Why has the Kremlin taken at least 44 Ukrainians as political hostages? Member of the European Parliament Mark Demesmaeker provided the answer to his colleagues in Strasbourg based on the video issued by Euromaidan Press within the framework of the #LetMyPeopleGo campaign.
During the debate on the resolution “Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia and situation in Crimea” on 16 March 2017, he called for imposing sanctions on those responsible for the violations of human rights in Moscow-controlled territories:
Dozens of Ukrainian citizens are now languishing in Russian jails for crimes they never committed. They are hostages of Russia’s undeclared war against Ukraine.
They are being arrested arbitrarily—perhaps because they wrote an article or attended a demonstration or simply because they are Crimean Tatars. They are tortured to force confessions out of them for things they never did.
What lies behind Russian actions? Well, it’s quite clear.
They want their citizens to believe that they are in great danger in Russia. Russian mass media are painting Ukraine as public “Enemy #1”. The perpetrator is [presented as] the “victim of a plot.” Now citizens of Crimea are afraid.
Watch the video where these points are elaborated in more detail or read our explainer:
- First, Putin’s government persuades Russians that they at danger and need to be protected by a strong power from “spies,” “saboteurs,” and “terrorists”.
- Second, it reinforces the Russian state media’s story of Ukraine as “Enemy #1” and switches Russia’s status from aggressor to victim in the time of the ongoing war.
- Third, it makes residents of occupied Crimea fear their own country, Ukraine.
- Also, the Russian security services create the illusion of their effective work but in fact oppress any dissent.