Statement by Eskender Bariiev at the OSCE Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting

June 23, 2020

Statement by the Head of the Board of the Crimean Tatar Resource Center,Member of Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people Eskender Bariiev at the OSCE Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting on the topic: “Freedom of expression and its relation to other fundamental freedoms”.

Dear ladies and gentlemen!

I express my gratitude to the participating countries that supported the Luxembourg Declaration.

Since 2014, after the occupation of Crimea by Russia, the rights to freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and peaceful assembly have been systematically violated, which negatively affects the Crimean Tatar people. I am a member of the representative body of the indigenous people of Crimea – the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people. The Mejlis is the plenipotentiary representative body of the Crimean Tatar people, elected by Kurultai, ruled by the norms of the international law and the laws of Ukraine. The main goal of the Mejlis is to eliminate the consequences of the genocide committed by the Soviet Union against the Crimean Tatars. By a decision of the Supreme Court of Russia dated of September 29,2016, the Mejlis was declared an extremist organization and banned, thus violating the collective right of the Crimean Tatars to manage representative institutions. The occupation power prohibits the holding Mejlis meetings for the adoption of decisions important to the Crimean Tatar people. The FSB carries out systematic repressions against a number of members of Mejlises and delegates of Kurultai. I can’t live in my own house, in Crimea. The FSB of Russia conducted repressive actions against me and opened criminal cases. They searched my house, knowing that they would not find anything. Searches and detentions were carried out at more than 20 households of Mejlis members of all levels. By the decisions of the occupation courts, I was arrested in absentia and put on the international wanted list because of my participation and statements made at various venues of the UN, OSCE, CE, etc. The leaders of the Crimean Tatars Mustafa Dzhemilev and Refat Chubarov were deported from their native land, and in 2020 the invaders opened new criminal proceedings against them. The journalist Gulsum Khalilova was accused of participating in an armed formation on the territory of a foreign state and was arrested in absentia. The occupation power suppresses any form of realization of the right of the Crimean Tatar people to freedom of expression.

May 18 – is the Remembrance Day of Victims of Genocide of the Crimean Tatar People. Every year, mourning public events were held in the settlements of the peninsula, but after the occupation of Crimea "authorities" prohibit holding mourning rallies. Since the beginning of the year, more than 70 activists have received "Cautions about the inadmissibility of rallies, marches, and rallies from February 23 to June 26."Due to the ban of the Mejlis, the Crimean Tatar people are deprived of the right to hold democratic elections of their representative bodies in Crimea. The cases of prohibition of freedom of expression described above are not isolated. This is a systematic practice aimed at suppressing civic activism of representatives of the indigenous people of Crimea.


At the international level:

1. The OSCE participating States should urge Russia to implement the Interim Decision of the UN ICJ, the Resolutions of the OSCE PA lift a ban on the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people;

2. To create a systematic dialogue between the OSCE and other international organizations in order to ensure synergy of efforts;

To the Russian Federation:

1. To implement the interim decision of the UN ICJ, i.e. to cancel the Supreme Court ruling on the  ban of  Mejlis and allow it to work in the territory of Crimea;

2. To fulfill its all obligations as an occupying power, exercising de facto control over Crimea, in accordance with applicable rules of international law.