Opposition activists carry the Ukrainian national flag during an action of protest against the current regime in Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, May 18, 2013. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

13.11.2014

Dokumentation: Menschenrechtssituation auf der Krim

Der Menschenrechtskommissar des Europarats, Nils Muižniek, hat einen Bericht über die Menschenrechtssituation auf der Krim verfasst, der in Ausschnitten hier zu lesen ist. Dieser Bericht hat außerdem eine Antwort des russischen Außenministeriums zur Folge gehabt, welche ebenfalls hier zu lesen ist.

Das Ratsgebäude der Krimtataren in Simferopol, umstellt von russischen Soldaten.Das Ratsgebäude der Krimtataren in Simferopol, umstellt von russischen Soldaten. (© picture-alliance, AA)

Inhalt

Der folgende Text ist ein Auszug aus dem Bericht des Menschenrechtskommissars des Europarates, Nils Muižnieks, vom 27. Oktober 2014. Aus Gründen der besseren Lesbarkeit wurden die Fußnoten entfernt. Der vollständige Bericht ist auf der Webseite des Europarates zu finden.[1]

Die Redaktion der Ukraine-Analysen.

3.1. Human Rights Situation in Crimea

3.1.1. Accountability for Serious Human Rights Violations 12. The Commissioner for Human Rights received reports from international organisations and human rights groups about cases of deaths and disappearances under suspicious circumstances which occurred after February 2014 in Crimea. During his stay in Simferopol, the Commissioner had an opportunity to discuss those matters with lawyers and civil society representatives and subsequently raised five specific cases (two deaths and three cases of missing persons) at his meeting with the local leadership.

13. One of the above-mentioned cases involves Reshat Ametov, who was reportedly last seen at a protest on the main square in Simferopol on 3 March 2014. He was allegedly then led away by three men in military-style jackets, and footage of the incident was shown on the Crimean Tatar television channel ATR. His body—reportedly bearing signs of ill-treatment—was found on 16 March 2014 at a locality 67 km east of Simferopol, in the village of Zemlyanichne (Bilohirsk district). The circumstances of Mr Ametov’s disappearance and death have not been clarified to date. The local prosecutorial authorities informed the Commissioner that the investigation was still ongoing and that 300 expert examinations had been carried out. The Commissioner considers that all relevant video recordings purportedly showing Mr Ametov being taken from the site of the 3 March protest should be subject to an expert analysis. Further, steps should be taken to identify the three men shown in those videos, and to question them.

14. Another case concerned a 16-year old student, Mark Ivanyuk, who died under unclear circumstances on the highway Chernomorskoe-Olenevka on 21 April 2014. While the leadership in the region released information that the death was due to a hit-and-run car accident, certain media reported that the person’s mother had alleged police involvement in his death. When the Commissioner raised the case, Ms Poklonskaya indicated that the local prosecutorial authorities were not aware of it.

15. The Commissioner also enquired about the cases of three local civil society activists, Leonid Korzh, Timur Shaimardanov, and Seiran Zinedinov, who went missing at the end of May 2014 (respectively, since 22, 26, and 30 May). Mr Shaimardanov and Mr Zinedinov are included in the publicised list of missing persons. According to information provided by the prosecutorial authorities in a letter dated 31 July 2014 addressed to the Crimean Human Rights Field Mission, criminal proceedings have been opened in connection with the disappearances of Mr Shaimardanov and Mr Zinedinov, while the disappearance of Mr Korzh has not been confirmed and additional verifications in this regard have been ordered. After the mission, the Commissioner became aware of reports about the abduction by uniformed men of Islyam Dzhepparov and Dzhevdet Islyamov on 27 September 2014 near the Simferopol–Feodosia highway. The men were placed in a minibus and taken in an unknown direction, and criminal proceedings have been opened in relation to their abduction.

16. A contact group on missing persons had its first meeting on 14 October 2014 with the leader of the region, Mr Aksionov, and investigative authorities. The contact group includes victim representatives and its coordinator, Mr Mammet Mambetov, is a Crimean activist. According to a press release issued by the contact group following the aforementioned meeting, the representative of the investigating authorities, Mr Bogdan Frantsishko, had indicated that criminal proceedings into the premeditated murders of Mr Shaimardanov and M Zinedinov had been initiated. Further, criminal proceedings had been initiated into the abduction of Mr Dzhepparov and Mr Islyamov.

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19. The Commissioner noted with concern that at least some of the above-mentioned cases involved activists who—according to various reports—have openly expressed critical views of the events unfolding in the region after February 2014. It is also worrisome that there have been allegations of implication of members of the "self-defence" forces in these violations (cf. the section on "Self-Defence forces"). There is an urgent need to carry out effective investigation into all allegations about abuses by the police and other auxiliary forces that have been operating in the region since February 2014.

3.2 Situation of Minorities

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21. The Commissioner received reports about a number of searches—carried out by armed and masked members of the security forces—in Muslim religious institutions, as well as businesses and private homes belonging to members of the Crimean Tatar community. The purpose of those actions was to search for prohibited items, including weapons and "extremist literature". By the time of the Commissioner’s visit, such searches had been carried out in 8 out of 10 religious schools (madrasas) belonging to the Spiritual Directorate of the Muslims of Crimea (Dukhovnoe Upravlenie Musulman Kryma). There were also reports that "informative talks" had been carried out with scores of persons in order to check whether they adhered to "undesirable" or "non-traditional" forms of Islam. The perception among various representatives of the Crimean Tatar community was that the above-mentioned actions were intrusive and performed with an intent to intimidate them. Moreover, Mr Mustafa Dzhemilev, one of the key leaders of the Crimean Tatar community and former Chairman of the Mejlis, and Refat Chubarov, the current Chairman of the Mejlis have respectively been barred since 22 April and 5 July 2014 from entering the territory of Crimea.

22. During his meeting with the regional leadership on 11 September 2014, the Commissioner expressed the opinion that the above-mentioned searches and checks were disproportionate and excessive, and that care should be taken to avoid any further actions which selectively target members of the Crimean Tatar community in the name of fighting extremism. In response, the authorities indicated that they would engage with representatives of the Crimean Tatar community with a view to resolving the problem. However, on 18 September 2014, after the Commissioner’s return from the mission, he was informed that the building of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis in Simferopol—which he had visited—was seized by security forces and that the employees of the organisations located in the building were evicted, reportedly on the basis of a court order.

23. The local leaders also informed the Commissioner about certain steps they have been taking with regard to promoting the economic and social rights of the Crimean Tatar community, aimed at resolving some of their long-standing issues of concern. They specifically referred to initiatives such as a "land amnesty" and efforts to address housing problems. In addition, they maintained that the status of the Crimean Tatar language and the possibility to observe religious holidays were better protected.

24. The Commissioner also looked into the situation of ethnic Ukrainians residing on the peninsula. In the wake of the events of February–March this year, some of them decided to leave the region because they no longer felt secure, while others preferred to refrain from openly stating and/or manifesting their views.

25. The Commissioner took note of the allegations about attempts to gain control over churches owned by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate and apply pressure upon priests serving in the Crimean diocese. One such incident was reported on 1 June 2014 when uniformed men, said to be Cossacks and members of the "self-defence" forces, entered a local church in the village of Perevalne proclaiming that they were seizing it with the intention of transferring it to the authority of the Moscow Patriarchate. According to the local head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate, archbishop Kliment, six out of fifteen churches belonging to that religious denomination were no longer under the control of the Kyiv Patriarchate. The Commissioner raised the matter with the local leaders and urged them to enter into a dialogue with the representative of that church with a view to resolving the foregoing issues. The Commissioner’s interlocutors promised to organise such a meeting.

26. The Commissioner is of the opinion that multiculturalism is a unique feature and asset of this territory and should be nurtured and preserved, including through the media, as well as in schools and public institutions. Despite the changing legal framework, the three languages—Russian, Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian—continue to be used as languages of communication. However, the Commissioner received reports that the use of Ukrainian language in the schools has been diminishing. Apparently, the only Ukrainian-language gymnasium in Simferopol has been transformed into a school where in some classes education will continue to be provided in Ukrainian, while in other classes Russian will become the language of instruction. Whether this was done on the basis of the requests received from the parents of the schoolchildren has been a matter of some dispute. Moreover, whether parents can make language choices free of pressure has also been questioned.

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3.3 Media Situation

29. The Commissioner has received reports that certain of the Internet media resources and other media outlets which did not support the turn of events in the region since February have either relocated or closed down. Some media outlets and journalists have reportedly come under pressure due to the changing institutional and legal framework which has resulted in the application of more restrictive rules related to media work.

30. The Commissioner received information about two main "waves" of attacks against journalists: in March 2014, around the time of the "referendum", and in 15–19 May 2014, around the commemoration day of the 1944 deportation of Crimean Tatars (18 May). One case involved a local journalist, Osman Pashaev, who was detained and physically assaulted by members of "self-defence" forces on 18 May 2014 in Simferopol and subsequently left Crimea. The Commissioner had an opportunity to meet with some of the affected journalists who shared with him their accounts of being intimidated or assaulted by members of the "self-defence" forces.

