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Russia's decade-long occupation of Crimea marked by severe human rights violations — Amnesty International

Russian occupiers
Russian occupiers

Amnesty International sheds light on Russia's severe restrictions on freedom of religion and belief, media operations, and educational curriculum during its decade-long occupation of Crimea in a report on March 18, on the tenth anniversary of the illegal annexation of Crimea.

Russia sought to legitimize its occupation of Crimea by suppressing non-Russian identities, notably through the imposition of its own school curriculum, Amnesty International said. This move resulted in indoctrination and intimidation of dissenting teachers and students. The occupiers illegally enacted laws that curtailed freedoms of thought, assembly, cultural expression, and religious practices.

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“For years, we have been sounding the alarm about Russia's human rights abuses in Crimea,” said Patrick Thompson, Amnesty International's Ukraine researcher.

“A decade has passed, and we can summarize the ramifications on the peninsula, including Russia's endeavors to stifle non-Russian national identities, notably Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar cultures. It is also worrying that Russia seems to be taking such methods as a blueprint for other occupied Ukrainian territories.”

Russia severely restricted freedom of religion and belief in Crimea, prohibiting prayers, sermons, and the distribution of religious materials outside of designated areas or without official authorization, the article said.

The Muslim population, predominantly Crimean Tatars, faced targeted harassment by Russian security forces, including mosque raids and intrusive passport checks.

“More than 100 Crimean Muslims, both men and women, have been prosecuted on unsubstantiated charges of terrorism and sentenced to prison terms of up to 24 years, which they are serving in Russia,” the report said.

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The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP) refused to re-register under Russian law after 2018, Amnesty International said. Several of its priests resisted obtaining Russian passports and were forced to leave Crimea. In the first year of the occupation, the UOC lost 38 of its 46 parishes, and by 2024 — all of them. The de facto authorities unlawfully expelled the church from the cathedral in Simferopol in May 2023.

Amnesty International's findings reveal a crackdown on independent media and journalists by local occupation authorities. Ukrainian-language TV and radio stations were replaced by Russian media after the annexation, and all media outlets were forced to re-register under Russian legislation. Crimean Tatar-language media faced similar persecution, leading to their expulsion from Crimea. Access to online media from Crimea was illegally blocked.

“Russia must immediately cease all violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws in Crimea and other occupied territories of Ukraine,” Amnesty International said.

“Those accountable for all violations of international law must face justice through fair trials, while victims and their families must be empowered to fully access their rights to truth, justice, and reparations.”

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine