Crimea: Update on Events, 23 March 2014

Two more Ukrainian military officers were kidnaped in Crimea. The total of 11 people are now missing. Journalists and activists, who were previously released, report about torture they were subjected to in Russian captivity. Human rights defenders claim a series of violation of fundamental rights and freedoms in Crimea.

On 23 March it was reported that two more Ukrainian military officers were captured. Military expert Dmitry Tymchuk reported about illegal detention of military unit A4398 commander in Sevastopol, Captain of the 2nd rank V.N. Demyanenko. The local «self-defence» also captured vice-commander of Ukrainian Naval Service, Head of coastal command Counter-Admiral Ihor Voronchenko. In fact, he controlled all the military forces in Crimea and was preparing their redeployment to the 'mainland'. According to the Tymchuk's information, Voronchenko is being held in commandant’s office of Russian Black Sea fleet or in the remand of Sevastopol.

Information of the release of Colonel Yuliy Mamchur, captured on 22 March, had not been confirmed. The official site of military unit in Belbek states that the commander did not make contact since.

In general, according to the EuromaidanSOS initiative, as for 23 of March at least 11 people — four civil activists and seven Ukrainian officers — are considered being missing in Crimea:

  1. Vladislav Polischuk, civil activist
  2. Ivan Bondarets', civil activist
  3. Valeriy Vashchuk, civil activist
  4. Abu Yusuf, civil activist
  5. Yevgeniy Pivovarov, military personnel
  6. Anatoly Kalyan, military personnel
  7. Vladislav Nechyporenko, military personnel
  8. Oleksandr Fillipov, military personnel
  9. Yuliy Mamchur, military personnel
  10. Igor Voronenko, military personnel
  11. V. M. Demyanenko, military personnel

 

Mass media are publishing stories of activists and journalists, who were released from Russian captivity or were injured during the assaults on military units in Crimea.

Videographers from documentary community Babylon 13 Yaroslav Pilunskiy and Yuriy Gruzinov said how they were beaten with pipes and interrogated about The Right Sector (Praviy Sector).

Russian journalist Aleksandr Aksakov, victim to the storm in Belbek, informs about the assault of Ukrainian military unit.

Journalist of the 'Tyzhden' edition Elena Maksimenko reported about the way she was tortured in Crimea: 'I was strangled with my own shoelaces, they’ve cut my hair’

EuromaidanSOS mobile groups report that at least 3 Crimean cities, Simferopol, Alushta and Yalta, had electricity blackouts started at 20:30 in the evening. Almost all the streets and the majority of buildings sink into darkness. Meanwhile other messages in social networks report about similar blackouts in other parts of Crimea.

Crimea's Main Reform rabbi Mikhail Kapustin was forced to leave Simferopol and seek refuge in Kiev, because of the fear of the anti-Semitic threats, which drastically grew on the territory of the peninsula. According to some reports on 28 February during the night not long after Russian troops entered the territory of Crimea vandals wrote ‘Death to Jews!’ on the Simferopol’s ‘Ner-Tamid’ synagogue. According to chairman of the Crimea’s association of Jewish organizations and communities Anatoliy Gendin, an anti-Semitic event of this kind is the first in the history of the independent Ukraine and it has nevre happened before the Russian occupation.

As reported by journalist Aider Muzhdabaev, Russian authorities are trying to shut down Crimean Tatars’ TV channel, ATR, by putting pressure on its owner, businessman Lenur Islyamov. The businessman’s Moscow-based companies undergo Intensive inspections; aggressive media campaign started in Russian media accusing Islyamov ўа Russophobia, Islamism and almost terrorism.

'Russian Federation in Crimea acts against decisions of European court, — stated human rights defender Vladimir Yavorskiy in his video commentary for EuromaidanSOS. A number of fundamental human rights and freedoms are being violated in Crimea: the right to life, the right to private life, right to own property, freedom of expression, right to freedom of peaceful assembly; arbitrary arrest, torture and violent behaviour without any investigation of such incidents. According to Vladimir Yavorskiy, the class action of victims of lawlessness in Crimea is being prepared for the European court for human rights - although that can mean years of court dangler. For example, Georgia still awaits ECHR’s decision regarding the events of 2008.

 

Military units

According to the data gathered by EuromaidanSOS initiative two military units (in Feodosia and missile unit in Reserve; Balaklava district) and three military ships ('Olshansky', 'Cherkasy', 'Geniches'k') still remain under the Ukrainian command. According to sources of  'Informational resistance' initiative there is a plan to 'clear' the Crimea from Ukrainian military forces till 25 March

Contradictory information is coming from the First kanding regiment in Feodosia. EuromaidanSOS's mobile group together with other activists and journalists came to the military unit after they had received the information about a potential assault. At about 4pm on 23 March they met еру unit's officers, whў told them that they were expecting a political decision on their redeployment to the 'continent’. The Commander of the military unit also disproved the rumours that Ukrainian brigade gave up the weapons to Russian military.

 

International Reaction

The Chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Mike Rogers said that the United States ought to provide weapons to the Ukrainian army so it could defend the country from a Russian invasion. He also noted that, while ruling out the deployment of U.S. military forces in Ukraine, sending arms and radio equipment ‘sends a very clear message’.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier after visiting Donetsk concluded that in the Eastern region of Ukraine people want to preserve Ukraine as an undivided state.

NATO ‘s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, General Philip Breedlove, believes that Russia uses the mechanism of creation the ‘frozen conflict’ zone to prevent one or another Eastern European country from convergence with the West.

Secretary General of the Amnesty International, Salil Shetty introduced the brief review of Russian repressions, which are expected shortly by the Crimean population. Shetty reminded, about the legislative and administrative measures recently adopted by Russia that not only contradict international legal obligation but even Russian constitution itself.

 

The update is prepared with the data provided by activist initiative EuromaidanSOS, International Group of human right defenders on Ukraine and The Civic Solidarity Platform