Disinfo: No proof of human rights abuses in Crimea


According to a leading Russian politician, accusations of human rights violations on the Crimean Peninsula are an invention. Therefore, UN officials are welcome to visit Crimea and see the truth for themselves.

After the UN adopted a resolution condemning alleged discrimination in Crimea, which was reabsorbed by Russia in 2014, Leonid Slutsky, the chairman of the Russian Parliament’s Committee on International Affairs, said the body was “biased.”

Russia has repeatedly invited journalists and observers to visit the peninsula in the past. However, Kiev has sought to make any journeys difficult, threatening to blacklist and bar anyone who crosses into Crimea without having first been through Ukraine on a valid visa.


Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the illegal annexation of Crimea.

Crimea was not “reabsorbed” by Russia. It has been annexed by Russia, and its ongoing illegal occupation has yet to be accepted by any international body.

The statements uncritically cited in the article are false. The human rights situation in Crimea has rapidly deteriorated since the beginning of Russian occupation in early 2014, and remains dire according to watchdogs including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the UN Human Rights Council. In a comprehensive study of human rights abuses perpetrated on the peninsula between February 2014 and December 2018, the Kyiv-based NGO Crimea SOS recorded 144 instances of politically motivated criminal prosecution, 15 forced disappearances, at least 20 killings committed by the occupation regime, 290 counts of torture, and 372 arbitrary arrests (pp. 8-9).

The brunt of the repression has fallen on the Crimean Tatars, the region’s indigenous ethnic minority. Since 2014, the occupation authorities have systematically targeted Crimean Tatar media, political institutions, language, and national leaders. In 2016, the Russian Supreme Court passed an ultra vires motion outlawing the Crimean Tatar legislature. Its two consecutive chairmen - Mustafa Dzhemilev and Refat Chubarov - were effectively exiled from the peninsula under Russia’s catch-all “extremism” laws, whereas former deputy chairman Ilmi Umerov was confined to a mental hospital. For an overview of offences against Crimea’s indigenous people such as seizure of property, deportation, forced conscription, murder, torture, show trials and a host of others, see this report by the International Criminal Court (p. 69).

While the article blames Ukraine for obstructing the activity of journalists in Crimea, journalists and press watchdogs blame Russia: In 2017, Freedom House ranked Crimea the 195th-friendliest media environment globally, right between Uzbekistan and North Korea; according to Reporters Without Borders, post-annexation Crimea has become a black hole “from which little news and information emerges”; the Committee to Protect Journalists publishes regular updates on the erosion of media freedom in the area, including a recent one concerning a Ukrainian reporter who was banned from entering Crimean territory until 2054.


  • Reported in: Issue 221
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 20/11/2020
  • Language/target audience: English
  • Country: Russia, Ukraine
  • Keywords: United Nations, illegal annexation, Human rights, Mustafa Dzhemilev, Amnesty International, Freedom of speech, Crimean Tatars, Human Rights Watch, Crimea


Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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