‘In the Donbas, there is a war, but in Crimea, there is terror,’ Crimeans say

A portrait of Putin with "Crimea" written on the upper lip

A portrait of Putin with "Crimea" written on the upper lip 

2015/05/26 • Analysis & Opinion, Crimea, Russia

Many believe that the situation in Russian-occupied Crimea is “not so terrible” because there is no war going on there, Abmezhit Suleymanov says. But in many ways, the situation in Crimea is even worse: in the Donbas, “you know who your enemy is;” in Crimea, there are enemies “all around you” and residents live in a state of terror.

Suleymanov, who is a representative of the Mejlis committee for the defense of the rights of Crimean Tatars, made these comments to Glavred.info in an article today which also features other reports from people in the occupied peninsula who ask that no one forget what is taking place there.

Some high-profile cases of this terror have attracted international attention, but activists in Crimea and in Kyiv say that there are far more lower-level ones that pass unnoticed and that even they are not able to register and thus provide documentation to national and international bodies.

It appears, they say, that “Russia needs Ukrainian ‘spies,’ ‘snipers,’ and ‘terrorists’” and has a variety of charges officials may use or actions some of them or ordinary pro-Moscow people may employ to repress anyone who is not enthusiastically on the side of the new order following the Anschluss.

Oleksandra Matviychuk, president of the Kyiv-based Center for Civil Liberties and coordinator of Euromaidan SOS, says that “such ‘a menu’ is used by the occupation authorities for suppressing the initiatives of representatives of civil society” and that “their victims are people of the most varied professions, ages, and activities. But they are all united by the fact that they are publicly active and not under the control of the occupation authorities.”

Tamila Tasheva, coordinator of the Crimea SOS organization, says that “the international community is devoting more attention to what is taking place in [the Donbas than in Crimea]. And this is logical, but in Crimea we see a kind of undeclared war when every day there are violations of human rights. And there are hundreds of them.”

Rights activists in Kyiv say that in the last three months alone, there have been 94 interrogations in Crimea, 22 searches, 78 detentions and arrests, 13 trials, as well as cases of torture and beatings. And that enumeration, they say, is far from complete given that many of these crimes are not reported.

What is especially worrisome is that the occupation officials increasingly coordinate their work with the criminal grouping known as “the Crimean Self-Defense Force,” whose members employ extra-legal means to repress the population, including beatings, denunciations and other actions characteristic of a terror regime.

She continues that there are some things that can be done: Crimeans need to arrange in advance with lawyers so that when something is done, they will be in a better position to get the word out and defend themselves. And both Ukrainian and international organizations need to get involved in this horrific situation.

“We know,” another activist says, “that the Russian side does not allow a UN mission on human rights onto the territory of the peninsula.” But that doesn’t mean that individual countries can’t send their own missions or at least try to and thus spread the word about what is happening and thereby encourage Crimeans to defend their rights.

Suleymanov adds that “the repressive regime is doing everything it can to take under control the representative organ of the Crimean Tatars, the Mejlis and Kurultay,” including attacks, arrests, and the creation of alternative bodies that the occupiers seek to present as genuine.

“Today it is very difficult to live in Crimea,” he says, but “to live in occupation and to feel that no one supports you is doubly difficult. People must understand that there is no law or organization which now works in Crimea to defend the rights of these people” – and they are numerous.

Moscow claims and many outsiders believe that many in Crimea support the occupation, but this is not the case, Suleymanov says. “In Crimea live and struggle those who believe to this day that Crimea is Ukraine and must be.” What matters now is that they not be left to face the occupiers “one on one.”

  • Crimea before the Russian occupation: In 2013 school year, 737 Crimean Tatar first-graders enrolled in classes with Crimean Tatar language of instruction. Such classes were opened at 38 Ukrainian schools in the peninsula. Simferopol, September 2, 2013 (Image: QHA)
    Crimea before the Russian occupation: In 2013 school year, 737 Crimean Tatar first-graders enrolled in classes with Crimean Tatar language of instruction. Such classes were opened at 38 Ukrainian schools in the peninsula. Simferopol, September 2, 2013 (Image: QHA)
  • Crimea
    Crimea
  • A billboard in Crimea
    A billboard in Crimea
  • Putin speaking in occupied Sevastopol on the anniversary of the WW2 Victory Day to celebrate the annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine conducted by his military and special services two months earlier. May 9, 2014 (Image: kremlin.ru)
    Putin speaking in occupied Sevastopol on the anniversary of the WW2 Victory Day to celebrate the annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine conducted by his military and special services two months earlier. May 9, 2014 (Image: kremlin.ru)
  • Protest against the shutdown of ATR Crimean Tartar TV channel in Crimea by the Russian occupation authorities (Image: krymr.org)
    Protest against the shutdown of ATR Crimean Tartar TV channel in Crimea by the Russian occupation authorities (Image: krymr.org)
  • The pin on the chest of the protester says: "Don't Kill ATR!" at the protest against the shuttering of Crimean media outlets by the Kremlin, March 2015
    The pin on the chest of the protester says: "Don't Kill ATR!" at the protest against the shuttering of Crimean media outlets by the Kremlin, March 2015
  • ATR poll in the bottom of the screen shows 82% of ATR viewers against the Crimea Anschluss by Russia in March 2014
    ATR poll in the bottom of the screen shows 82% of ATR viewers against the Crimea Anschluss by Russia in March 2014
  • A protester in Europe wearing a Crimean Tatar flag with a sign protesting the shuttering of Crimean Tatar media outlets by Russian occupiers in April 2015 (Photo: Olexei Ivanov, day.kiev.ua)
    A protester in Europe wearing a Crimean Tatar flag with a sign protesting the shuttering of Crimean Tatar media outlets by Russian occupiers in April 2015 (Photo: Olexei Ivanov, day.kiev.ua)
  • 17 minutes before the channel shutdown, an online poll shows 99.2% of respondents said "Yes" to a question "Do you need ATR TV channel?" (Image: @CrimeaUA1 on Twitter.com)
    17 minutes before the channel shutdown, an online poll shows 99.2% of respondents said "Yes" to a question "Do you need ATR TV channel?" (Image: @CrimeaUA1 on Twitter.com)
  • A girl in a national Crimean Tatar dress holds a placard during a protest against the presence of Russian troops in Crimea, Bakhchysaray, Crimea, March 5, 2014 (Image: mfa.gov.ua)
    Crimean Tartar girl, March 2014
  • Crimean Tartars (photo: oleg-leusenko.livejournal.com)
    Crimean Tartars (photo: oleg-leusenko.livejournal.com)
  • Chief editor of the Crimean Tartar-language "Avdet" Shevkey Kaybullayev, whose newspaper was denied a license to continue to operate in Crimea by Russia’s media watchdog Roskomnadzor, as reported by an also-shuttering Crimean News Agency (Photo: QHA)
    Chief editor of the Crimean Tartar-language "Avdet" Shevkey Kaybullayev, whose newspaper was denied a license to continue to operate in Crimea by Russia’s media watchdog Roskomnadzor, as reported by an also-shuttering Crimean News Agency (Photo: QHA)
  • A soldier of the Russian occupation force atop an IFV in Crimea. (Image: epa.eu)
    A soldier of the Russian occupation force atop an IFV in Crimea. (Image: epa.eu)
  • A Crimean Tatar woman holds a sign "Crimea Is Ukraine" in protest to the "referendum" imposed by force by Moscow in March 2014.
    "Crimea Is Ukraine"
  • "No to war! Crimea is Ukraine!"
    "No to war! Crimea is Ukraine!"
  • "Crimean Tatars want peace"
    "Crimean Tatars want peace"
  • "Crimea is Ukraine"
    "Crimea is Ukraine"
  • Crimean Tatar Mejlis raided and searched by Russian police in balaclavas
    Crimean Tatar Mejlis raided and searched by Russian police in balaclavas
  • Opening of a new Stalin monument in Russia-occupied Crimea
    Opening of a new Stalin monument in Russia-occupied Crimea
  • Crimean Tatar protest. The sign in Russian reads: "We are on our own land!"
    Crimean Tatar protest
  • Crimea is Ukraine
    Crimea is Ukraine
  • A commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Crimean Tartar departation from Crimea by the Soviet government. Simferopol, Crimea, Russia-occupied territory of Ukraine, 2014. (Image: Reuters)
    A commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Crimean Tartar departation from Crimea by the Soviet government. Simferopol, Crimea, Russia-occupied territory of Ukraine, 2014. (Image: Reuters)
  • Oleg Sentsov, Ukrainian filmmaker and resident of Crimea illegally arrested on made-up charges and imprisoned by Putin's regime #FreeSentsov
    Oleg Sentsov, Ukrainian filmmaker and resident of Crimea illegally arrested on made-up charges and imprisoned by Putin's regime #FreeSentsov
  • Putin was shunned at the 2014 G20 meeting in Australia after the Crimea Anschluss by Russia.
    Putin G20 Australia 2014
  • In a hybrid war operation, Russian "little green men", heavily armed soldiers without insignia, annexed Crimea from Ukraine
    In a hybrid war operation, Russian "little green men", heavily armed soldiers without insignia, annexed Crimea from Ukraine
  • Graffiti: Crimea is Ukraine
    Graffiti: Crimea is Ukraine
  • Mustafa Cemilev in front of Crimean Tatar supporters (May 2014)
    Mustafa Cemilev in front of Crimean Tatar supporters (May 2014)
  • A Ukrainian base in Crimea surrounded by the "little green men," heavily armed troops wearing no ensignia to hide the fact that the troops were Russian special forces. February 2014
    A Ukrainian base in Crimea surrounded by the "little green men," heavily armed troops wearing no ensignia to hide the fact that the troops were Russian special forces. February 2014
  • Russian army invading Crimea, Ukraine
    Russian army invading Crimea, Ukraine
  • Trucks with the "little green men" - Russian soldiers hiding their identities and without insignia while annexing the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea
    Trucks with the "little green men" - Russian soldiers hiding their identities and without insignia while annexing the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea
  • A soldier of the Russian annexation force flashes a victory sign while marching near a Ukrainian army base in Perevalne, Crimea. March 2014
    A soldier of the Russian annexation force flashes a victory sign while marching near a Ukrainian army base in Perevalne, Crimea. March 2014
  • Armed Russian soldiers block the entrance to a Ukrainian naval border guard base in Sevastopol during the annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine. March 2014. (Image: New York Times)
    Armed Russian soldiers block the entrance to a Ukrainian naval border guard base in Sevastopol during the annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine. March 2014. (Image: New York Times)

