An expert spoke about the persecution of OCU believers, Muslims and Jehovah's Witnesses in the occupied Crimea

11.11.2020, 10:20
During the year in the occupied Crimea, the number of "cases" trumped-up by Russian security forces against Muslims increased to 70, the persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses and the ousting of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine from the peninsula increased.

An expert Oleksandr Sedov said this at an additional meeting on the human dimension organized by the OSCE, Ukrinform reports citing the Facebook page of the Crimean Human Rights Group.

"Since October 2019, the number of Muslims imprisoned in trumped-up cases has increased by 14 people and reached 70. First of all, people who are not indifferent and those who actively oppose such persecution will be affected by the repression. In addition to direct deprivation of liberty, punitive psychiatry is also used in the form of forced placement in psychiatric hospitals. The only accusation made by the Russian authorities against Muslims is conversations on religious topics," Sedov said.

As the expert noted, those already deprived of their liberty on such charges are sentenced to imprisonment for terms reaching 19 years.

Since October 2019 alone, 16 sentences have been passed against Crimean Muslims who have been imprisoned for long periods.
Also, Sedov noted, the persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses in Crimea, who are accused of extremism only because this religious organization is considered extremist in the Russian Federation, has reached a new level.

"If earlier criminal cases were initiated against Jehovah's Witnesses, and they were on recognizance not to leave for the duration of the investigation, then in 2020 they will be imprisoned immediately after being charged," the expert said.

According to him, in October, four representatives of Jehovah's Witnesses were sent to pre-trial detention facilities. In total, in 2020, six Jehovah's Witnesses members were deprived of their liberty in Crimea, and two more are awaiting sentencing.

Sedov also spoke about the refusal to register the Orthodox Church of Ukraine in Crimea and the withdrawal of churches from the UOC faithful.

"In the media controlled by the Russian authorities, the Church is called "schismatic" and illegitimate, since it is not subordinate to the Russian Orthodox Church," the expert noted.

The Crimean Human Rights Group also recorded more than a hundred illegally issued decisions "for missionary activity" in Crimea, which were fined at least RUR 1,340,500 (UAH 487,720).

Sedov called on the meeting participants to develop an effective mechanism for putting pressure on countries where human rights and international law are systematically violated.

"Crimea is an occupied territory of Ukraine, so the use of Russian law in Crimea to persecute religious organizations violates not only human rights, but also international humanitarian law," the CHRG expert concluded.