On April 19, 2017, in the office of DEC-place, representatives of human rights organizations presented...
24 April 2017
Brief Review of the Situation in Crimea
The present monitoring Review has been prepared by the Crimean Field Mission on Human Rights and is based on the materials collected by the Mission during its work in Crimea, as well as in Russia and Ukraine in April 2014.
The Crimean Field Mission (hereafter – “the CFM”) commenced its work on 5 March 2014.
The work of the Mission is connected with the escalation of the situation around the recognition or non-recognition of the legality of the present authorities by the regions of Ukraine. This conflict turned out to be the most acute in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, which, as a result, was occupied by the Russian Federation.
The aims of the Mission are as follows:
Emphasising that human rights remain to be the direct and legitimate concern of the international civil society and implementing the abovementioned aims, the Mission shall:
The Mission unconditionally refuses to resort to violence or discrimination in its activities and is guided by the principles of political neutrality and adherence to law.
The conclusions of the work have been made on the basis of the first-hand information (observation of the situation and developments in Crimea, interviewing the representatives of key target groups), mass media monitoring, analysis of the developments and legal basis, as well as on the basis of official statistic data.
The review is prepared monthly and includes the chapters on the situation with civil and political, socio-economic rights in Crimea, as well as deals with the issues of the status of vulnerable groups and manifestations of xenophobia in the Peninsula.
Also, the Review includes the problems of the residents of Crimea who had to flee the Peninsula and move to continental Ukraine (forced internal migrants).
A quarterly analytical report on the situation of human rights in Crimea will be prepared on the basis of monthly reviews.
The CFM shares its gratitude to everyone who assisted with the preparation of the present Review. The opinions, positions, and assessment contained in this Review do not necessarily represent the position of the United Nations Development Programme, other UN Agencies or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.
ІI. PROBLEMS OF THE RESIDENTS OF CRIMEA
2.1. CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS
RIGHT TO LIFE
The following murders that may be politically motivated were committed in the territory of the Crimean Peninsula in April 2014.
Stanyslav Karachevsky, a major of the Ukrainian Navy, was murdered with two shots from AK-47 on 6 April. The tragedy took place in a fourth-floor corridor of hostel № 3 in Marchenko Street in Novofedirivka, the township of Saksky district. Major Karachevsky was shot by a Russian serviceman, junior sergeant E.S. Zaitsev
Violent beating of a 16-year old Mark Ivaniuk by policemen on 6 April led to the death of the boy. Mark was from Rivnensky region of Ukraine and studied in Crimea. His relatives and a friend who witnessed the tragedy state that the policemen attacked Mark because the boy was speaking Ukrainian. The Crimean police station of the Chornomorsky district claims that the murder is being investigated pursuant to Russian laws. The mother of the boy maintains that the murderers are police officers and, thus, she does not believe that investigation will be just and impartial.
The stage and level of investigation of the murder of Reshat Ametov, born in 1975, is currently unclear. Reshat was a Crimean Tatar activist who organised a silent protest near the occupied Parliament of Crimea. According to the witnesses, he was just standing and watching in the eyes of the members of the so-called “self-defence” who were guarding the building. On the following day, in the morning of 3 April, he left his house to go to the military registration and enlistment office and disappeared. His body – with clear marks of torture, head wound around with sticky tape and cuffed legs – was found on 15 May near Zemlianychne village of Belogorsky district. According to the version of the investigation Reshat died in a car accident.
It is highly possible that the abovementioned crimes were committed because of political motives. However, the present situation does not provide conditions for proper investigation and bringing those who are guilty to justice. Moreover, such situation of impunity may naturally lead to new crimes and victims.
Freedom of Speech and Expression
The situation with mass media in the Crimean Peninsula is alarming. Some journalists who worked for Crimean mass media were afraid of persecution, threats and pressure of different kinds and, thus, had to flee Crimea. The majority of such persons left already in March.
Some of the journalists, publishing houses and editorial boards (e.g. the Blackseanews portal) moved to continental Ukraine and continue their activities there. According to Andriy Klymenko, an editor of BlackSeaNews, who moved from Yalta to Kyiv, “it was impossible for us to continue working in the conditions of occupation from all points of view.”
Some independent mass media and information clusters existed as public organisations or actively cooperated with them. However, fearing the Russian law provision on “foreign agents,” they had to cease their activities or flee Crimea.
The instances of censure or pressure on local mass media that continued working in Crimea were recorded in April. In particular, it was forbidden to the TV and radio company “Crimea” to use the names of the leaders of Majlis – Mustafa Dzhemiliov and Refat Chubarov – on air.
Also, the representatives of mass media consider that Russian laws contain numerous restrictions that will gravely affect the journalists, decreasing the quality of their work.
The journalists are afraid that they will be subject to criminal persecution and prosecution pursuant to the following articles of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation:
– Article 280 Public calls for extremism;
– Article 282 Organisation of the activities of an extremist organisation;
– Article 319 Insult of a public servant.
Nevertheless, some mass media (The Centre of Journalistic Investigation (Simferopol), newspaper Kafa (Feodosia), Crym. Realii, Crimean News Agency and others) are determined to continue their work.
