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Ukraine proves decade-long pattern of Russian human rights abuses in occupied Crimea

The European Court of Human Rights validated Ukraine’s assertions of systematic human rights violations committed by Russia against Ukrainian citizens in Crimea, effectively dismissing Russia’s narrative of Crimea’s “voluntary” accession, as the court acknowledged evidence of forced citizenship changes, unlawful detentions, and the illegal imposition of Russian legislation.
Crimean Tatars attend a pro-Ukraine rally in Simferopol during the Russian special operation to annex Crimea. March 14, 2014.
Crimean Tatars attend a pro-Ukraine rally in Simferopol during the Russian special operation to annex Crimea. March 14, 2014. The banner says “Crimea is Ukraine”.
Ukraine proves decade-long pattern of Russian human rights abuses in occupied Crimea

In a landmark ruling on 25 June, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) unanimously established that the Ukrainian government had proven the existence of systematic human rights violations against its citizens in Crimea since the beginning of the Russian occupation in February 2014.

The court’s decision effectively nullified Russia’s decade-long claims that human rights are being respected in Crimea and that Crimea “wilfully” joined Russia,  according to Margarita Sokorenko, Commissioner for the ECHR at the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine.

The ECHR recognized that Russia executed: 

  • Ill-treatment and unlawful detentions 
  • Unlawful extension of Russian legislation, resulting in courts in Crimea not being considered as established by law
  • Forced change of Ukrainian citizenship to Russian
  • Systematic mass searches 
  • Forced transfer of convicted individuals to the territory of Russia
  • Attacks and persecution of religious leaders who did not belong to the Russian Orthodox Church, searches, and confiscation of property in this regard 
  • Closure of non-Russian media, including Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar television stations, constant persecution and attacks on journalists 
  • Prohibition of peaceful assemblies and protests, and attacks and persecution of their organizers
  • Expropriation of private property 
  • Closure of Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar classes 
  • Violation of the right to freedom of movement between the occupied territory of Crimea and mainland Ukraine;
  • Discrimination against Crimean Tatars;
  • Violation of the rights of political prisoners, the impossibility of their return to Ukraine, and ill-treatment in occupied Crimea 

 This is the first time an international judicial body held Russia responsible for its policy of large-scale and systematic violations of human rights and freedoms in the annexed Crimea.



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