Edited by: A. N.

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  • Nowhere Girl

    In Crimea wearing Ukrainian nagional colors is deemed “political extremism”. And recently I read a story bordering on ridiculous: some people tried to celebrate Vyshyvanka Day in Crimea and they were detained for a few hours. When they asked why were their fingerprints being taken, they received obvious threats: “This is in case something happens to you… you know, dead bodies without heads get found here”.
    If this is true, than Russian authorities really suffer from some paranoic ukrainophobia.

  • Vol Ya

    Listen you Russian troll, there are no Nazis in Kiev. You have to go to Russia to find the Nazis. On March 22,2015 the Russian authorities
    hosted a meeting of Europe’s neo-Nazis, extreme nationalists, and anti-Semites
    who share one thing in common – their unqualified support for Vladimir Putin.
    Now tell me where are the nazis located.

    • Vlad Pufagtinenko

      Nobody licks putin’s behind more enthusiastically than you paid trolls.

      • Vlad Pufagtinenko

        I rest my case

        • Vol Ya

          Why are you russian trolls on this website. You have no use for the truth. Go spread your lies elsewhere.

      • Vol Ya

        The only one worshipping Hitler is putin. Try telling the truth for once.

    • Vol Ya

      How about some facts you Russian troll. On March 22,2015 the Russian authorities hosted a meeting of Europe’s neo-Nazis, extreme nationalists, and anti-Semites
      who share one thing in common – their unqualified support for Vladimir Putin. I know you russian trolls don’t like dealing with the truth but that is your problem.

  • Vlad Pufagtinenko

    I guess the lazy wife beater is trying to find new ways to entertain himself. Too much vodka, too little brains, and no manhood to speak of Like most Russian men. http://news.nationalpost.com/news/documentary-claims-putin-was-a-lazy-wife-beater-who-only-turned-his-life-around-when-kgb-collapsed