The work of a number of photojournalists and correspondents from various media at a railway station was prevented by members of the so-called “self-defence” on 1 April. The picture illustrating one of such episodes can be seen below.
The TV channel CHTRK crew were attacked on 11 April. The representatives of the so-called “self-defence” destroyed their USB that contained video materials. The CFM was among the first to react to the incident and forwarded the information with respective contacts to Elena Msiuk, the Head of the Permanent Commission on the Rights of Mass Media of the Human Rights Council of the President of the Russian Federation.
FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY
The policemen prevent holding peaceful assemblies in Crimea referring to the laws of the Russian Federation.
Thus, the Mission recorded the incident when residents of Sevastopol held a peaceful assembly for the fight against corruption on 27 April. They were approached by a policeman who introduced himself as police major Kirichenko, a district police officer of the Internal Affairs Department “Mariinsky Park” of Moscow city attached to the Internal Affairs Department of Leninsky district of Sevastopol. The policemen stated that the assembly was “unauthorised.” The policemen also involved members of “Berkut” to the indignation of the residents of Sevastopol. The assembly was held after all.
The residents of Crimea also provide information about the so-called “preventive measures”. In the course of the latter the police officers visit private apartments and warn their inhabitants against the organisation of and participation in peaceful assemblies.
FREDOM OF ASSOCIATION
As for the time being, the majority of human rights initiatives and NGOs of Crimea had to flee the Peninsula.
The important reason for the shutdown of many public initiatives and organisations is a reasonable apprehension that their leaders will be subject to physical or criminal persecution. Such apprehension is based, first of all, on the instances of enforced disappearances and tortures of Crimean activists (A. Shchekun, A. Kovalsky and others.)
The activities of the rest of NGOs that continue their work in Crimea are funded by foreign donors and funds.
Given all the above, it can be easily assumed that the difficulties in such activities will soon arise. In particular, some organisations will have to be re-registered or will have to stop functioning at all due to:
– the termination of funding of Crimean NGOs (as the ones in the non-recognised territory) by foreign donors and funds;
– the spread of the application of the Law of the Russian Federation N 121-FZ “On the Amendments to Some Laws of the Russian Federation in the Field of Regulation of Non-Commercial Organisations Acting as Foreign Agents” of 20 July 2012 to the territory of Crimea.
Currently there is no specialists in Simferopol who could register public organisations pursuant to the requirements currently effective in Crimea. According to an activist Mariia Poddubna, she and the like-minded persons tried to establish the Crimean Ecological Union, however, there is no person in Simferopol to register such an organisation.
Freedom of Conscience and Religion
Several instances of pressure on members of different religious confessions have already been recorded.
Thus, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate is being deprived of the Sevastopol Priest-Martyr Klyment Rymsky Cathedral situated in the territory that used to belong to the Training Detachment of Ukrainian Navy.
The Sevastopol district church of Kyiv Patriarchate situated in Perevalne village is subject to pressure by the representative of the Moscow Patriarchate. The abbot is being forced to transfer the property of the church under the authority of the Moscow Patriarchate.
There is also information from the Yalta Greek Catholic Church, whose abbot has already fled Crimea, that it is subject to the pressure of the Moscow Patriarchate.
Members of the Islamic community also experience some difficulties. As an expert in Islamic studies Elmira Muratova told the CFM, the “management” of classic Islam in Crimea is under strong moral pressure from Russian colleagues today. The latter demand the integration of the whole structure (mosques, Madrasa and other institutions) into the all-Russian system.
The state of the followers of Hizb ut-Tahrir (Islamic Party of Liberation) gives rise to particular concern. The literature of this religious and political group can be found in mosques and in many Islamic families. Pursuant to the decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation of 14 February 2003 Hizb ut-Tahrir is recognised as a terrorist organization, its activities are banned in the territory of the Russian Federation. In the view of Russian police, the mere fact of participation in the movement shall be criminally liable.
Victor Palagin, general-lieutenant of the Federal Security Service who had successfully fought against Hizb ut-Tahrir in Bashkiria, was appointed the Head of the Department of the FSS in Crimea. The FSS does not conceal its intention to maintain the ban on the activities of this organisation. There is information that the FSS agents work in Crimean mosques with the view to detecting Hizb ut-Tahrir members and followers of the salafist movements of Islam.
The incident with Ivan Sekentsov (known as Valid Abu Yusuf) should also be mentioned. He spread the Koran in Russian in Crimea. He was captured by police on the day of referendum, 16 March, tortured and denied access to a lawyer. He was then transported out of Crimea to Chongar (Kherson region) and threatened with the denial of access to Crimea for 30 years.
FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT
The Russian Federation established its state border at the entrance to Crimea on 25 April. Citizens of Ukraine who do not have a place of registration in Crimea are regarded foreigners and must fill in a migration card. Such category also comprises the people who permanently reside in Crimea, possess immovable property or are employed there, but whose place of registration is elsewhere in Ukraine. The Federal Migration Service bodies warn that foreign nationals must promptly (within 90 days) leave the territory of Crimea and then enter it pursuant to Russian laws applicable to foreign nations. Students studying in other regions of Ukraine have permanent residence registration in respective hostels. However, now, when coming back home to their parents to the territory of Crimea, they are regarded as foreigners and may stay no more than 90 days.
