Ukraine's EU representative Tochytskyi calls on EU partners to condemn illegal searches, arrests of Crimean Tatars
Ukraine's Representative to the European Union, Ambassador Mykola Tochytskyi has called on European partners to "harshly and decisively" condemn the mass illegal searches of homes and arrests of Crimean Tatars, which took place in Russia-occupied Simferopol and Bilohorodsky districts of Crimea on Wednesday.
Tochytskyi commented on the arrests in a note received by Interfax-Ukraine on Wednesday.
The ambassador said the situation with human rights violations in Crimea and, in particular, the arrests and searches on Wednesday was discussed during his meeting with the EU's Special Representative for Human Rights Eamon Gilmore.
"We also informed EU institutions, members of the European Parliament and EU member states about the latest dirty crimes of the Kremlin in occupied Crimea. We called on our partners in the EU to respond harshly and decisively, because only such a reaction is able to stop Russia," Tochytskyi said.
The ambassador said Wednesday's actions show that "the Kremlin is trying once again to check the resolve of European and transatlantic unity on the issue of counteracting Russia's aggression against Ukraine and the entire civilized world. I am convinced of the depth of the resolve to return all occupied territories to Ukraine's control."
Tochytskyi believes that the mass searches and arrests of Crimean Tatars recently conducted in "temporarily occupied Crimea by Russian occupiers show that Russia is deliberately provoking and escalating the situation on the peninsula by increasing repression and harassment."
The ambassador focused attention that the events are occurring against the background of recent discussions of the situation in occupied Crimea, which was held on Tuesday in the European parliament and after the meeting in Strasbourg of Russian Ombudswoman Tatyana Moskalkova with Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović, who plans to visit Moscow at the start of April.
He emphasized that the increase in the repression coincided with the fifth anniversary of the occupation of the peninsula, which "no one in the world, despite the Kremlin's expectations, has forgotten," as well as the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the resolution by the UN General Assembly on the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
As reported, on Wednesday, Russian security forces in the illegally annexed city of Simferopol during searches in the homes of the Crimean Tatars detained at least 16 people (according to Russia's Federal Security Service [FSB] – about 20 people).
Ukraine's Foreign Ministry protested against the arrests, expressing concern that the Russian occupation authorities again chose the so-called "Hizb ut-Tahrir case" as a pretext for the searches. The ministry said it did not rule out that could be the start of a new wave of persecution against Crimean Tatars.