Nearly 200 political prisoners, including 116 Crimean Tatars, a group indigenous to the country, are being illegally detained, Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets has reported.
Writing on the ninth anniversary of the beginning of the Russian occupation of the peninsula, Mr. Lubinets said Russia has employed a policy of “harsh repression” of any inhabitants of Crimea that do not adhere to Putin’s rule.
“Due to the constant fear of Ukrainian resistance, Russia does not stop the harsh repression and persecution of our citizens in the temporarily occupied Crimea: Illegal searches, fabricated criminal cases, fabricated sentences, including those against representatives of the indigenous people of the peninsula — the Crimean Tatars,” Mr. Lubinets wrote on Telegram.
Crimea was illegally annexed in 2014 following Ukraine’s EuroMaidan Revolution, which saw the removal of pro-Russia Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich.
Mr. Lubinets claimed that two tortured political prisoners, Kostiantyn Shyrinh and Dzhemil Hafarov, became the latest people killed as a result of this oppression, which has caused the detaining of 180 persons.
Sentenced to 13 years in prison, 60-year-old Crimean Tatar Mr. Hafarov died in a Russian pre-trial detention center on February 10, according to news outlet Ukrinform.
Mr Shyrinh, 61, meanwhile, was sentenced to 12 years on the charge of “espionage.” According to the media, he died in a penal colony in the remote Russian town of Novotroitsk earlier this month.
“They were not provided with the necessary medical care,” said Mr. Lubinets. “But even such a high price for the right to live in a free, independent, and sovereign country will not stop the Ukrainian people.”
Earlier in the day, President Volodymyr Zelensky marked the nine-year anniversary of the start of the Russian occupation in Crimea, stating that “by returning Crimea, we will restore peace”.
He said: “This is our land. Our people. Our history. We will return the Ukrainian flag to every corner of Ukraine.”