On the other hand, pursuant to the Law of Ukraine on Ensuring the Rights and Freedoms of Citizens and on the Legal Status of the Temporary Occupied Territory of Ukraine, citizens of Ukraine may enter and leave the temporary occupied territories through the security check-points freely and without any obstacles sibject to the condition that they present an ID documents that confirms that they are citizens of Ukraine. Foreigners and stateless persons may enter and leave the temporary occupied territories through the security check-points only subject to special permission.
The provision of Ukrainian laws requiring a special permission for the foreigners willing to enter Crimea is primarily a necessary step for the protection of the national interests of Ukraine. However, it complicates the activities of humanitarian and human rights missions working in Crimea. Given the fact that Ukrainian human rights activists and representatives of public organisations are denied access to Crimea by the Russian FSS and that there is a real threat of persecution of Ukrainian human rights activists using, for instance, a new amendment to the Russian Criminal Code “on separatism,” Ukrainian public organisations cooperate with some Russian (“Memorial,” “Moscow Helsinki Group,” and others) and international (Youth Human Rights Movement, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and others) institutions with a view to protection of fundamental human rights in Crimea. An obligation to obtain a special permission will significantly complicate their work in Crimea.
That is why the Regulation of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on special permissions to enter Crimea should take the situation described above into account and provide a special simplified procedure for entry to and departure from Crimea of foreigners working for human rights and humanitarian missions in cooperation with Ukrainian public organisations.
RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL
The law enforcement system of Crimea is paralysed and the situation with the courts is even worse. The judges may neither release anybody, nor prolong the sentence, nor draft the protocols. The legal effect of judicial decisions that are currently being adopted is highly doubtful.
Paragraph 2 of Article 23 of the Federal Constitutional Law of 21 March 2014 N 6-FCL on Acceptance of the Republic of Crimea into the Russian Federation and the Creation of the New Constituent Entities within the Russian Federation – the Republic of Crimea and the Federal City of Sevastopol provides that Ukrainian laws shall be effective in Crimea till 31 December 2014. Nevertheless, the judicial system is already being transformed to use Russian laws, restriction measures are being sanctioned pursuant to the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Russian Federation, and judicial decisions are adopted in the name of the Russian Federation.
Pursuant to Article 8 of the Law, pending cases that had not been decided by 18 March 2014 must be decided in accordance with the laws of the Russian Federation. However, there are numerous problems in practice, especially in administrative and criminal cases, when effective Russian legislation diminishes, discharges, precludes responsibility or, on the contrary, strengthens it or introduces new responsibility, grants other rights (for instance, a right to a jury trial) in comparison with the rules of previous legislation.
The fate of court decisions that are currently being appealed is also unclear. The breach of what legislation – Ukrainian or Russian – should be the basis for the cancellation of the decisions? There are also problematic issues with the duration of detention, restraint measures, recognition of Crimean prisoners as Russian citizens.
Pursuant to the Law of Ukraine on Ensuring the Rights and Freedoms of Citizens and on the Legal Status of the Temporary Occupied Territory of Ukraine, as it is impossible to exercise justice, the territorial jurisdiction over the cases that are to be adjudicated by Crimean courts, is changed. Ukraine has declared in this regard that she will ensure the adjudication of Crimean cases in the courts of Kyiv (please see the datails in Article 12. Measures of legal regulations in temporary occupied territories of the Law of Ukraine on Ensuring the Rights and Freedoms of Citizens and on the Legal Status of the Temporary Occupied Territory of Ukraine (attached).)
As regards the Bar, all Crimean attorneys attend special courses and listen to the lectures of prominent Russian lawyers. The attorneys will have to pass an examination to prove their status and be admitted to the bar. However, it was promised to them that they might get away with an interview only. One of the two attorneys the Mission communicated with refused to acquire Russian citizenship. De jure, it does not contravene the Russian Law on Advocacy, however, he is afraid of partial attitude to him during an interview.
Issues Connected with the Procedures of Acquisition, Renunciation of Citizenship, Coercion to Renounce One's Citizenship
Pursuant to paragraph 1 of Article 4 of the Federal Constitutional Law of the Russian Federation of 21 March 2014 N 6-FCL the citizens of Ukraine and stateless persons permanently residing in Crimea as on 18 March 2014, except for the persons who state their wish to retain Ukrainian citizenship for themselves and (or) their under-the-age children, to retain another citizenship or to remain stateless persons, shall be recognised citizens of the Russian Federation.
Such procedure of change of one’s citizenship has generated a number of problems.
The persons willing to retain Ukrainian citizenship had just one month for making a respective application and only four documents reception offices throughout whole Crimea (the first such office has been opened since just 1 April 2014 in Simferopol.) By the end of April 8 such offices had been opened (in Yalta, Ievpatoria, Saky, Feodosia, Dzhankoi, Simferopol, Sevastopol, Bahchysarai), however, the period for the renunciation of the Russian citizenship has not been prolonged. Eventually, the citizens could not actually submit a respective application in time.
