Crimea SOS, a human rights NGO, has previously reported the inhuman and degrading treatment that prisoners suffer whilst in Russian detention centre.
This update is in line with a previous inquiry by the United Nations that Russia has committed war crimes in Ukraine.