Occupiers in Crimea do not cease religious harassment, - U.S. State Department
This is stated in the section dedicated to Crimea, the report on religious freedom in the world for 2020, published by the U.S. State Department, reports Ukrinform.
"The Russian authorities in the occupied Crimea continue to harass and intimidate religious communities of minorities, in particular Crimean Tatar Muslims, Jehovah's Witnesses, members of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and clergy," the report says, citing reports from religious activists, human rights groups and the media.
As of October last year, 69 Crimean residents remained behind bars for their involvement in the Muslim political organization Hizb ut-Tahrir, which is banned in Russia but is legal in many countries, including Ukraine. In addition, two Jehovah's Witnesses were serving prison sentences for their faith, the document says.
"The Russian occupier authorities continued to imprison Crimean Tatar Muslims, especially if the authorities suspected them of involvement in Hizb ut - Tahrir. In September, a Russian military court in the Southern Region of Crimea sentenced seven Muslim Crimean Tatars arrested in 2017 and 2018 to serve their sentences in a high-security penal colony," the State Department said.
In addition, representatives of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and other faiths are being oppressed by the occupier's authorities. Many religious communities have essentially been driven out of the occupied peninsula by the introduction of new registration requirements. Only the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate was exempt from these demands, the report emphasizes.
"The Russian government reported that 907 religious communities are registered in Crimea (including Sevastopol)... which is more than a thousand less than it existed before the occupation in 2014," the document says.
The State Department publishes an annual report on religious freedom in all countries of the world, which is compiled on the basis of the U.S. International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. The document describes in detail the state of religious freedom in almost 200 countries and territories.