The closes documents reception office to Kerch is situated at the distance of 70 km. It is evident that many residents of Crimea do not just lack time to go through the whole procedure, but cannot even make a reasoned decision.
One may think that the procedure of renunciation of Russian citizenship has been copied from the one incorporated in Russian laws after the collapse of the USSR. In the latter situation the residents of Russia became its citizens on default, if they had not renounced it in the course of a year. However, in the present situation one has less than just a month to renounce Russian citizenship.
The procedure of renunciation was amended when enacted and effective. Both parents had to be present to renounce their child’s citizenship. Such requirements led to comic situations: a woman who came without a husband rushed to the street and asked a male passing by to assist and act as her husband. As the documents were submitted in a hurry, the woman got away with that. The applicants willing to denounce Russian citizenship were for no reason asked to submit two photographs at another documents reception office.
According to almost all those asked willing to retain Ukrainian citizenship, the employees of the Federal Migration Service of Russia do not explain the laws on the legal status of foreigners in the Russian Federation: the necessity to leave within 90 days, a permitted period of stay for 90 days in the course of 180 days, provisions on administrative responsibility for failure to comply with the rules of stay that currently provide for a fine with or without deportation in accordance with Article 18.8 of Part 1 of the Code of Administrative Violations etc. Notwithstanding all of the above, a personal application for the retention of Ukrainian citizenship contains a provision stating “I refuse to recognise myself and my under-the-age children as citizens of the Russian Federation. I have been familiarised with the provisions on the legal status of a foreigner, a stateless person and the necessity to obtain a respective document, as well as with legal consequences of my decision.”
It is hard to imagine that those residents of Crimea who did not wish to become Russian citizens will receive similar treatment. It would mean that the residents of Crimea who were born in Crimea and have lived there since, who have houses and other kinds of property there, would be evicted from Crimea pursuant to administrative regulations. However, no different laws for and rules of stay of “foreign” residents of Crimea have been elaborated yet.
The persons who did not renounce Ukrainian citizenship during a month after 18 March and who are willing to remain in Crimea will actually face the difficulties when applying for a residence permit and permanent residence permit. The bodies of the Federal Migration Service of Russia state that only the certificates confirming the renunciation of Ukrainian citizenship entitle a person to apply for residence permits. It should be stressed upon that Russian law does not provide for such certificates.
Moreover, when applying for the retention of Ukrainian citizenship to the bodies of the Federal Migration Service, an application must contain an applicant’s recognition of the annexation of Crimea (its accession to Russia) and the 18 March Agreement. It is another reason why many citizens of Ukraine residing in Crimea refuse to submit such application (please see attached a sample application and certificates.)
Because of the non-transparent policy of Russia in Crimea, impossibility to understand legal consequences of the acquirement of Russian citizenship many citizens are still unable to make a final decision and, consequently, have not submitted a respective renunciation application by 18 April. According to the citizens who applied for the renunciation of Russian citizenship, members of the Russian Federal Migration Service do not provide clear and comprehensive explanation on the legal status of foreign nationals in the Russian Federation. Howvwer, a personal application for the retention of Ukrainian citizenship contains a provision stating “I have been familiarised with the provisions on the legal status of a foreigner, a stateless person and the necessity to obtain a respective document, as well as with legal consequences of my decision.”
The procedure of the receipt of the Russian Federation passports for the residents of Crimea has been facilitated, however, the receipt of a residence permit is still as hard for them as it is for foreigners willing to permanently reside in Russia.
The employees of government-funded organisations, public servants are in a real danger of getting sacked if they fail to acquire Russian citizenship. Even though Russian laws do not provide formal restrictions for the employees of government-funded organisations if they are not public servants, the employees and academic staff of the universities are forced to acquire Russian citizenship. Documents reception offices have been opened at schools and universities – it is a proof of a de facto coercion to acquire Russian citizenship.
It is still unclear how the persons, who neither renounced Russian citizenship nor addressed the Federal Migration Service bodies with a wish to retain Ukrainian citizenship, would automatically be recognized as Russian citizens. At the same time, many of such persons see their future and the future of their children in Ukraine. It is so no only because they refuse to recognise the annexation on principle. Such position is connected with an actual necessity to continue the studies, medical treatment, and business in Ukraine as well as in the EU and US. It is highly doubtful that an owner of a Russian passport issued in Crimea will be successful in obtaining a Schengen visa.
The persons who do not have residence permit in Crimea but permanently reside there may not receive a passport and, consequently, they will stay in Crimea illegally or for a very limited time only. Notwithstanding the information that residence can be proved not only with the data on residence registration that appeared on the web-site of the Federal Migration Service of the Russian Federation, many residents of Crimea – citizens of Ukraine, foreigners and stateless persons permanently residing in Crimea without residence registration – face problems with a receipt of a passport. The Russian Federal Migration Service bodies in Simferopol and Sevastopol do not have the information about the possibility to acquire Russian citizenship by such persons.
The fact that a person owns accommodation even if he or she is not registered there is a valid ground to apply for Russian citizenship (the decision on documenting is made on a case-by-case basis and taking into account specific circumstances of a case.)
