Representatives of the CTRC told the OSCE about torture and ill-treatment of political prisoners in the occupied Crimea

April 25, 2023

On Monday, April 24 at 17:30, in Vienna, the Crimean Tatar Resource Center held a side event on the topic “Broad-scale practice of torture and ill-treatment in conditions of  Russian occupation: Crimean examples”.

As you know, on February 24, 2022, Russia launched a full-scale and open military aggression against Ukraine. Russian-controlled troops and mercenaries are committing gross violations of international humanitarian law, torture and humiliating treatment in Ukraine.

During the side event, topics such as:

  1. Tortures and ill-treatment in Russia-occupied Crimea since 2014 as a form of racial
    discrimination as well as ill-treatment in Russia occupied south of Ukraine since 2022 as
    a tool of Russian aggression and state terrorism.
    2. Tortures and ill-treatment against Crimean sportsmen and relevant «Olympic»
    provocations of Russia.
    3. Ill-treatment against Ukrainian children, deported to the occupied Crimea

The side event was attended by: Eskender Bariiev, Head of the Board of the Crimean Tatar Resource Center, Head of the Department for Legal and Foreign Affairs of Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, Borys Babin, Lawyer, Professor, Expert of the Crimean Tatar Resource Center, Liudmyla Korotkykh, Manager of the Crimean Tatar Resource Center, Tetiana Podvorniak, Manager of Communications CTRC, Olesia Tsybulko, expert of the Association for the Reintegration of Crimea.

In his speech, the Head of the board of the CTRC, Eskender Bariiev, mentioned the first victims of the occupation of Crimea among civilians (Reshat Amet and Edem Asanov), who were killed by Russian occupiers. Bariiev also spoke about numerous violations of human rights in the pre-trial detention center. The expert stressed that such actions of the occupiers are the result of impunity, insufficient and untimely reaction of the international community.

“Unfortunately, impunity, insufficient and untimely reaction of the international community led to the progression and scale of these atrocities, which spread to the new occupied territories of Ukraine and manifested themselves with even greater cruelty”,-Bariiev said.

Bariiev also did not avoid the topic of deportation of Ukrainian children from the temporarily occupied Kherson region to Crimea. He recalled that a total of 1939 children were taken to Yevpatoriia. The expert noted that this is a direct violation of the Geneva Convention.

“The Geneva Convention for the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War prohibits the transfer of children from the territory of hostilities to the territory of the aggressor state. They should be provided with humanitarian corridors to the safe zone of their home country or a neutral country. The decision of the International Criminal Court to issue warrants for the arrest of Russian President Putin and Presidential Commissioner for Children Maria Lvova-Belova is also the result of the systemic and painstaking work of the team of the Crimean Tatar Resource Center”,-Bariiev emphasized.

In turn, Olesia Tsybulko, an expert of the Crimean Reintegration Association, in her speech reported to the participants about torture as a criminal practice in the territories occupied by Russia, about the corresponding illegal administrative practice of Russia, as well as about the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights.

“Like all human rights violations that occur in the territories occupied by Russia during the interstate conflict, they are the subject of war crimes. Russian-controlled individuals and Kremlin propaganda deny such obvious facts, but the involvement of high-ranking Russian officials in such international crimes against security and cooperation in Europe can be proven in a simple way”,- Olesia said.

The expert also reminded which groups in the occupied territories are most vulnerable to torture.

“These are hostages from Ukrainian civil activists, prisoners of war held by Russia in Crimea in terrible conditions, Ukrainian children deported from the mainland to Crimea and Russia as a genocidal practice of the Kremlin, representatives of the indigenous Crimean Tatar people and various minorities. Russian mercenaries and paramilitary structures is also an instrument of such Russian criminal policy”,- the expert reported.

Manager and lawyer of the CTRC Liudmyla Korotkykh told the international community about the violation of human rights by Russian occupants in the newly occupied territories of the Kheron and Zaporizhzhia regions. Korotkykh noted that in some settlements, such as the city of Henichesk or Novaya Kakhovka, temporarily controlled by Russian occupiers, dungeons have been set up in which there are citizens of Ukraine who participated in actions against the occupation or have a clear pro-Ukrainian position.

Korotkykh also emphasized the frequent cases of hijackings in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.

“In 2022, the Crimean Tatar Resource Center recorded 299 violent abductions in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, 84 of which were representatives of the indigenous Crimean Tatar people. Thanks to the timely response of the Crimean Tatar Resource Center, in particular the submission of complaints to the UN Working Group on Violence. 25 people are in custody, the fate of 218 people remains unknown”,- the manager said.

Communication Manager of the CTRC Tetiana Podvorniak raised the issue of Torture and ill-treatment in the Russian-occupied Crimea since 2014 as a form of racial discrimination. The manager told the world community about particularly cruel cases of torture by the occupiers (imitation of execution, death threats, electric shock, putting bags over his head and cases of a murderer during torture). Podvorniak also noted cases of death of Ukrainian political prisoners in pre-trial detention centers and colonies due to the failure of the Russian security forces to provide timely medical assistance.

“Two illegally convicted political prisoners, citizens of Ukraine, died in Russian places of detention in 2023: on February 7, Kostantin Shring died in colony 5 in the city of Novotroitsk, Orenburg region, and on February 10, in pre-trial detention center 3 in Novocherkassk, Rostov region, political prisoner Dzhemil Gafarov died. Both political prisoners had significant health problems, which they and their defenders have repeatedly stated both when they were illegally detained during the trial, and when they were imprisoned in places of captivity after the proclamation of illegal sentences. But the Russian authorities have long set a course for the deliberate and systematic destruction of Ukrainian citizens, so they were not provided with the necessary medical care, which became the actual cause of their death”,- Tetiana noted.

Borys Babin, lawyer, professor, expert of the Crimean Tatar Resource Center, informed about the torture of political prisoners of Crimea from among the athletes, paid attention to the persecution of the Abdullayev brothers. In addition, the expert drew attention to Russia’s participation in the 2024 Olympic Games and called on the Executive Committee of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to decide not to allow Russian athletes in any capacity.