Staunton, July 12 – When any situation no matter how horrific continues for a long time, there is a great danger that it will become for many a kind of new normal, something regrettable but all too often ignored in the flood of events. That danger is now settling over Russian-occupied Crimea where political persecutions are continuing unabated.
On Friday in Kyiv, the Center for Civic Freedoms and the SOS Euromaidan organization held a joint press conference on the occasion of the release of its second monthly report about repressions and political persecutions in Crimea. The picture is so horrific that it compels attention (qha.com.ua/v-krimu-prodoljayutsya-politicheskie-presledovaniya-146204.html).
The participants at the meeting included Mariya Lysenko, project coordinator at the Center for Civic Freedoms, Stanislav Krasnov who has been persecuted in Crimea by the Russian occupiers, and Roman Martynovsky, an expert of the Regional Center for Human Rights.
The QHA news agency summed up their conclusions with the following words: “In Crimea it is dangerous to be a Ukrainian. For such patriotism one can be fined in the best case and put in prison in the worst.” Moreover, there are frequent cases of kidnapping, beatings and torture. And informing on others has become “a norm of life.”
And in the face of these disturbing trends, the agency cited in conclusion Lysenko’s words that “we are unceasingly calling for the dispatch of international observers to Crimea who could follow the situation directly on the peninsula,” perhaps the only way that could prevent the situation from becoming even worse.
Among the most troubling developments of the last month, participants pointed to the following:
· The occupation authorities have expanded the authority of those informal groups who support the regime to detain anyone who disagrees with the occupation.
· The occupiers continue to ban meetings and peaceful assemblies, such as one that some in Crimea sought on June 28th, the Day of the Constitution of Ukraine.
· They invent cases so as to be able to bring charges against those who took part in earlier meetings that the authorities had given permission to take place.
· The occupation authorities allow appeals of convictions to give the appearance of “legality” but then the superior courts simply return the cases to the courts of first instance where no change in the outcome is likely.
· The Russian occupiers also continue to expand the list of people charged with terrorism under an expanding definition of that term and then insist on the detention of those so charged for extended periods, in effect punishing those involved before any conviction.