The Russian Federation established its state border between Ukraine and Crimea on 25 April and is introducing the rules for crossing thereof. Such developments result in a situation when the residents of Crimea who have not acquired Russian passports and are not willing to do so will have to fill in a Russian Federation migration card when entering Crimea (their home), and the period of their stay in Crimea will have to be less than 90 days.
It is quite possible that in a very near future Crimean courts will be loaded with cases connected with the establishment of the fact of permanent residence in Crimea at the moment of its accession to the Russian Federation.
A body issuing Russian passports to the people of Crimea indicates the Federal Migration Service of Russia there and does not provide the name of a territorial body. Moreover, the Federal Migration Service bodies have not actually been established in Crimea yet. And the place of registration is indicated as an actual place of registration of citizens as in a Ukrainian passport, and not other cities of the Russian Federation as previously communicated in mass media.
Many Crimean Tatars have to acquire Russian citizenship because they have agricultural land shares which, pursuant to Russian laws, can be owned by Russian citizens only.
There is also the information that has not been officially confirmed yet that the administrations of some closed orphanages force all the teenagers of such institutions into the acquisition of Russian nationality (even when they want to retain Ukrainian citizenship.) It is still unknown how the acquisition of nationality, social benefits applications and payments are organised for the persons in other closed institutions of Crimea (geriatric, psychoneurological orphanages, colonies, etc.)
According to the Deputy Head of the Administration of the Federal Migration Service of Russia in Crimea A.M. Frolov, by the end of April:
– approximately 170.000 Russian passports had been issued (according to the Federal Migration Service as for 19 April – approximately 300.000 persons),
– approximately 1.200 people including just 8-10 Crimean Tatars renounced Russian citizenship (according to the Federal Migration Service as for 19 April – approximately 3.000 persons),
– just one judicial decision in a case on the establishment of the fact of permanent residence in Crimea was submitted during the whole period (1 month) on the above-mentioned day. The fact was not confirmed because, in court's view, the applicant had submitted unreliable evidence.
On the whole, the whole procedure of issuing Russian passports is rather slow with respective queues for several months forward (for instance, there is a queue of more than 30.000 persons at one Sevastopol documents reception office.) According to different calculations, the provision of passports to the whole population of Crimea will take up at least 15 months and Russian laws provided just 3 months for this.
2.2. Socio-economic rights
Registration of Rights
State Council of the Republic of Crimea adopts decisions on nationalisation of enterprises, property, land, educational establishments etc.
During the first days after the referendum the central organs of the Republic of Crimea imposed a "moratorium" on the adoption of the decisions regarding the issues that belong to exclusive powers of the organs of local self-government – such as the issues of disposal of lands of local communities.
The newly established Prosecutor’s Office of Crimea has already initiated the revision of the decisions of the organs of local self-government about the land slots already allocated to the citizens and legal entities. One may presume the beginning of "re-privatisation" of the lands in private property.
Ukraine has closed access to information databases on technical record of immovable property (BTI) and registration of rights to immovable property.
The work of notarial system has been paralysed. Ukrainian laws provide for the necessary notarial form for all transactions with immovable property. The absence of a document certifying the right to immovable property considerably complicates the drawing up (state registration) of rights to it.
These are the reasons why the real estate market has “stopped.” No immovable property transactions have been made since March.
Russian authorities have suppressed the documents from all BTIs due to the necessity to make a re-inventory and include the data in Russian records.
It is probable that the problems will arise at least in two fields: firstly, with certifying property rights of those citizens who did not save / lost the documents certifying their rights and, secondly, because there are double registers of property rights (the one of the Republic of Crimea and a Ukrainian one). As the transactions made in the territory of Crimea will not be recognised by Ukraine, the citizens will have to conduct them in the territory of Ukraine.
There are a number of acute pending problems in the field of realisation of property rights, including:
– pending court decisions;
– pending transactions;
– pending privatization;
– lost documents that may not be renewed (it is quite often that an apartment was privatized but the BTI did not receive the respective information and the certificate was lost and its duplicate may not be issued);
– it is still unclear how to deal with a right to privatise an apartment that has not been exercised yet (separately for those who are Russian citizens and for those who are not.)
The banking system has actually been paralysed. The vast majority of banks have either stopped or are finishing their activities in the Peninsula. The work of a banks transfers system has been completely blocked. PryvatBank has actually stopped providing services to its clients in Crimea, blocked access to card and deposit accounts (nevertheless, the bank continues repaying credits of its clients from their accounts.) Russian and international banks cannot / do not want to open their branches in Crimea as the latter is recognised as an occupied territory by the international community. If international (including Russian) banks start their activities in Crimea, the National Bank of Ukraine may impose big monetary sanctions on them.
Currently there are three banks operating in Crimea. State and communal enterprises and persons operating with them on the basis of contracts may open accounts in just one of the three banks. It is worth mentioning that hundreds of people are queuing up daily to get access to these banks.
People queuing up near a Russian bank on the corner of Pushkin and K. Marx streets, Simferopol – 22 April 2014
Ukraine stated that all persons who retained Ukrainian citizenship would continue receiving full pensions and social benefits. However, it is currently unclear when banking services for private persons will be renewed. At least the idea of paying pensions and social help to the residents of Crimea in Ukrainian regions close to the Peninsula via bank cards is currently being elaborated.
