Human rights defenders consider crimes committed by Crimean paramilitary formations as war crimes
The occupation authorities in Crimea are not investigating crimes committed by the paramilitary formations, which creates an atmosphere of impunity for their representatives.
As reported by human rights defenders of the Crimean Human Rights Group (CHRG) during a press conference in Kyiv on August 16. They published an analytical report after analyzing the impact of Russian militarization on the situation with human rights in Crimea.
The report contains facts about the negative impact of militarization on the public life of the peninsula for the entire period of the occupation of Crimea.
“During the 3.5 years of occupation we have recorded many violations of human rights, which involved Russian military or representatives of paramilitary formations. Among them are seizure of property, including apartments of Ukrainian servicemen and private businesses belonging to citizens of Ukraine. Paramilitary formations – Cossacks and the so-called Crimean “militia” – are also involved in more serious crimes, including murders, enforced disappearances, illegal incarceration, tortures. In addition, Russian authorities are using them for attacks and intimidation on all those who disagree with Kremlin’s policy”, – said Iryna Sedova, the co-author of the report.
A journalist from Crimea, Serhiy Mokrushin, remained to work on the peninsula until the spring of 2015. During a year of work under occupation he had an opportunity on repeated occasions to observe the actions of “self-defenders”.
“During the armed occupation of Crimea, “self-defense” groups and Cossacks were involved in dirty work: intimidating and attacking activists, abductions, for attacks on journalists and volunteers. After the active stage of the occupation of Crimea was over, unlike in Sevastopol, “self-defense” was not dissolved in Crimea, but on the contrary – it was put on budgetary financing”, – the journalist reported.
He reminded that after the occupation, he himself became a victim of illegal detention and beatings by representatives of “self-defense”. According to his information, the “militiamen” who attacked him were never brought to justice.
Human rights defenders state that the work of the “Cossacks” and “militiamen” is financed from the Crimean budget. This indicates the support of the “shadow army” by the authorities.
“We have also detected the facts of the participation of these formation “fighters” in the armed conflict in Donbas as a part of the so-called “LNR” (“Luhansk People’s Republic”) and “DNR” (“Donetsk People’s Republic”)”, – said Olga Skrypnyk, Head of the CHRG.
Human rights defenders are considering the actions of Russian military and Russian-controlled paramilitary formations as war crimes.
“The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court prohibits the military conscription on the occupied territory into army of the occupying power, the propaganda of such conscription is prohibited as well. However, the Russian Federation systematically violates the norms of international humanitarian law, which is documented in the report of the CHRG”, – said Iryna Sedova.
The second part of the report demonstrates the problems of militarization of public life, first of all, education. For this purpose the de facto authorities conduct numerous mass events, sports and theatrical shows, children are taught the basics of military affairs and how to handle a weapon.
Propaganda of hatred and the cult of violence have become part of children’s education and children in schools and universities are being prepared to “fight for Russia with weapons in arms”.
“A cult of war, an aggressive attitude towards other States and nations, who do not support the ideas of the “Russian world”, is being formed among the children. Moreover, an exclusively “Russian” identity is imposed on children and ties with their country of birth and citizenship, Ukraine, are being broken”, – said Olga Skrypnyk.
Candidate of Psychological Sciences, conflictologist Irina Brunova-Kalisetskaya believes that such actions minimize the value of human life in the minds of Crimean residents.
“Militarized thinking is the most black and white, and not only in the form of “friend-enemy”. The militarized consciousness presupposes obedience to the order, submission to the “senior in rank” – as the main model for action, which contributes to the weakening of resistance to propaganda, minimizes the value of discussing different points of view, dialogue, finding common solutions, assuming civil responsibility, deprives the ability to independently exercise moral choice – that is, it neutralizes everything that is assumed by the democratic society. The value of human life (one of the natural human rights) is brought down to a minimum”, – she said.
“In the current conditions, the Crimean youth has limited access to a different system of values, therefore attracting as many young people from Crimea to educational opportunities beyond the peninsula is the most effective way to de-occupy Crimea”, – Brunova-Kalisetskaya added.
Human rights defenders intend to present their report to international organizations. They hope that the collected facts will become part of the proof for international judicial instances about the war crimes and gross violations of human rights in Crimea.