Statement about the illegal Decree of the President of the RF on the prohibition for individuals without the citizenship of the RF to own the land of coastal sites of the temporarily occupied Crimea

March 28, 2020

The President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, by his decree expanded the list of territories and land parcels that cannot be owned by “foreigners” and "foreign legal entities" by adding to them the coastal areas of occupied Crimea. The relevant decree was published on the official legal information portal.

The list includes 19 coastal regions of occupied Crimea and Sevastopol, including the cities of Kerch, Feodosia, Sudak, Alushta, Yalta, Saky and Yevpatoria.

 According to Article 53 of the Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilians, the Occupying State is prohibited from any destruction of movable or immovable property, whether individually or collectively owned by individuals or the State, or by other public institutions or social or cooperative organizations. In addition, such actions by the occupying power may be considered as a violation of Article 1 of Protocol-1 to the ECHR on the protection of property rights, namely the violation of the right to peacefully own property.

According to Article 8 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, States provide effective mechanisms for preventing and remedying actions to strip the indigenous peoples of their lands, territories or resources, as well as for the forced displacement of the population in any form, purpose or effect violation or undermining of any rights of indigenous peoples.

It is obvious that the Russian authorities are trying to deprive the Crimean Tatars, as the indigenous people of Ukraine, of land ownership in order to replace the Crimean Tatar population in Crimea with a more loyal pro-Russian one.

According to Article 25 of the Declaration, indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their special spiritual connection with the land, territories, waters and sea coast traditionally owned or otherwise occupied by them or other resources. Article 26 states that indigenous peoples have a right to the lands, territories and resources they have traditionally owned, which they have traditionally occupied or otherwise used or acquired, and the right to own, use, exploit or control lands, territories and land resources that they possess in the light of traditional ownership or other traditional occupation or use, as well as those that they have otherwise acquired. It is the responsibility of the States to recognize and protect such lands, territories and resources, with due respect for the customs, traditions and tenure systems of the indigenous peoples concerned. In accordance with Article 27 of the Declaration, indigenous peoples have the right to participate in a fair, independent, impartial, open and transparent process of recognition and legal assertion of their rights over their own lands, territories and resources, including those which they have traditionally owned or otherwise possessed, occupied or used. The obligation to indemnify the indigenous peoples caused by the state is the responsibility of the state in accordance with the provisions of Article 28 of the Declaration.

 It is now evident that the Russian government is grossly violating the rights of the indigenous Crimean Tatar people, since de facto and de jure without any agreement with the representative bodies of the Crimean Tatars, a normative act was adopted that could potentially deprive the ownership of land of many Crimean Tatars, who did not succumb to the occupant’s pressure and refused to accept Russian citizenship while remaining loyal to Ukraine.

This decree also overtly violates the rights of all citizens of Ukraine who live in Crimea and have land property in the aforementioned territories. In particular, Article 13 of the Constitution of Ukraine states that land, its subsoil and other natural resources that are within the territory of Ukraine are objects of property of the Ukrainian people. Every citizen has the right to use the natural objects of ownership of the Ukrainian people in accordance with the law. Article 14 of the Constitution of Ukraine guarantees the right of ownership of land. This right is acquired and exercised by citizens, legal entities and the state solely in accordance with the law. By the decree of the President of the Russian Federation, all the above-mentioned constitutional rights of Ukrainian citizens were not only grossly violated, but also de facto abrogated.

The Crimean Tatar Resource Center strongly protests and declares that the decision of the President of the Russian Federation is illegal and criminal.

The Crimean Tatar Resource Center considers that in this case the rights of citizens of Ukraine to land ownership and use of natural resources, which are guaranteed by Articles 13 and 14 of the Constitution of Ukraine, were violated.

This decree also violated the inalienable rights of the Crimean Tatar people as indigenous peoples of Ukraine, contained in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Articles 4 and 5 of the Statement of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People “On Respect for the Inalienable Rights of Indigenous Crimean Tatar People in the Conditions of Temporary Occupation of Crimea by the Russian Federation” of November 17, 2019, in particular, the right to of the people own the land and natural resources of the land. The Russian authorities have also openly ignored the Declaration's obligation to reconcile land use and land ownership within traditional indigenous peoples’ place of residence.

The Russian Federation is misusing its legislation for political purposes, in particular to replace the Crimean population with a more loyal and pro-Russian one and to persecute the Crimean Tatars as indigenous people of Ukraine and Crimea.

The Crimean Tatar Resource Center calls on the international community, international human rights organizations to increase pressure on the Russian Federation and the occupying power of Crimea, in order to end the policy of replacing the population in occupied Crimea and deprivation of the citizens of Ukraine of their inalienable rights by the occupying power.

Press service of the Crimean Tatar Resource Center