The payments and receipt of money from deposit accounts opened in Ukrainian banks by persons who acquired Russian citizenship generates the biggest concern. The issues of repaying and receipt of bank credits are still unclear.
FREEDOM OF ENTERPRISE
Currently the work of small and medium business is actually blocked. The Registrar of New Legal and Physical Persons Conducting Business (at the Tax Service of the Republic of Crimea) started working only in the beginning of April. The re-registration cannot be conducted, a respective bill has only been presented to the State Duma of the Russian Federation.
If an enterprise does not have “legal” Russian registration, its activities outside Crimea with other subjects of the Russian Federation are highly complicated. Its cooperation with continental Ukraine is not easier due to the status of Crimea as a temporary occupied territory, existence of a state border that is under control of non-identified persons and blocked activities of the banks.
All public servants of Crimea were the first who had to necessarily receive Russian passports and submit written declaration confirming the wish to terminate their employment at state bodies of Ukraine. Pursuant to paragraph 10 of Article 7 of FCL of 21 March 2014 N 6-FCL, public servants who are in office in the mentioned organs as on the date when the Republic of Crimea was adopted to the Russian Federation enjoy a priority right to be admitted to work at state bodies that are being created in accordance with Russian laws in the territory of the Republic of Crimea subject to the condition they have Russian citizenship. However, in practice such persons are not granted analogous positions even after they pass necessary examination (almost all executive vacancies at state bodies are filled in by the specialists from the Russian Federation.)
Also, residents of Crimea who chose to remain in the Peninsula and who worked for Ukrainian companies report that it is demanded that they file letters of voluntary resignation. Those who refuse to do so receive threats that they will not receive their work record cards back. If a person is fired (not when he or she voluntary resigns), he or she does not receive compensation. Currently the evidence of such instances is being collected.
2.3. Position of Vulnerable Groups. Manifestations of Xenophobia
Ethnic Ukrainians are in danger in Crimea. Due to a considerable risk or persecution they cannot speak Ukrainian in private and in public places, use national symbols (Ukrainian flag, coat of arms, anthem), receive education in Ukrainian etc.
According to Ruslan Zuev, a bishop of one of protestant churches of Crimea, the attitude to Ukrainians has gravely changed since the annexation of Crimea by Russia and that is why part of Ukrainians has already left or will have to leave the Peninsula.
Schools: there is one Ukrainian school in Yalta and there was a Ukrainian gymnasium in Simferopol. The Simferopol gymnasium is changing its focus to studies in Russian: there turned up the parents demanding that the studies be conducted in Russian. It is considered to be done under pressure. The director of gymnasium has been sacked under pressure of several dozens of members of “self-defence.” This conflict is an illustrative example of the attitude to Ukrainian community and the ways the authorities of Crimea settle the problems.
The local authorities of Sevastopol are planning to close the only Ukrainian boarding school / orphanage. Similar problems arise at schools of Bahchysaray district.
The administrations of schools with classes that are taught in Ukrainian received an instruction from the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation about an obligation to informally communicate with teaching staff and parents and change the speciality of such classes. Pursuant to an official position of the Minister for Science and Education of the Republic of Crimea Natalia Goncharova, all schools of Crimea (including Ukrainian ones) will study Russian History and Literature instead of Ukrainian History and Literature, will have to change their curricula and adapt them Russian ones. High school pupils planning to pass External Independent Evaluation and enter Ukrainian universities are actually deprived of an opportunity to study in accordance with Ukrainian programs. And ethnic Ukrainians of Crimea are deprived of an opportunity to study in their own language.
The relations between pupils of different nationalities have grown really acute. A boy who put on a traditional Ukrainian shirt – vyshyvanka – was called “banderivets” and severely beaten. A girl refused to share a school-desk with a Crimean Tatar boy.
The status of the only specialised faculty of Ukrainian Philology of the Taurida National V.I. Vernadsky University (Simferopol) is unclear. The faculties of Ukrainian Language and Literature, History of Ukraine departments of the Crimean University for the Humanities (Yalta) are to be closed.
The faculty and administrative staff of Crimean universities and schools, the ones teaching Ukrainian Language and Literature, History of Ukraine (especially those who do not “approve” of the occupation authorities) can be sacked or made to change their speciality.
Crimean Tatars accepted the news about the occupation of Crimea by Russia with apprehension, some of them had to move to continental Ukraine.
At the same time, some Crimean Tatars regard the current developments as an opportunity to demand from the new authorities what they did not succeed in obtaining before: the improvement of the status of their language, registration of “seized” lands, recognition of the right to return for those who currently live in Central Asia. There are 120.000 of such Tatars in Uzbekistan only and 90% of them want to come back to Crimea.
The CFM recorded several instances of xenophobia towards Crimean Tatars in April. According to the witnesses, a Simferopol schoolboy who spoke on the phone in Crimean Tatar was beaten by a stranger on 1 April. The police did not start criminal proceedings and only in a week, as a result of strong public pressure, started an investigation.
A monument to a Crimean Tatar ballet master in Malorechenske village was demolished on 8 April. A red swastika was painted on the windows a school in the same village. The headmaster of the school is a Crimean Tatar.
The Verhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted the Law on Ensuring the Rights of Persons Deported because of Their National Identity aimed, first and foremost, at Crimean Tatars. President Vladimir Putin made an immediate statement in response that a decree on Crimean Tatars will soon be issued.
The confrontation between the Majlis and leaders of Crimean Tatars with Crimean authorities became apparent in April. This statement is supported by the facts provided below.
A flag of Ukraine was hoisted on the building of the Crimean Tatar Majlis in Simferopol on 19 April. On 21 April members of “Crimean self-defence” arrived at the office of the Crimean Tatar Majlis in Simferopol and removed a Ukrainian flag.
It has been prohibited to broadcast Ukrainian MP Mustafa Dzhemiliov, Head of Majlis Refat Chubarov and members of the Crimean Tatar Majlis on state TV and radio company “Crimea” since 21 April. This information was confirmed by Lilya Muslimova, press-secretary of the Majlis.
Mustafa Dzhemiliov, the leader of the Crimean Tatar people and Ukrainian MP, and Aslan Omer Kyrylmy, the Deputy Head of Majlis, departed from Crimea for Kyiv on 22 April 2014. When crossing the administrative and territorial border between Crimea and Ukraine, Mustafa Dzhemiliov received an Act of Notification on the Prohibition to Enter the Russian Federation. The text of the Act specified that Mustafa Dzhemiliov might not enter the territory of the Russian Federation for 5 years, until 19 April 2019 pursuant to paragraph 1 of Article 27 of the Federal Law on the Procedure of entry to and Departure from the Russian Federation.
The above-mentioned facts certify the discrimination of both Mustafa Dzhemiliov and the whole Crimean Tatar people on political and ethnic grounds. It is highly probable that such situation will lead to mass human rights violations. Mustafa Dzhemiliov is planning to visit Crimea on 18 May – the anniversary of the deportation of Crimean Tatars. The prohibition to him to enter Crimea will result in harsh reaction of Crimean Tatars and may lead to direct confrontation of the Tatars with Crimean authorities.
Other Instances of the Manifestations of Xenophobia
A Sevastopol monument to Holocaust victims was vandalised by strangers in April. The monument was erected in the memory of 4200 Jews and Crymchaks murdered by Fascist occupants on 12 July 1942. The monument is situated on Vosstavshi square near a synagogue that is currently under construction.
The malefactors drew a five-point star, hammer and sickle as well as other unclear symbols with red paint and painted the commemorative inscriptions over. The monument has been vandalised for several times already: swastikas and anti-Semitic slogans have been painted on it.
A TV-poll was conducted during a programme on increase in xenophobia on 17 April. The results of the poll are as follows: inter-ethnic relations have worsened – 93%, got better – 5%, remained unchanged – 2%.
RIGHTS OF VULNERABLE GROUPS
REFUGEES AND ASYLYM SEEKERS
There are 18 persons with a refugee status in Crimea and it had been granted to them before the occupation of Crimea by the Russian Federation. Their status has not been regulated by law yet – similarly to the one of the persons who had applied for Ukrainian citizenship, residence permit in Ukraine or asylum but had not received it by 18 March 2014. It is unclear how their situation will be settled in a changed legal regime.
Persons Serving a Sentence
There are two juvenile colonies and an investigative isolation ward in Crimea. The persons who were tried in Ukrainian courts are serving their sentences there. They may serve their sentences in the territory of another state, however, this issue is regulated by respective international treaties. The latter provide for the extradition of a person convicted in another country that determines their status.
However, things did not go this way with the people serving their sentences in Crimea.
Sergiy Starenky, the Head of the State Penitentiary Service of Ukraine, says that Crimean prisoners ask to be relocated to the colonies in continental Ukraine, however, it is impossible as for the time being. According to Starenky, the colonies in continental Ukraine have enough room for the Crimean prisoners willing to relocate, but members of the National Guard responsible for relocation of prisoners cannot get to the Peninsula when armed.
President Putin signed a Decree on the procedure of pardon of the convicted serving their sentences in Crimea on 31 March.
II. Problems of the Residents of Crimea who Had to Flee the Peninsula and Move to Continental Ukraine (FORCED INTERNAL MIGRANTS)
The Verhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted the Law of Ukraine on Ensuring the Rights and Freedoms of Citizens and on the Legal Status of the Temporary Occupied Territory of Ukraine on 15 April 2014, the Law was signed by acting President of Ukraine on 28 April 2014.
RIGHT TO EDUCATION
The Ministry of Education of Ukraine stated that Ukrainian secondary school diplomas would be issued for all Crimean school-leavers.
The Simferopol evaluation centre for conducting the EIE (External Independent Evaluation) will not function. However, Crimean school-leavers will be able to pass the EIE in any other city of Ukraine (in particular, in the closest evaluation centres of Khersonska, Mykolaivska and other regions.) However, a school-leaver will have to communicate the new venue for passing the external evaluation to the Ministry of Education of Ukraine in advance. It can be done via a school-leavers personal page on the Ukrainian Centre of the Quality of Education Evaluation web-site, or communicated via the hotline of the Ministry – 0800 507 309
If an applicant retains Ukrainian citizenship, he or she may enter Ukrainian universities on the same grounds as Ukrainian citizens. If an applicant changes his / citizenship, he or she will enter as a foreigner. The latter means higher tuition fees.