31. In Simferopol, the Commissioner received confirmation of reports that media outlets had received warnings and/or were undergoing checks with regard to their alleged involvement in "extremist" activities. Those journalists who were covering the march of Crimean Tatars on 3 May 2014 to the Armyansk checkpoint to meet the leader of Crimean Tatar community, Mr Mustafa Dzhemilev, were notably affected by these measures. Despite such actions, the Crimean Tatar television channel ATR continued to be broadcast at the time of the Commissioner’s stay in the region. However, subsequently (24 September 2014), its general director received a letter from officials charged with combating extremism motivated by the channel’s change in content. In particular, the letter specified that the channel "persistently instils the perception about possible repression based on ethnic or religious grounds, fosters the formation of anti-Russian views, deliberately foments distrust among Crimean Tatars towards the authorities and their actions, which indirectly carries with it the threat of extremist activity".

32. A few days before the Commissioner’s arrival in Simferopol, the apartment of a popular blogger, Elizaveta Bohutska, had been searched and she had reportedly been questioned in connection to the 3 May rally (see previous paragraph) and in relation to her media reports critical of the policies of the current power-holders in the region. Following those incidents, she decided to relocate from Crimea. The local leadership confirmed they were aware of this particular case, but had no intention to take any action on the matter.

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3.4 Status of "Self-Defence" Forces (Samooborona)

34. The legal status and functions of the Crimean "Self-Defence" (Samooborona Kryma)—auxiliary forces which have been playing a visible role in the events of February–March 2014 and thereafter—were also among the issues raised by the Commissioner with his interlocutors in the region. As was mentioned in previous sections, the Commissioner received numerous reports that those forces have apparently been engaged in performing certain quasi-police functions and that, on a number of occasions, members of those forces have reportedly been implicated in cases of serious human rights violations, including abductions, arbitrary detention, ill-treatment and attacks against journalists. One of the many cases communicated to the Commissioner involved two activists, Andriy Schekun and Anatoly Kovalsky, who were detained and allegedly ill-treated by those forces on 9 March 2014. After spending eleven days detained in an unknown location, they were transferred to the territory under control of the Ukrainian government.

35. During his mission, the Commissioner heard several accounts about abuses committed by members of these units in relation to those expressing critical views about the events unfolding in the region, including journalists, representatives of ethnic minorities and other vulnerable groups. He was also informed about their alleged involvement in the seizure and "nationalisation" of private enterprises. One such case occurred during the Commissioner’s mission and was effectively acknowledged by the local leadership, who indicated that the interference was made due to unlawful actions by the company in question.

36. In June this year the local legislative body, in an apparently retroactive manner, endorsed a proposal to "legalise" those forces through an act which provided them with a rather wide range of functions, but included only a limited number of checks and appropriate safeguards. Furthermore, the Commissioner was informed that there were two legislative initiatives—one introduced locally and another one pending in the State Duma—which provides for immunity from prosecution for actions committed by members of those forces after February 2014.

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3.5 Situation of Human Rights Defenders and Human Rights Structures

41. On 5 March 2014, a group of human rights defenders from Ukraine, the Russian Federation and Crimea established the Crimean Human Rights Field Mission, with a view to ensuring the continued monitoring of the human rights situation on the ground. The mission acts from a politically neutral position and pays particular attention to interethnic and interreligious relations, as well as the actions of public authorities and their representatives. Since its creation, the mission has been issuing reports regularly and has come to represent a key source of information about human rights developments in Crimea. During his stay in the region, the Commissioner had an opportunity to meet with several activists working with the Crimean Human Rights Field Mission and other local civil society organisations who provided him with their insights into the complex environment in which they have to operate and the challenges that they encounter. In the course of discussions with various interlocutors throughout the mission, the Commissioner emphasised the need to promote safe and favourable conditions for the work of human rights NGOs. An open and meaningful dialogue between the authorities and civil society would certainly contribute to promoting better understanding and reconciliation among the different groups of people residing in Crimea.

42. The Commissioner received certain reports about instances of intimidation and harassment against human rights activists. Such episodes—if they are not condemned unequivocally—may foster negative stereotypes and prejudices towards human rights defenders in general. They can also lead to concrete difficulties and obstacles for the effective conduct of human rights work. The Commissioner would like to reiterate the principle that when individuals—together with others or alone—speak out for human rights or work for them with other means, they should be free to do so without being subjected to pressure. He would like to pay tribute to the human rights organisations working in the region for their commitment to fulfilling their mission, despite the challenges and risks involved.

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3.6 Citizenship-Related Issues

44. During his mission, some of the Commissioner’s interlocutors drew his attention to various aspects of the on-going process of issuance of Russian passports (commonly referred to as "passportisation") and shared their concerns as to how the choices made by various individuals may eventually affect their access to and enjoyment of a number of human rights.

45. The Russian Federation stipulated in its legislation that all permanent residents on the territory of Crimea, unless they explicitly refuse Russian citizenship, will become citizens of the Russian Federation one month after the date on which, according to the Russian Federation, Crimea was incorporated into its territory. Ukraine does not recognise "forced automatic admission" into Russian citizenship by Crimean residents and does not consider it a ground for deprivation of Ukrainian citizenship.

46. The Commissioner received several reports suggesting that the wish of the person concerned was not always taken into account throughout the above-mentioned process. It is difficult to establish at present in how many cases persons have "automatically" become Russian citizens, i.e. since they did not refuse Russian citizenship within the allocated period of time. In at least some of these cases there are reasons to believe that the affected persons did not have an effective possibility to exercise their choices (see below). The Commissioner was also made aware of some cases of persons who reportedly wished to acquire Russian citizenship but were not in a position to do so due to certain "eligibility" criteria (lack of proof of permanent residence has frequently been invoked in such cases).

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48. Another issue of concern raised by the Commissioner’s interlocutors relates to the effective possibility to express one’s wishes. The period granted for initiating a procedure to refuse Russian citizenship was very short (one month, expiring on 18 April 2014). Moreover, instructions from the relevant migration service as to the exact procedure to follow were only available as of 1 April 2014. Furthermore, information about the places where the relevant application should be submitted was only available after 4 April; from 4 to 9 April only two such places, in Sevastopol and in Simferopol, were functioning; as of 10 April, a total of nine localities had been made available. Finally, additional requirements were introduced during the process, such as the necessity to make an application in person, or that both parents were required for the application of a child.

49. Certain persons in closed institutions might have experienced difficulties with expressing their consent. This in particular applies to those imprisoned on remand or serving a sentence, as well as people in other closed institutions (geriatric institutions, hospitals and psycho-neurological clinics, orphanages, etc.) Concerning prisoners, the Commissioner received information that they had been "consulted" as to their preference, but no details were provided as to the exact procedure followed.

50. Persons who find themselves in the situation described above should also have all the necessary information enabling them to make an informed choice. In other words, they should be fully informed and have a clear understanding of all possible legal consequences attached to one option or the other. While individuals who initiated a procedure for refusing Russian citizenship were asked to sign a document stating they were fully aware of the legal consequences of their decision, it would appear that a whole range of important issues related to their future status has not been clarified to date. First and foremost, questions have been raised as to whether these individuals will "automatically" acquire permanent resident status or not, and to what extent this will affect their social and economic rights, access to employment, and similar issues.

51. For certain groups of individuals—such as civil servants—the decision not to accept Russian citizenship meant the loss of their current employment. The Commissioner also received reports suggesting that public sector employees (e.g. teaching staff in universities and other educational institutions) were also "advised" to renounce their Ukrainian citizenship.

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3.8 Access of International Humanitarian and Human Rights Organisations

53. There appears to be an issue with regard to free and unhindered access of international organisations and missions to the region, including those whose mandate is to provide independent and impartial monitoring of the human rights situation. Some of these obstacles stem from the relevant legislative framework, others from its practical implementation; still others arise from what appears to be an arbitrary or selective application of the rules by the relevant executing bodies. Except for the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, representatives of other international institutions, including UN OHCHR, have not been able to secure access of their monitors to the region after March 2014.

54. On 15 April 2014, the Ukrainian Parliament (Verkhovna Rada) adopted a law "On legal guarantees of people’s rights and freedoms on the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine." While it contains no restrictions on the freedom of movement for Ukrainian citizens to/from Crimea, the law provides for restrictions on the freedom of movement of foreigners and stateless persons. According to Article 10.2 of the law, these categories of visitors should obtain a special permit to enter/leave the territory of the peninsula through specific entry points (along the boundary line between the Crimean peninsula and Kherson oblast). The procedure for obtaining special permits is to be determined by the Cabinet of Ministers (Government of Ukraine). At the same time, Article 5 of the law reiterates the State’s obligation to undertake all the necessary measures to guarantee rights and freedoms of the persons residing on the territory of the peninsula. At the time of drafting this report, the procedure for entry into the region was still under elaboration. In his discussions with the official interlocutors in Kyiv, the Commissioner emphasised that it was of utmost importance to ensure that the procedure in question be formulated in a way that would facilitate the work of humanitarian organisations and international human rights monitors and missions in the region.

55. During his exchange of views in Moscow with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Commissioner formed the impression that the Russian authorities consider that the access route via Moscow represents the best option under the current circumstances. Apart from the requirement to obtain a Russian visa, the Commissioner does not have information suggesting that the legislation which is effectively (de facto) applied in the region imposes any additional or separate rules or procedures on foreign citizens and/or stateless persons wishing to enter the region by land from the north.

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Quelle: Report by Nils Muižnieks, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Following His Mission in Kyiv, Moscow and Crimea from 7 to 12 September 2014, Strasbourg, 27 October 2014, https://wcd.coe.int/com.instranet.InstraServlet?command=com.instranet.CmdBlobGet&InstranetImage=2624575&SecMode=1&DocId=2197556&Usage=2.

Fußnoten

1.
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Ukraine