44 people disappeared in Crime during the annexation – CrimeaSOS

After Russia has occupied Crimea, 44 people have experienced enforced disappearance on the peninsula. At the present day, 18 people are considered missing.

As reported by reporter of the Human Rights Information Centre, this was stated by Tamila Tasheva, Coordinator of the CrimeaSOS NGO, during a press conference on August 30.

“Currently, there are 18 enforced disappearances in Crimea. Most of them are Crimean Tatars. There have been 44 cases of enforced disappearances since the beginning of the Crimea’s occupation. Most of which occurred at the beginning of the occupation of Crimea from March to May 2014”, - she said.

“People, who deemed dangerous by the Russian authorities and by the subordinated structures, were isolated for the period of the “referendum”. They were afraid of negative publicity, negative images and they were fearing that their offenses would be exposed. Those were Crimean Tatars, journalists, local activists, visitors from mainland Ukraine”, - explained lawyer Evgenia Zakrevskaya.

According to CrimeaSOS, 17 people were subsequently released, 6 were found dead. 2 people were found in places of detention. Eventually, they were convicted of politically motivated cases. Another 18 people are still considered missing.

“We believe that enforced disappearances are facts when they are related to either government agencies or subordinated actors. If we are talking about the Crimea, then Crimean self-defense and the so-called Crimean militia could be involved. We are talking about enforced disappearances, if to these facts are implicated to government bodies, their actors or there is no effective investigation of these cases”, - she said.

She reminded that in 2015 Ukraine has ratified the international convention on enforced disappearances and therefore Ukraine is obliged to investigate such facts.

“Very often, criminal cases are opened either on the facts of murder or kidnapping of a person. We believe that if an international convention is signed, then it is necessary to investigate such cases and to initiate them according to such classification”, - Tasheva said.

According to Evgenia Zakrevskaya, State authorities began collecting and systematizing violent disappearances of Ukrainian citizens in Crimea only six months ago.

Meanwhile, Maksym Prokopov, Head of the Department for Supervision over Compliance with the Laws in Criminal Proceedings and the Prevention of Corruption of the Crimean Prosecutor’s Office, said that currently about 150 criminal proceedings related to the violation of rights and freedoms of citizens on the peninsula are being investigated.

“In addition, 29 of these criminal proceedings are covering 38 people, who are considered dead or missing. We qualify on the basis of Article 115 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (Premeditated Murder)”, - he said.

“We are currently developing materials that will form the basis, including the jurisdiction of international courts”, - he added.

Maksym Prokopov noted that the investigation is complicated by the fact that it is impossible to conduct investigative actions on the territory of Crimea.

“However, the inevitability of punishment has not been abolished. All the possible measures will be taken. Perhaps, there will be results on relevant proceedings, which are known to the world community, by the end of the year”, - the representative of the Crimean Prosecutor’s Office commented.

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