As Ukrainian military registration and enlistment offices in Crimea have been closed, there is a problem with the receipt of pre-conscription certificates that are necessary when entering a university. The Ministry of Education of Ukraine has permitted to enter universities without a pre-conscription certificate. It can be received later at the place of temporary registration.
In order to transfer a pupil of a pre-school child from Crimea to a school or kindergarten in another city of Ukraine, only a written application from parents and medical report of a therapist (for pre-school children) are required. All other documents may be submitted later.
PROVISION OF HOUSING
Forced internal migrants from Crimea do not have housing. There is no state centralised housing programme yet. For instance, the Kyiv Administration has temporally accommodated some Crimean families in the “Pushcha-Vodytsya” Sanatorium and “Sputnik-1” Recreational Centre. However, the administration of “Sputnik-1” has already stated that it can accommodate Crimean migrants till 1 June 2014 only as from this date the children with pre-paid sanatorium vouchers will arrive.
According to the statistics of the Ministry of Social Policy, there are 1.500 registered migrants from Crimea in Kyiv alone. The majority of these people are now homeless. Some temporary help with housing issues is provided by civil organisations.
The problem of registration of forced internal migrants has not been settled yet. Such migrants cannot receive even temporary registration that results in serious obstacles in the realization of many socio-economic rights.
There is also a category of persons who de facto permanently resided in Crimea but were registered in another region of Ukraine. Such people, even though they were deprived of their actual place of residence, do not fall within the category of forced internal migrants and, thus, are not entitled to many forms of social protection of such category of persons.
The majority of forced internal migrants possess movable and immovable property left in Crimea and there are neither guaranties nor mechanisms of their protection. Many migrants do not have funds to organise transfer of their moveable property from Crimea. No state help or any other concessions to transportation and traveling to Crimea from Ukraine and vice versa are granted.
Given the absence of clear legal mechanisms for transactions with immovable property (and actual dual jurisdiction of Crimea – that of Ukraine and of Russia), the migrants are deprived of the possibility to sell their apartments in Crimea and buy new ones in other regions of Ukraine. Currently it is impossible to organise any transaction in the territory of Crimea and not all citizens can travel to continental Ukraine to do it. The majority of prospective buyers of Crimean property are Russian citizens and they are willing to conclude agreements in Crimea and want them certified by the notaries of the Russian Federation. However, such agreements will be regarded null and void pursuant to the laws of Ukraine.
Many of the forced internal migrants had card or deposit accounts in Crimean branches of Ukrainian banks and their accounts are currently blocked. The National Bank of Ukraine explained that such migrants had to obtain a Migrant Certificated from a respective department of the Migration Service of Ukraine. Such certificate will be a ground for unblocking the accounts. However, many departments of the Migration Service of Ukraine do not provide such certificates because they have no previous experience of issuing them and there are no respective laws regulating this problem.
Moreover, PryvatBank and OshchadBank still refuse to unblock the access so some card and deposit accounts even of and for those citizens who have moved to continental Ukraine.
Business and Economic Activities
Physical persons conducting business who were registered in Crimea cannot continue their activities as they have to change their location. However, state registrars of Ukraine refuse to ensure re-registration of such persons due to the absence of residence registration of the latter at a new place. And it all happens notwithstanding the fact that a simplified procedure has been elaborated and made public by the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine.
Legal persons, including NGOs, cannot conduct their activities in full scale because the Ministry of Revenues and Duties has not presented new bank details for paying taxes by legal persons registered in Crimea. Consequently, legal persons, including NGOs, cannot pay taxes and submit necessary reports to the Ministry of Revenues and Duties in time. This results in imposition of fines pursuant to Ukrainian laws. The proposal to introduce temporary tax exemption for legal persons and physical persons conducting business for the period when the question of their registration is being settled has not been accepted yet.
The majority of forced internal migrants are currently unemployed and are trying to register at job centres and apply for unemployment benefits. However, the amount paid pursuant to such benefits is not enough to compensate all the damages generated by forced migration.
Moreover, a number of professions (pedagogic, medical, academic etc.) require the retention and continuation of respective professional experience. Thus, many Crimean academics are ready to leave the Peninsula, but the majority of Ukrainian universities are not ready to provide them with vacancies.
Information has been prepared on the basis of the materials of:
Yevgeniy Bobrov, Head of the inter-regional public organisation
“Human Rights Organisation “Voshod”, Russian Federation
Svitlana Ganushkina, Head of the Committee “Grazhdanskoe Sodeistvie,”
Board member of the “Memorial” community, Russian Federation
Sergey Zaets, attorney, Autonomous Republic of Crimea;
Dariia Sviridova, lawyer, Centre of Civil Enlightment “Almenda,” Autonomous Republic of Crimea;
Olga Skrypnik, office of the Crimean Field Mission in Ukraine;
Tetiana Pechonchyk, Human Rights Information Centre, Ukraine;
Olga Tseitlina, attorney, Russian Federation
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