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Update on the situation in Crimea. 25 March

No further abductions have been reported on Tuesday in Crimea, but there are still 11 Ukrainian activists and military officers remaining in captivity. No Ukrainian military units are left on the territory of the peninsula. Many civil rights defenders criticize the draft law ‘on ensuring rights and freedoms of citizens on the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine’, where the term ‘collaboration’ is left open to interpretation. 

Abductions and Captivity

No further abductions have been reported on Tuesday in Crimea. That is to say, no information on new abductions appeared in public news sources.

11 people remain kidnapped/abducted in Crimea. Four of them are civil activists and seven are military or border officers:

  1. Vladislav Polischuk, civil activist
  2. Ivan Bondarets', civil activist
  3. Valeriy Vaschuk, civil activist
  4. Abu Yusuf, civil activist
  5. Aleksandr Filippov, military personnel
  6. Yuliy Mamchur, military personnel
  7. Igor Voronenko, military personnel
  8. V. M. Demyanenko, military personnel
  9. Dmitri Delyatitskiy, military personnel
  10. Rostyslav Lomtev, military personnel
  11. Ivan Nikolus, border officer

According to an update from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence, army officers Yevgheniy Pivovarov, Anatoly Kalyan and Vladislav Nechyporenko, previously reported missing, have been found and released.

In the meantime, public activists criticized the draft law ‘on ensuring the rights and freedoms of citizens on the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine’, where the term ‘collaboration’ is left open to interpretation.

'There is the impression that the government wants all of us to become collaborationists for it's own convenience', says the civil rights defender Aleksandra Dvoretskaya, when reviewing the problems that must be brought to the attention of Ukrainian government.

Radio Svoboda launched a special web project ‘Crimea. The realities.’ in Russian and Crimean Tatar languages. These sites provide news and analysis of developments in Crimea.

 

Military Units

As promised, by the 25th of March the Crimea has been cleared of Ukrainian Military. On Tuesday, the Russian military managed to hijack the last Ukrainian ship ‘Cherkassy’. During the storming of the ship, the Russian military used machineguns, although they shot at the water, causing no casualties. The Senior Naval Officer, Aleksandr Gutnik, provided us with details on the storm:

A convoy of 400 Ukrainian military could withdraw to the ‘mainland’ as early as Wednesday.

 

International Reaction

The Council of Europe recognized the violation of the territorial sovereignty of Ukraine and condemned Crimea's annexation. However Olga Gerasimuk, a member of the Ukrainian delegation in Strasburg, says that they were prevented from putting up a stand regarding the Crimean occupation which had been agreed with the Council beforehand.

The British Ambassador to Ukraine, Simon Smith, said that Ukraine's accession to the European Union was an attainable and important goal. The Ambassador is convinced that the creation of a free trade zone between Ukraine and the EU will be beneficial for all.

The Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives of the U.S. Congress approved a bill to provide assistance to Ukraine in the amount of $ 1 billion.

 

UN

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Office reports threats against Crimeans who have left the peninsula due to the situation in the Autonomous Republic.

‘Some Crimean residents, who were forced to leave the region are threatened through SMS and social networks’ ­ said UN Refugee Agency representative Oldrich Andrisek.

These people are called traitors and promised to be punished if they should return to the peninsula. The refugees are afraid of being photographed or interviewed so no one was aware of their flight.

The UN has welcomed signs of some progress in the normalization of the situation across Ukraine. Regarding such progress, UN spokesman Farhan Haq referred to a meeting between the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and the acting head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.

At the meeting of the UN General Assembly on March 27, Ukraine will insist on the demilitarization of the region, despite the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from the peninsula. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Daniel Efremov, believes that the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from the Crimea will not raise the issue of the demilitarization of the peninsula. In addition, Lubkivsky added that not only Crimea, but also the entire Black Sea region should see the removal of a large amount of Russian military equipment.

  

OSCE

The Commissioner on National Minorities of the OSCE, Astrid Sars, made numerous appeals on behalf of the national minorities living in the Crimea, with information about violations of their rights by the self-styled Government of the peninsula. The Commissioner expressed concern over a possible massive departure of refugees from Crimea to other regions of Ukraine.

Ukraine has received 40 OSCE observers and 11 are expected to arrive in Kiev on Tuesday. Observers have already started training and will soon leave for the regions of Ukraine. The Mission of the OSCE is to conduct monitoring in the temporarily occupied territory of Crimea.

 

NATO

NATO is holding discussions with Ukraine regarding means to strengthen its support in view of the increasing presence of Russian military near the Ukrainian border. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that the Alliance is currently discussing with Ukraine how to increase this support.

 

The update is prepared by EuromaidanSOS initiative, International Group of Human Right Defenders on Ukraine and The Civic Solidarity Platform

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