Amnesty International: anniversary of Russia annexation of Crimea highlights human rights and international law violations News
Amnesty International: anniversary of Russia annexation of Crimea highlights human rights and international law violations

Amnesty International (AI) said Monday that Crimean residents have suffered ten years of systematic oppression since Russia’s annexation of the region in 2014.

AI reported that since annexation, Russia has oppressed Crimea’s non-Russian residents, namely Ukrainians and Crimean Tartars, in two ways: by changing the region’s ethnic demographics and, more systematically, through “restrictions on education, religion, media, representative institutions, judicial system, and cultural celebrations.”

AI explained that Russian post-annexation figures of Crimea showed a decrease of Ukrainian residents by almost 10 percent and Crimean Tartars by 2 percent, which are figures AI says are inconsistent with even the highest numbers of these residents who fled the peninsula in 2014.  AI thus attributed the drop in residents to “ethnic Ukrainians now choosing or feeling compelled to identify as Russian, or a combination of both.” After annexation, all non-Russian residents were given citizenship to Russia unless they “formally opted out.” Opting out puts the “foreigner” in a disadvantaged position regarding their “economic, social, cultural, political and civil rights.”

Furthermore, AI noted how schools in the region enforce a Russian curriculum, restricting access to the Ukrainian language. Nine percent of children were taught in Ukrainian prior to annexation, with that number falling to less than one percent. With regard to religious freedom, the report pointed out that the Orthodox Church of Ukraine’s Crimean diocese “has effectively ceased to exist” after it was evicted from its cathedral. Other minority religions have been affected as well, including the region’s Muslim and Jehovah’s Witnesses populations. A Jehovah’s Witness in 2021 was sentenced to 6 and a half years in prison, as the religious group is considered an extremist organization. Furthermore, local Ukrainian media, including radio, television and print, was replaced by Russian media, leaving Crimea “severely deprived of information from the rest of Ukraine.”

AI attributed these Russian efforts in Crimea as a way to legitimize Russia’s “illegal” occupation in the region. The annexation was highly controversial in 2014, with the UN and EU declaring its transaction illegitimate. Russia and its politicians were also met with sanctions at the time.

AI called for Russia to cease its violations of international humanitarian laws in all of Crimea. In Moscow, celebrations were held commemorating the ten years of Crimea’s annexation.